By Erick Cutler
Where you locate your practice is almost as important as how well you do your job, so finding a suitable medical office can be critical to your business’ success.
Even the best dentists can hinder the growth of their practices by choosing the wrong space or sticking with an office they’ve outgrown.
If you think it’s time to find some new digs for your practice, there are several factors you should consider. Before making any big decisions, take these seven details into consideration.
Location, location, location! Where you choose to rent your office space is probably the most important decision you’ll make, aside from establishing your budget. Your ideal location should be easy to find, accessible from major highways and easily identifiable with signage. If your practice is upscale, choose an address that will attract that type of clientele. Demographics can help you decide if your type of practice is a good fit in the neighborhood. If you are a specialist, it may be wise to position your practice in close proximity to a general dentist with whom you can share referrals. Quality of life should also come into play, so don’t forget to factor in the amount of time you are willing to travel to get to work.
While you may never be able to avoid being located near other dentists, you could consider locations that have low dentist-to-patient ratios. According to a publication by New York University Dental School, there is on average, one dentist for every 1700 people (the ratio is higher in rural areas). Determining the ratio in the area(s) you are considering will help you make a more informed decision.
If your practice is growing rapidly, you may need to rent extra space to handle the demand. Choosing a smaller office may be better for your budget, but it’s likely you’ll end up having to move your practice once it begins to expand. Find a space that has enough room to accommodate you now and in the future.
Layout and Design
Look at the layout and design of an office space with critical eyes. You should evaluate the size and location, for example, of the treatment rooms, imaging areas, reception area, private offices, etc. The layout of your office is important for managing patient flow and maintaining an organized space.
Choosing the right neighborhood is not only important with regard to a patient profile, it is also important for ease of access and visibility. Is it near a major highway or intersection? Is there adequate parking? Is it close to successful businesses and popular shopping areas? Is it a high traffic area? An article on Healthcaresuccess.com suggests that dentists rarely consider the importance of traffic patterns when choosing a location. While this takes some research, it is worth doing. “Go the city records for existing traffic counts past the sites you’re studying. Or go out yourself and, literally, count the cars going down your street per hour, morning and afternoon. As a rule of thumb, 40,000 cars a day or more are considered a retail location, though some rural towns don’t have 40,000 altogether. Also, remember that while we all hate traffic, the slower things are, the higher the visibility.”
Check the per-square-foot pricing for each property you’re considering and determine which mix of price, location and amenities makes the most sense. You should also factor in whether your rent will increase significantly over the years as your location becomes more popular. Work with the landlord to come up with a fair agreement.
You Can Ask for Help
You’re not a real estate expert, and that’s okay. A number of companies offer office space locating and management services catering specifically to the dental industry. These professionals take all the guesswork out of finding the perfect office by considering the above factors, and more, and making expert recommendations. Also, an experienced CPA can help determine your financial exposure and expenses, mitigating many unforeseen problems.
Expanding your practice or moving to a new location should be an exciting time, but it often ends up being a stressful exercise in playing the real estate market. Knowing what factors to consider can help you make an informed decision that will enable you to serve your patients more effectively.
Note: This content is accurate as of the date published above and is subject to change. Please seek professional advice before acting on any matter contained in this article.