out of space

Grow, hire, run out of space, repeat…forever

Posted in Expansion Issues

If we do things right, we will run out of space. Why? Because growing requires hiring staff. And then when we add to our team, we eventually run out of space to house them.

Say, for example, that you launched your practice a couple of years ago. You have been growing at a steady clip. But eventually, you max out our space. What do you do? Do you move? Do you stay and live with the discomfort? How do you know it is the time for a major expansion? How do you manage the costs associated with the expansion? Will it pay off?

Start with the mission

These questions around adding space often prompt owners to look at their mission. Does our mission require us to continue to grow? Can we stop at the limits of our current space?

And sometimes, it is useful to consult with others who have been through these decisions. Taking on more space has massive ramifications. The issues around space are far more than about square footage.

The neverending sequence

The cycle of growing, hiring, and then running out of space, is actually an excellent result. We should be proud. It means several things. You have:

  • adequately figured out the steps it takes to grow
  • found ways to create demand for your services in your communities
  • developed your recruitment and hiring process well enough to outgrow the space you have
  • a strong-enough reputation for people to willingly join you

So first off, excellent job! Catch your breath and enjoy the problem a bit. . . . But then we still have the challenge of not enough space to continue to grow.

Over my 40 years of practice, I was responsible for 13 different moves or add-ons. What you say? Here is the story.

Startup locations

I had to start somewhere. In my case, I started new offices in three locations, one at a time. The first was the beginning of my private practice in one community. But then, over the years, I also started two other locations. The second and third sites were places that I never practiced in but that I created and supported along with others who practiced at those locations. I’ve talked about selecting a location in this post: Finding your community: The location and space.

Option 1: Then we moved

Interestingly, at every site, we moved to new locations or buildings at least once before we settled in. I had four moves in my primary office, most in the earliest years. In total, we moved seven times. When I looked at our pattern, I notice that in all those moves, only one time was the move from one town to another.

I think this illustrates an important point. In my view, the probability of your success goes up the longer you stay in a location. This success, of course, has to do with people being able to find you. Since former clients are your best referrers, the more they know where you are, the more growth you will see.

Option 2: And then we added on

Four times we added-on to an existing space. All four of these were additions at our primary site. This location has always experienced our most exceptional rate of growth.

Each of these moves meant a build-out. These construction projects usually required the moving of some walls, doorways, and then rebuilding the infrastructure (phones and internet) to suit our needs. Often this also entailed reconfiguring the existing space to make better use of the new space.

In some situations, the landlord will be willing to include the build-out costs in the rent. In essence, the landlord is financing the build-out and you are paying the costs off over some defined period of time. There are tax reasons for structuring things this way so talk to your accountant about it.

Sometimes the landlord is not willing to finance the build-out and so you will need to secure your own financing or use savings. This all goes into the calculations of your cost/benefit analysis. (I talk more about this in this post:

That is a lot of planning, building, and expense. At the time of my retirement, my organization included 42 therapy offices, three business offices, and five waiting rooms across three locations. We had one location with about 7400 sq ft, a second location with about 3000 sq ft, and a third with about 2400 sq ft.

What to do when you have run out of space

I have written a separate post on this topic:

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