One of the most significant business decisions you will make is your office’s location. In many markets, the incentives offered by landlords to new tenants make relocation more appealing than renewing a lease in your existing space. Before signing any lease renewal, you should evaluate all of the options in your area.
If you decide to open a new office, whether as a relocation, new start-up practice, property purchase, or second office, having the right team in place is paramount and can make the process successful, profitable, and even fun.
The unique office needs of health-care providers are foreign to most real estate brokers, architects, and other service providers. Experienced professionals with a health-care focus provide the expertise needed to address issues such as patient flow, privacy and compliance, medical technology integration, parking and accessibility requirements, and aesthetics. When choosing your team, seek experienced, health-care-focused professionals to fill each role and you will end up with an office that will serve you and your patients for many years.
Here are some guidelines for putting a team together that will help you find the best possible location and terms, keep your costs low, and create an ideal office to meet your patients’ needs.
Real estate agent
Because the real estate agent helps ensure the entire new office process goes smoothly, it is one of the first roles you will need to fill. Your agent should provide guidance in choosing the best location, negotiating the most competitive rates and terms with the landlord or seller, and assisting in assembling the rest of the team. He or she will be able to advise you on current market conditions, vacancies, costs to open a new office, and how to avoid common pitfalls when choosing a space.
Should you lease an office, your agent’s experience in representing health-care tenants can help you achieve concessions that landlords make available only to high quality tenants. If the agent is well-connected in the health-care community, he or she can help the team work together on your behalf. Your agent’s services are typically paid for by the landlord or seller, so there is usually no out-of-pocket cost to you.
A real estate attorney plays a critical role to ensure that all of the legal terms of the lease or purchase are drafted to protect your interests in the short-term and long-term. Choosing an attorney who specializes in real estate transactions will help the legal negotiations with the landlord or seller to move faster, which reduces legal fees.
Many office projects require financing for additional build-out, equipment and furniture, and operating capital, so it is essential to bring in a practice lending specialist. Many major banks have departments that deal exclusively with commercial loans for health-care providers that provide rates and terms not available to other customers. The lender will be closely involved with the agent and attorney to ensure that the requirements of the underwriters are included in the terms of the lease or sale and will help determine the size and quality of the office that you can afford.
An experienced health-care-specific architect is the key to transforming the new space into your ideal office. He or she will meet with you, the equipment and technology providers, and the building engineers to determine the best way to achieve your design ideas. The architect is responsible for the overall design, obtaining permits, complying with building codes, and coordinating the work of the engineers, contractors, and suppliers. Through constant oversight and communication with the team, the architect holds everyone accountable to meet deadlines and make sure your space is done on time, on budget, and will meet your functional and aesthetic requirements.
Equipment and technology providers
If your office will require new equipment or technologies, your providers should meet with the real estate agent and architect early in the process to ensure that the design can accommodate the new equipment. They will coordinate delivery and installation within the timeframe set by the architect. The terms you negotiate during the lease or purchase combined with your loan package will usually determine the amount you can invest in your new office equipment, so it is very helpful for these providers to work with your lender and real estate agent early in the process as well.
General contractors and subcontractors
Your architect will be able to recommend several general contractors who have good reputations. The contractor has the task of building what was designed within the budget and on time. Your architect will recommend whether it makes sense to hire a general contractor on a negotiated basis, or to competitively bid the project to multiple contractors. In either scenario, costs, communication, and service are key determinants in choosing the right contractor.
When you assemble your team, ensure that everyone is an expert in their specialty and that they collaborate and want to make the process go as smoothly as possible. Having the right team helps the project to be on time, on budget, and of the highest quality. Having the right team protects your time and allows you to focus on your practice and enjoy your new office.
CLINT HERREMA works with CARR as the director of transitions and acquisitions. His role is focused on growing and developing CARR’s national platform of transitions and acquisitions. Herrema’s duties include broker support, agent development and education, managing various national relationships, and new development strategies. Contact him at (616) 238.7550 or [email protected].