Küster Dental Blog

Posts Tagged ‘dental cancellation rates’

What Sets Your Dental Office Apart?

Posted on: March 24th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
A three legged stool - dentistry, service, design

A three legged stool – dentistry, service, design

What sets your dental practice off from all of the competition?  What is your unique value proposition that keeps patients coming back and motivates them to refer their family and friends to your door?  “We provide great oral healthcare,” you say.  “But,” I challenge, so do the guys down the street – and across town, and in the next township over.  I would say that merely providing really good healthcare is not enough to brand differentiate your dental practice from all of the competition. Of course, this is something that every dental practice should be striving for. In fact, I’d contend they should be striving to provide exceptional oral healthcare. However, in an environment where dentistry is viewed as a commodity there has to be more to your brand beyond exceptional care.  The entire dental experience must be exceptional.

The hard part of building a business is in identifying that unique element that sets it apart from all of its competition.  We call this the “defining touch” of the business.  Once identified the business must have a specific plan on how to shape, hone, and refine this touch into the sharp sword of excellence that will give it an edge over the competition.  It is not enough to be good at one does.  One must strive for excellence in order to attract new patients, retain the ones you’ve got, and build a practice that flourishes.  Of course, we firmly believe that the design of the dental office is integral to this defining element and that success cannot be achieved without weaving the design of the physical space and the design of the patient service together into a symbiotic whole.  All three legs of the dentistry, service, and office design “stool” must be strong if it is going to support a winning team.

How Do You Know Whether Your Office is a Hit?

Posted on: March 21st, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments

HandsClappingYou go to a show.  You thoroughly enjoy it.  So do all the people around you.  At the end you, along with everyone else in the theatre erupt into enthusiastic applause and leap to your feet.  As you leave the theatre you can’t stop talking about how wonderful the performance was, which were your favorite scenes – your favorite lines.  The next day you’re still talking about it to everyone you meet.  The sow was obviously a hit.

But, you run a dental office, not a theatre troupe.  How do you know if your dental practice is a “hit” with your patients?  You’ve just spent good money remodeling the practice after taking over from the retiring, senior associate.  Was that money well spent?  Have you achieved your goal of providing an exceptional patient experience?  Well, are your patients talking about you?

How would you know whether your patients are talking about you?  One of the first ways is to be tracking referrals.  The time to start tracking both patient referrals and appointment cancellations is before you embark on your remodel or some other major change in the practice operations.  The more baseline data you have the more certain you’ll be of the results after the change.  If you’ve been successful in improving the patient experience you should see referrals go up and cancellations fall.

You can also survey your patients asking them about their experience.  Again, if you can do this before the change doing so afterwards will give you comparative data.  Having a third-party survey your patients is probably a better choice than having someone from the office call.  Patients are more likely to be honest with a third-party than someone in the office they know – especially if they have a complaint.  Email surveys are also good as they are less expensive and you can reach out to every patient that you have an email address for.

Then there is social media.  You can look to see what your patients are saying on your Facebook page.  You can build quick Facebook surveys that can help you ask specific questions about changes in the practice and solicit responses.

As Lady Gaga says, “[we] live for the applause.” In the case of a dental office hit, the applause is a vibrant, growing practice.

Flowers – A Sure Sign of Spring

Posted on: March 14th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments

Spring flowers in the snow.

Spring is almost here and one of the surest signs that it is on its way is the appearance of flower buds poking through the snow.  The mere sight of these bright colors immediately lights one’s spirits and puts a smile on one’s face.  The same is true when patients first walk into a dental office and are greeted by an arrangement of fresh flowers.  Nothing does the trick of brightening a room the way fresh cut flowers can, and after a long, cold, dreary winter, an arrangement of spring flowers can really add life to the office décor.

An arrangement of fresh cut flowers doesn’t only put patients in a better mood, but provide a great energy boost to the staff working in the office.  When staff members are in a good mood this automatically extends to how they greet patients in person as well as on the phone, making exchanges warmer and friendlier.  The more positive the interactions patients have while in the dental office the higher the likelihood they will provide positive referrals to their family and friends.

Happier staff also translates into a more productive workforce.  While the cost of keeping fresh cut flowers in the office may seem high, the returns from increased productivity and increased referrals more than offsets the rise in overhead expenses.


Posted on: January 24th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
Recessed and surface mounted dispensers

Recessed and surface mounted dispensers

Facial tissues are such a simple thing, yet so many dental offices don’t think about them.  When patients walk in out of the bitter cold (think artic vortex) like so much of North America has been experiencing this winter, their eyes are watering and noses are running because of it.  Having ready access to a tissue is a great thing.  Not everyone remembers to always throw one in their coat pocket before leaving home.

