Time to Grow - Picking Your Next Location

Business has been good. You have begun to think about opening an additional sleep lab. Which raises two critical questions: 1) how do you select the best site for you next location and 2) how do you best manage multiple locations?

Picking the Place

No doubt you have heard the phrase “location, location, location.” What is true in residential Real Estate is even more important when it comes to selecting a site for a new or additional clinic. A mistake that many short-sighted business owners make is to just go with a space that has an attractive lease to keep costs and overhead low at a startup location. However, it does not matter how low the rent is, if you are in a lousy location that is poorly accessible, unattractive, or inconvenient for people to get to.  Non-retail or office or service business space is usually divided into three categories:

  • Class A Space – Has the most expensively appointed and newest buildings, usually found in the most prestigious parts of town. Chances are you don't need Class A space.
  • Class B Space – These are older buildings, generally they have some, but fewer amenities then Class A space, but are still on the “high end.”  Class B space is used by many small to medium sized enterprises, particularly those that have a lot of “face time” with clients. Class B space may be appropriate for an additional Sleep Lab, depending on your existing location, and what is considered “Class B” space in your particular area.
  • Class C Space - Is the most common space occupied by clinics and small-to-medium-sized business? Class C space is the typical suburban office strip mall. It usually comes with limited, or few amenities, but for medical clinics, such as sleep centers, it is a very tried and true location. 

As far as square footage goes, you will know what you need for technicians, sleep rooms etc., based on your existing location, but allow some room for growth. You will likely want to select an area in and around other medical facilities. This will not only lend an air of legitimacy to your lab, but opens the door for cross referrals. Beyond that however, you will want to get a feel for the demographics of a given neighborhood that you are looking to expand into. Demographic information will give you several key things about the area:

  • You will get an idea of how much money area consumers are spending on ancillary healthcare services.
  • You will get a feel for the age range of the shoppers and residents, and see if that matches up well with your patient demographics.
  • Demographic information can also tell you about any existing competition in the area, and how well they are doing. 

Of course you need to be aware of any zoning laws or issues. Check with local municipalities for any incentives for “enterprise zones.”  Make sure any space you are looking at has the necessary wiring and power requirements for all of your automation and diagnostic equipment. And do not forget about the importance of ample, safe parking! 

A final tip: Be ready and willing to negotiate lease or rental terms with the landlord. You may want to enlist the aid of a lawyer or Real Estate broker to help you get the best deal. 

Managing Multiple Sites

When you open another location, maintaining all of your records gets a little more complicated.  You no longer have the convenience of going to your trusty file cabinet or local computer to pull up data on any patient.  So, part of your investment in expanding your practice should explore the changes you will need in records management. 

The easiest way is to use an integrated sleep lab management platform that incorporates the analysis, workflow and data access you will need. This also enables you to consolidate your records into one location that is accessible from the Internet so you can get to it from any office.  Sleep Lab Management tools also reduce your investment in technology so you can focus on building your practice, not managing computers.

It is exciting to grow your practice from one location to two, then to many.  Making sure you pay attention to the details will help you expand your practice in a manageable way.

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