Securing an office space is a monumental step for a new chiropractor. Selecting the right property for your business and negotiating a lease are high-stakes processes with major implications for your practice’s long-term success.
Before agreeing to an office space lease, a chiropractor must analyze the location, consider different lease structures, and navigate regulatory, financial, and legal details.
In the sections below, we’ll discuss the process of determining your practice’s needs and securing a favorable medical office lease.
Determining Your Practice’s Needs
Searching for a suitable location begins with assessing your practice’s needs. Considerations include:
- Square footage for treatment rooms and office space
- Suitability of the layout for medical practice use
- Amenities (interior design quality, wheelchair access, electrical outlets, etc.)
Keep in mind that most chiropractic treatment rooms are around 8 feet by 10 or 10 by 12. Around 1,000 square feet is typical for an entire chiropractic office space.
Although a small space may be suitable for a new practice, a space that’s larger than necessary provides room for your practice to grow without changing locations.
Your office needs to be in proximity to a sufficient number of potential patients that will support your business. To compare multiple locations, consider:
- The total populations of the areas
- The population density in close proximity (e.g. within a 10-mile radius) to the offices
- The number of competing practices nearby
You can also evaluate factors like median household income, average age of residents, and the overall outlook for the area’s growth and prosperity. These factors help determine whether or not a location is conducive to long-term success.
Additionally, consider the location’s visibility and accessibility. The ideal location is highly visible and easily accessed from major roads or public transportation routes. It’s also beneficial to be near a hospital, other medical providers, or major activity centers such as schools or shopping centers.
Before negotiating a lease, it’s important to understand the different leasing arrangements that are common for medical practices. These include:
- Gross lease
- Net lease
- Modified gross lease
In a gross lease, the landlord retains responsibility for the property’s operation expenses, such as property insurance, real estate taxes, and repairs. The tenant pays a flat rate. This arrangement is simple for the tenant and makes it easy to budget property expenses.
Under a net lease, the tenant is the responsible party for paying property expenses in exchange for a lower rent. This arrangement is typical in single-tenant, long-term commercial leases.
A modified gross lease is a hybrid arrangement in which the tenant pays a proportion of expenses like real estate taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintenance.
When negotiating a lease for your chiropractic practice, consider the advantages and drawbacks of different arrangements. A gross lease is low-hassle and helpful for budgeting, but a net lease may offer better financial terms. Additionally, review (and negotiate, if possible) any extra expenses associated with property use, such as common area maintenance (CAM) fees.
Legal and Regulatory Compliance
Cities and counties are divided into zoning districts that specify permitted land uses on each lot. Medical practices typically need to be in commercial zones, but zoning regulations vary widely from place to place. A quick call to your local planning department can confirm whether or not a chiropractic practice would be permitted on a certain property.
Additionally, consider the laws and regulations that govern construction activities and modifications to buildings. These range from national ADA compliance laws down to local building codes.
The best way to select a suitable office is to move into a building that previously hosted a medical practice. Such buildings are more likely to contain appropriate layouts and to be in compliance with local regulations.
Lease Agreement Nuances
Every detail of a lease agreement should be carefully reviewed. The most important conditions include the agreement’s duration and renewal options. A longer-term agreement is restrictive, but offers security and may come with a lower rate. Meanwhile, it’s important to understand whether or not you’ll be entitled to renew the lease when it expires, and what changes can be expected at that time.
Additionally, a few key clauses to be aware of include:
- Termination clause: grants the landlord (or both parties) the right to terminate the lease agreement if certain conditions are present, such as one party violating the lease terms
- Exclusivity clause: prohibits the landlord from leasing another unit to a separate tenant that operates the same type of business
- Escalation clause: permits rent to increase by specified amounts at scheduled intervals
Before signing a lease, carefully review the terms with your lawyer or real estate agent.
Preparing for Move-In
After signing a lease, plan on investing time and money to improve the space before opening for business. If you’ll need to work with professionals like contractors or electricians, it’s best to receive estimates before committing to a lease. For guidance on setting up your office for operations, it’s helpful to consult with business coaches or experienced chiropractor mentors.
With Expert Guidance, You Can Build the Chiropractic Practice You’ve Always Wanted
Whether your chiropractic practice is yet to launch or outgrowing your current office space, it’s essential to navigate real estate decisions with an informed perspective. At Aligned Mentoring for Chiropractors, we provide coaching, guidance, and community for chiropractors in all career stages. Contact AMC today to learn more.