Site Selection

Top 10 Things To Consider Regarding Site Selection for Dental, Medical, and Veterinary Offices

By Robert Lowther
Dental, medical, and veterinary office site selection involves many criteria outside the realm of normal office or retail space searches.  Issues such as capacity for increased electrical power necessary for a medical office, desirable proximity to targeted potential patient traffic, and added security are all issues unique to finding an appropriate location for a new medical office.   Below are the top ten issues which we view are paramount for every dentist, physician, or veterinarian to consider when searching for the site of their new practice.
  1. Rental Costs – When comparing rental costs between locations, do not just look at the stated rental rates, but also include each location’s required reimbursable/surcharge expenses for utilities, taxes, insurance, common area maintenance (known as “CAM”), and possibly other location-specific expenses.

  2. Construction Build-out Costs – Look at the cost to renovate potential spaces and get each up to proper prevailing code standards for a medical office use. More often than not, a location’s electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems also will have to be upgraded to allow for the increased power, water, and HVAC requirements needed by modern medical practices.

  3. Surrounding Market Potential – What are the market conditions around the property? Evaluate each likely location’s demographics, age and growth potential, surrounding amenities, transportation access, transit, crime statistics, future development projects planned or underway (especially new housing), etc.

  4. Utility Services – Ensure that the site has all necessary utility services available to the property, especially important with proper electrical power and data/telco services. The latter is something that is often overlooked when examining site locations, but will become very evident later on if high speed internet is not available to the final chosen location (don’t be surprised, even in this modern age we’ve seen this happen before!).

  5. Proximity to “Anchors” and Visibility from Them – For a dental or medical office, you want to pick a location near “traffic”—specifically of the patient population type you will be trying to attract to your new practice. Often this means being in a retail shopping center near a grocery store,  department store, or other well frequented “big box” retailer—these are called “anchor tenants” and you may want to be as close to them as possible.  Looking for locations on major intersections is also a strategy, as it maximizes visibility from the most possible potential patients.

  6. Current and Long-term Landlord Viability – Check out the landlord’s ability to pay Tenant Improvement (TI) dollars, as well as their long-term financial capacity to maintain the property up to the standards you desire. In today’s tough economic times, some landlords are so cash strapped they cannot follow-through on promises made during lease negotiations.

  7. Roof Condition – Always examine or get a professional to inspect the age, type, and present condition of roofs, and be on the lookout inside a space for any roof leaks or water stains present on ceiling tiles or walls.

  8. Parking – Will there be enough employee as well as patient parking? Also are there handicapped parking spaces near a location’s front entrance, and are there adequate handicapped ramps over the curb in order to allow someone in a wheelchair to access the front door of a potential new office space?

  9. Security – Make sure there is enough evening and all-night lighting around possible office locations. You also want the doors and windows visible from the parking lot so local security or police can see them when driving by.  After all, with medicines, expensive equipment, and computers on premise when you open a practice, you want to ensure there is adequate security at your new office.

  10. Other Practice Criteria – Depending on the type of practice you will be opening, you may want to be near a hospital, or other dentists or medical professionals for referrals; or if you have a large Medicaid patient base, you do not want to be in proximity to any liquor stores, adult book stores, or the like; and if you are a pedo practice, you may want to consider being near or on the way to a grade school or public library.
These are just a few of the many considerations that you should take into account when determining where to locate your new practice. Overall, your Broker can help you find the physical attributes you’re looking for in a space. But you want to make sure that the existing conditions of that space are acceptable to your type of practice. If they aren’t you should find out what kind of costs you are looking at to get it where you need it.

Doing your research and due diligence upfront, can save you years of frustration down the road. Be sure to engage an attorney to review your lease BEFORE you sign it. And as mind numbing as it may sound, read the lease yourself. You might be surprised at what you find. Once it’s signed you’re bound to live by the terms for however long your lease is. Think of it as a prenuptial agreement. After all, you’re going to be married to your Landlord for a very long time.