Establishing a practice is the most important thing you’ll do as a DC after finishing school, and finding the perfect office space is a part of that
But like many major decisions, you have many options to choose from. If you already having a thriving practice, you may be looking to expand or look at a new space.
Finding office space: picking the best location
A classic real estate phrase is “location, location, location” and while it may be slightly overused, the sentiment remains true. One of the bigger mistakes made by DCs buying a practice is that they don’t look into the surrounding area before purchasing. The property itself is also important and it should have your desired amenities. However, if the area it’s located in is not ideal for a chiropractic practice when finding office space, then it doesn’t matter how perfect the space is.
Things to consider are your target patient demographic. Are you looking to start a sports practice? A geriatric practice? One that helps pregnant women or new moms? Decide who you are trying to serve and then make sure your location has the socioeconomic and demographic spread you are looking for.
For example, if you are looking to help pregnant women or new families, you should not set up a practice where the median age is over 50. Conversely, setting up a geriatric practice where most of the community is new families may not get your practice off the ground.
You should also consider the other types of businesses around a practice. Are there businesses that cater to your ideal patient base? Are there already a large number of chiropractors around you? Are there adjacent services like a massage practice, a health food store or fitness center nearby?
You should take all these location factors into consideration before buying a practice and when finding office space.
Taking over a practice
Taking over an existing practice is also an option when establishing a practice. This can be a good option if you want to start quickly and have an established patient base. However, there are a few things to watch out for when taking over a practice.
A good rule of thumb when looking at a practice is “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” Look into why they are selling their practice and ask questions about the practice before buying in.
Things you should be asking:
- Why are you selling the practice?
- Is this practice based on the cult of personality of the current chiropractor?
- Are you assuming any debt or equipment leases?
- Is there a varied patient population?
- Is the current DC willing to invest in a smooth transition?
- Is the location of the practice and set-up what you want?
Evaluate the answers to these questions and decide if you are comfortable with the answers. Be clear about what you want. It’s a good idea to decide ahead of time what you are willing to compromise on and what are non-negotiable. This will help you figure out what you’re looking for in a practice and also help you walk away if the deal isn’t right.
To expand or find a new space?
If you are already an established DC but are finding your current space too small, it may be time to expand your current practice by finding office space.
But first, you should take a long hard look at your finances and patient records. You should be looking at your debt-to-profit ratio and also the percentages of new and returning patients.
If you are buying a bigger or more expensive space, you should be able to afford it without massive patient growth or reducing your debt payments. You should also be realistic about how many new patients you expect to get and keep.
The next step is to decide if you want to expand your current practice or find a completely new space. The big determining factor of expansion is your current space. Is there a business for sale next to it? Is there room to add on? What would you want added?
And then if it’s viable for your space, determining whether it’s more cost effective to add on or to find a new space. Instead of considering the location based on the patient you want, determine its viability through the patients you have. How far will they drive to a new practice? Are they going out of their way to your current practice? What businesses in the community could you relocate near? What additions to your services could you make with more space?
Looking at a potential space through both your eyes and the eyes of your current patients can help determine if it’s a fit. No matter what your situation, finding office space for your practice means that you can help the most patients as possible and continue doing what you love.