If your current lease is about to expire, you may be thinking about relocating your practice. The determination of whether it’s better to renew your existing lease, or sign a new lease should be made prior to one year before your current lease expires. Reasons that may influence your decision to move are the unavailability of lease renewal, the functionality of your current square footage, or the visibility of your current location. If you decide that relocating your practice is the best option, be sure to start the relocation process at least one year before your lease expires. You may think one year is a bit extreme, but many factors affect the success of a practice relocation.
Before beginning the search for a new space, consider whether re-negotiating your lease would be feasible. In this matter, carefully consider what you hope the practice will become in the future, and how you anticipate practice growth including the potential addition of associate dentists. If you think that renewal may be a viable path, start a conversation with your realtor and existing landlord to discuss your lease terms and options. Building ownership and opportunities can fluctuate, even in the last two months of your lease, so if you think you might want to stay in your current location, safeguard that option a year ahead of time!
Searching and then negotiating a lease for a new property takes, on average, 3 to 5 months. It may take more or less time depending on your area, and the availability of leasable space.
Building and Space Evaluation
There are four main types of commercial buildings commonly available for dentists; Class A Office Buildings, Multi-Family Buildings (with retail on the ground level), Town Centers (with offices over retail), and Traditional Retail Centers. Each type has their own unique positive attributes and negative aspects, including visibility and accessibility variations. Regardless of which type you are considering moving in to, if you want to maintain your current client base your new location should be no more than 5 miles away from your original one.
Gauging the size of a space merely by square-footage usually isn’t the best way to determine what size space best suits your needs. Test-fits should be utilized in this process; test-fits are preliminary floor plans drawn by designers and architects, as a way of calculating how many operatories and offices can fit into any given space. Your current space may be large enough for your practice, but you may not realize it if the space isn’t maximized.
Planning A Remodel
After you’ve selected a potential new office location, get an experienced designer or architect involved to check out the space- before you sign a lease! The designer/architect can not only complete a test-fit for you, but can also perform code evaluations, assemble budget costs, and create a preliminary design. Ensure that your chosen designer is a proven expert in the dental industry who can maximize the coverage of your budget and share with you the knowledge that comes only with experience.
The design and permit process alone can take 2-4 months to complete, depending on county permitting processes. Once your county has approved all the necessary permits, construction begins; it typically takes 3 months to fully construct an office.
Remodeling an office should be an efficient process, especially when you’re relocating and practice shut down time needs to be minimized. Before signing a construction contract, be sure you understand exactly how much shut down time is estimated, and ask for ways in which it can be eliminated.
If your equipment is still in good condition, it’s a possibility that you could move it to your new location, should you want to. Bulky older equipment can make an operatory feel crowded; if you just need a little extra space, but aren’t ready for a full relocation, sometimes purchasing modern and streamlined equipment will do the job. Experienced auction companies and similar companies are available to buy or sell your old equipment, giving you value for it and making newer equipment more affordable.
If you’re pro-active with your relocation, you can be in your new office with time left on your old lease- then you’re able exploit that time by using it to redirect patient traffic to your new location!