By Joel Harber
Moving any business is a daunting task but especially for medical practices. In many cases the physician closes his or her office on a Friday in one location and reopens the following Monday in a new office. This takes a high level of coordination which is part of the reason why many medical practices remain in an office space long after it has become outdated. As the law of inertia states, an object at rest has the tendency to stay at rest.
So when I meet with doctors who are interested in exploring their space options, I often learn that the office they occupy currently has been functionally obsolete for quite some time. In many cases a practice will go to great lengths to avoid moving and ultimately sacrifices efficiency, patient experience, and profits when it continues to treat patients in a location that does not fit the exact requirements of the practice. Every medical practice is different yet very few are located in an office space that was planned specifically for them. Most physicians are located in a space that is typically twenty to thirty years old, or older, and has been merely modified with band aid level construction over the years as different practices occupy the space.
In addition to the logistical challenges associated with moving to a new location, there is also the financial cost to consider. I often hear this concern when consulting a medical practice that is contemplating a move. Whether you are buying or leasing, there will be a noticeable difference in cost between a thirty year old medical office and a new purpose built space – as with most things in life you get what you pay for. That said, the difference in cost is most often justified if moving makes your practice more efficient, drastically improves the experience for your patients, and helps boost staff morale and retention. Having the proper flow of patients, staff, and providers within your office is vital if you wish to achieve a highly profitable practice.
Out of all of the medical practices that I’ve consulted over the years that have either bought or leased first generation medical office space, not one has come back to me afterwards and said that moving into a new office environment was a mistake. Overwhelmingly the feedback that I receive – if the doctor would have known the positive effect that moving into a modern, custom space was going to have on his/her practice, he/she would have moved years sooner.
At the end of the day, each practice is different and requires individual analysis and consideration. Consulting a commercial real estate broker who focuses on medical office space is the best way to make sure you have all of the information you need in order to make the best decision possible regarding your new practice location.
Joel Harber is the President of Reynolds Capital, Inc., an Athens based commercial real estate brokerage and development firm that specializes in medical office space.