Nick Heywood-Smith and his wife Nikki explain how they built Wellness and Lifestyles Australia into a one-stop shop for allied health services
15 July 2016
With his experience in investment, finance and property development across almost every industry, Health Project Services CEO Dean Crozier is on a mission to deliver a vital transformation of the healthcare property sector in Australia. He explains the benefits of healthcare practitioners owning property and the factors to consider when deciding what to buy.
What are the biggest challenges in your current role?
There’s no other industry like healthcare. The regulatory and compliance environment is immensely complex. There’s innovation in technology to keep up with and you’ve got so many different stakeholders involved – the public sector, healthcare operators ranging from GPs to large corporates, plus the investors and the communities we’re all serving. Everyone has their priorities and they’re all talking a different language.
Our greatest challenge is to keep scaling up our business, attracting the talent to address all these competing needs and get the right results for healthcare infrastructure. I’ve been strategic in getting the right people, creating a flat hierarchy where everyone has the flexibility to work autonomously and use their initiative. It’s been a successful way of recruiting and retaining industry leaders in our key areas of expertise – research, development management, project management, capital transactions, town planning and clinical business consulting.
How did you get involved in this industry? What do you love most about it?
My first healthcare investment project was a small medical practice in Penrith. It was an ordinary building, but ideal for consulting rooms, and my research showed a gap in the local market. Once I had secured planning approval to adapt the property for a healthcare business, I had a buyer in no time. But it was my university research that brought home to me how much the industry needs support developing a strong infrastructure framework to meet our national healthcare needs. With our ageing population and growing list of chronic health problems, we will be facing a crisis in terms of limited healthcare facilities available in Australia. And the government simply doesn’t have the funding, so we need to be looking at effective partnerships with private and institutional investors. I’m passionate about finding solutions and kicking goals for healthcare practitioners and the people they’re going to be able to help, thanks to our intervention.
What are the benefits of healthcare practitioners owning their own property?
For any practitioner with long-term lifestyle and business goals, it almost always pays to buy a property. An investment in property usually takes 10+ years to bring strong returns. Paying off your own property over time is a low-risk investment and the healthcare sector has been outperforming most other industries in recent years. If you’ve invested in property in a location with the right demographic profile and opportunities in the healthcare market, you won’t have any trouble finding future tenants or buyers when it’s time to move on.
What are some of the factors to consider when choosing a property?
When there are so many things that can affect the success of your healthcare business, great research makes all the difference. To pinpoint the right suburb, you’ll need comparison data on property values, demographics, major infrastructure, town planning, council codes for medical facilities, competitor and market analysis – it’s a long list but critical when making a decision about location.
When you’re ready to search for a property, the list of criteria is just as long. You’ll need to make sure your due diligence is thorough so you can keep risks to a minimum. Make sure you’ve considered issues like compliance and requirements for disabled access, fire safety, and parking, any restrictions that could impact a planning application and any changes you might need to make the building work as a premises for a healthcare business.
What are your top tips for securing the ideal property?
To get the property you want for a fair price, you need to know the marketplace. Keep things professional and less risky by getting advice from an expert property negotiator who understands the special requirements for healthcare businesses properties. The right expert can look at contractual issues, keeping your risk to a minimum and knowing when to offer less, or more, to secure your investment on the best terms. If you’re handling negotiations personally, don’t be rushed. Take time to review all your due diligence findings and seek expert advice on any concerns about your purchase.