Adding a tissue dispenser into the design of the patient restroom when designing a dental office is an easy thing.  Plus, the very slight rise added cost for this convenience factor is more than offset the first time a patient keeps a scheduled appointment on a cold, blustery, Winter’s day because she remembers what a great experience she had the last time she was there.  After all, cancelled appointments are very expensive and are difficult to rebound from last minute.

So, even if you didn’t think to install built-in dispensers during your last dental office remodel, go ahead and enhance the patient experience that you offer by going out and buying some attractive tissue holders and placing them in key spots about the office such as in the Waiting Room, Patient Restroom, and Operatories.  They’re amazing things.

Giving Thanks

Posted on: November 27th, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments
Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

All of us here at Küster Dental Office Design would like to pause and offer our thanks for another wonderful year.  We so very much appreciate our clients, friends, and colleagues that provide us the freedom to do what we enjoy doing each and every day of the year.  We are truly blessed.  Designing creative and inventive spaces that reward our clients’ investment in an improved bottom-line through reduced cancellations, increased referrals, and improved productivity is richly rewarding.  Being able to design spaces that improve the health of our environment through reduced carbon usage and carbon impact is immensely satisfying, and we owe it to all of you.

This year, as we bend our heads in thanksgiving over a bountiful meal, we’d like to give special thanks to Ina, Fred, Marcella, and Olga – the amazing staff at the Eco Dentistry Association – for allowing me the privilege to work with them this past year on the first ever Green Dentistry Conference.  It was an amazing experience and we’re looking forward to an even greater conference in 2014.

Let us pause tomorrow from the hustle and bustle and frenzy of this amazing, crazy, mixed-up world and spend it with family and friends and remember and give thanks for all of the blessings each of us experience every day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dentistry is a Commodity

Posted on: November 22nd, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments

Dentistry is a commodity. There’s a dentist on every corner. Anyone can clean my teeth and make sure I have no cavities – right?  Isn’t this what the average “joe” off the street thinks about going to a dentist?  If they are new to an area how do people pick their dentist?  Typically, they ask someone they know.  It may be the new coworker or new neighbor, but people rarely just randomly select a dentist out of the phone book or while driving down the street and passing the office.  Once they visit, however, whether they return a second time depends heavily upon the experience they have while they’re there.

The dental experience starts the moment the new patient first calls to book an appointment.  How are they treated while on the phone?  Is the person that answers warm, friendly, and helpful, or are they curt and rushed?  When they show up for the appointment are they greeted with a warm, smiling face or a glass window and a buzzer? What is the office like?  Is it bright, clean, professional, and relaxing or is it a tired collection of mismatched furniture that looks like it came from someone’s basement? Are there scuff marks on the wall or stains on the carpet?  Once the exam starts does the doctor and staff take the time to explain things or do they just go straight to work and avoid communication with the patient?  As the patient is leaving how are they treated?  Is the staff friendly and courteous or do they treat the patient like a chore that has to be dealt with?

We’ve witnessed the full range of experiences and feel strongly that a positive patient experience is much healthier to a practice’s bottom-line.  Patients are more likely to keep appointments and recommend their family and friends if they have a positive experience when they’re at the dentist than not.  Taking the time to design the patient experience for your office is time worth spending.

Get Branded

Posted on: November 18th, 2013 by James Kuester 2 Comments
One of our logo designs

One of our logo designs

Watched an interesting movie last night called, “Branded.” The premise of the film was that through skilled marketing people can be made to want a brand independent of any true desire for the good or service that the brand represents.  While I think this is a rather extreme and cynical view of marketing, I do believe that a well-crafted brand will create a positive emotional response in people aware of the brand and thus, they will be more likely to buy the good or service where they experience that positive response over those that they don’t.  They will also be less price sensitive toward the brand that gives them the positive emotional response.

Case in point.  I’d never purchased jeans that cost over $100.  I just never saw the point of paying that much.  One day I was shopping and came across a pair of designer jeans that I liked that were deeply discounted to well below their regular price.  Because I liked the look and fit and the price was right, I bought them.  I get more complements on how my jeans fit in that pair of jeans than any other pair I’ve ever worn.  Receiving so many complements obviously has made me feel good about the jeans and by association all jeans by that label.  I am now more willing to pay a higher price than I’d have ever been willing to pay previously for a pair of jeans – at least that particular brand of jeans.

Creating a positive emotional response in patients is key to creating a strong brand for a dental office.  If a patient has a positive emotional response when they think of their dentist they are less likely to cancel an appointment and more likely to refer their family and friends.  Both activities have a direct, positive impact on the practice’s bottom-line.

Contrary to popular belief a logo isn’t a brand.  A logo is merely a symbolic representation of a brand.  A logo by itself cannot build the positive emotional response that will drive people to purchase a good or service.  Only once the emotional association is established will a logo stimulate a positive emotional response in a patient.

