Küster Dental Blog

Posts Tagged ‘dental cancellations’

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.


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.

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.

Motivation and Inspiration

Posted on: November 5th, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments

When the alarm goes off each morning what motivates you to get out of bed? For us, we’re motivated by the work we do for our clients in helping them create dental offices that are fun and efficient places to work, that patients love coming to, and help them improve their bottom-lines by reducing cancellations and increasing referrals.  We’re inspired by something entirely different.

We get our inspiration for new designs from the passion our clients have for providing great healthcare for their patients.  We receive inspiration and creative energy from the richness of textures surrounding us in nature – the roughness of bark on a tree, the shades of colors in autumn leaves, the depth of color in a stone, the play of light across a pond.  These things all combine to drive the creative forces that produce the designs that translate into new offices for our dental clients.

We also derive motivation when we learn about some new technology being brought to bear to improve the oral healthcare experience.  Perhaps it is the technogeek inside of us, but when we learn of new, and exciting technologies, we get very excited to explore even newer and more creative ways to design an office to properly house this technology and aid in its implementation in improving patients’ lives.

And you thought we just picked colors and throw pillows.

Testiment to Exceptional Patient Experience Design

Posted on: August 23rd, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments
Patient Wearing Headphones

Patient Wearing Headphones

I was visiting a design showroom the other day in search of inspiration on a project and while chatting with the showroom manager it came out that I specialize in dental office design. She thought that this was the neatest niche and immediately launched into a description of her recent visit to a new dentist.  She had chosen her new dentist after her crown had come loose, purely by random, having seen their sign on her way to work one day.  She was quite impressed by what she found.  “It was like a day spa,” she exclaimed.  “Nothing like my dentist back home.”  She explained that when she walked in the receptionist greeted her, just like a concierge in a fine hotel.  When she was escorted to the operatory she was given her own headphones to wear with a remote for selecting either music to listen to or movies or television shows to watch on a flat screen mounted to the ceiling above her chair.  She said she’s told all of her co-workers and friends about what a great experience she had.

Unfortunately, I can’t brag that this particular dental office is one that we designed, but the showroom manager’s reaction to her experience is testament to the importance in investing in a memorable patient experience.  When one creates a soothing, spa-like environment and experience for patients they will reward the dental practice with glowing reviews.  Everyone knows that testimonials and referrals are the best marketing one can get but also not something that is easily purchased.  The patient experience, from first greeting all the way through to check-out and follow-up must be exceptional and nothing can be left to chance in its design.

How Does Your Dental Office Express Its Terrior?

Posted on: August 5th, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments
Capturing the terrior of the North Woods.

Capturing the terrior of the North Woods.

Walking into a small town coffee shop in Northern Wisconsin, I stumbled across this fun stencil on the walls.  The simple pattern immediately evokes the terrior in which the shop resides, and is the essential essence of interior branding.  With such a memorable touch, who wouldn’t develop an immediate sense of connection with the shop, its locale, and the memories of the time spent there?

This is the goal in developing an interior brand for any dental office.  Of course, every dental office in the North Woods can’t have the same interior design, but each one can develop its own expression of terrior, personality, and patient experience.  Taken together the interior brand ties the patient to the dental practice and keeps them coming back time-and-time again.  They also encourage patients to refer the dental practice to their family and friends and to resist cancelling appointments.  Thus, the return for the time, money, and energy invested in developing the interior brand.