Running a successful dental practice takes a lot of work and encompasses many different aspects. In addition to medical proficiency and quality of care, you also need to pay attention to the appearance of your office. The caliber of your dental services matters a lot, but if your office is starting to look outdated, worn out, or aesthetically unappealing, your visitors won’t feel comfortable, which will adversely impact your inflow of patients over time.
Not to mention, the competition from corporate dental clinics and chains is also getting tougher. Regardless of the size and scale of your practice, you need to find every opportunity to set your practice apart from other dental offices. The most effective way to stand out is by ensuring that your office design and construction are consistent with the quality of your services. If you have an outdated office space, it will eventually impact your patients’ experience in a negative way, and by extension, your business.
Patients form an impression of you and your dental practice within a few seconds of walking in the door, sometimes even while they are still in the parking lot. You want the first impression to convey to patients that you are a skilled and caring dentist. When patients see a dental clinic that is run down, they might conclude that the dentist provides substandard care.
An attractive, thoughtfully designed, and up-to-date office with a welcoming environment is critical for acquiring and retaining patients. Take a good look at your dental practice and see if you spot the following signs of concern. If you do, it’s time to contact dental office contractors and renovate your practice.
The physical appearance of your office is the most obvious sign it’s time to remodel. Some owners are well aware that they need to upgrade their office interior. Maybe they still have wood paneling and wallpaper from the 1970s, or they might be a bit more modern and have bright primary colors and overstuffed furniture from the 1990s. If you are in newer offices, you may not realize that it has started to look a bit worn and it’s time to replace the carpeting in the waiting area.
Many dentists don’t even realize that their office has come to look shabby or outdated – and it’s understandable. After all, you spend most of your time practicing dentistry. What you may not realize is that this is making a poor impression on visitors.
We recommend looking at your office from the point of view of a new patient. Does it seem welcoming? Does it look professional and appropriate? Is the appearance in line with the people you’re competing to attract? How does your office really compare with other dental offices and healthcare facilities in your area?
Furthermore, if your maintenance bills are skyrocketing because of the constant repairs to the HVAC, electrical system, or water pipes, or there are loose floor tiles that have become a tripping hazard, it’s time to contact dental office contractors for a renovation.
If your equipment breaks down frequently, it is probably leading to a lot of downtime for your practice. That alone cascades into several problems as you wait for a service technician to arrive and fix the problem. The patient schedule gets backed up, or patients might even need to be canceled and rescheduled. At best, this annoys patients; at worst, it could lead to losing them forever. Old, worn equipment can have a negative effect on the way you run your practice.
Upgrading your equipment is actually a very good reason to remodel your clinic. Most of the time, the new devices are different sizes than the older models. Your dental office building contractor will have to completely reconfigure your exam rooms to fit newer machines and tools.
Other renovations to accommodate equipment would include making space for a cone-beam CT scanner or a panoramic X-ray. Not only do these machines need more room, but they also need special electrical wiring that can get complicated. The electrical work obviously needs to be up to code. We highly recommend speaking to reliable medical equipment suppliers about this step.
If your offices were built 20–30 years ago, it’s likely that your lab and sterilization area are combined into a single space. This is not good because it can lead to cross-contamination. Lab work is messy – when your technicians are grinding and polishing, they are generating dust that shouldn’t be anywhere near sterile instruments. One solid reason for renovating your office is to separate those spaces into their own respective rooms. This will also give you an opportunity to create a larger, more centralized sterilization area (in many older offices, this space is inefficient and undersized).
Another outstanding reason for renovating is code compliance. A dental practice needs to be up to a variety of codes concerning healthcare construction. There is the electrical wiring, of course, which may need to be significantly upgraded when you install new equipment. But there are other codes at the national and local levels.
The accessibility standards for building dental offices have evolved over the years. While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) didn’t become a law until 1990, many states had accessibility requirements in place soon after Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act became law in 1973. For a lot of buildings constructed before 1973, wheelchair accessibility was simply not a requirement. These buildings were not designed to accommodate wheelchairs through entries and bathrooms.
Pertaining to this, when older dental offices that were exempt from accessibility standards get renovated today, the ADA standards apply. You’ll need a handicap-accessible bathroom, which is a lot larger than a standard bathroom and takes up a lot of space. You’ll also need to add access ramps, widen doorways, and make other adjustments that may not be done in the available space.
If this seems like an added expense – yes, it is. But adhering to ADA design standards is not only the right thing to do, but it will also be good for your business. An older patient who uses a walker or wheelchair, or a patient who is temporarily on crutches because of a leg injury, will want to go to a dentist who makes it easier to get in the door. When you’re considering renovations, ask your dental office contractor to determine if your current space is handicapped-accessible. If it’s not, your construction management team must review your building and see what would be needed to bring it up to code.
