5 mistakes dentists make when thinking about office redesign

March 17, 2014
Kevin Henry
Kevin Henry

Kevin Henry is the group editorial director for Advanstar Dental Media and has more than 15 years of experience in the dental publications field. He can be reached by email at khenry@advanstar.com. Also, you can follow him on Twitter (@kgh23).

Issue 2

Dental Products Report asked Garrett Ludwig of Diversified Design Technologies to list the main errors he has seen dentists make through the years when planning a new dental office or redesigning their existing space.

Dental Products Report asked Garrett Ludwig of Diversified Design Technologies to list the main errors he has seen dentists make through the years when planning a new dental office or redesigning their existing space.

Here are his top 5 blunders …

1.Don’t look at space first. Location, location, location … right? Sure, location has a huge impact on the development of the office, but there’s so much more to it than that.

“Before you ever look at a location, know what your needs are and how many square feet you’re really going to need,” Ludwig said. “Project where you want your office to be in terms of services and size in three to 10 years. Ask yourself what kind of practice you want and what kind of patients you want to have.”

Ludwig also said the value of doing a feasibility study before anything else can save a lot of time and headaches later. Also, if you’re leasing, remember there is a difference between leasable space and usable space so work with your designer to know the “usable space” number.

2. Be careful when consulting your colleagues. We all like getting first-hand knowledge from our friends, but we also have to make sure we’re getting the entire story.

“People are sometimes embarrassed to talk about what they did wrong. It’s human nature,” Ludwig said. “Your colleagues won’t tell you if they’ve overspent on something silly or were overcharged because of something they should’ve caught early.”

When asking your colleagues for their advice, Ludwig said one question should always be asked: Do you have any regrets? That will open the door for an honest conversation.

3. Don’t hire an “architect” for the title (“architect”) or his or her good reputation for designing houses or corporate buildings. Ludwig believes it is essential to interview for and hire someone who has a background in dentistry.

They should have an articulable knowledge of the clinical and administrative needs of a dental practice, as well as a working knowledge of regulatory issues like OSHA, HIPAA and ADA.

“With a general architect, you will get a person who knows the essentials of building code compliance and construction, as well as conceptual design … but not how a dental office actually functions,” Ludwig said.

RELATED: What you said matters most when it comes to dental office design [SURVEY]

“You have to work with someone who knows the essence of dentistry and everything that goes on within a practice on a daily basis.”

4. If it’s perfect, commit to it. Sometimes dentists walk away from an opportunity because the cost might be a little higher. Ludwig believes that could lead to regrets down the road.

“If some element of cost will make the project ‘perfect,’ you shouldn’t be afraid to spend that money,” Ludwig said. “If the project would function and provide you with things you want and take care of all of the needs you have, you can be assured of a substantial return on investment.”

5. Don’t rely on statistics.

In our office design feature from early this year, you’ll see plenty of statistics on what your colleagues across the country said. Ludwig said using statistics to plan your practice is nice, but it’s not the entire story.

“If you use statistics as your only guide, ultimately you will end up as a statistic,” Ludwig said. “Rise above what everyone else is doing and do what will serve the interests of your patients and staff. You should always be aware of statistics, but you have to do what is best for you personally.”