A dental practice "image" is an abstraction that exists in the mind of anyone who knows anything about the practice. In simplest terms, it`s what a patient, pharmacist or physician thinks about when he or she thinks about your practice. Every dentist has an image, for better or for worse.
The first step in image management is to decide what kind of image you want your practice to project. Or more accurately, what kind of image you want your practice to earn by the way you and your staff conduct your practice. "Clinical and technical excellence" would be an example. It sets the stage.
The second step in image management is to make sure everything in the practice is consistent with that image, such as office decor, equipment, cleanliness of the office, practice brochures, the attire of the doctor(s) and office personnel. These are only a few factors that influence the image of a practice.
Does out-of-date equipment imply out-of-date knowledge and skills? Does an office that is less clean cast suspicion on the office`s infection control? Does an office decor with assorted signs, photocopied articles and jokes taped to the walls and glass panels reflect in any way on the quality of care provided? Perhaps not. But for most people, it would, at best, send mixed messages. The reason: Psychologists have found an instinctive drive in human nature to "see things whole" and to "look for meaning" in the environment. It emphasizes the need for consistency between the image you want to project to others and the image your practice does project.
To project a credible image of any trait for which you want your practice to be known, you have to do it clearly and compellingly, congruently and consistently. Everything about the practice must say the same thing.
Bob Levoy is a marketing consultant, seminar speaker and writer based in Roslyn, NY. For more information about image management and other practice-growth strategies, see his new book, 101 Secrets of a High Performance Dental Practice. To place an order (the book is available from PennWell Books), call (800) 752-9764.