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Revitalising and updating your practice presents a professional business image, brings a new energy to staff and gives clients a positive first impression. By Frank Leggett
There are many factors that can lead to a decision to revitalise a practice. It could be that the space is looking old and tired, the existing design is firmly rooted in another decade or the functionality is not all it could be. At the same time, there are often aspects of the existing building worth saving and incorporating into a contemporary look.
“The first thing to consider is whether it’s an aesthetic uplift or a functional change,” says Sam Russell, architect and director at Create Dental, a Melbourne company providing design and construction solutions to dental practices. “A cosmetic uplift makes a practice present more positively to clients. Improving functionality may include extending the building, adding partitions or repurposing spaces. Of course, an appropriate budget needs to be adopted with each option.”
In some cases, it makes clear financial sense to gut the entire building and start again. Despite this, many owners choose to save the aspects they love and incorporate them into the new build.
“Retaining original details such as joinery, windows or brickwork is very important to many owners,” says Russell. “It’s often the emotional attachment to a building that stops them from selling up and moving to a new location.”
Renovate and update
Dr Bradley Xue, co-owner of The Smile Team in the Melbourne suburb of Balwyn, employed Create Dental to update his ’90s-built practice. The building had stood the test of time well but was looking a little dated. Dr Xue has owned the business for the past 16 years and there were things he wanted to incorporate into the new design.
“The original design was presenting a different message to what we wanted to share with patients,” says Dr Xue. “It simply didn’t reflect our treatment philosophies. We wanted a modern contemporary environment for our patients. We also wanted to keep the incoming natural light and enhance the garden outlook. I hoped to incorporate these elements with the updated design and blend the new with the old.”
The overhaul by The Smile Team was mainly an aesthetic uplift. Create Dental completely removed its ’90s ambience and replaced it with a sleek, modern presentation. Works included a new reception desk, feature tiling, strip lighting, and wallpapering. Feature bulkheads and pendant lights were installed, along with a drinks station, kids’ play area and booth seating. New carpet, vinyl, painting and plastering gave the space a cool, crisp look.
“The practice also had some compliance issues as all their surgeries were upstairs,” says Russell. “We added a chairlift to make them accessible for people with reduced mobility.”
Revitalisation, rather than relocation, is also advantageous from a goodwill perspective. There’s no geographic adjustment for existing clients and less chance of them moving to a more convenient practice. Of course, continuity of care is paramount. Downtime while the space is being renovated should be kept to an absolute minimum.
“We were able to complete The Smile Team’s renovation in two weeks,” says Russell. “Having been in the game so long, we have good relationships with a wide variety of trusted tradespeople. If they say they’re going to be there at 5am, that’s the time they arrive.”
The Smile Team dentists, nurses and staff are committed to providing outstanding patient comfort in a low-stress environment. The new design and ambience of the practice quickly conveys these core values. Modernisation serves as a messaging tool where clients quickly ascertain this is an up-to-date practice using current materials and techniques. A clean, fresh and neat presentation implies a thoughtful approach to all aspects of dentistry.
“Our renovation conveys professionalism,” says Dr Xue. “Patients have confidence that they’re choosing an established dental practice that delivers quality dental care.”
The waiting room formerly had two reception stations amalgamated into one centralised zone. Scattered seating has been carefully positioned to shift patient focus toward the garden through floor-to-ceiling glass. A condiments station with hot-and-cold drinks is a clever way to help patients relax.
“The update was all about making the patient experience streamlined, relaxed and comfortable,” says Dr Xue. “I know it’s had a positive impact on how clients view the practice and the business.”
Another positive result after revitalising a practice is the impact on staff. Updated premises can energise team members simply by providing a pleasant atmosphere in which to work.
“Our renovation has had a very welcome impact on staff recruitment and retention,” says Dr Xue. “In this post-COVID economy, team members want to be in an environment where they feel comfortable and are proud to be part of a successful professional business.”
From a purely pragmatic perspective, Sam Russell appreciates that Dr Xue was happy to trust Create Dental to guide the selection of finishes. The result is a cohesive and contemporary interior that flows together seamlessly.
“The Smile Team renovation saw everything gel nicely and the end result was balanced, professional and accurately reflects the quality of the practice,” he says,
Likewise, Dr Xue is happy with the new, improved The Smile Team premises. “Whenever I walk into the practice, I feel great,” he says. “First impressions are incredibly important and you only have one chance to create them. Taking the time to improve and unify the look of the business was one of the best decisions we ever made. Comparing how it used to feel with how it is today is like night and day.”