Whether you have recently purchased an established dental practice and you’re needing some ideas for a quick makeover, or you’re looking at your own older office and thinking it could use a pick-me-up, you’ve come to the right page!
Make-Over Your Office In a Weekend
Today’s dental offices are changing, and ambience is becoming more important to patients. Updating your practice systems or energizing your team dynamics might (and likely will) take some months of effort and patience, but sprucing up the appearance of your office can be done in a weekend! Some practices spend a lot of money on remodeling and expensive purchases, which in some cases may be needed, but most of the suggestions on the list below can be accomplished on a minimal budget with pretty good bang for the buck.
In many lobbies, painting one wall to be an accent wall is enough. Before you commit to a color, consider getting a few sample sizes of varying shades so you can test and compare the paint colors in the actual light of the room. Unless your practice is pediatric or the style of your office decor is already rather vibrant, it’s usually smart to avoid going too bold with your color choice.
Ask yourself if you have enough seats and if they’re comfortable. Even if patients don’t wait long in your lobby, you want them to be comfy and at ease for whatever time they are sitting down. There’s a balance to be found between affordability, practicality, comfort, and style.
There’s no necessity for this to be spendy. IKEA has very reasonably priced canvases and framed prints, including large options that can fill a big, open wall with one piece. Stores like Burlington Coat Factory, HomeGoods, Kirkland’s, Marshalls, Ross, and T.J. Maxx, etc, are other options for high-quality finds at discounted prices. If you’ve redecorated your house and now have artwork without a home, will it work in your office? Most of the items on this list could be repurposed from home to your practice.
Get an appropriately sized rug to fill your space. Warm and cozy touches can do wonders to offset the clinical feel of a dental practice that most people dislike. Again, IKEA has a range of textiles at affordable prices. Home improvement stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot also have rugs, and discount websites like Overstock.com and Wayfair.com have a wide variety of options for those who don’t mind not physically seeing a rug before buying it. If you order online, check the return policies beforehand. If you’d prefer something with more commercial-grade durability, we like FLOR carpet tiles.
A side table with a lamp and/or a floor lamp in a corner can vastly improve the lighting in a dental office that has florescent lights. Keep practicality in mind when purchasing so you don’t get a fragile or unstable lamp. If the thought of more lights to turn on and off bothers you, there are devices that can be used to set multiple lamps to be turned on and off with one remote control.
If you have enough natural light, a low-maintenance houseplant or two can up the hominess of your office considerably. At many stores, plants will have a tag indicating how much light and water they need, i.e., how hard they are to kill. If natural light is limited in the areas where a plant would make sense, a nice fake plant can add the same general feeling.
Patients, particularly parents or others who wait for a child’s or companion’s appointment, appreciate something to look at in the lobby. A few non-controversial magazine subscriptions kept neatly in a wall rack or table tray can do the trick. We also think a couple of nice “coffee table” books can add a classy feel.
A small refrigerator with bottled water, preferably a fridge with a see-through door, is a very nice gesture that patients appreciate even if they don’t take advantage of it. The difference sometimes really is in the details! If you want a fuller beverage station, a single-serve coffee brewing system such as Keurig can take things to the next level. You can use a combination of an inexpensive tray and small baskets to organize the disposable cups, coffee pods, tea bags, creamers, sweeteners, and stirrers, etc. We recommend including an herbal tea and/or hot chocolate option for non-coffee/tea drinkers. A bowl of breath mints never hurts either!
If you see enough children to make this worth it, a basket or attractive, durable bin with some kid books and quiet, easy-to-contain toys can be helpful for keeping kids occupied (and parents appreciative) while they wait. Board books are a great option for durability, and toys like Magna Doodle and Etch A Sketch are perfect for being used over and over again. Once again, don’t hesitate to repurpose books and toys from home that your children no longer use. Consider a run on the dollar store to stock up for a kids’ “treasure chest” of prizes for post-appointment cheer. A sticker, small trinket, or sucker can make a child’s visit!
If you don’t have a TV on in the lobby, background music such as soothing instrumental can help fill the silence in a helpful way, especially for anxious patients. If your office doesn’t have a built-in sound system, there are affordable small speaker options that play music from a computer or phone over WiFi. Assign the role of “DJ” to your trusted front desk staff so you don’t have to worry about it. Your team will likely enjoy being able to contribute to the atmosphere of your office in this additional way.
If you have the wall space for it, take advantage of the opportunity to dedicate an area of your lobby or hallway to promote your practice. Feature specific services in a rotation, promote discounts, spread the word about charity or other special events, etc. Have your office manager or other appropriate member of your team spend a little effort and time to sell your services and engage your patients.
While many of these suggestions focus on the lobby and front desk area, they can still be applied to other areas of your office, from the hallways to the operatories. Contact us if you’d like some recommendations tailored to your practice!