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Opening your first office?
Good planning minimizes stress
By Darryl Bennett

Designing an office is stressful, even for experienced doctors. And it is especially stressful for a new graduate who is opening his or her first practice.

When you design an office (from “scratch” or by remodeling), you in effect take on a second full-time job — office project manager. You are ultimately responsible for the successful and timely execution of all decisions involved in the office design and build-out.

The key to minimizing this stress is planning. The more planning you do, the fewer delays that will occur and you will feel less stress.

Here are the steps:

1. Select and use a space planner. A space planner experienced in chiropractic office planning can help you identify the right location to suit your needs. Involving a planner before you lease or buy a property can help you get the best location for the money. You can avoid getting a property that is either too big or too small for your needs and your anticipated growth.

A space planner works with you to determine needs based on the techniques you use, the kinds of patients you see, whether you are insurance-based or cash-based, and your short- and long-term goals.

2. Develop a list of equipment. The list depends upon your needs and will help determine a location.

3. Generate a floor plan. The space planner will create a floor plan based on your needs and your goals, typically to increase office efficiency, reduce patient-to-staff crossing paths, and integrate equipment into the floor plan for the long-term and short-term goals of the practice.

4. Develop a business plan. The plan will be essential if you are arranging financing, if necessary.

5. Establish a time line. Set a realistic time line for completion of the project.

6. Select a location. If you have not already done this, work with the planner to establish the size of the location and a leasing agent for the location.

7. Submit the plans to an architect. Some projects do not need an architect. But if your project is extensive, an architect can help minimize the problems you might encounter.

8. Determine décor. Pick out your style, paint, carpeting, furniture, and other decorative items.

9. Select a contractor. Get recommendations and pick a contractor who is reliable and ethical.

10. Get building permits. The contractor should take care of securing all permits.

11. Manage the build-out process. The architect and contractor have the responsibility for day-to-day management. However, you will need to be involved and make last-minute decisions.

How long will the process take? As “they” say, “It depends.”

If you are remodeling an existing office, plan on two months. If the planner and builder are building out an existing building shell, the project will take approximately four months. And if you are putting up a new building, plan on eight months before you host an open house for your patients.

Efficient use of space — A new practitioner in family practice would find that this office layout has an efficient use of space, for a relatively small area. This layout accommodates massage and provides for a children’s adjusting area. Click here for this layout.


Darryl Bennett is an engineer and a principle of ChiroDesign Group (, which specializes in chiropractic office modeling and designs. He can be contacted at 512-301-0821 or by e-mail at

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