Spring Cleaning and Organizing Tips for your Dental Practice
Is your office due or past-due for a good cleaning and organizing? Maybe even some remodeling or redecorating? It’s that time of year when many take advantage of the warmer weather to “spring clean” their homes. This is also a great time to spring clean your dental practice.
I encourage you to make a checklist of all the areas in your office that may need some cleaning. I’ll help you get started by showing you how to take advantage of using your 5 senses while cleaning your office. This is by no means an exhaustive cleaning list but it will give you ideas of where and what to clean.
Before you read on please remember that the patients’ (and potential patients’) perception of you, your team, the office, and the quality and safety of the care you provide is your reality. This means that everything that you do or don’t do…matters!
Even if you feel like you’re just too busy to tackle a project like this you’ll want to make the time; why? The long-term growth and success of your practice depend on it.
Sight, Smell, Sound, Touch, and Taste.
What do your patients and potential patients see?
Areas to “see” include;
Office Exterior (Curb Appeal)
- Safety Concerns/Handicap accessibility
- Are you welcoming or turning people away?
- Reception Room – Sit in your reception room, what do your patients see, touch, hear, smell, and taste? Look high and low. What do you see? Dirty carpeting/flooring? Outdated magazines & decor? Stained or worn chairs? Peeling wallpaper? Cobwebs? Dusty plants/floral arrangements? Light bulbs that are out? Look over at the front desk area, if you see a sliding glass window that is full of signs and papers telling your patients what to do and what not to do…remove them immediately. It’s very unwelcoming!
- Restroom – Most if not all of your patients that visit your restroom WILL determine the quality and safety of your care from that experience. (Isn’t that true of you when you’re at a restaurant or any public restroom? No one wants the gas station bathroom experience…not even when you’re at a gas station.) Your restroom should be clean, nicely decorated, and well-stocked with quality paper products and soap.
- Front Desk Area – Clutter represents indecision. Make a decision to get rid of the clutter! (That includes any sticky notes attached to computer monitors, coats/sweaters hanging on the backs of chairs, and fast-food drink containers sitting out on the counters.) Purchase hot/cold beverage tumblers, preferably with your office logo on them for your team members to use at their workstations – this looks much nicer than your patients seeing soda bottles or coffee shop cups.
While you’re visiting the front office area, don’t forget about cleaning these areas too…
- Current Protocols– Hygiene Continuing Care, Incomplete Treatment Reports, Confirmation, A/R-Collections, Greetings, Patient Hand-off, New Patient Welcomes, and Referral Thank you’s, etc.
- Paper Communication Materials –Intake forms, Letterhead, HIPAA forms, Financial Policy & Postcards.
- Job Responsibilities/Descriptions –Have every team member write down a detailed list of all of their job responsibilities. This is VERY helpful in determining more effective ways of doing things as well as finding out what is NOT being done.
Practice Owners – If you’re struggling to reach your goals each month or struggling to get your team on board with your vision for the practice maybe a coaching relationship is just what you need. Feel free to reach out to me to set up a complimentary 30-minute call to discuss how a customized coaching program will help you to reach/exceed your goals.
Moving on to other areas of the practice…
- Operatories – Sit in the treatment room chairs. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you taste? What do you smell? How do you feel? Again, your patients don’t measure the quality of care, they measure the quality of their experience. Keep your patients loyal to your practice by making certain they consistently have great experiences.
- Lab & Sterilization Area – What do these areas look like? Unorganized, Cluttered, and/or Dirty? From the CDC: “In dental health care settings, all instrument cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilizing should occur in a designated central processing area in order to more easily control quality and ensure safety. The instrument processing area should be physically divided into sections for 1) receiving, cleaning, and decontamination; 2) preparation and packaging; 3) sterilization; and 4) storage. This division is designed to contain contaminated items in an area designed specifically for cleaning, thus preventing contamination of the clean areas where packaging, sterilization, and storage of sterile items occurs. Reusable contaminated instruments and devices are received, sorted, and cleaned in the cleaning area. The packaging area is for inspecting, assembling, and packaging clean instruments in preparation for final processing. The sterilization and storage areas contain the sterilizers and related supplies, as well as incubators for analyzing spore tests, and can contain enclosed storage for sterile items and disposable (single-use) items. When it is not possible to have physical separation of these areas, clearly labeling each area (e.g., from contaminated to sterile) might be satisfactory if the personnel who process the instruments are trained in work practices to prevent contamination of clean areas. ” Here is a helpful article: IS YOUR DENTAL STERILIZATION AREA SETUP EFFICIENT — OR A BOTTLENECK?
