As an orthodontist, what are your biggest challenges in growing your practice?

I would say competition. There are 25-30 orthodontic offices in our area, so you really have to stand out.

What marketing efforts have you made in the past to address these?

At first, I used mostly external marketing with flyers and brochures. I used the same company as the pediatric practice that shares the same office, but it doesn’t work for orthodontics.

For pediatrics, when new families are looking for a dentist they respond to the flyers. For ortho, it doesn’t really work that way. Word of mouth and referrals are what I need.

The marketing company that we were using wanted us to focus externally to general dentists. However, we found more success internally, receiving referrals from the pediatric practice within our same walls.

You share an office with a pediatric dentist. It sounds like you have made that a positive for your practice. As an orthodontist, however, what were your concerns about theming your office?

The challenge is that if the office looks focused on only kids, then adults will not want to come for their ortho treatment. Our first office was themed very young, so parents of children in the pediatric practice would seek ortho care from another ortho because they thought I was a pediatric ortho. It is a problem embedded into a practice like this. If you join a practice like this, it could be looked at that way.

How did IDS address those concerns and what solution did they come up with for you?

Three ways. First, IDS was able to create a path, set the course in terms of planning. We were able to develop the vision together. It is a lot of work and you only find limited skill level while trying to find different artists to do each thing. IDS has a whole team to build the vision rather than me researching it. Previously, I had some nice work done for the pedo side but it did not reflect ortho. We were able to bring a mature look because IDS has so many different artists with different skills. They have the capacity for any look.

Second, we were able to implement the project exactly as we discussed and IDS created it as we wanted. The dentist has to be the leader for that vision and, when you are working with other trades, you don’t always get to see how things are going to look. With IDS, they were able to show me how everything was going to look with sketches and 3D models, so I could relax.

Thirdly were the ideas that they came up with. They were able to tie in the various aspects of the design to achieve the goal that we wanted. We wanted two different environments for the two practices, and we were able to meet in reception with something that made us both happy. Reception is designed so that both orthodontic and pediatric patients are happy and welcome. It has lots of animals and trees which patients of all ages love, but they took my comment about liking hotel lobbies and created a mature, elegant space with a waterfall. We love it.

How have your patients and staff reacted to the office décor?

Patients have already commented on how much more mature it is compared to our previous office. Mostly we hear that they are wowed! The surprise of what they get to see when they walk in…that makes it worth it.

Now that your office is completed, what do you believe are the main benefits of theming an office?

When you hear the kids’ footsteps running in 30 seconds before the parents because they are so excited to be there!

Did you have any other concerns about theming with IDS before initially contacting them?

The concerns were largely centered on budget and time frame. I wasn’t sure that it would be affordable for their quality. However the value was there.

Also, locally in California I can get some things done quickly but not to the same quality. I knew it would be longer with IDS because of all the work and detail that the artists put into it, so I was worried that you couldn’t get it done within our time frame. I was worried that I wouldn’t even be able to go with IDS.

How has your experience been working with IDS throughout the whole process?

I think the extent of their attention to detail with the project let me not worry about the project. It put me at ease. I always had the confidence from the beginning that someone was looking after things and I don’t have to be that person.

What did you like most about working with IDS?

We had so many things to do and the stresses of construction, but there was one area that I did not worry about - I knew that the IDS team was looking after everything.

And also, I don’t think IDS does enough to promote how good their install team is. The install team is comprised of fabricators, so they can troubleshoot on-site and reliably get things done and solve problems. What a difference that made!

What is the best advice you can give an orthodontists who is looking to theme their dental office?

Think about the patient experience. I have seen the response that patients and family have when they see you have created a fun and pleasant environment for them. We expect patients to invest a lot of time into their dental health and our business, but it is not always pleasant. I wanted it to be fun. Patients assume every practice has the same excellence so they decide on where to go based on where they are cared for, where it is enjoyable and fun. The knowledge and expertise is assumed in an office, but the patient experience comes after they’ve been there.

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