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12.28.07 Issue #303 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
McKenzie Management
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Does Your Practice Need a “Makeover”?

Dr. Pat Charles – Case Study #310

Dr. Charles contacted McKenzie Management because of the same reasons that many of our clients contact us – low production, no systems, staffing issues, etc.  As is usually the case, the doctor is unaware of  “unseen” issues that also need to be resolved.  So was the case with Dr. Charles.  This article addresses those “other issues.”

Office Facts:

  • Dr. Charles had been located in this office space for the past 7 years.  She bought an existing practice with 826 active patients.  The stand-alone office is located close to a middle to upper income neighborhood. 
  • She installed new equipment in her two treatment rooms and left the existing equipment in the two hygiene rooms.
  • The same furniture remained in the reception room.
  • The sign outside was the same except her name replaced the previous doctor’s name.

This practice is 28 years old and it looked 28 years old!  It was time to discuss the “cosmetics” of the practice.  After addressing the appearance of the office with Dr. Charles, she said, “ I honestly don’t pay any attention to the office.  I come in the back door; head right to my private office for the morning huddle, work all day and leave the same way I came in.”

Dentists work in a space as large as the patient can open their mouth.  This is where they do their decorating and re-arranging.  Many of them do not apply the same thought process to their office!

Observations:

  • The sign was outdated and dingy.  It had a picture of a tooth on it!  It was not lit, making it difficult to see at 4:30 when it starts to get dark in the winter evenings.
  • There was sufficient parking behind the building on a high-traffic street.  However, it was noted that the team members had the “choice” parking spots closest to the sidewalk.
  • Upon arriving at the front door, the first observation was – spider webs!  We all know that spiders are very active little critters and can create a beautiful web overnight but this one had been there for a while.  The doormat was also old and worn.
  • I opened the door and entered the reception area…a vinyl floor.  OK – it was clean; however, every sound made an echo like being in a hospital.
  • The chairs were all lined up against the wall, just like what you find in the ER waiting room at the hospital.  The chairs had seen better days.
  • Next are the magazines.  A copy of Glamour Magazine from June of 2006! 
  • Any dental art?  No way.  There was a large print of Yosemite National Park on one wall beside the dusty, plastic weeping willow tree.

On a positive note the hygiene treatment rooms were well kept and the older equipment was clean and in working condition.  Dr. Charles was planning to replace the chairs soon.

Recommendations:

  • Create a logo for the practice.  Contact ADA Intelligent Dental Marketing for assistance in developing this all-important marketing tool.  Update the sign out front to include the new logo and light it for viewing at night.
  • Replace the doormat when necessary (1x a year).  Be sure that the spider webs are removed in the mornings prior to the patients’ arrivals.  Any glass areas should be free of fingerprints.
  • Consider replacing the vinyl flooring with a sound-absorbing carpet.  At best, place a large decorative area rug over the vinyl floor.
  • Replace the outdated metal and fabric chairs with a comfortable sofa and armed chairs.  Be sure to have armed chairs that are easy to get out of.  Arrange the room like a living room in her home.  Add sofa tables and lamps.  Throw away the plastic tree and use live plants instead.
  • Dr. Charles is a dentist, her “room” should be promoting dentistry– not Yosemite National Park.  A nicely framed professional poster of someone (or a family) with a beautiful smile illustrates what she does and sets the tone for the patient’s visit.  Set up a DVD monitor and play information about cosmetic dentistry so patients can see what is available from the practice. 
  • She was working on a new logo to incorporate into the signage for the building.  This logo would also be used on all correspondence and brochures, including her website.
  • Unless the business team members are called to assist clinically, they should be dressed in business attire.  It is important to have this discussion when placing a new employee in the business area.  Guidelines need to be established on what is and isn’t acceptable in the business area.  Dr. Charles’ Financial Coordinator is presenting thousands of dollars worth of dental treatment and she should be dressed appropriately to exude knowledge and professionalism. 

Conclusions:
Six months later, there was a different atmosphere.  She had placed a refreshment center in the reception area for coffee and tea, as well as granola bars and a small dorm-sized refrigerator for cold water and juice.  The old metal chairs were moved to the staff lounge and comfortable and attractive seating was placed in the reception area, along with a very nice area rug.

Dr. Charles was so surprised at the number of patients that commented on how they enjoyed the new décor.  Her investment was small compared to the return in improved attitudes of her dental team and the pleasure of the patients.

Patients expect to have a clean, friendly, comfortable and visually appealing environment.  The DO judge the type of dentistry you will deliver based on such criteria.  Be consciously aware of your environment.  Take a walk on the patient’s side.

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Practice Enrichment Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies….. email info@mckenziemgmt.com.

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