Where Should My Private Therapy Practice be Located?
This may be the most common question we hear from clinicians who are embarking on the journey to open a private practice. The answer is – complicated. Finding the ideal location depends in large part on where you’re located in the state, the size of your city/town, and the size of your practice. Below, we’ll review some of the many aspects of finding the right private practice location.
Consider Starting with Shared Space
We discussed recently in our “To LLC or Not to LLC” blog that people have different levels of risk they can reasonably take when opening a private practice. For some clinicians, that means working part-time as a private practitioner. When this is the case, it may be beneficial to share space with other private practitioners. This doesn’t mean you necessarily need to partner with them. It just means you can share a calendar and schedule clients in the same office at different times. This will help you keep rent, utilities, and other overhead to a minimum while you build your client base. Once you feel confident you can fill up your calendar, it’s time to start looking for your own office.
The Three “L’s” of Real Estate
You’ve probably already heard this, but the three “L’s” of real estate are all “Location.” To an extent, this is true for choosing the right spot for your private practice. Unfortunately, the best locations are going to come with the highest price tags. This is what leads many private practitioners to start out sharing space. However, if you take the time to market your practice appropriately, you can make just about any location work for you.
How to Find the Space
Finding the right space may be very simple. Sometimes, you just stumble onto something great. Unfortunately, these lucky finds are few and far between. In most cases, you’re going to need to do some searching. Begin by setting a budget (keep in mind that the next section is about negotiating your lease – because you can and should be doing this). Then, determine your ideal neighborhood and other “compromise” areas that will also work. Start looking around your chosen locations to see if your price range makes sense. You can use sites like realtor.com, Zillow, and others to get an idea of what’s available. However, working with a realtor is almost always going to be your best bet. Yes, you will have some associated fees, but it’s worth it when you know you’re seeing the best properties available – and you don’t have to do all the legwork yourself.
What does the ideal location look like for your private practice? Consider the following:
- Visibility – can people see your office from the main road? Do they need to?
- Traffic – will your clients have a place to park and safely access your office or is traffic going to present some problems?
- Neighbors – are you in a quiet area or are your neighbors a fraternity house and a movie theatre that specializes in really loud action movies?
- Views – will your clients feel at peace when they’re inside and outside your office with views of nicely landscaped areas or will they be looking at dumpsters and vacant buildings?
- Access - Is the location near important institutions, like schools, universities, hospitals, physician offices, or other attractions, like shopping malls? Does it create easy access for your patients, such as near interstates, main roads or intersections?
Negotiating Your Lease
In the US, we’ve gotten really used to just accepting whatever price is presented to us and paying it. In most cases, this is okay, but when it comes to your private practice property lease, you will likely have some room for negotiation. Many landlords will agree to lower numbers outright if they know they’ll have a good long-term tenant. Another option that works well during negotiation is to offer to pay a percentage of your profit up to the listed rent prices. These agreements are a great way to build up your client base while being able to pay your lease. If you set up an agreement like this, your realtor should work with a lawyer to create a contract to protect your practice and the landlord’s property and ensure both parties are happy.
The Home Office
In the movies and on TV, almost every therapist has an office in their home. In some situations, this will work. For instance, a home that has a completely separate space attached, so the office has its own entrance. But, there’s one overwhelming concern no matter how separated the spaces are – your clients are in your home. They know where you live. This makes it significantly more difficult to ensure your own privacy and safety and establish and maintain boundaries. If you decide to practice out of your home, it’s important that you clearly and directly establish boundaries for your safety, and your client’s, from the very first appointment. One area where home offices are ideal is telehealth. This growing private practice option makes it convenient for you to work from the home.
How GetTherapy.com Can Help
We are not realtors, but we do have experience launching private practices. If you want to learn more about finding the ideal private practice location, we discuss this as part of our New Practice Academy. You can also sign up for a consultation to brainstorm ideas, including practice locations, with our team at GetTherapy.com. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to help private practitioners in Arkansas establish and maintain thriving practices.