AFC Urgent Care was featured at number 14 for one of the smartest growing brands.


Dr. Bruce Irwin is the founder of Birmingham, Alabama-based American Family Care, but the leader of one of the smartest-growing medical franchises is the first to say he was initially very reluctant to franchise his system of urgent care facilities. When he first got involved with franchising, “it was really just an add-on to my existing business,” Irwin said. “It’s something I found intriguing intellectually, and I really didn’t quite foresee just how successful it would be.” Successful indeed, as American Family Care eclipsed 100 units and expects to go past the 200 mark sometime during 2017. Its systemwide sales grew 113 percent from 2013 through 2015, with units up 48 percent. American Family Care is now opening approximately three clinics a month and, at this scale, Irwin says he is primarily concerned about growing on profits, not debt, and differentiating the brand from many new players that have sprung up in the category. “Urgent Care A is not Urgent Care B is not Urgent Care C,” he said. “Just because somebody moves into 1,200 square feet between a nail salon and a liquor store and puts up an urgent care sign, that doesn’t mean they’re delivering the same quality of care that we’re doing in a 4- to 5,000-square-foot space with modern, up-to-date everything.” In the wake of its recent partnership with the Bon Secours Health System, he added the company sees similar tie-ups with establishment healthcare systems, as well as competitive acquisitions, as the keys to its next phase of growth. “So many people jumped into this business thinking it was easy and without the necessary experience and math that you need to succeed,” he said. “Over the next three years there are really a lot of opportunities to grow through acquisition, but you have to be careful because there’s a lot of garbage out there you don’t want to acquire.”


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