When starting a veterinary practice, reviewing all available options is wise — from deciding on a location and employees to which veterinary software to use. One of the biggest decisions is whether to own or lease your veterinary practice location, and the answer depends on quite a few variables. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each so you can make a well-informed decision.
Pros of Leasing A Retail Space
Many new veterinary practice owners opt to lease their space for a number of practical reasons:
- Less upfront cash needed: As a new veterinary practice, and perhaps a new vet as well, money might be a little tight. New veterinarians are typically paying off student loans, which put a crimp in their cash flow, so leasing might be the more comfortable option.
- Inclusive pricing: Typically, maintenance is included in a lease agreement. This means somebody else will handle cutting the grass and maintaining the parking lot. This type of pricing can make your operations budget easier to control.
- Fewer issues with maintenance: When something unexpected happens, you will simply call the landlord and let them know so it can be handled. Depending on your lease agreement, you may not have to worry about paying for plumbing or electrical repairs, or even if the roof blows off in a storm.
- Better location availability: Often, existing commercial buildings have better locations with great accessibility, which is something that might be difficult to duplicate when building a facility on your own location. It’s even better when there are complementary businesses nearby such as pet supply stores, groomers or doggie washes.
Cons of Leasing A Retail Space
However, there are also some drawbacks to leasing as well:
- Less available space: Sometimes, leasing means not having the amount of space that you would like to have for your vet practice. Leasing commercial property is a function of price and size, and sometimes you have to make do with what you can afford.
- Less control over the property: When you lease a retail space, you will be bound by the lease agreement and the terms you negotiate with the owner. Of course, these terms might preclude you from doing some of the things that you’d like, so be certain to read the agreement carefully to avoid unintended issues.
- No equity: Just like when you rent a home instead of buying, you are putting money in the landlord’s pocket rather than your own. You aren’t building equity for your future when renting.
Pros of Owning A Free-standing Facility
Owning your veterinary facility might be the best choice for you.
- More control: When you buy or build your own practice facility, you have control over the space and can do whatever you want or need with it. From configuring your offices to building kennels and an outdoor dog run, the sky’s the limit.
- More space: When you build a veterinary facility, you can decide how big a lot you need and how large you want the building to be. Likewise, if you buy an existing building, you can retrofit it to suit your needs.
- More flexibility: When you own your veterinary facility, you can do pretty much whatever you want with it, as long as it’s legal. Want to stay open until midnight? Put up a really ugly but attention-getting sign (within local regulations of course)? Go ahead and do it. Planning to board dogs and cats and create an outdoor space for them to get exercise? Not a problem.
- More economical overall: Many practice owners are thrilled to realize that owning is actually more economical for them than leasing a commercial building.
Cons of Owning A Free-standing Facility
On the flip side, there are some negatives to building or buying your own space as well, depending on your situation.
- Upfront cash needed: Diverting the funds needed to purchase a commercial building or pay a down payment can take away your ability to invest in technology and equipment.
- Maintenance required: Somebody has to keep up with the maintenance required, and when you own the place, that somebody is you.
- Not easy to move: When you have a veterinary building completed or retrofitted to your specifications, it limits the potential buyers. Most likely it will only appeal to other veterinarians, so it can be challenging to sell the space when needed, may take longer than expected and can sometimes net less money.
EasyDVM Practice Software is a cloud-based veterinary practice management software system. We pride ourselves in offering a system that is user-friendly, easy to learn for new team members, full-featured and elegant in its simplicity. Best of all, all devices, multiple users, all your clients and patients, always affordable.