Site selection can be a challenge for and experienced DCs alike, and a mistake in this area could be fatal to your practice.
A successful site- selection process begins with forming an expert team and following a proven process. There are four key areas to master for selecting the perfect site: location analysis, site selection, lease negotiation, and business incentives.
Location analysis is the first critical step in selecting a site. You use statistics to evaluate and compare geographic areas. Many businesses don’t properly understand how markets compare to one another. But you need to be able to study the underlying characteristics of a community and identify its strengths and weaknesses.
The most important statistical factor to consider is market saturation, or when there are too many chiropractors per capita in a given market.
There are other statistical factors to consider, too, such as household income, population age, percentage of blue collar workers, and pharmacy usage rates.
Many DCs open practices in markets with a build-it-and-they-will-come mentality, which is just a roll of the dice if they neglect location analysis. Even if you are set on opening a practice in a certain market, you should understand how your location compares to other possibilities.
After location analysis, narrow your search and make a few tours of locations. Statistics can only tell you so much; tours provide personal insights and allow you to connect with the community. After you identify the primary market you want to enter, contact a local realtor to start the real estate search.
Based on your requirements, the realtor will provide you with a list of available properties in the market that meet your requirements. Pare this down to a short list of the properties you’d like to tour. Ask to see comparable properties to better understand differences in costs, amenities, and locations.
Real estate brokers receive a commission based on lease value, so having a third-party real estate advisor and attorney is a good idea.
You’ll begin negotiating the lease after the real estate tours have resulted in one or two targeted properties. The landlord will establish a starting point for rent with the expectation of your counter offer. The starting point should be based on comps, recently sold or leased comparable properties in the same neighborhood.
Everything is negotiable. For example, if the property requires improvements, negotiate a tenant- improvement allowance. Other things to consider when negotiating a lease include renewal options, assignment, early access, parking, signage, right to privacy, and maintenance.
There are thousands of state, regional, and local economic development groups across the U.S. These agencies can assist with business incentives to help offset costs. Their programs include low-interest loans, grants, tax credits, and exemptions.
The site selection process can take more than six months because it is more than a question of what properties are available. It is an analytical exercise that requires understanding of a market’s potential and working with knowledgeable professionals who can make the process seamless and rewarding.
Brian Wilson is the managing director at Community Selection Group, a nationwide site selection and real estate advisory firm. He has over a decade of experience specializing in site selection. He can be contacted at communityselection.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @CommunitySelect.
Blake Messinger is the executive director at Community Selection Group. He has more than two decades of experience in all aspects of corporate real estate and he has managed projects worldwide. He can be contacted through communityselection.com.