Whether you’re just starting out, or needing to give your practice a re-vamp, these are 5 simple, inexpensive things that you can do to make your practice look more professional. Having a professional look will increase a new client’s likelihood of booking, and of forming a favourable impression of both you and your practice.
With so many things that you can focus on, these are the most important areas that are easy to implement, and will have the biggest impact on new clients:
1) Have a Professional Website
If you don’t have a website for your practice, then you need to get one fast! It doesn’t have to be fancy, and it doesn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg. But it’s a quick, inexpensive way to showcase who you are and what you offer.
If you’re looking for some tips on how to spruce up your web presence, we’ve got you covered. Check our article on what to include in your health practice website and some great examples to learn from.
Even if you just have a one-page website with your services and credentials, that can be enough to make your practice look a lot more professional, and build trust with potential clients (it’s far better than not having a website).
Pro Tip: It can be tempting to do the design yourself, but if you just want a simple one-page website, it won’t cost you a lot, and it’s usually not worth the time and hassle of teaching yourself a new skill. Instead of going through this pain, find a skilled freelancer and get it up and running quickly.
2) Observe Proper Phone Etiquette
Having a full-time receptionist to answer calls and make appointments is ideal, and if you’re splitting the cost between a number of practitioners, it can work out to be an affordable investment. But if this isn’t an option, you can use a professional answering service or have a recording with clear instructions letting clients know what information you need from them, and when they can expect a response.
Remember, you should never take calls when you’re busy with a client, but you should get into the habit of responding to calls and messages as soon as possible.
One way to reduce the number of phone calls is to have an option to book online through your website. And, if you don’t have a receptionist, your recording can include a request for the client to make their booking on your website.
Pro Tip: Always answer calls with your business name, even if you’re answering the call on your mobile. Something like: “Welcome to [Your Business Name], how can I help you?” will make you sound professional and make a great impression.
3) Invest in Proper Signage
To add a sense of permanence and reliability, it is important that your practice and your name appear on the signage outside your practice door. It doesn’t have to be top-of-the-range, but a printed sign that includes your name and qualifications makes it a lot more likely that a new client will actually ring the bell and come in.
Pro Tip: Names scribbled on a piece of paper and stuck next to the door are a definite no-no. Find a sign-maker and order something simple today.
4) Improve the Waiting Room Experience
We’ve created the ultimate waiting room checklist here, but it’s worth mentioning again. Your first goal when a patient enters your rooms is to make them feel at ease (read Hargan Psychology’s case study and learn how she created a safe and welcoming space for her clients). You can do this by addressing the hundreds of questions that are running through their minds – such as:
- Am I in the right place?
- Do they look like they know what they’re doing?
- What should I do next?
- Does it look clean enough for me to sit down?
The best way to answer these questions and communicate professionalism in the waiting room is to have organised processes. Whether you’re filling in a new patient form, confirming appointments or giving clear instructions on arrival; having a clear process that is well communicated will put your patients at ease.
Pro Tip: If possible, have someone available to greet your clients as they walk in the door. A friendly welcome goes a long way toward building trust with a new client.
5) Look the Part with a Professional Dress Code
Don’t forget that neat grooming and professional dress is also extremely important. People come to you as a professional, expecting you and your team to look a certain way….so don’t disappoint them!
If you woke up late and didn’t have enough time to iron your clothes this morning, we understand – you’re only human. But unfortunately, if you’re seeing new clients, this might be the only chance that you have to get them to trust you because appearance is a primary factor in judging trustworthiness.
Research suggests that you only have a tenth of a second to make a good first impression. And an easy way to quickly build a patient’s trust and confidence in you is to be neat and well-groomed. Approaching a new client wearing neat (clean!) work-appropriate attire communicates that you are professional and that the service you offer will meet their needs.
If you are a practice manager, you are also responsible for guiding the dress code for your practice. While individuality is valued in other ways, when it comes to dress-code and grooming, it’s more important to consider professionalism first. What your staff wear and how they present themselves communicates their commitment to the practice’s principles and levels of professionalism, as well as building confidence in your practice’s brand.
Pro Tip: Make sure your work wardrobe is perfectly clean, ironed and not faded or worn, these signs give patients a sub-conscious warning that your practice may not be clean, or that you are not committed to your job.
Develop guidelines for your team grooming and dress code in your practice operations manual.
Do you need to implement some of these tips to make your practice look more professional? Of course, there are many more aspects to presenting yourself as a professional practice but if you implement these quick-wins, you’ll be well on your way to communicating that your practice is professional, and therefore trustworthy and competent.
Remember, the quick-win tips are to have a professional website, implement a polished call-handling etiquette, ensure your waiting room is inviting and organised, invest in professional signage, and implement a professional dress code. With these things in place, your clients will get the message that your practice is the right one to treat them.
If you know of a practice manager who needs some help with updating their practice’s image, please share this article with them.