The Ins and Outs of Renting Therapist Office Spaces
Are you starting out and want to test the practice waters rather than dive into the deep end?
Would you love to consult with clients without the hefty overheads of a complete physical establishment?
Do you have effective treatments to offer but lack the budget to open your own space?
Then we’re glad you’re here!
Only some practitioners have the means or the need to invest in a full-time set-up. Let’s face it: maintaining a physical practice can be both costly and time-consuming.
That’s why renting therapist office space is a sensible step for those starting up, winding down, or not wanting this significant commitment. It’s a more flexible, cost-effective, low-maintenance way to flourish.
So, while you may not have considered renting space before, this viable option could be a game-changer. Unconventional choices for spaces often are! You need space to step out independently, grow your practice, and elevate your reach. But it doesn’t need to be on your own property.
But before we dive into the potential pros of renting therapy office space, let’s explore why you may wish to have a physical location.
The benefits of a physical therapy office (especially when starting in practice)
Renting a room or bigger space is a fantastic option for many professionals — especially those who are starting out — because it provides the benefits of a brick-and-mortar place with fewer drawbacks.
A physical location signals to potential clients that you are established, professional, and “real.” Even when people search for you online — which they will — they’ll notice your stress address and may feel more secure.
When done right, a dedicated therapy space also creates a safe, warm, welcoming environment where clients feel comfortable opening up. The design, lighting, furniture, artwork, and comfort say something about you and speak to your clients.
Together, they allow you to provide safety and structure in a way that’s not possible via Telehealth. Safety and structure that promotes trust and privacy. A physical location can be a therapy support, subconsciously communicating assurance to your clients.
A physical therapist office space can also significantly enhance your brand image. (Yes, your practice is a brand!) It communicates seriousness, professionalism, and commitment to your work. Whether fair or not, many people trust a business with a physical location more than one without. Particularly when it comes to a deeply personal health matter like therapy.
From an operational perspective, physical space and offices may improve organization and efficiency. With your own office, you can fully control how your area is structured and used. You can safely and confidentially store client records, tools, hard copies, and resources in one centralized location.
There’s also an often undervalued advantage: the undeniable benefit of separating your work from your personal life. When starting out, it can be tempting to save costs by seeing clients via Telehealth from your home. However, this blurs work-home boundaries and can make it difficult to switch off at the end of the day. To leave work at work. A physical office space allows you to establish and maintain clear work-life boundaries.
Choose a location that is accessible, safe, and convenient for clients (and yourself)
Have you given much thought to the best location?
Or what considerations should tip the scales for the ideal locale?
Choosing a perfect therapy office space should begin with deep thought about your ideal clients. Who are they? What challenges do they have? Do they have accessibility needs? What potential fears do they experience? What are their schedules like? Are they in your neighborhood or willing to travel for your services?
By understanding your clients, you can choose a space that’s convenient, safe, and easily accessible. Let’s explore this in more detail.
Opt for all-round convenience
Convenience is essential — for your clients and, yes, yourself. Consider both when searching for a suitable therapy office space.
Convenience on the client front
When considering convenience, factor in the layout and accessibility within the office itself. Are there ramps? Wide windows and doorways? Accessible restrooms? Are there any barriers that could make it difficult for your clients to access your office?
Is your practice easy to find? Accessible for travel? For parking?
Be sure about what your clients need so you can choose a space convenient for your network.
Convenience on the therapist’s front
When creating a physical practice space, remember you’re important, too! What do you need to make life and practice convenient? Make that happen!
Ask yourself questions like…
Is it close to home? Can I commute in a reasonable time?
Does the space make me feel happy?
Can the office accommodate the scheduling flexibility I wish to offer?
Is the reception room suitable for the number of clients I want to see? Is there space to complete the necessary paperwork and check in on arrival?
What about the check-in process? Is there an on-hand receptionist to cater to your clients? If yes, can they book appointments? Is there a place where your clients can comfortably complete intake or other forms?
Note: Digital solutions for these forms and processes can save your clients’ time and streamline your operations.
Will the therapy office space be available if I want to consult during evenings and weekends?
Offering hours outside of the standard 9-to-5 can make your services more convenient and accessible to clients who work full-time or have other daytime commitments. If you want to offer these hours, confirm with a potential landlord that you actually can.
Taking these factors into account ensures that you can provide a professional service that is attuned to both your and your client’s convenience, needs, and preferences.
A safety-first approach
Safety is vital when choosing your therapy office space. If clients have any reservations about their security, there’s a good chance you won’t be their therapist for long.
Research the neighborhood. Visit the area at different times of the day to get a feel for the environment. Choose a location in a well-lit area. Depending on the site and clients’ concerns, visible security measures such as CCTV cameras may help.
Choose effortless accessibility
Accessibility should be a non-negotiable factor when seeking your perfect therapy office space. After all, you want your clients to be able to get to you!
Before you choose a locale, ask…
- Do your ideal clients drive or take buses or trains?
- If they’re drivers, look for a place with suitable parking on the premises or close by. If they bus and train, opt for a location well-connected by public transportation.
- If you care for those with mobility issues, a ground floor space with accessible parking spots is helpful.
- If you treat clients with substance abuse issues, don’t opt for a place next door to a liquor store.
- If you serve many working professionals, an office space near the city center or business districts could be beneficial.
- On the flip side, if your target clientele is primarily residential, a quieter suburban location might be more appropriate.
There are many things to think about! After deciding on the factors defining the perfect location, you must choose an ideal space. This includes how big it should be.
How big should your therapy space be?
There are no set rules. Like Goldilocks’ three bears, the right size depends on need. Need?
Consider your potential and current clients and your short- and medium-term vision for your practice.
