What does your dental practice’s waiting room say about you? I recently visited a new practitioner and, based on his waiting room, quickly decided I was never going back. The waiting room was crowded, uncomfortable (I was seated on a folding chair) and not particularly clean. Even if your waiting room isn’t that far gone, it might be sending patients the wrong message. Here are six elements of your waiting room that may need a makeover.
- Seating. Uncomfortably hard chairs, chairs placed too close together so patients have no privacy, or chairs that aren’t right for your patients (like low, soft seats that seniors must struggle to get out of) make every minute of the wait unpleasant. Offer different types of seating suited to your patients, such as cushioned chairs, firmer chairs for seniors and child-sized chairs for pediatric patients. Americans are getting heavier, so you may want to invest in wider chairs than you’ve had in the past.
- Technology. Offering free Wi-Fi is a nice touch that lets patients entertain themselves on their mobile devices while they wait. Keep your public Wi-Fi network separate from your business network to protect sensitive data. Install plenty of outlets near patient seating so patients can charge their devices. You can even provide chargers if you like.
- Color. Is your office dark and depressing? Are the colors outdated? If patients take one look at your furnishings and get the impression you haven’t redecorated in 20 years, they may think your practice is equally behind the times. Use color to convey the mood you want, whether that’s warm and cozy, bright and cheery or serene and calm. Don’t forget plants to add a homey touch.
- Entertainment. If patients have nothing to do while they wait but flip through a 3-year-old issue of Reader’s Digest, their minds will start wandering to how much that root canal might hurt. Provide plenty of distractions. Mount a flat-panel TV on the wall and tune it to family-appropriate fare. Put out current magazines or picture books for patients to look through while they wait. Consider installing an aquarium to entertain children and parents alike.
- Cleanliness. Does your waiting room look worn or dirty? Schedule regular janitorial services to keep it clean, and provide cleaning wipes, cloths and tools like hand vacuums so staff can do spot cleaning as needed. Even a clean space eventually starts to look worn, however. If you’ve lost perspective on your waiting room, ask some friends to give you their honest opinions.
- Noise. Can patients hear dental drills from the treatment area as they wait? Is your waiting room full of hard surfaces that magnify every sound? Use fabric-covered seating and add carpeting to absorb sounds. Rearrange furniture or add doors to mute sounds from the treatment area. Use music to create a relaxing environment.
Share the news of your waiting room makeover on social media to let patients know you’ve remodeled. Post “before and after” photos on your website and social media accounts. Using Lighthouse 360 makes it easy to upload photos and create an online photo gallery to share.
Your waiting room is your first chance to make an impression on patients. Make sure it’s a good one by planning and budgeting for regular upgrades to your furnishings, wall and floor coverings and ameni