Whether you live in a bustling metropolitan city, a suburb, or a sparsely populated rural area, selecting an office space (particularly the right one!) can be an overwhelming task.
If you live in a less populated area with a lot of commercial buildings for rent, you might have your pick of a location. If you live in a busy city where competition for commercial space is fierce, it might be more challenging (and take you a bit longer) to find the right space.
Regardless of where you live, there are a number of things you’ll want to add to your checklist to make sure you’re asking the realtor or landlord when you view a space.
Location plays a role for a number of reasons. Not only might you want a location that is close to your home (or perhaps you prefer one in a neighboring city!), but you’ll also want to consider where the location of the office space is relative to where the majority of your clientele lives.
If you’ve already built up a clientele, how far is it from where the majority of them live? If you haven’t yet built a clientele, consider that your office location will dictate the clientele you bring in. Who do you plan to serve? Are those the same people that live in the neighborhood where your office is?
Consider whether there are other professionals in the same area or same building and whether or not their businesses are successful. Is it a desirable area that your clients will feel comfortable coming to?
This one should be pretty obvious, but be sure to get all of the information about the cost. Likely, they will require first and last month’s rent. Ask if there are any additional costs associated (this should be written into the lease) like utilities, internet, etc. Also ask about rent increases. Do they typically raise the rent each year? If so, by how much?
It could also be a good idea to ask about sub-leasing. If you are just starting out and only plan to work part-time initially, are you permitted to rent the office out to someone else part-time in order to offset your expenses? Some landlords permit this, but others do not. You’ll need to decide whether this is important to you or not.
Be sure to read the lease terms and make sure they work for you. How long is the lease length? Is it month-to-month? 1 year or longer? How much notice do you have to give if you plan on moving out? Do all of those terms work for you?
Many leases are straightforward, but some have strange or unexpected things written into them. Make sure you read the lease in full, and ask questions if something doesn’t sound quite right or doesn’t work for you!
Considering your personal needs, the needs of your clientele, and the type of therapy you offer, how big of a space do you need? Some therapy offices simply need 2-3 comfortable chairs, a small table and perhaps a filing cabinet.
For your purposes, you might also want a desk and bookshelves. Some body-based and play therapists I know need enough space for equipment like a massage table, exercise ball, sand tray, play area.
Think about all of the furniture and equipment you will need and how you imagine your office being set up. That will determine whether you need a small, medium, or large office space.
Noise / Privacy
As mental health professionals, it’s important that we provide a safe, quiet, confidential space for our clients. Be sure to ask about noise from the street, nearby traffic, ongoing construction, noise within the building, neighbors, hallways, and how soundproof the walls are between the offices.
This one may be a little less obvious. Look in the building and in your office for any damage including holes in the walls, windows and doors working properly, faucets and toilets working, and if there is any water damage.
Ask specifically about the history of your office and neighbouring offices. Has there ever been an repairs, renovations, water damage, electrical issues? It’s not that these things will be dealbreakers necessarily, but you will want to be informed.
Is having a window in your office important to you? If so, where does it face and can you close the blinds if necessary? If there is no window, be sure to inquire about the quality of the lighting and whether you’re permitted to change the lighting if necessary.
Furniture & Décor
You’re obviously going to decorate your own office, but some offices come furnished. Does it include any furniture? If so, can it be removed if you decide you don’t want it? And what about painting? What colour are the walls currently? Are you permitted to paint? And if so, what are the stipulations around that?
Parking & Public Transit
How easy is the location to get to? Will the majority of your clientele be driving or taking public transit? How easy is it to get to via public transportation? If your clients drive, is there ample parking? Will you have a designated parking spot or is there designated parking for your building?
Is having an accessible practice important to you? If you have clients who won’t be able to manage stairs or who are in a wheelchair, can they still easily access your office? These are all things you’ll want to take under consideration.
It certainly can’t hurt to do a bit of research and find out where the other therapists in your city are located. If you are working within a practice with other professionals, then it might serve you to set up in an area where other therapists are already working so you can build relationships and engage in cross-referrals. If there is a lot of competition in your city, you might look for a space in an area of town where there are no other (or relatively few) therapists located.
Be sure to ask about the temperature control both in your building and your office! Are you in charge of our own heat and air conditioning? Or is it automatically set by office management? Does the building tend to run warm or cool? What concessions can be made if your office gets too hot or cold? Are there options for a space heater, opening windows, or bringing in fans?
Those are some of the most important things you’ll want to consider when looking for office space! Wishing you all the best in your search for the perfect space!
As always, if you need extra support in your private practice feel free to book a free, 20-minute Business Mentorship consultation HERE.