3 Things That Could Be Killing How Your Patients Perceive Your Practice?


Today I went to the barber shop for my usual Thursday morning routine.  I get my head cut and my face shaved.  It’s the male equivalent of a mani-pedi – although I don’t mind a mani-pedi myself.

Recently, I switched to a new barber shop that was close to my house.  I loved my previous shop, but getting there wasn’t easy.  With my hectic schedule I don’t do appointments, I just walk in.  So convenience was very important to me.

I walked in the first time and immediately made my assessment.  Was it clean?  Did the barbers have nicely trimmed hair?  Did the barbers dress professionally?  Did they place a new fresh blade into the razor in front of me?

This got me thinking – this is actually no different than what patients do when they enter a dental office for the first time.  So I ask you, how do your patients perceive your practice?

Is Your Office Clean?  

Too often people associate clean with fancy.  I have a pretty nice office, but it’s no Taj Mahal (no pun intended since I am from India).  It’s clean, up to date, and properly maintained.  My point – clean doesn’t mean fancy waterfalls, marble, fancy paintings, etc.

It’s always the little things.  Are your magazines or newspapers up to date?  Do you have a tube TV or a flat screen on the wall?  If you have a flat screen is it one of the originals or a newer one with barely any bezel on it?  Are your light bulbs out?  How does it smell?  Is your paint cracking?  Is any wallpaper peeling?  Are your floors worn and scratched?

None of the above questions have anything to do with how fancy your place is.  These are basic things that can easily get out of control.  OUT OF SIGHT OUT OF MIND.

Encourage your entire team to walk through your office and make note of anything that doesn’t properly reflect your practice.  Make a budget and task someone to get it fixed.

But it’s not just about the inside, but also the outside.

About six years ago we moved into our building.  When we first moved in everything inside/outside was newly done.  Last year I noticed that our landscaping had become tired and not maintained.  Quite frankly, I had gotten cheap about updating the mulch.  So I asked the landscaper to install grass in the main mulch area so I wouldn’t have to ‘waste’ money on mulch.

What about your parking lot?  Is it fresh looking?  Is it swept?

We had our parking lot sealed with new black and the lines restriped a couple of years back.  It made a tremendous difference in how it looked.

I drove to my office after my shave and walked around the building.  I was mortified.  The landscaper had let things get away.  I immediately called him so we could meet face to face to review the expectations.

The outside of your practice (whether you own it or not) is the TRUE FIRST IMPRESSION to your patients.

Make sure you take interest in the outside as well as the inside.  Both are equally important.

How Are Your Teeth?

Imagine going to a barber whose hair was not maintained or going to a nail salon and the person had gnarly nails.  What would be your first thought about their work?

You’re a dentist for heaven sake.  Make sure your smile is maintained!

When was your last cleaning?  Are your teeth crooked?  Do you have mismatched restorations?  Do you have amalgams showing?  Do you have cracked or chipped teeth?  How white are your teeth?

I am not saying you should have a mouthful of veneers or full mouth rehab.  But your smile should be reflective of the type of work you want your patients to accept.


Sterilization and Safety

Today more than ever patients are more in tune with sterilization and safety in the dental office.  Call me crazy, but I insist on seeing the fresh blade being used for my shaves.

Train your team to show the patient your sterilization area.  If it’s messy – clean up.

Train your team to open bags or cassettes in front of patients.  Make it a point to show your patient that you are using fresh sterilized instruments.  While it may seem silly to you, your patients will appreciate it.

Throw away patient safety glasses that are peeling or look worn out.

Throw away instruments that are developing brown spots.

Be sure to clean all the composite off instruments so they don’t get gunned up.

Just like everything else in life it is quite easy for these things to just happen and creep up on you suddenly.

Be A Leader

There is one thing I have learned over the years.  No one will take care of your business for you.  No one will care more than you about how you are perceived.  If you don’t care or don’t set the tone of what is expected – then it will fall through the cracks.  And the next thing you’ll be thinking is “What the hell happened!”

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