Is It Time to Remodel Your Dental Office?
Do you need a dental office remodel?
Typically, businesses should get a facelift every 10 years. If you’re not updating the outside of the office, will potential new patients decide your dentistry is out-of-date, as well?
If the waiting room is old-fashioned and run down, will patients assume the dentist is old and tired too?
Perception is reality.
When a remodel is needed, areas to consider updating are the following:
Start the process by deciding who’ll do the work.
Perhaps your most important and difficult decision at the beginning of the project is hiring an architect, a general contractor, or doing the project yourself.
Keep reading to learn tips on making your dental practice stronger through updating your office.
An architect creates a design, and a contractor usually carries out the architect’s vision.
An architect may charge by the hour or per square foot.
Architects charge around $2 to $2.50 a square foot in the mid-west, or $125 to $250 an hour.
This option is the most expensive route. Still, architects do offer additional services in-house for interior design if needed.
If your project is smaller, a contractor with previous experience remodeling dental offices can help with the design instead of an architect.
Contractors charge a fee for the whole project, which will vary widely depending on the scope of your project.
Some contractors will do a job on a cost-plus 10% basis, which means the contractor’s fee is 10% above the project’s actual cost.
Should I do the project myself?
If you plan to do the work, be careful not to over-commit yourself.
If the project requires much more than a fresh coat of paint, it’s best to leave the project in someone else’s hands.
Dentists have a practice to run, and injury on the construction site can cost far more than the money saved by doing it yourself.
How to decide who to hire
When selecting an architect or general contractor for your project, ask around for recommendations.
Online research is an unbelievably valuable tool, and Google reviews are the best way to sift through your options.
Doing your due diligence before starting the project will help decrease the likelihood of disappointment.
After the architect or contractor has been selected, they’ll need direction regarding your dental office remodel expectations.
An excellent way to convey your ideas is by searching the internet or perusing books looking for rooms or designs to duplicate.
Thankfully, designers and creative people post photographs of their projects online. Two excellent online resources for remodeling are Houzz… This text opens a new tab to the Houzz website… and Pinterest… This text opens a new tab to the Pinterest website…; type in “dental office remodel” on their websites and prepare to be amazed.
Searching and saving projects on these two sites are a great way to communicate your wishes to your architect or contractor.
Remodeling your exterior
Updating the exterior is as important as the interior when planning a remodel.
People who drive by a practice daily form opinions about the doctor just by the exterior condition.
The exterior design is part of an architect’s fee. Suppose a contractor is chosen to do the remodel. In that case, they may have sub-contractors that can be hired to help with the exterior and interior design.
Brick & Batten… This text opens a new tab to the Brick and Batten website… is a design company online that does a beautiful job designing an exterior. Their website is straightforward to navigate.
Upload a photo of your building, answer a few questions about the location of the business, and for a very reasonable price, they’ll send back a design that transforms the exterior.
Their fee includes a list of sources for all items used to update the building, even down to the paint brand and colors.
Their site shows many before and after photos of their projects, so you can get a feel for their designs before committing.
Upgrading your interior
The remodel of the practice’s interior can be daunting if the project is a complete overhaul.
Several meetings with the architect or contractor will need to occur until a design is finalized. Any additional changes may be costly.
During the layout process, there are a few things to consider, including:
- Is additional space needed for more operatories, a larger lab, or a handicap bathroom?
- What will patient flow be like if walls are moved?
- Can we create a separate entrance and exit for private patient check-outs?
It’s also good to provide a separate exit for patients, so they don’t have to go back through the waiting area after a difficult procedure.
Having a consultation room for treatment discussion in privacy is especially important.
If space allows, a bathroom available to the waiting room and an additional one on the clinic floor is optimal.
Perhaps the most significant update for the doctor is in the operatory.
This wish list should be detailed and discussed with the architect or the contractor. Building cabinetry for the operatories is much less expensive than purchasing the units from one of the big dental companies.
Existing cabinetry can be used as a template for your contractor. Additional money can be saved on side cabinetry in the operatories by using a cart system.
Home Depot… This text opens a new tab to the Home Depot website… sells carts for under $200. These are very affordable and work great. A small sink can be installed in the hall between two operatories and shared.
Money can be saved on overhead lighting if lights on loops are used. If wall-mounted x-ray units need to be replaced, consider purchasing a handheld unit to share.
These are just a few ways small changes can save you a lot of money.
Toward the end of your remodel is the time to shop for furnishings.
Check your local Costco or Sam’s Club frequently for furniture inventory. Ashley Furniture also carries less expensive options. You don’t have to spend a lot to get a nice, updated look.
It’s important to update furniture every five to seven years. Keeping paint colors neutral will allow more decorating options when you upgrade your furnishings in the future.
Another thing to consider is to ask your staff for their input.
Their ideas may bring to light things in the design that can easily be included, which can encourage them to get on board with your vision.
If working on-site during the remodel is your choice to save money, inclusion and communication with staff are necessary.
Monthly staff meetings are essential to keep everyone up to date on the progress and aware of upcoming challenges that need to be considered.
When complete, the staff will be excited to work in their new surroundings. An outing or a bonus is an excellent way to thank your employees for their contributions and patience.
Lastly, take advantage of your hard work and update your advertising after the remodel is finished.
Promote your new office on your Facebook page. Don’t forget to update any old photos or information on Google. This is the best time to update or completely redesign your website.
Celebrate your new office, and be prepared to increase your new patient numbers!
Meet the Author
Teresa Berry Williams, MAADOM is a lifetime AADOM member, receiving her Fellowship designation in 2018 and most recently was inducted as an AADOM Master, (MAADOM) in 2021.
She’s the current office manager for Williams Dental & Orthodontics.
She has been leading the business management team at Williams GP Orthodontic Seminars for the last 5 years and holds degrees in Business Administration & Commercial Art.
Teresa and her late husband managed multiple businesses in Oklahoma, where The Journal Record named her Woman of the Year “50 Making a Difference”. Teresa married Dr. Brad Williams in 2012 and began to use her business experience in managing his practice.
With his encouragement, Teresa developed Managing Orthodontics, a one-day training management seminar for fellow dental professionals.