Healthcare practices come with a unique set of requirements when it comes to commercial real estate. Beyond choosing a physical location, analyzing everything from visibility and accessibility to a community’s infrastructure, physician density in the area, property maintenance (different for a medical office vs. a restaurant, for instance), neighboring tenants, parking, medical districts, and more is crucial.
It’s about the full healthcare experience for patients—and that will look different from specialty to specialty. While the physical location is not always the most important factor, it is very important, and the property itself should fit a variety of needs for your business. Real estate will, after all, impact your referrals, doctor-patient relationships, and especially your bottom line. So before re-signing your next lease or choosing your next facility, hire a healthcare-specific, tenant-focused agent. Specialized agents will help you consider standalone properties, multi-tenant retail spaces, offices or medical office buildings, while also giving you a complete view of the market. Consider the following when choosing the best property for your practice.
One of the most common questions that healthcare providers ask is whether they should look at retail centers or standard office buildings. Many people make predetermined decisions one way or the other, but that’s not something we suggest—there are pros and cons to each.
With a retail space, you’re going to gain exposure, signage, and often more accessible parking, but you’re going to give up window lines, natural light and the synergy you might otherwise get with tenants at a hospital campus or medical office building.
Retail may cost more than an office building, but you may determine that the exposure from vehicles heading in and out of the grocery store parking lot next door or the foot traffic from the ancillary retailers outweigh the added cost. Conversely, if you’re referral based, maybe that foot traffic doesn’t mean anything to you and you’d prefer to put that savings into a targeted marketing campaign. You might prefer the natural light and windows on more than one side of your space found in an office building, or the patient confidence that dedicated medical spaces can generate. There are too many variables to determine which property (retail or office) you want to transact on ahead of time, so it’s vital to do your due diligence and consider the pros and cons as they relate specifically to your practice and patient base.
Whether or not your healthcare practice can thrive in an area is dependent on a location’s accessibility and infrastructure. Your practice likely requires adequate parking, but whether it’s a surface lot in shopping centers or an adjacent garage is a practice preference. While one practice may require more reserved spots for people with mobility issues or pregnant patients, another may need ample space for patient drop-offs or enough property to accommodate emergency vehicles. Substantial traffic flow and easy access off of major roads and easily identifiable cross streets are also factors to consider.
We’ve already discussed the benefits of high foot-traffic areas, which can be a major asset from a marketing standpoint. But medical facilities near shops and restaurants also offer significant benefits to employees (who might want to grab lunch or run errands during breaks) and patients (who can make one trip for both their appointment and shopping needs at adjacent businesses). The more venues are near your practice, the more the physical location becomes an amenity for both your employees and patients.
There are downsides, of course. Consider your neighbors. There are types of retail uses that could be undesirable as adjacent neighbors: While a barbecue joint next door sounds great at mealtime, will your patients enjoy the scent of smoked brisket at their 9 a.m. appointment? If you’re a pediatric physician or pediatric dentist, you probably don’t want to be located next to a vapor shop or liquor store. If you’re going into a retail space, your agent may be able to help negotiate certain exclusivity clauses that regard neighboring tenants.
How many medical providers surround the area you’re considering? What are their specialties? How big are their practices? Do they complement your practice (functioning as a network for referrals) or compete with it? If the area is saturated with specific healthcare providers, how similar are their services?
Finding a space that’s well-known to patients for medical practitioners can certainly be an advantage since it also often comes with a peace of mind and security—people are used to traveling there for medical appointments. But just be sure it’s not saturated with your competitors.
Signage and exposure will impact your business. But while well-placed signage can generate additional exposure, revenue, and customer; maximum visibility for you might mean an office off a major road or thoroughfare, or it could mean a medical office building where potential patients are always visiting. Additionally, you’ll want to consider the potential first-time patient experience. Is access to your space assisted by well-planned street signage or a directory? How can signage and visibility help smooth the customer experience?
In most retail properties, the tenant is responsible for the utilities. That means if the HVAC unit goes out, you’re calling the technicians, scheduling their services, paying the bill, and if it needs to be replaced, cutting a check. Healthcare providers are also typically contracting janitorial services directly, since there’s a substantial difference in cost between a clothing store and a dentist who needs a space cleaned and sanitized more frequently.
For many multi-tenant office buildings, especially ones that share HVAC systems and common areas (such as restrooms, vestibules, lobbies and meeting spaces), it’s more common for the landlord to contract utilities and janitorial expenses, which might be included as part of the lease rate or through the operating expenses.
Location is only one of many factors to consider when leasing or purchasing real estate. Confidently make your real estate decisions with a professional agent (free to tenants) who understands the healthcare industry and can ensure you’re considering every option available.
CARR is the nation’s leading provider of commercial real estate services for healthcare tenants and buyers. Every year, thousands of healthcare practices trust CARR to achieve the most favorable terms on their lease and purchase negotiations. CARR’s team of experts assist with start-ups, lease renewals, expansions, relocations, additional offices, purchases, and practice transitions. Healthcare practices choose CARR to save them a substantial amount of time and money; while ensuring their interests are always first.
Visit CARR.US to learn more and find an expert agent representing healthcare practices in your area.