What message are you sending?

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Does your front desk staff smile and make eye contact when someone enters your office?  When is the last time you had your reception area painted, or had the carpet professionally cleaned?  Is your parking lot brightly lit, and does it have clear white lines?  Are the magazines in your waiting room older than dirt, and are the wall hangings in your exam rooms old and dusty?

Many doctors and dentists think that patients form opinions about them primarily based on their clinical skill.  Wrong!  Most patients have little to no ability to evaluate your ability to effectively diagnose and treat.  Sure, after their first visit they’ll have first-hand experience as to how they were treated by you and your clinical staff.  But before they even meet you, they’ve formed some powerful opinions.

Grumpy or stressed-out front desk staff signal that patients are an inconvenience to your busy day.  Tired carpet and paint jobs create worry about cleanliness and attention to detail.  Lack of WiFi and interesting reading material in your waiting room says the doctor’s time is more valuable than the patient’s.

You can plaster your office walls with degrees, certificates and credentials, but it is hard to overcome basic first impressions.  The little things that patients experience before the actual examination are powerful and lasting.  Expensive fine art and crown moldings are likely not needed or expected.  Clean and crisp works just fine.  It might be a good idea to invest a small amount of money and energy into improving these subtle messages you are sending.

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