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What You Can Learn From Design Competition Winners

by Gavin Shea | 07/15/2015 | Office Design & Construction , Dental

The Dental Office Design Competition, sponsored by Wells Fargo Practice Finance, Dental Economics and the American Dental Association, was initiated in 1999 as an inspiration and learning tool for dentists planning to build or remodel their own practices. Since then, over 60 practices across the country ? from small solo offices with modest budgets, to large group practices employing multiple doctors ? have won the prestigious DODC award for the outstanding execution of their design objectives. 

What can you learn from these design winners about creating or updating your own practice? Following are some words of advice from the 2014 winners of the Dental Office Design Competition. 

? Build with the future in mind. According to Craig Spodak of Spodak Dental Group in Delray Beach,Parklane Dental - 2014 Dental Office Design of the Year - Small Practice Florida, 2014 winner of the Dental Office Design of the Year ? Group Practice, it?s important to understand where you want to be in the future in order to achieve a truly functional design. In expanding his facility to 13,000 square feet with 18 operatories, Dr. Spodak focused on incorporating all dental specialties, an on-site lab, and a modern sterilization lab in the group practice design in order to provide comprehensive services to his patients now, and in the future.

? Visit other dental practices. Dr. Eric To, DDS, of Parklane Dental, Arcadia, California, 2014 winner of the Dental Office Design of the Year ? Small Practice award, recommends visiting and examining as many dental offices as possible to learn both the advantages and drawbacks of different layouts and designs. According to Dr. To, no one design is perfect for all practice scenarios, as different patient demographics and markets will have varying standards and requirements.

? Know your equipment. Dr. To also advises that you thoroughly know how to proficiently use your office equipment, including computer and telephone systems, to determine their best possible location within the practice. Plan the equipment placement and office layout around your patients? and staff?s habits. 

? Negotiate your construction contract. According to 2014 Outstanding Specialty Practice winner LyellHogg, DDS, of North Iowa Oral Surgery Associates, P.C. in Mason City, Iowa, it?s advantageous to negotiate the final cost of the project with a selected general contractor. Dr. Hogg states, ?All subcontractor pricing was exposed and we were able to negotiate the final cost through a very deliberate process before construction even started. It was satisfying to have some ?control and impact? on the costs of my project versus the traditional bidding scenario where you never know what you are paying for in your total cost.?

? Do your research. Brian P. Rask, DMD, PA, winner of the 2014 Outstanding Design Efficiency award, recommends talking with your supply representative or an experienced colleague to get referrals for quality architects, contractors and interior designers. Gather ideas before talking to designers ? look at magazines, the internet, and supply catalogs, attend dental trade shows, visit showrooms and dental offices. Once you have your ideas, meet with a designer and set a budget for your project. You can then decide if you will finance the project yourself, through the supply company, or through a practice loan. 

? Do not skimp on important features. While staying within budget is crucial, it?s also important not to skimp on the features you really want or need in order to make the practice the functional environment you have envisioned. As Dr. Rask states ?For some of us younger dentists, this is where you may spend the next 25 or 30 years of your life, so do it right and make sure you are happy going to work every day!?

? Focus on your patients. And finally, as Dr. Spodak puts it, the main focus of your design efforts should be how you can deliver the best care to your patients. Always make their needs your first priority and continually strive to exceed their expectations.

To view all DODC winners and learn more about designing a winning dental practice, visit the DODC page.

Gavin Shea
Gavin Shea is the Senior Director of Sales and Marketing at Wells Fargo Practice Finance. Gavin has over 17 years of financial experience helping practitioners start, grow, and transitions their practices through a diverse array of financial products and services.

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