- Closets – Make an inventory checklist. Throw away any expired or outdated products, equipment, manuals, etc. While you’re at it, if there is anything that isn’t being used properly due to a lack of education or training, go ahead and schedule a time for continuing education/training.
- Equipment/Technology – What needs repairs, upgrades or to be tossed? Computers, Software, Internet Speed & Access, Printers, Scanners, Copiers, Telephone Systems, TVs, Postage machines, including…dare I say, typewriters?
- Employee breakroom(area) / staff lounge – don’t forget about the employee break area. Is it clean and organized? Check out the refrigerator, microwave, cabinets, counters, and tables. There is no reason for this room to be messy and/or dirty. While you’re at it freshen up the room decor and stock the cabinets/refrigerator with snacks and beverages for your team. SEE: https://bettyhaydenconsulting.com/2023/02/27/tips-for-sprucing-up-the-dental-office-break-room/
- The Team – Appearance – Wear clothes that reflect the excellent care you give your patients. Professional, clean, and wrinkle-free clothes. Clean hair, nails & body). Attitudes – Remove any toxic attitudes.
- Office Policies – Review and update employee benefits and expectations. If you don’t have an office manual and/or employee handbook please get one asap.
TIP: Make a cleaning schedule – including the who, what & when. When will the parking lot, restrooms & reception room be checked & cleaned? This should be done several times throughout the day. Do not wait for the “cleaning person” to take care of those areas. If the flooring needs to be vacuumed… vacuum it. If the glass on the windows/doors has fingerprints…clean them. If the restroom toilet and sink are dirty… clean them. Make a promise as a team that if you see it (and you know you do) clean it.
Online Presence – What do your potential patients “see” when looking for a dentist in your area? Remember to spring clean your online presence too. Your website, Google My Business listing, and Social Media Pages. See: Dental Office First Impressions – Online Presence
- Get rid of the dreaded dental office smell. There are products out there that will eliminate that smell without aggravating patients with allergies. Bake chocolate chip cookies if necessary. Be cautious when using scented candles, air fresheners, and essential oils – you’ll want to make sure that they are mild and won’t aggravate those with allergies.
- Keep the noise down! Patients want to be put at ease; they don’t want to hear the latest office gossip or a TV that is too loud. Avoid using patients’ full names or complaining about patients when you can be heard from the reception room or treatment chair.
- Music – Consider playing music in the reception and treatment rooms. Wireless headphones will allow patients’ to listen to music or the TV while in the chair.
- Telephone Greetings/Messages – What do your patients and potential patients’ “hear” when calling the office? Be sure that what they hear is a reflection of your goals and vision. See How To Effectively Answer The Dental Office Telephone
- Beverage Station in the reception room. Complimentary coffee, tea, cold bottled water, juice, etc. See this Pinterest board for beverage station design ideas.
- Snacks – Offer snacks such as fresh fruit, granola bars, etc. This is especially nice for patients that may have been in for a lengthy appointment and need a little boost in energy.
- Allow patients to rinse with mouthwash before and after the appointment.
- Offer pre-pasted toothbrushes for patients that didn’t have time to or forgot to brush their teeth before their appointment.
- Reception Room – Is it comfortable & welcoming? (If you emptied the reception room of all comfort and distraction items because of COVID you probably can start returning these items. Just be sure to frequently clean high-touch/traffic surfaces.)
Reading Material – Have a variety of magazines and books for patients to read.
Temperature – Keep the temperature in the reception room at a comfortable setting.
Lighting – Be sure that the sunlight from the windows isn’t blinding some of your patients during the day.
- Treatment Rooms – Be sure that your patients are comfortable during their visit. Your treatment rooms should be exceptionally clean from top to bottom. Get rid of any clutter sitting out on the counters, floor, or shelves.
Massage Pads on Chairs
Blankets (If you have a patient that is always cold, pop the blanket in the dryer for them right before appt). Consider offering a weighted blanket during treatment to help reduce anxiety.
Distractions – (Movies, Music, Digital Aquarium, Etc.)
Give Painless Injections…always.
Put your patients at ease by talking with them before you start looking in their mouth.
- Free Stuff – Give away items imprinted with your office name, website, and phone number to each patient at their appointment. Such as; toothbrushes, hand sanitizer, calendars, pens, and lip balm.
Using your 5 senses, look closely at yourself, your team, the exterior, and interior of your building, all office systems, your lab, sterilization procedures, website & social media sites, marketing materials, marketing programs, and the patient experience.
Your goal should be to find ways to consistently exceed your patients’ expectations, attract more new patients and remove anything that is hindering you from reaching that goal. You and your team need and deserve to enjoy a nice, clean, and welcoming work environment.
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Yours for Greater Success!