Some practices are destined to fail before they even open the doors. Real estate agents preach the virtues of “location, location, location” for good reason: Poor site selection can doom a dental or optometric practice, and many physicians don’t consider the importance of a thorough demographic analysis before choosing the location. Effective site selection should always involve the following elements:

Who are your patients? Do you target men, women, young families or the elderly? Is the community expanding or is the population declining? These factors should influence where you place your practice. While basic neighborhood information is available through the local Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Census Bureau, a practice advisor can obtain more extensive, actionable details before you make a commitment.

How many dentists or optometrists are in the area? The national average is roughly one dentist per 1,700 residents, but that ratio does not tell the complete story. You should also consider the age of current practitioners in the area: Are they getting ready to retire or have they just launched a practice?

Can your practice be easily seen from the road? Is a major thoroughfare within a five-mile radius of your proposed location? If the traffic patterns indicate 40,000 cars a day, the area is considered a retail location. While traffic jams are inconvenient, they can certainly contribute to greater visibility. New practices should consider locating in medical – dental complexes near a hospital or outpatient surgery center.

Do you plan to expand? Add another partner? Be sure the building has enough square footage to accommodate growth and any additional equipment you may need. Remember that your practice location doesn’t only affect you: Your spouse and children are a part of this journey as well. If family time is a priority, consider the convenience of the location to your home or your child’s school.

Be sure to check with the local municipality regarding signage. Some communities place strict limits on the size and shape of signage. Visibility is crucial to dental and optometric practices, so be sure your sign won’t blend in with other items in a retail mall or be tucked away in a corner of the property.
Speak with an accountant or real estate attorney about the benefits of owning vs. leasing an office space and the tax and cash-flow implications involved. Typically, more visible locations will have a higher price tag.
Do you know a patient’s top complaint about medical office locations? Inadequate parking. Be sure your parking lot has enough spaces and is well-lit.
An effective location sets the stage for success: It’s a better return on your investment to spend the time planning and exploring now in order to snag that “sweet spot” that will give your practice a built-in boost before you even open the doors.