5 quick design tips to attract new patients

2015 05 12 15 59 09 147 Geier Jay 200

If you walked into a surgeon's office and the reception room had threadbare couches, flickering lights, and dusty coffee tables, would you entrust your body to the surgeon's scalpel? Of course you wouldn't. Similarly, your new and current patients want to see clean, modern reception areas and operatories in your practice, so they can be assured that your technology and skills are equally up to date.

Neglecting the aesthetics of your office will not only prevent regular patients from referring their friends, it will likely keep them from sticking around themselves. As soon as they find a more pleasant environment, you can bet your shabby, green rug they'll be gone.

5 quick tips

Jay Geier is the president and founder of the Scheduling Institute.Jay Geier is the president and founder of the Scheduling Institute.

Since new patients are the lifeblood of your practice, you need to do whatever it takes to keep them coming in. I've compiled five quick tips to help you make the most of your current space and increase your ability to attract new patients and retain the ones you have. No budget for redesign? That's OK. These tips require more elbow grease and creativity than dollars.

1. Reduce clutter

Less is definitely more. Clutter leads to increased dirt and dust, creating unsanitary conditions, and gives an unprofessional appearance. Keep tabletops dusted and cleared off except for a few magazines. And choose magazines that suit your primary audience -- women between the ages of 40 and 65.

2. Set the tone

Play soothing background music, or have the TV set on a neutral station. This will help patients keep their stress levels low. Turning the TV on to the news can incite feelings of negativity and anxiety. Put something on that is positive and universally appealing, like HGTV.

3. Freshen up

“These tips require more elbow grease and creativity than dollars.”

A new coat of paint can make an enormous impact on a space without a significant impact on your wallet. Select neutral or subtle colors to create an environment of relaxation. Light tones such as taupe, sage green, soft blues, or gray are perfect for reducing your patients' stress.

4. Swap it out

Swap out old throw pillows for bright new ones -- to complement and contrast to your new neutral paint color. Also, consider replacing art work and other decorative items to keep things modern and updated. Art work doesn't have to be priceless paintings, just something that is visually appealing. These simple changes can make it look like you've invested more in the décor than you actually have.

5. Keep it live

If it doesn't require water, throw it out. Get rid of all silk flowers and plastic greenery. Consider strategically placing herbs, such as basil, oregano, and rosemary, and fresh flowers around the reception area. These all have wonderful air-freshening qualities, and living plants bring a sense of vitality and coziness to the office.

They say cleanliness is next to godliness. Keep this in mind when you consider your space. In fact, take a slow walk through your practice as if you were a new patient. Recline in the dental chairs and look at the ceiling, walls, and corners. Use the patient bathrooms. Remember, your physical office should be a reflection of your unique team and excellent services -- you don't want anyone to feel put off when visiting your office. And new patients will be especially critical of your space and sensitive to the environment. Train your staff to respond to think like new patients as well. The more top of mind new patients are to your practice, the more you and your staff will do what is necessary to cater to them.

I often talk about the Ritz Carlton model and how the hotel constantly strives to raise the standard of excellence in all of its locations. And this excellence applies not only to the level of service but also the physical environment in which its clients are received. The hotel's hallways and rooms are pristine, and the décor is always immaculately chosen and arranged. The hotel realizes the importance of a good first impression and strives to make the most of its space.

The Scheduling Institute has emulated the Ritz Carlton standard in every way possible. We want our guests and clients to feel like royalty when they step into any of our facilities -- we literally unroll a red carpet at our front doors.

What's your first impression like? Is your practice environment keeping patients or turning them and their potential referrals away? If it's the latter, its time to roll up your sleeves and get busy updating your space. Your patients will thank you.

Jay Geier is the president and founder of the Scheduling Institute.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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