by Pat Rosenzweig
Right before a production begins in any theater, the stage manager does a walk across the stage to be sure everything is in its place, and nothing has been left askew from the last performance. This not only helps assure the production will run smoothly, but also ensures the audience will not see anything that may jar their sense of how things should be in the production. In that same fashion, every good office manager (or doctor) should walk the office every morning to be sure that new patients who come in see a fresh, clean, uncluttered office.
This may sound like a very basic concept, but it can be very difficult to see your office with the same eyes as a new patient. Let's do our "walk of the stage" in your office and see what we see.
Open the front door and look at the waiting room and the desk. Do you see a nice tidy, uncluttered space, or do you see a front desk with piles of paperwork strewn in every direction and a waiting room with the Starbucks cup from yesterday's last patient still on a table?
Walk up to the front desk. What does the area behind the desk look like? Nice and tidy, or littered with boxes and assorted junk? Is there food visible on the desk? Is the computer completely bordered by sticky notes?
Look at the bulletin board you have up by the desk for patient information. Are some things on it so old they've collected a layer of dust?
Now go into the waiting room and have a seat. Look around. Do you see fresh paint, carpeting, and furniture? Or do you see the spot where the ceiling leaked three months ago, scuffed and damaged paint, stained carpeting, and rips on the furniture? Such a nice first impression!
Now move into the treatment areas and sit in a patient chair. Hmmmmm, seems someone missed a spot of something red when cleaning that looks suspiciously like blood on the counter, the chair has a wobbly head rest, and that same leak from the waiting room also shows on the ceiling – the one the patient looks at through the entire appointment!
I know everyone wants to say "not in my office!" But the sad fact is that more often than not, we see some or all of the above when we first visit an office. Everyone adjusts to their surroundings and stops noticing what they look like, it's human nature. The problem is that our new patient, like the theater patron, is seeing it for the very first time and needs to pick up the right impression to set the stage for what comes next. As a doctor or office manager, I suggest you walk your office like a stage manager and see if your "set" needs some work. Your audience will thank you by returning for more of the show.
Pat Rosenzweig (Mosaic Management Professionals’ resident “ortho geek”) provides consulting services for all general and specialty offices all over the country, as well as being a strong orthodontic specialist. Pat has also worked with dual trained ortho/pedo specialties and has unique experience in that niche. She has an extensive background in dentistry, including experience working with general, periodontal, endodontic, oral surgery and orthodontic offices. She also has a background in education with a liberal arts degree, and dual minors in math and secondary education. Pat’s passion for dentistry encompasses a belief that every office is unique, with its own special dynamic and its own consulting and system needs. She is committed to creating an individual, plan for every office that incorporates good dentistry, high end customer service and modern marketing techniques.