The interior space of a dental office is a critical component in creating a strong, positive emotional response in patients.  The dental office designer needs to work hand-in-hand with the marketing consultant to build strong linkages and associations between the interior design of the space and the other marketing pieces so they all work in tandem to reinforce the positive emotional response that patients receive while visiting their dental office.  In other words, the brand.

Don’t Forget the Lights

Posted on: November 15th, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments
LEDs creating a dramatic effect in this shower floor

LEDs creating a dramatic effect in this shower floor

The first element of Interior Branding consists of three components that work in sync to create the immediate visual impact of the brand: color, light, and texture.  Of these, the one that often gets neglected in typical dental office designs is light.  So often, we see office where a contractor has merely purchased Big Box brand fluorescent fixtures and incandescent cans and thrown them about the ceiling grid assuming this covers the lighting sufficiently.  This approach may save a few dollars but it does nothing for creating good dentistry, sculpting a branding message, or reducing energy costs.

To create good dentistry the lamps (bulbs) used in the operatories and other areas where color matching is critical need to be at least 3500 Kelvin or higher.  One wants to see things in true color and the proper color spectrum of the light emitted is key to this.  I can just imagine a dentist would not get many referrals if after fitting a patient with a crown the patient goes home, looks in the mirror and finds that the crown doesn’t match her natural teeth at all.

To reduce energy costs and create a healthier planet one needs to be using LED throughout the dental office design.  LED technology has advanced rapidly and the full spectrum of lighting is now available in this energy saving form.  Using only about 15% of a conventional incandescent bulb, LED definitely will bring down the electric bill each month.

For sculpting the branding message lighting is like the icing on the cake.  The colors and textures set the background palate but without proper lighting these elements won’t come alive as they should.  The lighting creates the drama that the colors and texture have within them.

The Road Less Straight – Building A Dental Brand that Departs from the Typical

Posted on: November 11th, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments
Do you take the path less straight?

Do you take the path less straight?

One of the biggest challenges of any dental office is figuring out how to differentiate from the competing offices across the street and around the corner.  There was a trend a few years ago to leave traditional dental office spaces and venture into strip malls and spaces reserved traditionally for retail businesses.  The freestanding building is still a popular option, but gone seem to be the days when a dentist buys an old house and converts it into the dental office.  This type of office design just doesn’t resonate with patients and makes one’s brand seem old-fashioned and stuffy.

The brand of any small business is important, but especially so for a dentist.  The brand of your dental office is the emotional response patients get when they think about visiting you.  If they are going to come back for follow-up appointments and if they are going to recommend you to their family and friends, this emotional response had better be a positive one.  While there are so many things that enter into creating this emotional response – your brand – the design of the office itself and the interaction with the people in the practice are probably the most critical.  These two factors are the foundation that the brand is built on.  Your patients expect you to perform great dentistry, but do you do so in an environment that is warm, friendly, welcoming, and memorable?  Or, are you performing dentistry in an environment that is hum-drum, tired, typical, sterile, and not very friendly?  Which dental office do you think has the stronger brand?  Which office do you think has lower cancellations and more referrals?

Make Your Dental Office A Wealth of Textures

Posted on: November 8th, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments
Amazing Stone Stairs inviting hikers to explore the forest.

Amazing Stone Stairs inviting hikers to explore the forest.

I love autumn.  It really has to be my favorite season.  With cooler temperatures, drier days, and vibrant color, it is a joy to get out into the countryside and go for a hike.  While walking along the trails there is such an abundance of things to see and textures to soak in.  For example, this stone retaining wall and stairs roughly carved from stone provide a richness and depth of color that is difficult to duplicate in manufactured products.  Plus, there is something about them being a natural material that draws us to them.  We want to run our fingers across them to not only experience them visually but tactilely as well.

The use of such material in a dental office has the same effect.  It draws patients in, making them feel welcome and relaxed.  The more relaxed they are, the more they are going to view their dental experience in a positive light.  The more they view their dental experience in a positive light the more likely they are to refer their family and friends to their dentist and the less likely they are to cancel or reschedule their next appointment.  Thus the ROI of investing in a good dental office design.

Of course, on the other end of the spectrum is the coolness of glass and steel.  Some people are really drawn to clean, crisp lines these materials provide.  They invoke precision and modernity. They also conjure up a feeling of sterility and cleanness.  Once a patient has been welcomed into the dental office keeping the operatory clean and crisp instills confidence that the dentist and staff are running a tight ship and are going to provide great oral healthcare. Effectively combining the use of the rough and the smooth – the natural and the manufactured, creates a tension and energy that is exciting and a joy to work in and experience.