“Dressing” for the Patients You Want

You’ve probably heard it before – dress for the job you want. The same can be said for attracting new patients. You may have had the experience before. You walk into a new doctor or dentist office, as a patient, and it’s clear that maybe the building has seen better days. The front desk is friendly enough but you note their too casual dress. It gives you pause. You’ve decided you’re about to start billing medical and are going to charge significantly higher fees for the more complex services you are delivering – shouldn’t your office look the part?

Every patient wants to know that when they go for an appointment at an office they are going to see the best. That their provider’s office is full of professional, well-educated people and that the provider cares about their practice. First impressions really do set the tone. It’s the reason so many dental offices are now leaning towards a more spa-like atmosphere. It sets a tone of calm, relaxation and confidence.
Take a moment to look around your office waiting room. If you walked in as a patient would you be impressed? Would you feel confident that you were in a place to receive top notch care? Be 100% honest no matter how painful it may be. If the answer is even a little bit yes then it is time for a remodel. Sometimes small changes can make a big difference. You don’t have to hire an interior designer and go into full demolition mode. A swap out of those rows of hard office chairs for plush sofas and comfy armchairs can go a long way. Change out your artwork to be something more modern and calming. No old-school mass-produced prints of flowers or landscapes. If you haven’t already installed one consider a coffee bar or at least a water dispenser with an infuser. Opt for magazine subscriptions that appeal to your clientele.
It may seem counterproductive but remove educational literature from your waiting room. Literature should be selected specifically for the patient and given with thought and intention in the clinical area. Let your assistants review those educational materials with your patient so they see the value in educating themselves. Do not advertise services in your waiting room – save all of that for your clinical area. Your waiting room will set the tone for your patient’s appointment. You don’t want them feeling like they walked into a sales showroom.
I encourage providers to remove televisions from their waiting rooms as well. In our society we are inundated with noise. Media is everywhere. Let your waiting area be a place where your patients can reflect and relax.
So we’ve tackled your waiting room…what about you and your team? While your team doesn’t have to run out and buy Prada suits to impress patients you should enforce a professional dress code in your office. Uniformity is excellent as well – especially if it meshes with your office’s overall “theme”. I know a dentist who has her entire office in hues of purple. It’s not overwhelming – it’s gorgeous. And her lovely team wears scrubs in hues of violet, lavender, grey and black set to a schedule for days of the week. Her team always looks pulled together, professional and most of all her color scheme is soothing to her clientele. Her amazing front desk staff does not wear scrubs but instead dresses in purple blouses (any shade but always a hue of purple) and black slacks with black shoes. The result – absolutely gorgeous. Her office is striking from the beginning to the end of your visit and you just feel utter confidence in this office because in addition to being a great, cohesive team they LOOK the part.
I challenge you, as the leader of your dental ship, to carve out an hour in the next week to reflect on your office. Have all schedules blocked for an hour or buy the staff lunch and ask them to stick around for the lunch hour. All of you sit in your waiting area space and ask your team what they think about it. Encourage them to be honest. Ask them what they would change. Start to work towards making your office an amazing place for your patients.
Dental Billing Tips and News for Pros; Edition #136


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