In 2012, the American Optometric Association put out an executive summary based on their survey of optometrists. One of the things reported in the summary was that optometrists who own a practice work in an office that is 2,528 square feet, whereas non-owners (those who work in multi-doctor practices or corporate optometry) work in an office that is 5,370 square feet. While bigger seems better, there is more cost involved with a bigger practice. If you are considering either starting or purchasing an independent practice, it is best to start small. Starting small means lower overhead costs, and less overhead eventually means more profit for you.
Still, working in a small space can be challenging – especially if you are used to working in corporate optometry or a multi-doctor practice. There are ways to work in a small space so that you and patients don’t feel like you are working in a sardine can.
Think Outside the Box
Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun. A small space means being creative. Not only will you need to purchase fewer items, you have to consider where they will go and how they will fit with everything else that is in the office. How much space will you have to dedicate to the reception area? How much space will you dedicate displays? Every item must fill a need and fit in your office. If the item doesn’t do both, don’t get the item. Not to mention, some functions can be farmed out, such as payroll and insurance reimbursement. This takes a load off of someone and reduces costs, since you are just paying for a service, not a salary.
Generic Office Furniture Isn’t Necessary
Related to thinking outside of the box, you don’t have to get office furniture from a catalog, nor do you have to content yourself with what the previous owner used. While bean bag chairs wouldn’t be appropriate for an optometric practice, other types of chairs would be. Check Craigslist or even IKEA for furniture that is stylish, functional, and less expensive than what is available in a catalog. If you did inherit furniture from the previous owner, you don’t have to use every single item. Get rid of what is worn out. The furniture needs to both fit the space and not make the space seem crowded. If it can’t do that, don’t use it.
Utilize Natural Light
If you haven’t figured it out by now, let me tell you that there are benefits to natural light. It makes your space look bigger and it improves the mood of you and your staff. In some cases, you will need less electrical light if you are able to use natural light. If it is practical, position workstations near windows. After spending most of your day in a dark exam room, having areas in your office that get a good deal of natural light will be a welcome change. So, let the sun shine in!
Working in a small space isn’t as bad as it seems. With some creativity, the space can work for you, your staff and patients.