Relocating Dental Practice Needs a Strategy
Whether you are relocating your dental practice across the street or across the country, it is important to have a relocation strategy in place before the big day. There are many reasons why one may decide to move their practice. Maybe the landlord sold the building, forcing you to move. Or you are looking to expand your practice and the current location doesn’t allow for growth. Other common reasons doctors decide to relocate their practice are:
- Looking for lower rent rates
- Moving to a larger area to gain more new patients
- Space upgrades
- Looking for a better work/life balance
Before Signing a Contract
Make sure your relocation strategy considers all aspects of the new location. Following are a few major points to think about before signing on the dotted line.
- Demographics of the area – What is the average income level of residents within a 5-mile radius of your potential new location? What is the age of the residents near you? Is the area growing with new homes and businesses, or is it declining or staying stagnant? How is the traffic volume? For easy marketing, you ideally want to be in a high-traffic area with great visibility that allows good signage for the practice.
- Competition – As with any business, it is important to analyze the competition around you before making the move. Be sure to figure out if there are competing dental practices near the location you are considering. If you are relocating to an area with competition nearby, consider what your unique value proposition is and what will help you stand out amongst the crowd. Also, keep in mind the dentist to patient ratio. How many other dentists are in the area? Is the dentist to patient ratio high or low?
- Location – Because you already have an established practice with patients and staff, it is important to minimize as much patient and staff attrition as possible. To do this, try to stay as close to your current location as you can. If your current area is not ideal, you may want to move to a better area where your practice has more potential to grow.
- Building – When relocating your business, you will need review all aspects of the new building. Consider the accessibility of the practice for your patients. Is parking adequate for patients and staff? How is the signage situation? Is there opportunity for expansion if you choose to grow?
- New Patients – Use this opportunity to grow your patient base in your new neighborhood. To do this, become immersed in the area and market to the community. Make sure to get your name and your brand out in front of all potential clients.
Preparing for the move
As with any big change, it is important to prepare properly to achieve a good outcome. This is the same with all business relocations. To best prepare yourself for the move, be sure to analyze the terms of your current lease. It is important to have little to no dark time between your move. Every day your office is closed, the larger the loss of revenue. By reviewing your lease, you can ensure you are able to stay in your current location until your new office is up and running.
The logistics of the move:
It is important to get everything in order before the big day. A few key aspects to remember are:
- Figure out a date of the move.
- Notify your landlord that you are terminating your lease, or wish to not extend.
- Create an inventory of your office contents.
- Create a diagram of the office and where you want all equipment and furniture to go.
- Choose a moving company – make sure they have experience moving large and fragile equipment such as x-ray machines.
- Get moving insurance – renters’ insurance does not always cover damage to furniture or equipment during a move. Nor are moving companies always legally responsible for property damage. Typically, they only cover minimal responsibility for damaged goods and are not required to reimburse the entire cost. For these reasons, it is smart to get moving insurance through third party insurance companies.
- Delegate responsibilities among your staff.
- Use this opportunity to declutter your office and get rid of anything you no longer use or need. In addition, use this time to update your patient records – remove inactive patients, call patients due for an appointment and schedule them and advise them on the new location.
- Plan to be at the office the entire day of the move to oversee the entire process – placement and handling of equipment and furniture.
Notify your patients:
Be sure to notify your patients of the upcoming move. Following are a few ways to keep your patients aware that your practice is moving:
- Display a “We Are Moving” sign in your waiting room.
- Notify patients by updating your website’s homepage to include a “We Are Moving” banner.
- Send out a mass letter to all patients detailing your move. Be sure to include the new address, date of opening and the highlights of your new location. It is important to sound upbeat in the letter.
- Familiarize patients with the new location by including a map on the website. It is also wise to display a map in the waiting room showing the faster route from your current location to your new location at least 6 months before you move
- Have your staff emphasize the move to all patients. They should mention it to every patient that comes into the office from today until the day you move.
- Get your patients excited about the new location by throwing an “office warming” party and allow all patients to check out the new office before they sit in the chair.
As with any move, make sure to budget appropriately. Not only is the cost of a move expensive, but the new location can also skew your current budget. Your new space could potentially have a higher lease rate, especially if you move to a more desirable area, or a larger space.
You have a new address and want to make sure your patients know where to find you. It is not as simple as notifying the U.S. Postal Service and moving on. You also need to update your digital footprint and your print marketing.
- Website: Update your website’s footer and contact page to reflect the new address. Scour the rest of the site to ensure your old address is not mentioned – this includes images of a map with driving directions or landmarks noted. Make sure the meta descriptions do not reference your old address or neighborhood.
- Email: Be sure to update all email signatures if they include your practice’s address.
- Social: Promote your new location on all social media sites. Try to turn this into a lead- generation opportunity. Don’t forget to update all contact information on your social pages to include the new address, hours and contact information.
- Google: Be sure Google knows about your move. This includes both Google Maps and Google My Business. Upload a new photo of the outside of your office and request a new “Google My Business” mailer to verify your new address. Please note that this can take up to 5 days.
- Professional Associations: Contact all agencies and associations that you are a member of, including the Better Business Bureau, local study clubs and your state dental association to make them aware of your new location.
- Online Directories: Most dental practices are included in more than 30 online directories, in addition to your website. Almost all include your address. For this reason, be sure to update all directory listings such as Yelp, Manta, Yellowpages.com, Bing, etc.
- Update all printed marketing material. Because printed materials have a longer lead time, be sure to give all designers, printers, publishers, etc. enough time to make the changes. This includes brochures, business cards, print ads and other marketing collateral.
- If you come across any existing collateral, such as brochures and business cards, be sure to pick them up and replace with new collateral.
Other change of address notifications:
- Notify suppliers of your new address and the date of the move
- Payroll processing company
- Insurance companies
- U.S. Postal Service
- Electronic claims processors
- U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency
- Your accountant and attorney
A lot of work goes into any business relocation. If you need guidance on this big decision or assistance with all the logistics, contact the team at Professional Transition Strategies.
"We had a fire in our office building a couple years ago and needed to look into relocation options vs. getting back into our existing space. The first call I made was to Kyle Francis and he was able to help us determine what would be best for us. He helped us find a new close by location and he helped us with every aspect of our move as well as dealing with the fire insurance company to get replacement for our equipment that was lost. Kyle has been very instrumental in the success we are having now.Drs. Mike Lovato and Robert Nykaza
Prior to our forced move, Kyle was a rep for a dental supply company and a practice management consultant, so he is extremely knowledgeable with all aspects of dentistry."
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