Business development manager Rebecca Boland explains why clinics should consider renting out their unused space
With the rise of start-ups and the growth of small businesses from across all sectors over the last few years, we’ve seen an increased demand for flexible workspaces. Many organisations and independent practitioners in the private healthcare and cosmetic interventions sectors increasingly require flexible, affordable and easily available premises from which to conduct their business and, as such, I believe that there is a significant market in the UK for renting clinical space. The rise of a ‘sharing economy’ in the UK has seen a growing number of companies respond to this market demand by renting their facilities.1
Businesses are innovatively repurposing existing, unused clinic space, renting them out to healthcare organisations, independent consultant practitioners and specialists such as cosmetic surgeons, private nurses and cosmetic or dental practitioners. Private clinics that rent out space play an important and supportive role as facilitators of the private health and cosmetic sectors, promoting the development of private practice in the UK by enabling professionals to build and develop their businesses without the stress and cost of purchasing their own space and employing staff to manage it.
Renting unused clinic space can also offer flexibility to private practitioners, many of whom travel around the country to run their businesses and do not want to be tied to one premise. This article aims to help those who are looking to rent out their existing clinic space, outlining the benefits and key considerations to factor in when doing so.
There are compelling benefits for private hospitals and clinics who choose to rent out their clinic space. The first being the additional revenue that can be generated from space that would have otherwise gone unused or may even have been losing money through inefficiencies, such as paying for utilities or staff to run the building, even when it’s not in use. There is added opportunity for hospitals and clinics to draw in greater income if they are able to offer a range of different spaces. Businesses that have many different types of rooms, housing a range of facilities and equipment that can be tailored to the renter’s needs, will be able to draw income from a greater variety of practitioners looking to rent space. For example, clinics that offer both extensive clinical facilities, such as operating theatres and clinical rooms as well as standard consultation rooms that can be adapted for a wide variety of purposes, including consultation or administrative work, will be able to meet a client’s demands across a wide spectrum. This revenue generation can be made more efficient if you lease premises to businesses that have similar or shared customer bases.
For example, if a medical aesthetic clinic chooses to rent an unused room to a dental practitioner providing teeth whitening procedures, the clinic may be able to market their procedures to a new customer base and vice versa. Therefore, renting out surplus capacity is not only a way of generating additional revenues from otherwise unused space, but can also help widen a clinic or hospital’s brand recognition and potentially its patient base.
One of the biggest attractions for a practitioner looking to rent clinic space is the desire to remove the hassle and the administrative burden of running their own practice. Establishing a clinical space in new premises entails time, money and a lot of organisation. By choosing to rent space in a pre-existing, Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered facility,2 practitioners can avoid lengthy licensing and contract negotiations.
One of the biggest attractions for a practitioner looking to rent clinic space is the desire to remove the hassle and the administrative burden of running their own practice
Before you decide to lease your premises, there are a few practical points that should be considered. Most importantly, you will need to assess your capacity and work out what you are able to offer to the market. Do you have space that is always regularly available or are you better suited to provide ad-hoc access? If you are only able to provide premises on an ad-hoc basis, it may be worth considering reorganising your own schedule to create a room that is available on a regular basis. Knowing that there are facilities which they are able to rent consistently on specific days will be more attractive to returning practitioners. If you are already a tenant, it is crucial to consult with your landlord before you lease space to make sure you are not breaking the terms of your own lease agreement.
Similarly, you must contact your insurers to determine whether you will need to change your cover. If your premises is regulated with bodies such as the CQC,2 Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS),3 Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW)4 or the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA),5 you will also need to seek advice as to whether your registration covers the activities performed by the renter.
Always consult a conveyancing solicitor before deciding to rent premises on a commercial basis to check you have the ability to grant the lease. They will also be able to help you write or review legal contracts. Deciding how much to charge for your space will depend completely on the quality, type and size of facilities and services that you are offering. I would strongly advise that you undertake some market research to assess the rates that your competition is offering, which can be done easily through searching on the internet. Prices are most often based upon location, accessibility, space and quality. For example, in my experience, a CQC-registered consultation room in central London will command a premium of around £30-40p/h in comparison to one located in the outskirts of Greater Manchester, which is more likely to charge in the region of £20p/h.
It may be the case that although you have spare space suitable for renting, you feel that the administrative commitment is too burdensome to make it worthwhile. In which case, you might consider exploring a partnership with an organisation that can take on the administrative processes, such as accounting and booking, meaning that you can benefit from the extra revenue without significant extra work. As with many service providers, reputation is key. One the most valuable sources of advertising available to you will be testimonials from your own network of patients, which can be used to make marketing tools, such as brochures, websites and social media pages, more impactful, engaging and informative.
I have found that being able to demonstrate positive client experiences is particularly effective when taking part in private healthcare conferences or tradeshows, such as the Aesthetics Conference and Exhibition, which will be attended by many small business owners, who may be interested in renting space.
Renting unused clinic space can also offer flexibility to private practitioners, many of whom travel around the country to run their businesses and do not want to be tied to one premise
In my role, I have conducted extensive market research to ask practitioners directly what their main priorities were when looking for premises. Many told me that, in addition to high levels of quality and safety, flexibility was crucial when looking for space to rent. Independent practitioners often travel around the country and need a network of premises to work from. It often isn’t practical or financially viable for them to rent permanent space, especially if it needs to be fully equipped with clinical instruments or staff.
Offering a simple and easy-to-use service is also key to successfully renting out clinic space. I’d suggest an optimised booking process and, where possible, additional services such as administrative nursing personnel, clinical waste disposal or pathology are all attractive services that will make your space stand out against the rest. Should a renter cancel their slot, which does unfortunately happen, I would advise setting terms in your contract, the below provides a guideline:
To the best of your ability you should prioritise providing high-quality, hassle-free facilities that can be easily rented as needed. Doing so will give practitioners peace of mind that they can provide quality, smooth-running services to their patients at your facilities. A flexible lease model is therefore essential to meet practitioners’ requirements. As such, in addition to long-term contracts such as ‘Licences to Occupy’, which are contracts that are typically six to 12 months, I suggest also offering periods by appointment, hourly, half-day or full-day rates to maximise your market appeal.
There is a fantastic opportunity for private clinics to open their unused facilities for independent aesthetic practitioners and other healthcare professionals to rent. Not only can it help maximise revenues for all parties involved, but it’s an excellent way for larger organisations to work collaboratively with independent practitioners, supporting the growth and success of the UK’s private healthcare and medical aesthetics sectors.
Disclosure: Rebecca Boland is the business development manager for Electiva, a UK provider of private clinic space.