Location is EVERYTHING when selecting one for your new dental practice. Its importance is often underestimated. The ideal location is one where there’s enough demand for the kind of practice you want to have.
When choosing a location, think about how that location will help you grow your practice. If you choose right, your practice will flourish. And if you choose wrong, it can undermine everything you’ve been working for.
So, conduct exhaustive research on your choices.
And don’t rush it. You need to gather together lots of data before you’re in a position to decide if it’s a good location or not. There’s a lot riding on this decision, so make it a good one.
Demographics are statistical data relating to population.
Finding the best site for a dental practice starts with demographic analysis.
To determine whether a location will be a good fit for you, demographic analysis is a must. You want to find out who your ideal patient is.
And where he lives.
Demographic information contains the following:
- The type of household. Is it renter or owner-occupied? The answer to this question can tell you what your patients can afford to spend on dental work.
- The median household income. The more they make, the more they can afford elective procedures.
- The median age. If you practice serves the needs of children, you need to find an area that has enough households with kids.
- The average household size. Good to know if you specialize in family dentistry.
- The population consistency. It’s always easier to break into expanding communities than ones that are shrinking.
You can get good demographic information from a reputable broker.
Check out the competition ratio.
According to The American Dental Association, a good one is 1 dentist for every 1500 patients. But even if there are a lot of dental practices in the area, you can still compete. Your competitors might not be doing a good job of serving their patients' needs.
This is a great opportunity for you!
With the right marketing, you can win these patients. For example, your competitors might not offer certain procedures that patients want. Meanwhile, you do. Or, your competitors don’t have the cutting-edge technology that you do.
You might offer the latest in dental science, and your competitors are behind the times. Again, there’s loads of opportunity for you here. Always be on the lookout for missed opportunity and you’ll profit.
Try to do a little competitive intelligence. Look at the marketing plans of other dentists. See which areas they’re targeting.
Depending on what you find, you may want to avoid setting up shop in these areas. Or if you’re up for the challenge, you might even decide to go head-to-head with them.
You want to make sure you’re able to have signs. And that people in passing cars can see them.
A sign that rises above all the visual noise out there is worth its weight in gold. With a great sign, you won’t have to spend as much on marketing. That’s why it’s important to look at what kind of signs your potential location allows.
To do this, check the local zoning laws. And, ask the landlord on other ways your signs might be restricted. Some landlords and zoning laws force all signs in a plaza to be stylistically identical.
Other allow for more creative latitude.
With so many dentists marketing themselves in creative ways, how can you stand out?
You do this by making sure people can see you. Make your practice visible. One way to do this is by locating it in a high-traffic area. Sure…your customers may drive past your establishment a few times before it dawns on them that you’re a dentist.
But one day, they see it. And the next time they need a dentist, they’ll think of you.
Consider locations near busy intersections. Also, keep your eyes peeled for space near banks, grocery stores, and malls. These are places where they’ll be lots of people traveling by.
And lots of opportunities for them to see your business in all its glory.
All other things being equal, you should try to locate your practice in these areas. But you don’t want cars zipping by at 70 miles an hour because then, they won’t have time to see you.
Locations where traffic moves at more moderate speeds are best. Find out all the major thoroughfares within a 5-mile radius of the location. And where the most sought-after businesses in an area are.
Get vehicle traffic counts from the city to clarify the picture. Find out if the municipality is planning any highway construction projects. If so, this might negatively affect your practice.
You might want to delay your opening until after the project’s completed. Consider leasing space in a retail mall instead of traditional office space. You’ll be more visible. But you’ll also pay more. Look at it as the price to do business.
Besides, if you’ve made the right choice, it’ll provide you with a handsome ROI (Return on Investment).
Make sure there are enough parking spaces at a location you’re considering.
Also, make sure it’s easy for patients to park. For example, can people enter and exit the grounds without going out of their way?
If not, can they use a nearby parking garage?
Is there enough parking on site?
How far will people have to walk from their cars to your office?
There is often a fine line between being seen and making it easy for people to park. You might have great visibility on a busy highway. But getting off that superhighway might prove to be a major hassle for your patients. Which is more important to you?
Check to see if the locals make a habit of using the parking lot without permission. Because if they do, it may be difficult to get them to stop without making a lot of enemies.
Talk to the owners of nearby parking lots to see if you can rent them for a reasonable fee.
The Physical Space
Does it fit in with your long-range plans?
Next, think about the physical space itself.
Trying to cram yourself into a too-small space will prove disastrous in the long run. The space needs to conform to your vision and not vice-versa. Think of where you want to be in 5, 10, or 15 years, and make sure the space can accommodate your plans. The average lease term is 15 years, so you better be sure.
Otherwise, you might find yourself turning away patients. All because you don’t have enough operatories to keep up with demand. You might not want to be deep within the bowels of some massive complex where patients can’t find you.
It’s often better to be in a free-standing building. People will be able to see you better from the road, and you’ll have more signage options.
Also, do you have to build-out the office? Or has it already been done? If so, is this configuration acceptable to you?
Is the wiring and plumbing up to code? Are there any structural issues?
Consider any nearby businesses and the effect they’ll have on your practice. You have to think about the sort of people surrounding businesses attract.
Will they be the kind of people you can lure into your own business?
Are there any competing dental practices in the immediate vicinity?
If so, how many?
If you’re planning to locate in a large commercial space, there may be an exclusivity clause in place. If there is already a dental practice there, you won't be able to move in. Talk to the landlord to find out so you don’t waste your time.
And if you're the first, think about asking your landlord to guarantee exclusivity.
Find out how often tenants move in and out. This might give you lots of information about the quality of the building management.
And the quality of the building itself.
How will your patients see your building?
Will they be impressed or taken aback?
It needs to be ADA-compliant so it’s accessible for all visitors.
Make sure that the costs of your building aren’t so exorbitant you won’t have money for a marketing budget. No matter how good your location is, you’ll still have to market your practice.
These are some of the things to keep in mind when looking for a location for your practice.
Your dental practice location is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. Ending up in a bad location could end up costing you hundreds of thousands of dollars. When scouting locations, it’s best to work with an experienced real estate broker. You may have a vision of starting your own practice.
Or, you might want to expand your existing practice. And you’ve had this dream for a long time. You’ve nurtured it over the years. And now, it’s time for these ideas to burst forth from your mind…and into glorious reality.
If you need a broker to help you with your dream, call HPRG. We’ve been around for over 20 years and specialize in healthcare real estate. So we know what makes for a great location for a dental office.
Call us today!