Category Archives: Advice from Artin

Don’t Skip the Open House | Advice from Artin

A practice’s Open House is a momentous event in the company’s history. Whether you’ve remodeled your practice, opened a new location or you’re beginning a brand new practice, you won’t want to skip hosting an Open House! Having an open house provides an opportunity for potential patients to interact with you and your staff in a carefree setting and conceivably expand and strengthen your patient base. For those with an established patient base, an Open House serves to bring patients, friends, family and colleagues together to celebrate a revitalization of your practice, and affirm your appreciation of their continuing support. An Open House can be as simple or as elaborate as you would like, but there are general guidelines you can follow to simplify the process.

Inviting Guests and Targeting an Audience

Once you’ve figured out what you hope to achieve by having an Open House, you should have a general idea of what your invitee list will look like. If you decide to use this as a marketing opportunity your target audience should be your local community, existing and prospective patients, and your industry network contacts. If you’re less concerned about gathering a patient base, reach out to friends, family and colleagues to join you in celebration. Feel free to include your patients as well!

Immediate Gratification or Delayed Satisfaction

Choosing a date for your Open House is a topic more subjective than the others discussed here; take the following questions into consideration before setting your timeline:

  -Has your office been up and running successfully for at least two months?

  -Is your office design completed, including staged with decor the way you had envisioned?

  -Is your team acclimated and familiar enough with the new office to conduct tours and answer questions?

What time of year is it? (In winter, some people will be away for the holidays which would make this time of year less ideal for an appreciation-type event; in summer, many families go away on vacation which would make this time of year less ideal for kid-centered events. Generally, September and October are favorable months to host events.)

Are you financially ready? If you’re low on funds after your build-out, don’t rush into hosting an Open House just for the sake of having one. I would say 6-8 months out would be ideal, but really, anytime within the first year of opening, works as well.

 

Spreading the Word

Consider who’s attention you are trying to capture- existing associates or new patients. If you’re hosting an appreciation Open House including mainly close friends and family, a great option would be to send out Evites and avoid social media. Minted is a great resource with great free templates and an invitee tracker so you know who has received your invite, and whether or not they plan on attending. If you decide to use your open house as a network and advertising opportunity, there are a few affordable things you can do to spread the word:

  -Make flyers to hand or mail out, and post on local bulletin boards.

  -Make a PDF version of your flyer, and have your marketing manager e-blast it to your network and contacts.

  -Reach out to your local Chamber of Commerce and your county’s Economic Development sector. Ask them if they can post an announcement on their digital and print platforms, conduct a ribbon cutting ceremony, and/or put together a press release.

  -Don’t neglect your social media channels! These are always great free and cheap resources.

 

Host a Great Event, without Breaking the Bank

One way to mitigate costs is to partner with neighboring businesses who can use the opportunity to cross-promote their business by sponsoring your event. Not only are you strengthening your relationships and building your network, but you will also cut costs in the process.

Advice from Artin: Relocating Your Practice

If your current lease is about to expire, you may be thinking about relocating your practice. The determination of whether it’s better to renew your existing lease, or sign a new lease should be made prior to one year before your current lease expires. Reasons that may influence your decision to move are the unavailability of lease renewal, the functionality of your current square footage, or the visibility of your current location. If you decide that relocating your practice is the best option, be sure to start the relocation process at least one year before your lease expires. You may think one year is a bit extreme, but many factors affect the success of a practice relocation.

 

Lease Negotiation

Before beginning the search for a new space, consider whether re-negotiating your lease would be feasible. In this matter, carefully consider what you hope the practice will become in the future, and how you anticipate practice growth including the potential addition of associate dentists. If you think that renewal may be a viable path, start a conversation with your realtor and existing landlord to discuss your lease terms and options. Building ownership and opportunities can fluctuate, even in the last two months of your lease, so if you think you might want to stay in your current location, safeguard that option a year ahead of time!

Searching and then negotiating a lease for a new property takes, on average, 3 to 5 months. It may take more or less time depending on your area, and the availability of leasable space.

 

Building and Space Evaluation

There are four main types of commercial buildings commonly available for dentists; Class A Office Buildings, Multi-Family Buildings (with retail on the ground level), Town Centers (with offices over retail), and Traditional Retail Centers. Each type has their own unique positive attributes and negative aspects, including visibility and accessibility variations. Regardless of which type you are considering moving in to, if you want to maintain your current client base your new location should be no more than 5 miles away from your original one.

Gauging the size of a space merely by square-footage usually isn’t the best way to determine what size space best suits your needs. Test-fits should be utilized in this process; test-fits are preliminary floor plans drawn by designers and architects, as a way of calculating how many operatories and offices can fit into any given space. Your current space may be large enough for your practice, but you may not realize it if the space isn’t maximized.

 

Planning A Remodel

After you’ve selected a potential new office location, get an experienced designer or architect involved to check out the space- before you sign a lease! The designer/architect can not only complete a test-fit for you, but can also perform code evaluations, assemble budget costs, and create a preliminary design. Ensure that your chosen designer is a proven expert in the dental industry who can maximize the coverage of your budget and share with you the knowledge that comes only with experience.

The design and permit process alone can take 2-4 months to complete, depending on county permitting processes. Once your county has approved all the necessary permits, construction begins; it typically takes 3 months to fully construct an office.

Remodeling an office should be an efficient process, especially when you’re relocating and practice shut down time needs to be minimized. Before signing a construction contract, be sure you understand exactly how much shut down time is estimated, and ask for ways in which it can be eliminated.

 

Equipment Assessment

If your equipment is still in good condition, it’s a possibility that you could move it to your new location, should you want to. Bulky older equipment can make an operatory feel crowded; if you just need a little extra space, but aren’t ready for a full relocation, sometimes purchasing modern and streamlined equipment will do the job. Experienced auction companies and similar companies are available to buy or sell your old equipment, giving you value for it and making newer equipment more affordable.

 

If you’re pro-active with your relocation, you can be in your new office with time left on your old lease- then you’re able exploit that time by using it to redirect patient traffic to your new location!

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