Local Community Demographics
You will likely live near wherever you choose to locate your practice. So, first and foremost, it should be an area that you can be happy living – especially if you intend for this to be a long-term situation. In other words, consider practicing in the type of environment that you’d like to live.
Next, the community should have a population large enough to support your type of practice. The larger the population, the larger the pool of potential patients. There may be opportunities in under-served rural areas, too. But you’ll want to look deeper than this when it comes to demographics. Below are a few more factors to consider when evaluating the demographics of an area:
- Average age – An area that has a significant amount of older people, and fewer young people may not be able to support your practice in the long-term.
- Income level – It’s important to make sure that local residents can afford your medical services. If the average income isn’t terribly high, this may be a red flag.
- Local Employers – If you rely heavily on insurance coverage, it’s worthwhile to make sure that the local employers are large enough to offer employees an insurance plan that covers your services.
You’ll also want to gauge the local competition. If you’re a dentist opening a practice in a suburban town, it’s crucial to know how many other local dentists there are, and in what proximity to your potential location. If the practices already established in the general area have been there a long time, they may have more money committed to marketing, and a strong, local customer base. If you’re not ready to commit to a large marketing budget yourself, this can be problematic.
If you’re just starting out and don’t yet have a loyal patient base, it might be worthwhile to try and find an underserved region to locate your practice. With this approach it may not be as challenging to attract new patients and fill your schedule. Think about things like how far a patient might be willing to travel for your particular practice. For example, patients might be willing to travel further for an oncologist or rheumatologist than a general physician or a dentist.
The Importance of Visibility
A practice located on a main thoroughfare with adequate signage holds a distinct advantage. People walking or driving by will notice that you’re there. If your practice is in a smaller neighborhood, or a more secluded location, you may need to focus additional efforts on your marketing.
You can approach the city and review recent traffic studies to find out how many automobiles pass the location that you’re studying. The alternative is to go out yourself for morning or evening rush hour, and count cars yourself. Pay attention to local speed limits and traffic patterns as well. While no one likes driving slow or sitting in traffic, this is how your location gets noticed.
It’s also important to have large enough building signage that ensures your practice can be seen from a distance. The faster the traffic is on the street that you are looking, the larger the sign that you’ll want.
Aesthetics of Your Location
The appearance of your building is important for a patient’s first impression. If the building is older, you’ll want to make sure that it’s well-maintained. A broken-down façade or unmaintained landscaping can lead to poor first impressions. Make sure that your building’s exterior and interior are warm and inviting.