A frequent question that I am asked by owners who are transitioning from home to center based services or who are opening solely as a brick and mortar location is about overhead costs. While some of the costs for operating a center based location are straight forward – (lease/mortgage, utilities, furniture, etc,), there are some costs that many owners don’t factor in. In this blog, I will detail 14 costs that many owners typically don’t factor in when developing operating budgets.
Owners should make sure that they have appropriate insurance in place to cover damage to the building and items within the building. This is typically covered under general liability insurance.
Delivering 1:1 therapy requires the use of many individuals within your center and with people comes messes of all sizes – whether its from arts and crafts, walking inside from outside on a rainy day and leaving muddy footprints, individuals using the same kitchen items to warm up food, or having everyone utilizing the same toileting facilities – cleaning is a cost that should be prioritized to maintain health and to prevent the spread of germs.
Another expense that comes up are maintenance costs – fixing lightbulbs, doors, or repairing property that may be destroyed during a client behavior incident.
- Pest Control
We sign contracts for pest control services at our locations. Pest control comes out monthly, places and checks bait traps, and looks for any signs of critters in our facility.
We quickly learned about routers, extenders, cord mapping, and other IT lingo the more devices we added to our network for technician data collection. Our IT issues seemed to be neverending until we hired an IT company to help with setting up or network to increase connectivity and speed as well as device management (because everyone was connecting to our wifi-even from personal devices and this slowed down the network).
- Window Cleaning
One of our locations has windows on every side. They get dirty and have water spots from rain and snow. We have our windows professionally cleaned once a year.
Landscaping includes plants, mowing, and snow removal. This can be a more costly expense if it’s not negotiated within your lease or if you have purchased your building.
- Dumpsters & Trash
If you lease your location, this cost may be included within your lease terms. When purchasing, you will have to determine a location for your dumpster and pay for trash pickup.
- Carpet Cleaning
Our carpet cleaning cost adds $1k a month to our operating costs. We are renovating our location that has carpet and getting wood floors (yay!). When seeking out locations to lease, my recommendation would be to negotiate for wood floors or to negotiate a lower price per square foot due to the carpet cleaning expenses.
- Alarm & Camera Systems
Our alarm system is tied in with our camera systems. I would recommend both for liability purposes. You can purchase these separately.
- Janitorial Supplies (Dispensers, toilet paper, etc)
The first location that I leased had toilet paper and paper towel dispensers already in the kitchen and bathrooms. However, when searching for toilet paper and paper towels to fit the dispenser I learned a quick lesson in Janitorial Supplies 101. I never realized that there was a such thing as coreless toilet paper or that dispensers had model numbers. I also learned the difference in commercial versus residential cleaning products. My advice is to look into and support local janitorial supply companies. You will often get a discount on supplies this way, but definitely budget for all of the toilet paper and paper towels that your team will go through!
- Signage (Permits, Design, Install)
This is a cost that most people are probably planning for, but also may not realize the amount of the cost. The cost for signs can be in the thousands of dollars range. You may also have to apply for permits to ensure that your signage is approved by the city.
I quickly learned that my printing needs for a brick and mortar location were far greater than my laser ink jet could handle. I purchased a commercial printer where ink was sent out to us and we pay per printed sheet.
As a medical facility, ABA Organizations do need to ensure that paperwork with any hipaa information is shredded prior to throwing it out. The easiest way for our team to manage this was to contract with a local shredding company and train our team to place any paper with PHI in the shred bin.
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