Image is Everything – Three Ways to Prove Your Talent at First Glance

Real World Insights from AADOM Authors - Brittany Allen

Most patients have a preconceived notion of what a dentist and their practice should look like. Sterile white walls, mint green scrubs, and uncomfortable vinyl chairs might just be what is really scaring your patients. If you want to set yourself apart, be different (and show it!) Take a hard look around you and make sure your vision matches the image you portray to your patient base and the community.

Wear professional clothing

The dentist should set the tone for the dress code. Our dentist, also my husband, bought his practice right out of dental school. He knew he looked young, so he wore a shirt and tie from day one. He wanted his patients and his new community to know he was serious about his work. To this day, 18 years later, he still wears a shirt and tie to maintain his original tone for his philosophy in dentistry.

Pulling yourself together at work in a world of leggings and sweatshirts will make a huge difference in morale and perception. You do not need to spend a fortune on your wardrobe, but pressing your outfit and adding accessories can elevate your mood and confidence. You will impress others, and even yourself, by radiating assurance.

Now, I know scrubs are popular and necessary in some dental practices. Just make sure the team is not giving off the pajama vibe! You’ve probably seen the ones who look like they just rolled out of bed and peeled into work right before their shift. Have your team wear coordinating styles or colors, clean sneakers, and presentable hair and make-up. Establish a dress code for all areas of your practice, include it in your handbook, and ENFORCE IT. Not addressing dress code violations or issues could affect the brand. This is far more serious and uncomfortable than a gentle reminder of the handbook policies.

Decorate your office with detail

Yes, I was an interior designer in my past life, and it is very important to me. I think patients appreciate the attention to detail in their surroundings while in our office. The design vision is to make our patients and visitors feel comfortable and relaxed like they would in their own homes. I promise you if your patient walks into a warm, inviting reception area with great art and an inviting chair or sofa, their anxiety will subside immediately. The blank canvas and rows of upright matching chairs send chills up my spine!

Also, I recommend refreshing your spaces at least once a year. Rearrange the furniture, repaint, add or move art, and update pictures of staff and patients. Again, you do not have to break the bank for patients to notice the change. It’s a great conversation starter and a reminder to them that you care about the practice all the way around. Oh, and do not forget the outside, either! Landscaping and a clean parking lot are seen before the patient walks inside your office.

Have dynamite marketing

I encourage you to start by defining your brand and taking a stroll through strategic marketing. Tell your story, create your vision, write a mission statement, and define your philosophy and what sets you apart from your competition. As you move through this process, I would suggest consulting a professional. Together, you can pinpoint a logo design, a tagline, and 3-5 reasons patients should choose your office. From there, start to build out your website, advertising, etc. Make sure to customize when possible to get an extra edge on the competition.

Create a list of each outlet where you want your brand represented. The brand should have a continuous flow from an email signature with your logo to magazine ads and business cards. Everything with your brand, including your website, letterhead, treatment plans, and staff, needs to represent your professionalism. Marketing can be expensive, but not having a continuous brand throughout the operation is even more costly.

We all say or have heard it said, “You should not judge a book by its cover.” However, we all still do, and so do our patients. In our day-to-day operations, we forget to step back and look at what the patient sees. I encourage you to survey your team and possibly a select group of patients and/or community members. You might be surprised by how others perceive your practice and image.

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About the Author

Headshot of Brittany Allen

Brittany, a lifetime member of AADOM since 2014, grew up in East Texas and earned an interior design degree and MBA from Baylor University. Brittany is the business director at Allen Family Dentistry, which has three locations. She received her FAADOM (AADOM Fellow) in 2020 and serves as the East Texas AADOM Chapter president. She’s been married to Brandon (AKA Dr. Allen), her college sweetheart, since 2002, and they have two children, Brynn and Bridger. Brittany enjoys traveling, shopping at flea markets, playing tennis, and snuggling with her three Persian cats.

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