Remodel, Expand, or Move: What’s Right for You?

When your practice is no longer meeting your needs, or there seems to be a running list of pain points, how do you decide between remodeling, expanding, or moving altogether? While all options seem a bit daunting, they each have their own payoff. Henry Schein Equipment Specialist Mike Stanislawski has some insight into how to make the right choice and the considerations that can either help or hinder your project.

“It’s more than a need, it’s a why.”-Mike Stanislawski

While it is easy to say you need to make a change, it is imperative to understand the why of the project. Are you looking to gain more patients or better accommodate your existing patient base? Would you like to increase the types of procedures you offer or bring in a specialist, associate, or partner? Are you in a competitive location and your practice is struggling to stack up against the competition? Each answer can aid in your decision to relocate or stay put.

But before you get too far ahead, Equipment Specialist Mike Stanislawski highly recommends starting with one, universal strategy: walk through your practice as if you are a new patient. Even a practice on the cutting-edge of patient care and technology will be downgraded in a patient’s eyes if there are chipped countertops, broken ceiling tiles, or staining and excessive wear on the floors. From the moment the patient walks through the door, they form a first impression. What needs to be done to your current location to improve this impression, or will it be beneficial and possible to move entirely?

Beyond perception, a patient’s experience can also make or break your success. Frequent concerns Mike poses to doctors considering a change include the following: When a patient calls your office, are they able to get in quickly, or are there weeks, if not months of delay? If you are tight on treatment rooms to serve your routine appointments, there is a risk that emergency patients cannot get in quickly enough for their satisfaction. Referrals to other offices for specialty procedures may cause your patients to wait even longer for treatment compared to competitors that bring in a specialist. What can be done to streamline your patient’s care?

Aside from patients, it is also important to understand how your team feels about your practice. Is the space efficient with proper ergonomics? Do they have enough space in the treatment rooms to provide patient care like they would like to? Is the sterilization area efficiently laid out so they can process instruments quickly and efficiently? Do they have a break room to rest throughout the day or lockers to store their belongings? Finding good teammates is half the battle; it is important to keep the team around you happy and comfortable in the space to increase talent retention. Listening to staff concerns and wishes is a reason many doctors consider renewing, expanding, remodeling, or even moving their practice.

Lastly, Mike urges doctors to think about transition. In other words, what are you looking to do in the next five, ten, or even twenty years? Think about your practice life span. Are you considering selling your practice? Would you like to add an associate? Reflecting on these questions and imagining where you would like to be in the future is a great step and reason to start thinking about the types of changes that will benefit your practice.

Now’s the big question: should I stay, or should I go?

If you are currently leasing your space, the order of business is to determine when your lease is up. Usually, you will not be able to exit an existing lease, so it is important to understand when you can move and what the market is offering. This could be a more desirable lease space or a space where you would hold ownership, either an existing or new build. Working with a commercial realtor and dental specialist will help you assess which move would work best for your needs and which spaces are conducive to dental buildouts. Not all spaces are created equally, so before you sign or buy, always work with a design team to do a test fit of a layout.

If you are in a desirable location or don’t feel you have the means to move, Mike offers three options. The first option would be a simple refresh. This is a quick and affordable way to rejuvenate your practice by replacing old, stained carpets and giving the practice a new coat of paint. Small changes like these can go a long way to the overall look and feel of the space. Sometimes these changes can even reinvigorate the doctor and their surrounding team which is often a contagious feeling that patients will also feel.

The next option is a remodel. If you are considering a remodel, you may have bigger goals that your current space does not align with. For example, perhaps you want an extra treatment room or a more efficient space for sterilization. Remodeling often does require permits and a little more planning. It is important to work with an expert team that understands your goals and can assist with necessary phasing and scheduling to make these changes as seamless and cost-efficient as possible. When remodeling in a lease space, it is common to renegotiate the lease with your landlord. This may allow you to extend that term early and get some tenant improvement allowance to help offset some of those construction costs.

Finally, expanding is an option if you are lucky enough to be in a building where you have an adjacent space or a space that you can expand into. This could include adding a couple of new treatment rooms or even increasing the break room size. This option also requires permitting and careful planning. Just like a remodel, this could include a phasing and construction schedule to hopefully keep the practice running throughout the entire project.

As a business, every decision will be reliant upon cost; however, it is important to weigh the cost of the project versus the opportunity cost. Overall, consider where you see yourself a year, or five years from now, and what kind of practice do you and your staff want to drive to every day. What type of experience would you like to offer your patients? With so many options, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Aligning yourself with the right team will help take the burden off your shoulders. Expert contractors, architects, bankers, realtors, and dental specialists like Mike Stanislawski can assess your current space or financial needs.

If you’d like to watch the full webinar, click here.

If you would like to schedule a complementary practice design consultation with an Equipment Specialist, click the link below.