Why invest in a surgery makeover
What is it about a newly designed and built surgery that gets everybody talking?
Arguably, I believe that the population of today in Australia demands a level of return from their medical and dental providers. The old adage "don't make it too swish or they'll all say - so this is where my money is going" has diminishing merit in today's' competitive market place.
How many times have you whinged about sitting in plastic chairs at your family GP for half an hour or more, reading two year old magazines? As individual professionals, you have the choice to provide a basic level akin to a public hospital facility where clients might then expect to pay at a similar basic level, or you can tailor the feel and essence of your practice to suit the customers you want or need to attract, giving you the ability to tailor your treatment and hence fees to match both your professional service and the real level of care your practice has to offer.
The choice is all yours
I guess the biggest restraint for most dentists in undertaking an assessment of their public image is status quo or a perception of little or no return on investment.
1. Status Quo
Your practice rooms have served well so why change?
I usually ask these dentists to try a role model exercise. Take the time to become one of your patients. Park where they have to, enter through the public area and approach the reception area. Try it with two kids in tow if that is part of your demographic catchment.
Take note of your first impressions when you open the door. What feelings does it evoke?
Next take a seat and sit there for 15 minutes; be honest about the waiting period.
- A lounge room feel, a bank, a government office waiting area?
- A hospital's emergency waiting area?
- Nearly every other dentist waiting area you've been into?
- Does it explain what you and your practice have to offer?
- Is it unique in any way (not including the fish tank with Nemo in it)?
- Do you feel at ease and does it take your mind off what is about to happen to you?
- Is there a clear indication of what to do and where to go?
- Is it clean and tidy?
- Does it generate a feel of professionalism?
- Are you feeling happy to be there?
- How many old magazines are there?
- Is there information and promotional tools to assist you in your treatment planning?
- Do you have to ask where the public facilities are or can you find them for yourself?
- Can you see and hear others paying or discussing payment issues?
- What are your kids doing after ten minutes?
Complete the whole experience including the treatment area and then back out again, how is the payment process handled?
These are just a few of the many things to look for. Take a pen and paper with you. Get your team to do the same and discuss it all at your next team meeting. I think you will be surprised.
If this is completed with a client's mindset, not a provider, you will very likely have a completely different view of how you currently treat your patients.
2. Little or no return on an investment
- What value do you place on how you treat your patients?
- Is your high level of dental professional consultation and treatment enough?
- Does it matter that this may be offered in an environment not akin to your expertise?
We can tell you that for those who embark on the correct process of redesigning their practice environment (ensuring that the new environment evokes all the desired feels to suit your offer) have reported a much higher referral rate and treatment plan success from their existing patients.
- What is the net value of one lifetime referral into your practice?
- What is the value in having better informed patients and being able to treat patients proactively?
- What is the value in having your patients feel more at ease and allowing the built environment to work toward this?
- What is the value of sound ergonomics for you the dentist and all of your team to ensure workflows are smooth and efficient?
- What is the value of having happy staff who are content with their work environment?
Only you can answer these, they differ from practice to practice.
In nearly every case we have looked at, the cumulative benefit in dollar terms over the life of the refit is huge. Currently we believe that this is not the perception amongst the majority of dentists.
Another important factor to take into account are the tax benefits associated with leasing the fitout over a 5 or 7 year period. We have found that once a cost benefit analysis is completed, the cost becomes more affordable and the benefits far outweigh these costs.
Whilst we understand the significant costs involved in a practice set-up and that these costs are often referred to as "I can build a house for that" the simple fact is that a house won't earn you your lifestyle; it is the result of a good investment in a well designed and built practice, so is your car, your holidays with your family, etc. The investment in your practice so often takes second place to the lifestyle expenditures.
The choice is simple. Spend on your lifestyle and possibly not be able to invest in the area where you source your income, or invest in your area of income and be able to, for evermore, increase your lifestyle choices.
Once you embark on the latter, you may never look back.
By Geoffrey Raphael
Design Director - Medifit Design & Construct