We are often approached by ODs who are looking for help to open a new practice. One of the first questions asked – either by the client or by us! – is where? When you are investing a quarter of a million dollars, and often more in construction, it is crucial to get this right. The right location can be the difference between making a profit in the first year or not until the third year, or even later.

Our first recommendation is to think outside the box. While it may be tempting to gravitate to the larger cities because of the denser population, remember that these areas are also the most competitive. They have lots of choice and can choose an experience or service provider that caters best to their particular needs. Strong differentiation in terms of both product offerings and service becomes key for success. Conversely, a smaller, more remote location will allow a more general practice strategy. However, in today’s digital world, it is still critical to create an experience that patients will want to support whether you are in an urban or rural setting.

After determining what will set your new clinic apart, and whether you are going to set up in a larger or smaller community, the next step is to find the physical location that will support your strategy. Commissioning a Geo-marketing Report is the best way to accomplish this. They are produced by non-stakeholders. This tool will compile and analyse the best available data for a given geographical area of interest. Some data taken into account includes competitor information and population demographics for that area, such as age, income level, ethnicity and education level. This data is then matched with your clinic strategy. Ultimately, this will provide you with a consensus report that can pinpoint the ideal location for your new business.

Lastly, your business strategy will also dictate what part of a building you should set up your business in. If you are setting up a primary care practice that will be dependent on optical sales for 50-60% of your revenue, it is imperative that you have street access, visibility and plenty of parking.

Remember to think like a consumer as you make these decisions. The days are gone where patients want to buy glasses from a small selection from an office buried at the back of a medical building. Consumers are gravitating to a different experience, as evidenced by the wildly popular new optical stores popping up all over Canada. A new business owner must rise to the challenge and spend time finding the ideal location for their new practice.

Christina Ferrari

Christina Ferrari

is the co-founder and managing partner of Simple Innovative Management Ideas (SIMI) Inc. and expert Practice Management contributor for Optik magazine. She can be reached at info@simiinc.com.