As in any business or industry, first impressions are lasting. The décor of a front window, the bright colors of an awning or the ease and availability of a website can ultimately determine whether or not that prospective client chooses you. The same goes for the positioning of your medical practice. Physical location, client accessibility, ease of on-line navigation and availability are all factors that can make or break your medical practice.
These articles are a two-part series that will focus on the importance of the physical location when considering opening a medical practice. We will examine the importance of first impressions of your physical location, and factors that will ultimately impact the success of your business.
The first and most important factor in determining the right location for your practice is to do your research. Get out there and get to know the area that you are looking to open in. Questions to ask yourself about this location may include:
- Is it a high traffic location? Does it get exposed to foot traffic, or is it near a corner where automobiles may be stopped at a light, and will notice you?
- Is the building bright, noticeable and well lit? Would someone simply walk past it without a second glance, or is it eye-catching?
- Are there any other practices that are similar to yours nearby? Sometimes a saturation of the same industry in a small area can be detrimental; however, if you are only one of 2 or 3 practices in the area, you may be drawing potential clients in your door, as they are already visiting the existing practices in the area.
- Are you in a clean and respectable area of town? Are the sidewalks clean of debris, the walls free of graffiti and is the crime relatively low (or not noticeable)? These are very important factors that can really affect the credibility of your business.
- Is there ample parking available for your patients? You want to ensure that there is at least some parking for your patients, preferably directly in front of your practice. If your patients have to walk 5 blocks after paying for parking, you might lose their business to someone who has a better proximity.
- Are you serving your non-driving patrons by selecting a location that is near to public transit? If not, you may be excluding a large demographic of potential customers.
Once you have covered all these bases while choosing the location for your medical practice, it’s important to pay attention to some other physical aspects that will attract your practice to potential patients. This can include:
- Clear and impactful signage outside of your location, either on a freestanding sign or featured as part of the actual building
- Ease and accessibility for wheelchairs and motorized scooters
- Ample lighting
- Cleanliness of exterior, windows, and entrance-way
Once you have brought your patient in the door, help ease their worries of long waits and potential ailments by providing a calm and serene environment inside. Soothing music, soft lighting, and a warm greeting from a friendly receptionist can do wonders and make a wonderful first impression. Always ensure that the waiting room is tidy, smells clean and has new and well-kept literature (magazines, etc.) for the customers to read. Provide comfortable and practical furniture and lots of space for people to sit. Even further, if you are catering to families, it’s a very nice touch to have a children’s play area where the little ones can be entertained.
There are many factors and criteria to study when deciding on a location for your medical practice. Take the time to research the area and all the factors listed above to ensure you are making the best choice for your physical location. After all, your practice is viewed as a commodity that is offering a competitive service, and physical location will most definitely impact how people perceive you.
Now that you’ve decided on the perfect location for your medical practice, you need to decide how to appeal to your patrons once they walk in your door. You’ve managed to identify the importance of a high traffic location, complete with ease of access to transit, ample parking, in a well-lit area and in a reputable clean neighborhood.
Next, you must consider what will impact your patrons in the most positive way once they enter your establishment. Marketing your medical practice takes careful preparation. Consider these 3 important factors when it comes to the interior of your medical practice:
Reception area design
Reception areas, or waiting areas, are just as important for making a good impression as the exterior of the practice. Sometimes, medical offices can be a place that invokes stress and anxiety for patients. Therefore, it is important to provide a waiting area that is calm and serene, so that your patients feel this way while they are waiting.
Ways to achieve this include a relaxing paint and design palette of muted colors such as greens, blues and off-whites. Steer clear of aggressive colors, such as oranges and reds, which can often aggravate anxiety levels. Go even further and provide a musical soundtrack of relaxing spa or nature sounds to ease your patients’ tension. Provide ample and comfortable seating areas and ensure that the area is clean, smells fresh and doesn’t look cluttered.
Also, consider greenery in the form of plants or grasses (real or artificial) around the office, or even fresh cut flowers on the reception desk. All of these design qualities can really enhance the overall impression of your practice.
In reality, your patients may spend a lot of time in this waiting area. If it is not designed properly (cluttered, too loud, to colorful), it can increase unease and reduce the patient’s sense of security, which in turn can impact their impression of the level of care that they are about to receive.
Proper Signage and Communication
Waiting to see a doctor while you’re unwell or even waiting for an elective procedure that you’ve scheduled can be very hard. You’re uncomfortable, likely tired and hoping to get this over with as soon as possible. How can you make this easier on your patients? Simply put: communicate with them. Why not provide some informational signage that gets personal with your patients. Speak to your patient concerns with signage and don’t hesitate to display a small biography of the doctor, as well as any other useful information about the doctor.
Provide activities for your waiting patients – and include all age groups and preferences
It’s important to give your patients something useful to do while they’re waiting. If you can provide free Wi-Fi so that people can be connected while they’re waiting, you should.
Equally as important is to have a wide selection of new condition magazines on a variety of subjects (ensure that they magazines are not tattered and in disrepair, as it can contribute to an overall sense of disarray in the office). Provide a play area for children so that they can be entertained while waiting. Even further, why not equip your practice with a few televisions so people can have something to watch? You could consider subscribing to a program that loops information about health and wellness, or shows nature scenes and facts, so to invoke a feeling of calm and distraction while your patients are waiting. Don’t forget that men are also part of a profitable cosmetic practice.
There are many factors and criteria to study when deciding on a location for your medical practice. Take the time to research the area and all the factors listed above to ensure you are making the best choice for your physical location. After all, your practice is viewed as a commodity that is offering a competitive service, and physical location will most definitely impact how people perceive you. Please also check out our article on Starting an Aesthetic Practice for more tips.