A Dentist’s Guide to Relocating Their Practice

A Dentist’s Guide to Relocating Their Practice

May 26, 2020 - Arminco Inc.

In this Blog I want to outline a Guideline of Relocating a Practice. The idea of relocating a practice could seem daunting and in some case down right impossible, this should definitely help you navigate the very complicated and difficult decisions that need to be made. Having a plan through this process helps make this process more fluid and a more positive experience.

Now let’s get started.

Possibly the most important and hardest decision to make.

Why do you want to relocate your practice? This question has an infinite amount of answers and reasons as to why someone would want to relocate a practice. From my experience and research there is usually 1 of 5 reason why a doctor would consider relocating a practice. For most doctors it’s either a financial growth issue, lease cost, space issue, practice flow, or a demographics issue. This isn’t to say there aren’t any other motivating factors but through our case studies these have been the 5 most common reasons. Throughout this process it is crucial to pin point the exact reason you want to relocate. There may be many reasons as to why you are considering relocating and if that is the case it is important to keep them all in mind throughout the process. They are crucial reasons and must remain your primary focus for your relocation. All too often we work with practices that start off with one reason and end up becoming overwhelmed when they get hung up on non-vital ideas of what a relocation means to them. Pin point your motivation and stick to it, keeping to your primary reason for a relocation helps make your relocation easier and less costly. Having proper guidance throughout the process also plays a huge role in what sort of experience you are going to have.

Consult with Industry professionals that understand your business.

Having a team of experts to support you in the process is extremely important. You want the best information and guidance you can possibly get. Feeling lost or unguided through a relocation is stressful and panic inducing. Consult industry specialist and seek compassionate teams that are invested in helping you relocate your practice and provide you the best support and guidance possible. Your finance specialist should have good connections you can tap into, your realtor should understand what you do, your contractor should know what a dental office requires, and supplemental teams should understand what your goal is. You will have a million questions, and that is understandable. You have to feel comfortable with the decisions you are making and understand what sort of impact it will have on you and your practice. Any good specialist or consultant should be able to give you reasonable responses and explanations as to why you should consider their suggestions. But make sure you always trust your instincts, don’t follow blindly and ask the difficult questions.

When Should you Start.

This step is extremely important and often over looked because we get busy and distracted with day to day business. You should Start at minimum 12 MONTHS before your lease is due to expire. Some practices may even need to start as far as 18 months in advance because of the nature of their practice. The relocation process is a bit more time consuming than most can imagine. There are a lot of decision that need to be made and transition period that has to be taken into account. Between looking for a suitable space and lease negotiations you could easily lose a month or two depending on the realtor you are working with and building you are considering moving into. It’s important that you don’t wait for the perfect space, allow your realtor to work for you and hunt for a space that is capable of accommodating your practice. From that point on between deciding how you want your space built out to what sort of equipment you are planning implementing in your office 2 to 3 months goes by, even with the most decisive of doctors. Consider what sort of time frame your build out process will take, from finalizing floor plans to acquiring permits and making interior selections you have gone another 2 months without any work being done. Now on to the quickest part which is your construction, this part is the fastest depending on which company you work with. Typical time frame for an office build out is 60-90 days. So far we are between 7-10 months and there are still a few things to take into account. Those being equipment installation and practice transition period. Having your equipment company prepared and ready to go is crucial for your timeline. By far the most complicated part of a relocation is coordinating your equipment. Whether you are relocating your existing equipment or buying new equipment this process must be perfectly choreographed to ensure you won’t have any down time or hiccups.

Finding the Right Space

Undoubtedly you will look at many spaces throughout this process. Important things to note when looking for a space. There is a huge misconception that having a space that is already built out cuts cost or having a completely empty shell is less expensive to build. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Each individual space has its set of Pros and Cons. Its important to find a space that minimizes the amount of effort to have a new office space built in. Find the adequate square footage that will be conducive to your current practice size and potential growth. Take these things into account because they are extremely important. An existing dental office doesn’t always offer any significant cost savings compared to a empty shell unless you are willing to maintain the current floorplan with just minor improvements. Usually older practices that are on the market host a few other complications which could be as small as proper power to an Op and as extreme as not having adequate plumbing underground to support new equipment or may not be code. If you have doubts have one of the specialist you are working with visit the space with you to provide the best possible advice and guidance. It wont always be 100% unless they have X-Ray vision but there are usually some tell tale signs there may be an expensive problem lurking in the space.

Practice Relocation Essentials.

Its time to figure out what essentials are needed for your relocation to happen. Throughout your build out process you will undergo a few inspections. Some of those inspections require some equipment to be in the space in order for them to be signed off on. Make sure you have access to those pieces of equipment if you want to avoid unforeseen headaches and rushed decisions. Your team should be able to discuss with you what equipment must be in place in order for this to go smoothly. Understanding what other vital components of your office will need to transition into the new space is extremely important. Each office is unique and essential equipment differs from space to space and building to building. The licensing processing time normally takes between six to eight weeks, so it’s important to allow for that in making moving plans. Have a plan in place for how you will be notifying your current patient base about the move. Make sure you provide adequate time for your patients to know you will be moving and what they could expect throughout the process so they can adjust. You must be extremely prepared for this step to avoid any patient loss.

Smart Budgeting

When considering relocating your practice your budget drives everything. Having a great financial institution with a Dental Practice Finance specialist is important. Understanding what and how your budget should be managed is key. It is important to outline what portion of your budget should be allocated for each component of your office relocation. Lease, Construction, Equipment, Operating cost, Marketing and I.T. There are a few advantage a relocating practice has over a start-up practice when it comes to acquiring financing. You have experience and a book of business which will help when qualifying for a loan. It is smart to leverage the bank’s ability to help you get your relocated practice off the ground over self-financing. Having a plan in place on how you will be managing your budget is crucial.

Here are some Steps to Follow

Step 1 - Find a finance company that has experience working with Dental offices. This is important because they have resources you can tap in to that can help streamline the process and good contact that are reliable and trustworthy.

Step 2 - Find a specialized Dental practice Realtor that can help you find a location that will fulfill your needs and capable of negotiating a solid lease term or great purchase. A realtor that will do a full demographic study of your area to make sure you are not moving into an oversaturated area or not have enough supportive referral offices in the area.

Step 3 - Find a Design Build company that understand dental offices and your practice. This is crucial for your timeline and cost. A good design build company will have Specialist involved who will help guide and provide you with real data to relocate and design your practice efficiently.

Step 4 - Find an equipment company that will provide you the equipment you need and in the event you will be relocating an existing equipment provide you with a disconnect and reconnect service. Your equipment is vital for your practice so you want to make sure you are ready.

Step 5 - Have your team ready to go and help throughout the process. This helps you maintain clear focus on the objective and the goal. Allowing your team to support you through the process is very useful and alleviates a lot of the stress.

Step 6 - Prepare for a full transition, get licensing prepared and in place. Contact any supportive business to you practice to prepare for the transfer.

Step 7 - Get ready for your GRAND RE-OPENING. Great time to create a marketing strategy to hit the market you are moving to a hunt for new patients.


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