3 Questions to Lay the Right Foundation for Your Dental Office Design


If you’re like most practitioners, you have one primary goal when opening a new practice: A successful launch – on time and on budget.

While this is a worthy goal, planning for what happens after the doors open is just as, if not more, important as the initial launch. Whether you’re opening your first practice, expanding upon an existing one or moving to an entirely new location, it’s easy to become so absorbed in the numerous details required that you overlook “the big picture.”

And the big picture is that you’re not just designing an environment, you’re designing an experience – for your customers, for your staff and for yourself. An experience that should operate like a well-oiled machine! With that in mind, here are 3 questions to ask yourself before setting up shop:


1. Have I developed an infrastructure that will accommodate my projected growth plan?

Every business begins with a plan, and your dental office is no exception. And a major part of that plan is outlining your financial requirements for getting and staying in business. After assessing your projected costs, investments and cash flow, it’s important to consider exactly how many patients you will need to accommodate to meet your desired profit level. Oftentimes, an additional 500 square feet can be the difference between thousands of dollars made over the course of a calendar year.

Another incidence requiring consideration of patient volume is mergers. Combining the volume of two practices into one will require a careful assessment of space needed to meet long-term goals. A final word to the wise: The old adem “open the doors and they will come” applies to no one. Invest in a solid marketing plan for gaining new business.


2. Have I secured all the resource providers I need?

As a business owner, you will only be as successful as the team you surround yourself with. And that includes your team of service providers. Specialists you will need to partner with include IT technicians (for set-up + support), equipment providers, financial institutions and of course, an experienced accountant. You may also want to consult with a practice management provider to help implement your overall plan. Before deciding to work with any provider, we recommend asking if they a). Have experience working within the dental industry specifically and b). Have past clients who could speak to the caliber of their work. Over the years, Apex has cultivated a huge database of reputable, dental specific providers we gladly share with our clients.


3. Have I considered the ergonomic needs of my employees and patients?

According to a recent study conducted by Dimensional Research, respondents who suffered a bad customer service interaction were 50 percent more likely to share it on social media than those who had good experiences and 52 percent more likely to share it on review sites, such as Yelp. One of the easiest ways to create an outstanding service experience? Taking care of your staff and patient’s ergonomic needs. That means providing furnishings that support peak performance and comfort levels. Chairs should offer appropriate lumbar support, lighting should be pleasant to the eyes and all stations should be easily accessible.

Answer these three questions while planning your new dental office design and you’ll create a foundation that will support your practice for years to come.

Case Study: Elements Dental Studio and Dr. Meira Berman


The Challenge

Like many newly licensed practitioners, Dr. Meira Berman approached opening her first practice with some trepidation. Understandably, many doctors – fresh out of school – have very little knowledge of what’s required for “setting up shop.” The numerous details of doing business can be overwhelming for even the most seasoned of entrepreneurs.

Trusting the recommendation of a colleague, Dr. Berman contacted Apex to help with the construction and design of her new space in Evanston, Illinois. She’ll be the first to admit she had a lot of questions, ranging from, “What are my best financing options?” to “How do I determine how much space I really need?” All of which were easily answerable after a few in-depth discussions. But her biggest concern was timing. Dr. Berman wanted to move in and begin seeing patients by the end of 2014.

The Solution

We began our work with Dr. Berman by conducting a detailed information audit and delving into her long-term objectives. After assessing her unique capital goals, one of the two spaces Dr. Berman was considering emerged as the superior choice. The larger space would allow her to fit four operatories (as opposed to three), ultimately allowing her to see that many more patients over the course of a calendar year. After crunching the numbers and rendering some “2-D space plans,” outlining the projected workflow of each choice, Dr. Berman realized the larger space was the better long-term investment.

The Result

The doctor received a modern, completely done-for-her dental office that was ready for practice 2 weeks ahead of schedule. Besides collaborating with her assigned project manager (and one point of contact) to customize an architecturally unique ceiling for her waiting room, Dr. Berman was thrilled to have everything completely taken care of on her behalf.