Easy practice makeovers

Easy practice makeovers

Does dingy, drab, or dungeon-like describe your practice? It might be time for a makeover. Use these quick and thrifty ideas to take your practice from blah to beautiful.

When clients walk through the door, they should immediately make eye contact with the greeter, says Wendy Wheeler, design director at BDA Architecture. "Make it obvious where clients should go," she says. "Clients appreciate being received well."
Have you moved a picture recently in your practice? If you did, would the wall be a different shade of white underneath? You might not own the hospital, but you do work there every day. And if you're going to spend most of your waking life somewhere, you have a pretty strong investment in how the place looks, smells, feels, and sounds.

Need another reason for a change? "The way a hospital looks and smells and whether it's clean or dirty sends messages," says Mark Hafen, AIA, co-owner of Animal Arts in Boulder, Colo. "Clients use these messages to determine the quality of medical care your practice offers." Here's a look at some steps you can take to give your practice a facelift on any budget.

Kill your clutter

Cost: $0

South Suburban Animal Hospital uses accent paint to grab clients' attention and add an element of surprise in their canine boarding area.
Here's a free solution: Clear the clutter in the front, says Wendy Wheeler, the director of design at BDA Architecture in Albuquerque, N.M. Walk up to your counter. Is there a place to write a check, or have the pamphlets, freebies, and gee-gaws been breeding their way across the front desk? If you can't shoulder your way past the paper, it's time to make some tough decisions. Choose one or two displays, and get rid of the other three. Can you hand clients a pamphlet when they enter or leave instead of stacking them on the desk to collect dust? Clean and clutter-free is in, and it definitely looks more professional.

"A lot of reception areas look one of two ways," Hafen says. "They're cluttered and full of white walls and posters or they're all wood siding, the funny old basement rec room look. With either of these, clearing out the clutter and getting rid of the posters that are taped up and tacked on the wall will be an improvement."

A presentation wall with your practice's logo can add interest to your reception area. The wall can also serve as a screen for an administrative alcove, where front office staff can retreat to return clients' calls, send and receive faxes, or complete paperwork out of sight.
Frame the posters if you like them. If you don't, take them down. But either way commit to having something decent on the walls.

Smother the smell

Cost: $4 to $400

Quick color guide
Smelled wet dog lately? Or pet drool? What about cat urine? Our experts agree that odor is one of the first things clients notice when they enter a practice. Maybe you lost your sense of smell six years ago in an accident you'll only refer to as "the pooper scooper incident." Unfortunately, your squeamish clients just can't handle the gently wafting odor of Bowser's barf. Go figure.