The next big decision you will have to make for your practice is your office location. Location is important because that factors greatly into how your initial customers can find you, and how often your existing customers visit. You want to be wherever your customers are and make it as convenient as possible to visit you.
Renting office space
One option to consider is renting office space from another health care professional, such as a physician or therapist, or at a health club. Renting an office space from another healthcare professional is beneficial especially if they have a well-established, functioning practice. Just make sure that your nutritional values align with the practice you will be working out of.
This may also be an opportunity to jumpstart your own client base and business by:
- Using the office free of rent or at a discounted rate
- Being a contracted provider through the healthcare professional's business
- Leveraging their existing clientele for new referrals
Do keep in mind that they may charge a percentage fee for patient sessions, depending on how reliant you are on their referral and office space.
Another option is to rent temporary, part-time office space. Regus is a company that has nationwide executive offices with as much or as little space as you need.
Accessibility to your office
One factor to consider when choosing an office location is public transportation. For example:
- How close is your potential office to a bus stop or public transportation?
- How accessible is it to parking?
- Is there plenty of parking and is it free?
- If you’re on a busy street, how easy is it for cars to get in and out of your parking lot?
How easy the office is for you to get to is equally important. Since this is your business, you should have the luxury of an easy commute.
Costs involved with renting an office space
Rent composes the major portion of your ongoing facilities expense, but consider extras such as utilities. They can sometimes be included in some leases, but not in others. If they are not included, ask the building manager what you can expect for the monthly cost. Other questions to consider:
- If you have to provide your own janitorial service, what will it cost?
- Do you have to pay extra for parking as a tenant?
Consider all your location-related expenses, and factor them into your decision.
Importance of an office vs. home office
A permanent office is a necessity for increasing the perceived value of your business to potential clients. Most insurance companies even require that you have a professional office space for consulting with clients.
Setting up a home office can be helpful for when you are taking virtual consultations with patients. Some dietitians may even set up a home office where patients meet them, or they may meet at the home of their clients. However, we do not recommend that because of the higher risk of a potentially harmful situation.
The office set-up
One of the first things you need to obtain is an office phone number, fax line and internet. As soon as you have these in place you can get your business cards printed. If you are going through insurance credentialing and contracting, an office phone number will be necessary.
The first impression the client has of your office will determine their initial comfort level. The more comfortable your client feels, the more open and trusting they will be with you.
One way to help clients feel more comfortable is to have the session around a coffee table and have them sit on a couch. Talking to them from behind a desk is intimidating. Offer water or even coffee before you begin. Have mints, tissues and pens easily accessible.
The ones that you will likely need are:
- Chairs, table, desk
- Filing system
- Clip boards
- Pens, paper, stapler, tape, etc
- Wall clock
- Office phone
- Paper shredder
The following are optional, but highly recommended to have over time:
- Magazines: Today’s Dietitian, Food and Nutrition, etc
- Water, coffee (Keurig)
- Mini fridge
- Wall art
- Candles, framed quotes, or other inspiring and comforting decor