Know Your Vision, Needs and Wants
The first step of any major dental office design project should always be the planning process. This is where you define your vision, figure out what you want or need to achieve the desired objective.
Let’s start by asking some important questions, such as:
- What’s your vision for the practice?
- Will you practice dentistry as a solo practitioner or in a group practice?
- Will it be an insurance-based practice or FFS practice?
- Will you have a single location and grow-in-place or multiple locations?
- What specialties, treatment plans, and technologies will define your practice?
- How big of a practice and how long to get there?
- Do you want to own real estate with the practice?
What are your needs?
- How many chairs do you need when you open to see patients?
- How many chairs will you need at full capacity?
- What kinds of amenity do you need to have…large waiting room, large staff break area (for huddles/ CE), dedicated restroom for staff, private restroom for self, etc.?
These are your absolute must haves and can’t compromise on.
What are your wants?
- Do you want windows in every treatment room?
- Do you want a large private office with a private restroom, including a shower?
- Do you want a higher noise isolation level?
- Do you want to have a kid’s area?
- Do you want to have infrastructure in place for future technology implementation?
- Sick Room/ Lactate Room?
Things you would like to have now, if the budget allows, or at a future date when the practice is more established and with better cash flow.
Establish a Budget
Assuming that you had the “Can I afford it?” conversation with your CPA and he gave you the green light. How much money do you need to budget for? This is an area that if not done thoroughly can give you unnecessary stress and heartburn.
Here is a list of some costs:
· Professional Fees (Legal, Consultants, Architect/ Engineers, IT)
· Dental Equipment…initiate the conversation early with your equipment specialists to narrow down what equipment you will purchase.
· Construction…Financial institutions often ask for a budgetary/ probable cost to build your office before they can determined what you need. At the very least, have a preliminary design of the office for contractors to work from in providing you with the probable cost to build the office.
· FFE (Furniture, Finishes & Equipment) …investigate sources that can give you what you’re looking for at the best values.
· Signage… get the design and cost of the sign to compare affordability.
· Contingency…this is like emergency money, just in case an unforeseen condition surfaces and needs resolution or upgrading of something for a better value.
The budget is by no means a solid or firm project cost. What it will do is provide you with a financial picture and threshold to manage and stay within.
Develop a Realistic Project Timeline
If at all possible, don’t wait until you’re pushed into the corner and are forced to make hasty decisions like working with an unreasonable and unrealistic project schedule. Give yourself more time than you think you will need. The extra time will give you some breathing room to accommodate unforeseen events and flexibility. There are activities and tasks that you can manage, and some are just out of your control.
· Finding the right location, plan for 1-2 months.
· Lease negotiation, plan 1-2 months.
· Design typically requires 2-3 months.
· Permit typically requires 2-4 weeks, if submitting well detailed drawings.
· Construction typically requires 3-4 months for build-out and 9-12 months for new build.
Involve the Staff
Planning and designing a new office would truly be a rare opportunity to change the old for new. You can embrace changes and not necessarily adapt to the new changes. As business owners, many would proudly declare that their business’ biggest and most valuable assets are their staff. They spend their days in the trenches with you. They know what works, what doesn’t, and they have their personal preferences.
Including your staff in the design process to get their input and feedback will give them some sense of ownership.
Choose Your Team Wisely
Before you start talking about designing your new office you should already have a trusted team of advisors to consult with over legal matters, money matters, and practice management matters. When it comes to selecting the design team, start and invest into the team that will be responsible for all technical, codes, and design aspects of the project and has the dental design experience to deliver the visions you see. The head of that team should be an Architect.
Would you like to discuss your plan to design/ build/ renovate your office and wonder where to begin? Contact HJT Dental Design Consultants today to discuss how we can apply our design expertise and experience toward achieving your design objectives.