When opening your first optometry practice, finding the right location is critical. From the city where you will put down your roots and set up shop to the actual location you will rent, many factors go into this decision. Your decision on location will make or break your practice, so this is a place to spend a little bit of time. Here are some factors that should go into the decision.
Before you make any big decisions about your optometry practice’s location, consider your desires. Is there a specific area where you would like to practice? Does a certain climate or cultural area appeal to you?
Unless you are tied down by family and other obligations, you can set up your optometry practice anywhere in the country, so this is the time to consider your wants and work that into your decision. Remember, you will be working and living in the community, and also potentially raising a family there. When investing the money into an optometry practice, you want to be certain it’s in an area where you want to live.
Once you’ve narrowed down some basics about where you would like to live, you are ready to do some research. Here are some key metrics to learn about the area before starting to look for an optometry practice location.
Demographics are a major factor in determining where you want to have your optometry practice. While your wants about where to live are important, so is your potential business success. Is there a group of potential patients who need your services?
Some of this will depend on the focus of your practice. If you choose to specialize in eye care for older adults, for instance, you will want to ensure that the town has a large population of seniors. On the other hand, if you are going to specialize in pediatrics, then you want to live and work in a community that has a large family population. For general practice, a diverse population is necessary.
The top employers in an area can give you insight into the demand for optometry. While your patients will likely be from many walks of life, the major employers will impact the type of insurance coverage in the area. This, in turn, can mean how quickly your practice can grow and which networks you wish to join.
In addition to demographics, research the safety of the area. If you open an optometry practice, chances are you will want to live nearby. If you choose to raise a family in the area, you want to feel safe.
Next, consider whether you can grow a successful business. This will depend on two factors. First, the average income in the area must be considered. You want to have a practice in a location that people can afford optometry care.
Second, competition is a factor you must research. If there are too many optometry practices in the general area, yours may struggle to bring in patients. A good rule of thumb is one optometrist for every 4,000 to 6,000 residents in rural areas. Urban areas may be able to sustain more competition. The ideal community is one that has decent per capita income and has a need for another optometry practice to meet patient demand.
To find accurate information about an area, start first with the Census Bureau. This is the best resource for population demographics, including age, based on census data. Wikipedia can also be a wealth of information about an area, as can the community’s chamber of commerce site. Finally, community ranking sites such as Sperling’s Best Places or Niche.com can help you understand crime rates and overall income.
While profitability is important when you’re running any type of business, it needs to be balanced with the overall appeal of the community. Making a lot of money but living in a community you dislike is discouraging.
When you dislike your place of work, you will feel stressed and unfulfilled. You will also struggle to get involved in the local community’s chamber of commerce and social scenes, and that can hurt your ability to grow as a professional. Balance the appeal of the community as a place to live and raise a family with its potential profitability.
After choosing a community for your practice, you are ready to choose the physical location. This is where planning for the long-term comes into play. While a small storefront may be all you need for your initial launch, you may wish to expand at a later date. Choose a location that will meet your current and further potential needs, while remaining within your budget.
With that said, remember that small can be effective. As long as you have enough space to do your job and serve your patients well, you do not need a massive location. A smaller location can fit your budget better, so your expenses don’t overrun your profits.
Visibility is an important part of your optometry practice. When you are new, you need people to see your building and your sign. A location that is easily seen from the main road will help you grow and gain brand recognition in your local community.
Accessibility is also important. Your patients will need to be able to get in the door easily. This means convenient parking and easy access to the parking area from the main roads. In other words, choose a location people can find and get to easily.
Finally, choose a location that has good “bones.” This means a location that has a solid structure that would easily be converted into an optometry practice. Sometimes, purchasing or renting an existing medical or optometry facility can give you those good bones. Other times, you may need to choose an office space and put a little work to renovate it, but you can benefit from good “bones” in the location and overall visibility of the space. Look at a space for its potential, and watch yourself transform it into a thriving optometry practice.
Location is vital when you set up your optometry practice. Take some time to put in the research, and soon you will have a thriving practice in a desirable location. If you are looking for more information about buying and setting up your optometry practice, contact Dental & Medical Counsel to schedule a free consultation with attorney Ali Oromchian.
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