Planning and designing a new dental office is incredibly exciting for a private practice. It is something only experienced once or twice in a career. You want to make sure everything goes right, and the best way is to lean on professionals who have done it before.
At Goetze Dental, we work on hundreds of dental office design projects every year, ranging from single operatory redesigns to full build outs of new offices. Here are nine tips we encourage every dentist to remember as they plan their new dental office.
1. Determine Your Non-Negotiables
Don’t be afraid to lay out your non-negotiables at the beginning of the project. This is your dream office– what are must-haves in your new space?
Some non-negotiables are strictly functional, like a left-handed operatory setup. Others are completely subjective. We once worked with a doctor who asked for a shower in his office. He planned to ride his bike to work and wanted to clean up before seeing patients.
Whatever your non-negotiables, lay them out at the beginning so your designer can incorporate them into the plan.
2. Consider Function As Well As Form
Aesthetics is the first thing that comes to mind when someone says ‘design.’ However, function and ergonomics are just as important, especially in a space where you’ll spend the better part of each day. You want to build an office that fits you in every way.
Nowhere is ergonomics more important than in the operatory. Consider your height, handedness, and your favorite working position. Everyone’s functional needs are different.
3. Look at the Cost-Benefit of New Equipment
There has been an explosion of innovation in dental equipment over the last decade. The shift has been so powerful that it has changed the way doctors treat patients. Equipment is a crucial piece to consider during your dental office design project, and often, the benefits of buying new are well worth the cost.
New dental equipment makes you and your team more effective, productive and can expand your range of services. It’s hard to put a value on improving your treatment practices, but many doctors quickly see the ROI with happier patients and more referrals. Plus, it feels great to have shiny new equipment in your beautiful new space.
4. Do Your Research on New Equipment
You have an abundance of choices when it comes to equipment. Here’s our recommended process for a comprehensive evaluation.
1. Go Online. Start by thinking about the specific dental equipment you plan to incorporate in your new facility. The Goetze Dental website, www.goetzedental.com has a robust resource library and includes brochures and specs from the manufacturers.
2. Visit a Showroom. Would you purchase a car without test driving it first? Take the time to familiarize yourself, in person, with the equipment and models available through various manufacturers. This will give you the chance to get a feel for how things might function in your operatory cockpit, and perhaps provide some new ideas you hadn’t considered. Also take this opportunity to narrow your selection down to those brands that best meet your needs, and begin thinking about your budget. We always love visitors at the Goetze Dental showroom at our headquarters in Kansas City, or any of our branch locations in mid-America.
3. Travel to the Manufacturer. Once you’ve narrowed your search down by manufacturer, many will encourage you to visit their facilities and showroom for a behind-the-scenes look at how your equipment is made, the durability testing it goes through, as well as explore the myriad of configurations to further customize plans to match your working style and needs. Some companies offer continuing education programs around ergonomics and office planning to add another layer of insight to your project.
5. Visit Other Dental Offices
Sometimes, inspiration is found right around the corner. Don’t be afraid to walk into other dental offices in your area, especially new or redesigned buildings. If you need an introduction, Goetze Dental has many happy customers whom we helped build their dream offices. They are always thrilled to show off their space and share their experience of the process.
6. Include Your Team in the Design Process
Your team has a unique and important perspective on your office design. They are the ones, in large part, handling daily operations, serving patients in the hygiene department, processing instruments through sterilization, managing supply inventory, and setting up the operatories for procedures. Their feedback is critical to designing a dental office that is easy to navigate.
Well-designed office spaces make employees happier and more productive. They are also more likely to stay in their jobs. Incorporating them into the design process will not only help you design a better office– it also demonstrates that you value them as part of the team.
7. Limit Office Downtime with Phased Construction
Office downtime is a significant concern for dentists as they consider an office design project, and rightfully so. When your office is closed, it is bad for both you and your patients. For some practices, shutting down is virtually impossible.
Fortunately, with a little planning, most office design projects can be conducted in phases, allowing parts of the office to stay open and functional while other parts are being built out. Your dental design team can help you stage construction in phases to avoid a total shutdown.
8. Build more space than you need
One key principle of dental office design is to think about your vision and business goals. For many practices, this means growth.
One of the most common things we hear from doctors after a design project is, “I wish I would have built a larger space.” That’s because most practices see a spike in patients after a redesign. It’s best to plan for growth from the beginning than wait until you absolutely need it.
The best time to add extra space is during the initial construction because it is much harder to add plumbing and utilities afterward. Hickerson Dental, for example, built out two operatories but planned for three more in their new office. When they need to grow, adding the new operatories will be fast and simple.
9. Work with Dental Office Design Professionals
There is a lot more that goes into a design project than you might think. From plumbing to cabinetry, it is difficult for a working doctor to keep track of every detail. That’s why we recommend working with a dental office design professional. They will help you turn your ideas into reality while making sure the basics are covered.
As a value-added resource, our dental Design Team provides complimentary services when you choose Goetze Dental for your equipment solutions. It is our goal to ensure your project is successful.
After finishing their new office, we hear many doctors say, “I wish I had done this sooner!”. Designing a new office may seem daunting, but it is far more feasible, enjoyable, and affordable than you might think. Following these tips will ensure your project goes smoothly from day one.
Like any major construction project, designing a new dental practice takes time to get off the ground. Try to begin the process 12 to 24 months in advance of when you want your new office open. This will give you time to assemble your team, search for locations, and start the preliminary planning steps.
If you’re ready to begin your dental office design project, look no further than the Goetze Dental design team. We have decades of experience working with dental practices. We’ll help you design the office of your dreams and take your practice to the next level.
If you’re ready to get started, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or submit the following form for a FREE CONSULTATION!
Frequently Asked Questions about Office Design Projects
Will my patients worry if I spend too much money on my office?
This is a valid concern that we often hear from doctors. They worry their patients will perceive their services as too expensive if the office looks too nice and new. In our experience, the opposite has been true. Most patients absolutely love the new facilities and are happy to see you invest in your practice.
Will I lose patients if I move offices?
Losing patients in a move is not as common as some doctors expect, provided that the move is within five miles of the previous location. Even so, practices that build a new facility generally see a 20% boost in new patients. The addition of new patients will make up for any lost patients, and likely add many more.
How long does a new office design project take?
Project timelines can vary widely depending on the scope of work. When starting with an existing space, the design process can take between 90 and 120 days from concept to completion. With new construction, the timeline depends heavily on the contractor’s schedule.
What is the cost of a dental office design project?
Just like the timeline, the cost of a dental office design project can vary widely. Some of the factors include location, equipment needs, and whether you’re building out an existing space or starting from the ground up. There are excellent financing options for dental practices that make the overall cost much more manageable. For more information, schedule a call with a Goetze Dental equipment specialist.