The Background of the Medical Centre in Stafford Brisbane
Approximately 1 year ago I decided to embark on the process of buying into the medical centre Stafford where I was working as a Psychologist. The medical centre was a dated centre in Stafford, Brisbane where a sole GP worked with a bunch of part-time Allied Health Practitioners. I was motivated to buy into the place because I always wanted to become a business owner and I felt that owning a medical centre was a good investment. The medical centre was also owned by my 62-year-old mother who was nearing retirement. I wanted to provide her with a successful business that she could rely in her retirement. In order for the business to become more profitable we needed 3 other GPs to work there and we needed the place to be accredited. The 1st step was a new office fit out.
Little did I know what challenges and stresses lay ahead. This blog post is a summary of the fit-out process for the Medical Centre and some lessons that I learnt that will hopefully help others going through this process in the future. And maybe give clients an appreciation about what goes into running a successful medical centre from the fit-out side of things.
The Design/ Planning Process
The process started by having several conversations with staff and the GP about my proposed changes to the design of the building. Essentially we were going to expand into the stop next door, add a number of extra consulting rooms and make the place look a lot more professional. This consultation process was long and there were a number (often trivial) considerations to take on board. I would say that the design part of the process was the most important and where the most arguments occurred. Everybody had their thoughts and we found it very difficult to reach a consensus.
The GP wanted to consult an architect to help us finalise the designs. We ended up using Hayes Architects. I had concerns that this was an unnecessary expense and felt that ultimately we didn’t need them. I felt that using a builder would be enough. After receiving a bill for our initial meetings at over $6000 with no formal plan we knew that utilising architects were not for us. Instead, we went ahead with just using a builder.
Once we had a floor plan of what we wanted – I contacted a Builder (Hans Young) and we stated construction in November. The construction phase would last for 3 months between November 1st and January 31st. I had done other work with Hans in the past and I knew that he was the man for the job.
The Fit out/ Build Process (Part 1)
The first 3-4 days I spent with the builder finalising the designs and the different trades people we were going to use. They included:
- * Electricians
- * Plasterers
- * Plumber
- * Concreters
- * Handymen
- * Labourers
- * Fire Safety
- * Painter
- * Glaziers
- * Cabinet Maker
- * Air Conditioning Installer
I got the builder to manage all the tradespeople. In the past, I have tried to project manage the job myself and landed myself in trouble. The key was finding good tradespeople to use. Most of the tradespeople were A team players but there were a few who let me down and really slowed the project at different times. For example, the cabinet maker was 1 month late with installing the cabinets which was very frustrating. Overall, I was very happy with the different tradespeople that I used. Some were referred to me by the builder, some were found through service seeking and some I had used in the past.
Cost = $80,000
The Fit Out/ Build Process (Part 2)
The second part of the fit-out process was much more foreign to me because I hadn’t done it before and didn’t have any connections. It involved installing IT systems, Internet, Phones etc.
(1) Updating Computer Systems
We had very old Eftpost/ Fax/ Computer systems that needed to be updated and we knew that it wasn’t going to come cheap. We ended up using Parkes Design who specialised in IT systems for medical centres. They provided us with a Server, IT security, Tyro Eftpost terminals and 4 new computers for reception and GPs. Best of all – they charged us very minimal ongoing fees. Most other specialised Medical IT firms charge more than $300/ month in ongoing fees.
Cost = $14,000
(2) Updating Telephone Systems
Due to the fact that we were changing the location of the reception area and adding additional rooms we also needed to upgrade the computer systems. We ended up purchasing a phone system ourselves and then paying an expert phone installation technician to install them. The process was a lot more complicated than expected and relied upon the phone technician working in conjunction with our electrician.
Cost = $4000
(3) Choosing An Internet/ Phone Provider
The practice was currently being serviced by Telstra Business. We were paying approximately $400/ month for 3 phone lines and Internet. I did some research and came up with 3 different providers
(3) Commander (Telstra Wholesaler)
Internode was the cheapest option and they seemed to have good support. However, I was worried about the difficulty of changing providers. We ended up signing with Commander because we were able to stay on the Telstra network and they provided us with a better deal than Telstra.
If I had my time again I would have stayed with Telstra because Commander were an absolute nightmare to deal with. There were soo many hidden fees and their customer service was absolutely horrible.
Cost = $3000 set up fees + $400/ month
In total the fit out cost us approximately $100k and took the best part of 3 months to complete. If you get the design process right, have the correct amount of funding available and work with professionals then you can achieve a very good outcome. I definitely learnt a lot through this process and it has been worth the time, money and effort put into it. We now have a very professional medical centre that our clients love and allow us to attract the clients that we wish to serve. And most importantly the different practitoners feel proud to work in a modern Medical Centre.