A run-down office and outdated equipment don’t really make for a happy staff. If your employees are regularly complaining about running into each other, too many distractions throughout the office space, and never being able to find the things they need to do their job, it indicates you might need an office remodeling. Occasional inconveniences happen in every office, but when they start to become daily problems that affect your staff’s performance, you need to make a few changes.
Remember, your employees spend a significant amount of their time in the office every single day. If you have worn furniture, broken HVAC systems, mold, and mildew, they are going to be miserable. And if your staff is uncomfortable and unhappy, it will translate into how your practice performs as a whole and affect your overall business operations.
Renovating your dental office is about more than just creating an aesthetically pleasing space; it’s about upgrading your equipment, technologies, furniture, and furnishings so the workflow is optimized and you can compete with other dental clinics. Whether you’re remodeling the seating in your waiting room or building a new dental office from the ground up, the results can have a measurable impact on the performance and satisfaction of your staff.
A well-designed office is much more conducive to increasing your comfort so you can complete your tasks in the best way possible. If your existing office configuration and layout are not allowing you to complete your work efficiently, contact a dental office construction and renovation firm to see how you can make that happen. Your office is your “home away from home”, so improving it will give you the fresh boost of motivation and productivity you need to do your job better.
When planning for an upgrade for a dental or medical office, many professionals find themselves weighing the pros and cons of expanding or remodeling their existing space versus constructing a new office from scratch. There are both business and practical reasons why either option is appealing, but you may find that a renovation is the better option for you. Here are two big reasons for that:
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that remodeling a current facility will cost less than building a new one, as you’ll be working with an existing structure. If your current office has enough room but needs a new layout, you can spend more of your funds on the décor; you won’t need to pay to develop completely new flooring, walls, plumbing, and electrical services.
Moreover, remodeling costs less than new dental office construction so you may find it easier to get financing that fully meets your needs, especially if you’re starting a new practice and don’t have an established cash flow yet.
One major benefit of remodeling an existing office instead of building a new facility is that it won’t disrupt your patient base as much, i.e., your patients will continue to find you at the same address where you’ve always been. However, you’ll need to plan for the downtime you may experience while the entire process of remodeling is happening. It can lead to significant losses if your project is behind schedule or not properly organized, so make sure you’re working with a trustworthy dental office construction project manager.
Renovations can range in scale from a major remodel that includes extensive demolition and construction to a simple paint job in the waiting room. If you have decided to expand your existing office or spruce up an existing portion of the outdated area, we have some ideas about how to go about it.
When a patient or visitor is waiting for their appointment to begin or finish, they spend that time in your waiting or reception area. It is also most likely the first space people see as they enter your clinic. As such, it is vital that this room makes a good first impression of your practice.
In addition to proper lighting and seating in this area, consider adding artwork, live plants, an aquarium, a television, or a refreshments station. You could also add a small play area here for children to help reduce their anxiety and keep them distracted.
Simply taking out the old, stained flooring and replacing it can make a world of difference. Utilizing carpet is a good idea for private office spaces and waiting rooms since it’s comfortable to stand on and absorbs much of the sound. For treatment areas, ceramic tile, laminate, and hardwood are durable, easy-to-clean, and visually appealing options.
Poor, fluorescent lighting can make even the most well-maintained areas look neglected. Bad lighting is also associated with a deteriorating effect on mental and physical health, meaning it can impact the performance of your staff. Warm, inviting lighting can make the waiting room more comfortable whereas bright and strategically placed lighting is important in lab spaces and treatment rooms.
Just imagine getting unclear dental photographs because of inconsistent lighting! Ask your contractor to use a color meter to ensure proper lighting in the space. The ideal reading for a dental facility is generally around 5500k with a 100% CRI (color rendering index).
Before they even enter your building, people see the exterior of your office. If it looks dirty, needs repainting, or is riddled with mold or weeds, it’s going to look like you don’t really care about the way your practice runs. Make sure that the outward appearance of your building remains in good shape.
This can mean maintaining your parking lot, removing litter from the premises, and landscaping. If you don’t have clear signage to help people easily find your office, install some!
Here at Corporeal Visions, our dedicated team looks at the big picture, not just at the appearance of a dental practice. We review whether a practice’s treatment rooms need to be upgraded, if more lighting should be added, if the lab space and back office space could be improved, and so on. We bring years of experience to dental office renovations and we can handle aspects of the construction process you might overlook, such as complying with handicapped accessibility and adding electrical wiring to support the new equipment.
Our design, construction, and remodeling firm has worked with a variety of dentists over the years. We know that your patients don’t just focus on your dentistry skills and services – they make an impression of you based on subjective features of your office, like dull flooring or inadequate lighting. Whether you need to upgrade your lab or overhaul the furnishing and fixtures in the waiting room, we can help. If you are not sure whether you want remodeling or new construction services, give us a call at 703-909-4193 or get in touch with us online.
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