Have you ever thought about how your work environment reflects both your personal and your business brand?
Over the years I have visited many private practices and I have been struck by the diversity and to be frank, the care factor. The appearance of your private practice rooms directly reflects the value you have on yourself, your business and most importantly clients. Let’s explore these thoughts a little more.
What are your private practice rooms like?
Some premises I walk into are absolutely beautiful. Super clean, super decor and super fresh and inviting. The admin set up is uncluttered, with IT and paperwork stashed neatly. My instant impression is … sigh, these guys are cool calm and collected and have the admin totally under control. You only have a few seconds to create a positive impression. Our clients are sophisticated, they know a smart set up when they see it.
And then there is the all too frequent contrasting shabby and tired premises. The door opens up into a hallway, pokey dark rooms, filled with make do and mismatched furniture and room dividers. The admin team is working from desks piled with Post It notes, papers and files. In the background are messy shelves, folders, cords and clunky dated hardware. Client paperwork in clear public view is never good. This is a first impression that creates doubt in the clients mind and requires professional brand repair.
The Waiting Room needs to accommodate your client’s needs. Big and little chairs, couches, space, and then a bit more space. There must be good storage for toys and books and clean carpet and rugs. Ideally, the waiting area should be far enough away from Reception for the sound of client conversations to not be overheard and similarly the boisterous waiting room chat to not interfere with the admin teams activities. It’s asking a lot I know. As many clients will be attending for multiple visits it may be good to change some of the toys to help keep waiting hands curious. The flip side of this is those clients who look forward to and to an extent need the predictability of certain toys in certain places at certain times. Explore the options.
Fresh, Clean and Tidy
Walls need to be painted more regularly than you think and inbetween times they need to be thoroughly wiped, so hunt out that easy clean wall paint. Perhaps experiment with colour. Floors need to sparkly clean and professionally dry-cleaned at least twice per year. It may be time to evict the tatty rugs, scrub the lino, freshen the doormat and sweep the porch. Brief your professional cleaner on all the nitty gritty cleaning you need done, eg. corners, under furniture, waiting room all the places sticky little hands get into. The bathroom always needs forensic care. A rechargeable hand held vacuum is indispensable for that end of day whip around.
Toys and Equipment
Audit your toys during every school holiday. Throw out those that are broken, incomplete and past their use by date. Ensure they are all clean, sanitise as required. The ultimate client respect is seen in a comprehensive range of new and modern toys, games, books and therapy equipment. Parents notice this. Quality toys shout that you care about your service, staff and clients, crunch your toy and equipment budget, then double it.
Reduce Visual Clutter
I once visited an office that had so many signs stuck up on walls that I didn’t know where to look, so I didn’t. Similarly, notice boards get tired and drawing pins are never a good idea for a Waiting Room. How could you display and share information more effectively? Work towards ‘less is more’. Great storage reduces visual clutter, a place for everything and everything in its place, yes that’s how therapy and meeting rooms should look. Train up both your team and your clients to put things away in their spot. Spend lots of time nutting out your ideal storage solutions and measure it all out before hitting the stores. Closed storage will reduce distraction and open storage enables clients to help themselves, find a balance as you will need both.
Admin storage is perhaps the hardest to get correct. Hopefully the majority of your admin storage is cloud based and out of public view. If it’s in public view, please have matching modern filing cabinets, shelves and cupboards. It is critical that you present your service as uber professional.
I am a big fan of art work on the walls. Large photo printed canvases and stretched fabric pieces are now affordable. Both offer the option of adding sound deadening insulation across the back. How does noise travel in your rooms? Are you confident that conversations stay private to the room? it may be good to check sound transfer, particularly through ceilings and doors.
Are you surprised to know that private practice owners are engaging interior designers? This specialist input provides a high level consult on the overall concept of people, space, task flow. Several of my private practice coaching clients report tremendous value in gaining a smart and objective overall opinion that ultimately saved them time and money.
Having a lovely work environment for your team will boost pride, efficiency and support them to work brilliantly with your clients. With pending workforce challenges, the workspace is a feature potential new staff will take into consideration as they compare service providers they wish to work for. Potential buyers and investors have an eye for quality and professionalism. Similarly clients are expecting bright and beautiful therapy spaces as they have more and more providers to choose from.
Looking for inspiration? Pinterest has millions of office ideas, you’ll find some on my Nacre Consulting board. But perhaps it’s time to seek a professional opinion and invest in a strategic makeover.