Using Esher Groves as a case study, over a series of four articles we have sketched out some important issues and processes you will need to consider if you decide to acquire, develop and trade from your own clinical property.
In the final article of the series Esher Groves is in business! In May 2014, Dr. Ian Drever, the entrepreneurial consultant psychiatrist behind Esher Groves, acquired a secondary commercial property off the Esher High Street. After almost 4 years, he was delivered a welcoming, truly state of the art new psychiatric day clinic.
The Day Clinic
Esher Groves is the UK’s first purpose built specialist clinic for depression, anxiety and stress. There are four consulting rooms and one group room, which can accommodate six patients and a therapist. The clinic is serviced by two toilets, a reception area and a spacious garden room where day patients will be able to relax and eat. There is also a good-sized administrative office accommodating three members of staff.
Esher Groves provides a very comfortable, modern and attractive therapeutic space with air conditioning throughout. Attention to detail is impressive. Client confidentially is very important in this type of consulting context and higher specification fire doors have been installed to provide additional sound proofing for the consulting rooms. All the rooms have been carefully designed to be of a certain size with dimmable lighting to allow the therapist create an intimate and cocooned like ambience. Top specification CAT 5 Ethernet connectivity is supplied throughout the building allowing super fast access the Internet in every room.
Consultants will be able to book consultation rooms at Esher Groves and in time this will be done via a fully automated online booking system. Consultancy rooms are charged between £17.50 and £20.00 per hour with preferential rates available when bundles of time are booked.
Therapists will be asked to sign a letting agreement with Esher Groves. They will also be required to provide copies of their professional qualifications, evidence professional indemnity insurance and present their track record for approval.
The demand for this type of clinical space is already apparent, so much so a local cosmetic practice offered Dr. Drever a premium rent to lease an entire floor. There is clearly a gross undersupply of clean, modern, warm consultancy space in the local area but Dr. Drever believes Esher Groves will provide more than just attractive space for therapists. It will also act as a support network for likeminded practitioners and will provide a community hub for discussions, lectures and CPD. Local therapists will be able to feel part of a team connected via the physical space at Esher Groves.
Marketing the Business
Building sites have a reputation for being messy and unattractive but they can provide marketing opportunities too. During the latter part of the build, a giant building banner hung from the scaffolding at the front of the building advertising the specialist clinic. It proved to be very popular and earned Esher Groves many likes on its LinkedIn page.
The business has rolled out several pieces of marketing material including a website and printed brochure. However, resources will be used to engage with therapists directly. Fortunately, Dr. Drever has over twenty years of experience as a mental health practitioner and can access a wealth of connections nurtured over that time. He has received a huge amount of good will and support from his professional network, several of whom have expressed a serious interest in using Esher Groves.
Dr. Drever will now develop a network with primary care practices in the local vicinity to build on the interest to date. It is believed GPs will be a vital source of therapists and clients and the primary source of referrals. There are 17 GP surgeries with 122 GP’s within a 5-mile radius of the clinic. Dr. Drever has a straightforward strategy; knock on GPs door and try to get 10 minutes of their time to pitch the clinic and the services it offers.
Therapists will bring their existing clientele to Esher Groves and the clinic will market itself internally to these patients with a weekly newsletter and advertising posted in the waiting room and reception.
Time to Reflect
Now that that clinic has been delivered, Dr. Drever can reflect on the journey to date. We caught up at the clinic and talked about his thoughts and experiences on developing his own clinical premises.
He says, ‘I’ve learnt that there is something powerful about having a vision and consistency executing against that and grinding it out; the power of grit and determination. It gets you somewhere and even if the steps are small and the process is slow overtime that adds up to something really meaningful.’
I asked Dr. Drever how he will feel when the business starts to perform. ‘A massive accomplishment and vindication for what we’ve been doing’, he tells me. ‘I’ve always been very comfortable that we had a strong business concept but it hasn’t been tested and once we get some customers through the door and start making money that will feel incredibly rewarding’.
After all the trials and tribulations, did the doubts ever start to weigh you down? Was there ever a point you wanted to walk away?
‘I never got to the point that we thought it wouldn’t open’, Dr. Drever responds, ‘I didn’t know when we were going to open; it was taking such a long time. I stayed focused on what we were doing and that there was a need for the clinic. It was building on what I know and the years of experience I have accumulated. It never felt like I was doing something alien or completely off the wall. It’s been a marathon but we’re here and ready to go and its very exciting’.
Finally, I ask Dr. Drever how much more he now knows about property.
‘My background has been medicine and psychiatry, so learning about finance and property has been really stimulating and very rewarding. It keeps you on your toes, motivated and inspired. So yes, I’ve enjoyed that. However, the real work only starts now, providing the services, developing the policies and processes. There’s a steep learning curve and many new responsibilities’.
I’d like to finish by congratulating Dr. Drever and his team on a very successful property project and wish he all the luck for the future as he reaps the rewards of his hard work and dedication.