fix this practice
When redesigning an office, look past cost
barriers to the big picture.
Richard S. Kattouf, O.D.
I'm redesigning my office and because of the high costs of rent and equipment,
my goal is to keep the square footage small. Should I have more than one full
Dr. A. E. Lopez, via e-mail
I'd recommend that you make a list of the rooms you want. (I give this exercise
to my clients.) For example, you may want two 10'x10' mirrored examination
rooms, one finishing lab, one doctor's office, one doctor's restroom, one
reception room, one reception office, one business office, one record room, one
data entry room, specialty rooms (vision therapy, low vision), one contact lens
inventory, one contact lens insertion instruction room, two public restrooms and
Once my client lists his desired rooms, we use
architectural software to create a schematic of the floor plan for the entire
physical plant indicating any bearing walls. My client and I go over the entire
layout visualizing the patient flow.
If either of us has any additions or deletions,
then we make a second, third or fourth rendering of the plans using the computer
software. This method enables me and my client to design the most efficient,
best flow and most cost-effective layout.
ILLUSTRATION BY LAEL
Consider your options
Most practices outgrow their space sooner than
they anticipate. Therefore, determine whether making a larger investment at this
time will save significant dollars in the future. If you're leasing and space
becomes available, you may decide to take the minimal amount to meet current
demands. But years later you could find yourself overcrowded and unable to
expand because no space is available and you have three years left on your
If you own your building, then compare expansion
costs to start-up costs. One way to offset the cost of building on to an
existing building is to design the building for three tenants plus your
professional suite. Then have each of the three renters sign five-year leases
before you start construction. The bank will welcome you with open arms with
these signed leases and the rent will pay your monthly bank loan. You can pay
yourself rent with some corporate structure and even have the renters pay for
the building while you develop a nest of cash by paying rent to yourself.
Think about the competition
As independent doctors, you want to beat your
competition in every way you can. The imagery of your building, equipment and
optical are key and represent a tremendous amount of positive non-verbal images
that you can develop.
Learn from Dr. Blair
Dr. Blair (not his real name) had worked in
corporate optometry and hired me to perform a start-up consultation because he'd
never been an independent owner. Dr. Blair wanted to build a small, conservative
office on property he already owned.
Using the architectural software, we designed a
perfect floor plan. I explained the concept of renters to Dr. Blair and we built
a structure with four suites. Dr. Blair had no bank payment from his private
money. We developed a professional corporation whereby he paid himself rent. The
rental income paid for the property in 15 years and Dr. Blair had a sizeable
savings from paying himself rent.
Look at the big picture
Look ahead at the big picture. Bigger is not
always better. Smarter is always the better course.
Dr. Kattouf is president and founder of two
management and consulting companies. For information, call (800) 745-EYES
or e-mail him at email@example.com.
The information in this column is based on actual consulting files.
Optometric Management, Issue: December 2003