Dental Office Design – Don’t Assume A Low Price Is Your Best Deal

I hope you enjoy this next in a series of dental office design examples about “Don’t Assume Anything”. This example touches on two mistakes that seem to come up more often than they should.

First is that impulse to grab the lowest price, bid or offer that comes in. We all like the “best deal”, and a dentist office remodel or new office design is no exception. But be careful, the lowest price can often cost you much more in the long run than first meets the eye.

Second, when you’re evaluating new properties and locations to setup your dental practice, you should always have a qualified dental office interior designer or contractor come in and help you review the property before you sign that lease and make the commitment. A professional designer can help you spot many of the hidden problems that the landlord or leasing agent either doesn’t know about or understand.

In fact, this is one of the big mistakes I see dentists make time and time again. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called in after the fact to try and fix a situation that could have easily been avoided with a little bit of preventive legwork up front.

Don’t Assume A Low Price Is A Good Deal

Dr. W. was told by his landlord that the building he was in was sold and would be torn down so he had to vacate in 30 days.  The doctor couldn’t believe what he just heard, he had no idea the building was being sold, and only 30 days to vacate!  Naturally the doctor was feeling panicky trying to figure where he could move his practice. It had to be nearby because he didn’t want to lose his patients.

He knew there was a medical building nearby that had been vacant for quite some time. Perhaps that might be an option for relocating his office. He arranged to meet the landlord at the vacated space.  It was in great need of cosmetic upgrades, but the rooms looked like the right size and were plumbed.  The doctor asked if there were any problems with the space. The landlord said that the property was OK but the doctor had to take the space “as is.”

In the back of the doctor’s mind he knew he should probably call in a designer or a general contractor to have a look at the space before he made any commitments to lease the property. But the lease price was very attractive, this place was just a few blocks from his existing practice, and he felt the uncomfortable pressure that he had to move in less than 30 days. So he signed on the dotted line.

Dr. W. called me to come see the space so I could advise him on how best to convert it from a medical space to a dental office with the least amount of changes. I explained that medical office layouts generally don’t work well as dental operatories as they are not the right size, but he asked me to do my best to make it work.  Of course, I asked him if he had a general contractor review the place before he signed the lease and he said no.  Alarm bells were going off in my head and I advised him to have a general contractor meet us at the job site.

Unfortunately the office needed everything upgraded;  plumbing, electrical, air conditioning, drainage, roof repair, disabled access issues, and more.  Although he was able to get the repairs done quickly enough to move into the suite within the month, the amount of money it cost him to fix all the problems was well beyond what he originally planned to spend.

Understandably, Dr. W. had a very difficult situation to deal with. But he did have more options than he realized that might have helped him manage a little less emotionally. He could have checked with local real estate agents or practice sales companies. He might also have been able to share a space with a local dentist until he found a better opportunity.  In this situation, his decision ended up being more emotionally driven than rational and he paid a great deal extra because of it.

Since this doctor has known and worked with me for years, he admitted he should have called me when he first heard the news. He knows I would have been able to give him the rational advice with an experienced eye that he needed. Fortunately, we were able to get him up and running in time and he didn’t lose any patients as a result.

If you’re in the process of selecting a new location for your dental practice, don’t assume that the landlord or sales agent will provide you with acurate information and details, especially when it comes to building codes and regulations.

Always do yourself a favor and bring in a qualified design professional to help you assess a property’s suitability for your dental office requirements before you sign the lease and make the long term committment. It’s a simple and quick step to take up front and can save you thousands of dollars of additional cost and expense in the long run.

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Comment