About 15 years into practice, I was at a crossroads. My senior partner had been retired for a few years. I was a solo practitioner working long hours and my children were now old enough that I needed more family time. The space I had been leasing was approximately 1500 square feet, long and narrow with three exam rooms and a tiny pre-test area.
My intermediate goals at the time were to fully embrace the medical model of practice and to add another O.D. to the practice, allowing me to work somewhat less and also as a first step in my exit strategy. I realized that the current space was inadequate to accomplish these goals. My decision to buy and renovate a building at that time was a turning point which set the stage for success.
Among the factors that made this a great decision were:
- Cash Position: Having absorbed my previous partner’s patients and implemented EHR and scribes to become more efficient, my cash position was excellent.
- Affordability: The price of the building and renovations made 15 year financing affordable.
- Characteristics of the new building:
- Location: Just a quarter mile from the previous space.
- Size: 3800 square feet on the main floor with an additional 1200 square feet upstairs.
- Layout: Building shape conducive to efficient patient flow.
- Accessibility: Large private parking lot on the property with flat, easy access to the building.
- Timing: The renovations were able to be completed before the lease was up at the prior location.
With five exam rooms and plenty of space left over, I began adding medical equipment to the new facility. Eighteen months later, my junior partner joined the practice. Soon I was able to spend more time with my family. The practice gross tripled over the next seven years. The culture of the practice improved as well. The staff enjoyed having a separate break room and took pride in their new surroundings.
The building also became a key component of my exit strategy. Since the building is paid off, the rent I collect from my junior partner (who now owns the practice) and the eventual sale of the building both contribute to my ability to retire from patient care at age 61. Buying a building is a big commitment, but if careful analysis uncovers favorable conditions, it can truly be a game changer. With the current COVID-related downturn in commercial real estate and low interest rates, now may be the time for you to consider purchasing a building yourself.