By: Susan Hoy
The new year is a good time to take a look around your office and begin to become better organized. As I have explained over and over again, patients do not want to come to a disorganized, stressful, messy office—nor will they refer friends and family to such a place. Additionally, being organized and prepared is ultimately important in order to make a positive impression on your patients, especially your new patients. Your goal is for your patients to have a good experience in your office at all times. In order for your patients to have a good experience, your team must be having a good experience. It all begins with being organized and prepared.
Seeing the Sights
One of the ways to improve your patients’ experience is to become a patient. So, walk out of your office and re-enter, as if you were a new patient arriving at your office for the first time. It is amazing what you will see!
First, before re-entering your office, evaluate the exterior area of your practice. Is your sign updated and impressive? Is it well maintained? Does it say to potential new patients, “This Chiropractor is neat and professional and in the 21st century”? How does the outside of your office look? Is it well maintained? How does the landscaping look? Would it feel good to drive into your parking lot?
When your patients walk into your office, do they see a neat, orderly office? Do they feel a warm, homey, yet professional atmosphere? Are there spots on your carpet? I have been to Chiropractic offices which made me feel like I was entering a dirty dungeon. I’ve seen spots on the rug, fingerprints all over the walls, even broken furniture! What do your counter tops look like? All waiting room and reception counters should be cleaned daily. Are yours? Do I need to talk about your bathrooms?
If you aren’t paying regular attention to such details, ask yourself this: “Is my office attracting the type of patients I really want to treat?” Or, does your office say, “This Chiropractor is probably cheap because the office looks cheap”? The type of office you have attracts certain types of patients.
What about your reading material? Are there lots of ripped-up old magazines, or are your magazines arranged neatly and up to date? When a new magazine comes in, the old one should be discarded. Because our magazines sometimes “disappear” before the new ones come in, we put a sticker on them which says, “Please do not remove this magazine from our office. If you would like to have it, write your name in the space below and we will give it to you when the new magazine arrives.”
Other Senses to Consider
Does your office appeal to your patients’ other senses? For example, what does your office smell like? Has your CA just eaten a tuna sandwich at the front desk? Worse yet, is your front desk CA eating a tuna sandwich when the patient arrives? VERY UNPROFESSIONAL! What’s wrong with a tuna sandwich, you ask? Well… it smells like fish! Maybe someone hates the smell of fish, thereby creating an unfavorable impression for that person. Don’t laugh, it matters! Eating should be done away from a patient’s sight and sense of smell (unless you’re baking chocolate chip cookies). If you want to be treated like a professional, then act like a professional.
What does your office feel like when your patients arrive? Can they sense stress and tension from your staff or from you? Do they feel welcome, or is your CA too busy to acknowledge them? Even worse, is anyone there to greet them when they arrive? Our front desk is never left unattended. I know this is difficult for some offices, but entering an office and being greeted by a real person feels good.
What does your office sound like? Are you playing your music for your staff or your patients? I believe that music should be soothing and for relaxation purposes. You want your patients to be as relaxed as possible. Are you playing the radio or nicely presented CDs? Does your office staff shout comments and commands to each other instead of using the intercom button on the phone or speaking quietly?
Recently I saw a commercial about a man sitting alone in a dentist’s waiting room. The only noise he could hear was a very loud vibrating drill. The poor soul was sweating profusely, just thinking about what was about to happen to him. Finally, the dentist appeared with a drill he had been using to drill a hole in his wall! The patient had obviously gotten the wrong idea. Does that happen in your office? Do you use a drop table? Have you thought about how that sounds to the new patient waiting in your reception room?
Remember, when you want to create an impression, it’s the little things that make an impact. If you want your patient to have a good experience, it has to look, feel, smell, and sound good to be in your office.
Follow the Paper Trail
What about your paperwork? Do you realize what your paperwork says about you? Look at your sign-in sheet right now. Is it a mess? Has it been copied over and over again? Is it straight or crooked? Is every form your patient sees copied from an original or actually printed from your printer? Are your counter top displays arranged neatly? Are your handouts neat, easy to read and understand?
Ready, Steady, Go!
How about your state of readiness? Is your CA ready for patients when they arrive? Are the new patient files made up and individualized as much as possible? Are the new patient forms ready on a clipboard with the name of the new patient and time of arrival? Is your reception area neat and tidy, or do you have a million sticky notes stuck up everywhere? Does the reception room look like a bomb want off? Do you insist on cleaning up the area before you leave the night before? I don’t know anyone who likes to arrive for work to a messy, unorganized office! A neat office makes everyone feel better—patients and staff alike.
Do you send out mailings to your patients? Have you read the mailings you regularly send to your patients lately? Do you send copies of articles? How are they presented? What do your mailings say about you? Are they neat and professional or scattered and sloppy?
Through Their Eyes
Now for the real test: Arm your staff with pencils and paper. Ask each one to walk into every room in your office and write down anything they see that doesn’t look nice or shouldn’t be there. Ask them to look up and down. Have them lie down on adjusting tables—face up and face down. Be on the lookout for ugly and disgusting! Are your flower arrangements full of dust? Is there hair and dry skin on or near your tables? It’s amazing the things you see when you’re paying attention. Look at your office through your patients’ eyes.
Your office and your staff are an extension of you. Your patients will judge you through them. A well-organized, professional, stress-free office means a well-organized and professional Chiropractor who will be professional and organized when treating patients. Unfortunately, we get so used to looking at our office that we don’t see things as others see them. Take the time today to get an idea of what kind of patients you are attracting and make the changes accordingly. Finally, the more organized and stress free you are, the more patients you will be able to care for. So, get organized and make way for the crowds!
About the Author
Susan Hoy has been the office manager in a thriving Chiropractic practice since 1989. She speaks to Chiropractic assistants throughout the country. Her seminars are both uplifting and motivational. Susan specializes in creating a power team that makes a difference in practice growth and patient care.