05.29.09 Issue #377 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague


Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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Does Your Practice Need an "Extreme Makeover?"

Dr. Pat Charles – Case Study #310

Dr. Charles contacted McKenzie Management because of low production, no systems, and staffing issues.  She bought an existing practice with 826 active patients that had been in its present location for seven years. The stand-alone office is located close to a middle to upper income neighborhood.  She installed new equipment in her two operatories 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.

The practice is 28 years old, and it looked 28 years old!  Over dinner, the subject of “practice cosmetics” was discussed. “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” was Dr. Charles’ response.

Dentists work in a space as large as the patient can open their mouth and this is where the decorating and re-arranging is done.  The objective was for Dr. Charles to consider applying the same thought process to the physical structure of the practice.

The outside sign was outdated and dingy.  It was not illuminated, 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, my first observation was – spider webs!  The doormat was old and worn. I opened the door and entered the reception area…a tiled floor.  It was clean but every footstep echoed and it felt very “sterile.” The plastic chairs were all lined up against the wall, just like you find in the ER waiting room at the hospital.  They had seen better days. A copy of Glamour Magazine from June of 2006 was proudly displayed on the coffee table.  There was a large print of Yosemite National Park on one wall beside the plastic weeping willow tree.

It was recommended that Dr. Charles contract for the creation of a logo for the practice, as well as update the outdoor sign to include the new logo and illuminate it for viewing at night.

Dr. Charles was just not cognizant of looking at her office from a patient’s point of view. Whoever cleans the office should have a check-list to bring attention to areas such as spider webs, fingerprints, etc.  She was also asked to consider covering the tiled floor with a nice sound-absorbing area rug and to replace the outdated plastic 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 a home.  Add sofa tables and lamps.  Throw away the plastic tree and use live plants instead.

What type of pictures you place on the wall is certainly a matter of choice.  Many doctors choose their own photography but if it’s not “personal” to you and you have a choice of Yosemite National Park or a family with beautiful smiles which one will better illustrate what you do and set the tone for the patient’s visit?  Consider setting up a DVD monitor and playing information about cosmetic dentistry so patients can be educated to possibilities.

Business team members should be dressed in business attire.  It is important to have this discussion when placing a new employee in the business area.  Establish guidelines 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 dressing appropriately exudes knowledge and professionalism

Conclusions: Six months later on my return visit, 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 plastic chairs were moved to the staff lounge and comfortable, 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 to her about how long it was going to take before she “remodeled” and how much they enjoyed the new décor.  Her investment was small compared to the new attitudes of her team members and positive feedback from patients.

I challenge you to walk through your front door and see what your patients see.  Does your office need an “Extreme Makeover?”

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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