Practice Management

Looking at Site Selection Variables For Veterinarian Tenants

By: Jeff Grandfield and Dale Willerton – The Lease Coach

When you’re looking for the right property for your new clinic, or wish to expand or move your operation, having a checklist of desirable criteria can help you stay on track. As The Lease Coach, we appreciate and applaud tenants who provide a detailed checklist of what they are looking for in each location.

You should weigh many demographic aspects when considering leasing a location in a certain area or territory. Just because you’ve found a new property with space for lease doesn’t mean the demographics will fit your ideal criteria. As a veterinarian tenant, the following points will be specifically important to you when searching:

Age: The average age of people living in a particular area is extremely important to many veterinarians. Will your clinic be more attractive to parents with young families (who will be more likely to have pets in their home) or retired seniors?

Income: As mean income and the proportion of two-income households vary, so do the ability and desire to spend disposable income at your clinic.

Residency: While pet-owners can visit many different veterinarians (depending on services provided, trust, and cost), they may be apt to frequent a veterinary clinic located close to them for general treatment. Therefore, set up your clinic where your target customers already live if possible, rather than try to make them come to you.

Location: If you don’t think it matters which side of the street you’re located on, think again! Certain operations do better on one side of the street than the other. In your case, your clinic may likely do better on a route where most people are driving to work. People may need to drop off their pets for scheduled treatments on the way into the office rather than on their way home.

Visibility (or lack thereof): Lack of visibility for your hospital can cause people to drive right by it – especially if traffic is heavy. Trees in a parking lot can block signage and restrict visibility for drivers passing by. Some landlords have been known to overbuild their pad sites near the road, therefore blocking the visibility of the retail plaza behind it.

Adjacent Property: If you find a great property with space available for lease, look around. If there is a bare patch of ground between your desired unit for lease, assume that someday, the landlord will lease that pad site or construct a building there that blocks visibility to both your signage and storefront.

Competition: Be aware of any, and all, competition within the area. Not only should you be acutely aware of your competitor, you should have someone “secret shop” their clinic and report back to you about the entire experience. You could also have your secret shopper ask them about your clinic (if you are already open) so as to discover what your competition is saying about you. Remember to also think in terms of future competitors. Keep your eyes and ears open for any indication that other doctors may be relocating or setting up shop in your area.


How can you distinguish sites that make sense for your clinic? Begin by understanding that just because a developer bought some land and put up a building it doesn’t mean that the site is automatically a winner. Perhaps it was a great neighborhood 30 years ago, but it’s gone downhill. Perhaps the area is overdeveloped, meaning that another veterinary hospital isn’t needed or justified.

Consider the following two questions before choosing a specific commercial site for your hospital and signing a long-term lease agreement or a lease renewal:

  • Are you planning to open a clinic that people will travel for miles to visit?
  • Are you taking your clinic to where people already are (e.g. downtown, the suburbs, or a large commercial development)?


For a complimentary copy of our CD, Leasing Dos & Don’ts for Commercial Tenants, please e‑mail

Dale Willerton and Jeff Grandfield – The Lease Coach are Commercial Lease Consultants who work exclusively for tenants. Dale and Jeff are professional speakers and co-authors of Negotiating Commercial Leases & Renewals FOR DUMMIES (Wiley, 2013). Got a leasing question? Need help with your new lease or renewal? Call 1-800-738-9202, e-mail or visit