Do you want to consult with one client every 90 minutes? Leaving space in between to finalize payments, complete notes, and take a breath?
Will you lead group sessions comprised of 10 people?
Or will you do both?
The right-sized space will support your goals and dreams.
Do you want to grow your practice without moving elsewhere? If so, ask yourself if the size will support practice growth. What space will you need in the future as well as now?
If you’re stuck deciding on size, think about the nitty-gritty. Be clear. List your requirements. For example, one consultation room might need two comfortable chairs, a desk, two standing pot plants, and a bookshelf. Twenty feet by 20 feet may be enough.
What about if you wish to run group sessions? Does the office building offer a suitable meeting room you could use or hire as needed, or do you need to lease this space permanently? How large would it need to be? For example, you may need to fit 11 comfortable chairs arranged in a circle, a table for tea and coffee, milk, biscuits, and fruit, and storage for resources like a whiteboard and books in between sessions.
Once you have identified your needs, write them down. When you start your search, keep this information by your side.
Consider the office space layout
Sometimes, it’s not only the square footage that matters but the floor plan arrangement: the lay of the land, so to speak. If you require your space to either have or not have a specific layout, this must inform your choice of therapist office space.
The layout needs to, for example, ensure your clients’ conversations cannot be heard.
The wrong layout can also impact design, making a space feel less comfortable, cozy, bright and safe. Imagine a room where natural light is impeded, and a sense of melancholy sits heavily.
Or you may want to divide your space into sections. Say an individual therapy room, a group therapy room, a waiting room, and a mindfulness area.
In short, ensure the layout suits your needs.
All brick-and-mortar practices need client amenities. While it might sound strange, it’s possible to overlook this as you excitedly select your space! Don’t. Consider what your clients require — including accessibility — and ensure this vital need is met.
Tip: A shared professional space should come with amenities.
So, you’ve got the basic details of the physical requirements for your therapist office space in the bag. You’re well on the way! But before you set sail, stop. To succeed in business, you must — yes, must — understand the financial pieces to this puzzle
Budgeting and financial planning
Do you understand the financial nuts and bolts of running a practice?
Whether you are just starting out — including the choice to rent therapy office space or not — or have been in private practice for years, you must know your business figures. Budgeting and financial planning are vital.
As we share in our article, 7 Steps Every Therapist Must Take to Successfully Transition from Group to Solo Practice, you must determine and stick to your budget. This is no different if you rent office space or an entire premise.
Write down your expected outgoings: what you need to pay for. Items like:
- Insurances and licenses
- Office supplies
- Maintenance and repairs
- Staff (if any)
- Training and professional development
- Your wage!
Write down your expected income: the money you expect to earn. In the start-up phase, this may be an estimate only. That’s perfectly fine. Just remember, it’s best to be conservative.
Can you cover your expenses and make a profit? Yes, then you’re starting on the right track.
Tip: Our complimentary webinar workshop, Starting Strong: How to Design Your Business for Financial Success, guides you through this critical process.
The critical components of a lease agreement (and advice for negotiating terms)
Once you’ve decided to rent therapy office space and are ready to jump in — to take hold of the next stage of your life — the real world hits, the legalese.
You must understand your rent agreement before signing it. The lease is a legally binding contract between you and the landlord, so it’s best to seek legal advice first.
With that in mind, the document will outline the rights and responsibilities of both the lessee (you) and the lessor (the landlord). Here are some key components to look for:
- Lease term: This specifies the duration of the lease, including the start and end dates. A typical lease term with renewal options could range from one to five years.
- Rent: The agreement should clearly state the amount of rent, when each payment is due, and how it should be paid. It should also specify any rental increases over the lease term.
- Security deposit: Most leases require a security deposit to safeguard against damages or the non-payment of rent. Ensure you understand the terms for its return at the end of your lease.
- Maintenance and repairs: Who is responsible for general maintenance and repairs of the leased space? Ensure this is clarified in your lease.
- Utilities and additional costs: Besides rent, your lease should outline who pays for utilities like electricity, water, heating, phone, and internet services. Check for additional fees like building management or parking fees.
- Insurance: The lease should indicate what types of insurance you must have, such as liability or property insurance.
- Alterations to the premises: If you plan to make changes to the office space — like painting walls or installing fixtures — ensure you have permission in writing in your lease agreement. As well as any requirement to return it to its original state upon leaving.
- Termination clauses: Because life happens! Understand under what circumstances you or your landlord can terminate the lease and what penalties may apply.
When you negotiate terms, be empowered. Seek advice from a real estate lawyer, an experienced commercial realtor who understands your local market, or another knowledgeable expert. They can be invaluable in negotiating more favorable terms like rent discounts, shorter lease terms, renewal options, or smaller rent increases over time.
Remember, almost everything in a lease is negotiable. Don’t rush in. Take your time. Ensure you read every clause carefully. Once you sign the lease, you are bound by its terms.
Love to secure a physical practice promptly without any headaches?
Find your perfect place with our partner, Humanly!
With thoughtfully presented, professional work environments that offer unmatched amenities, your new therapy office space could be already waiting for you.
Receive mail and packages, get free WiFi, printing, and scanning, and have secure 24/7 access to your physical place (and unlimited tea!) with minimal fuss.
Go get ‘em!
Renting a therapy office space is a sensible step that can open doorways and elevate your professional success. Like all important decisions, it requires thoughtful consideration. Various factors like location, layout, amenities, budget, and lease terms matter.
I get it; it might seem overwhelming. But with knowledge and mojo, you can navigate this process confidently and successfully. We know many wonderful therapists and counselors who have!
Remember, the goal is to find a space that suits your professional and personal needs and those of your clients — providing you create a safe and comfortable environment for you and your clients.
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