Building up a facility from the ground up has always been a complex process for any doctor.
In this three-part series, we'll follow one optometrist's successful journey from leaseholder to building owner. See how you can make that jump, too, even in today's economy.
Sizing up the situation
Dr. Drake knew he had good quality equipment, products, and staff. He believed that he was providing quality eye care, but the office environment just didn't match up. Time to weigh some options.
The practice enjoyed a big jump in revenue in 2006 and 2007. With that good news, Dr. Drake studied and updated the financial projections he prepared for the bank back when he got his loan to open the practice.
"After looking at the numbers, going for a new building made sense to me financially," he said. "I was not happy that my lease payments weren't building any equity for me."
Few larger office spaces were available in the small town. Besides, Dr. Drake dreamed of a thoroughly modern eye-care facility with the largest and most fashionable optical shop in town. He knew about "runaway" patients who, in the hunt for stylish eyewear, were making the hour-long drive to Birmingham to shop because they couldn't find what they wanted locally. That represented an opportunity for him.
Most of all he wanted to practice in an environment that would reflect who he really is as an eye-care professional.
Dr. Drake talked with his local banker about his idea to build a 4,000 square foot professional building for his practice. The banker told Dr. Drake that he was a good candidate to be approved for the loan, but went on to say that he would need to demonstrate more concrete plans in order to secure loan approval.
In 2007, Dr. Drake found and purchased a lot in a prime location where some new commercial development was beginning. He expected the property to increase in value by the time he was ready to build. That meant he would gain more equity in the property, which lenders view as a plus.
Then, he began reading up on the latest in designing an optometric facility. Dr. Drake's research led him to contact Barbara Wright Design. Drawing on my experience with new optometric buildings, I suggested using a team approach that would combine my firm's expertise in designing optical offices long-distance with a local architect and civil engineer.
He selected local firms J.H. Partners Architecture to design the building shell, and civil engineers Pugh Wright McAnally Inc. to do the site planning, everything from the walls out to the curb.
In February 2009 the civil engineers surveyed the lot Dr. Drake had purchased and created the site plan. The team determined the best location for the building on the site to make it easily seen from the street and to allow for more parking spaces than the minimum required.
Now it would be time for the design team to go to work.
Bradley Drake, OD
Dr. Drake is optometrist and owner of Drake Eye Center.