We’ve all heard the sayings: “beauty is only skin-deep”, “never judge a book by its cover”, “looks can be deceiving” and so on. We’re human, and looks and appearance do make an impression on people.
So, if Tom Peters can write about this, so can I. I’m sure you’ve heard about Susan Boyle and her appearance on “Britain’s Got Talent” the other day. She is 47, not particularly attractive and her dress is somewhat dated. Then, of course, she opened her mouth and sang. She sang “I Dream the Dream” from the Les Miserable musical – the kind of pop song that these audiences love.
Even better – just listen to an earlier recording of the standard “Cry Me a River”, a torch song sung by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Julie London.
But Ms. Boyle got as far as she did on
In real life, however, appearance is part of the screening process, whether talking to the a person of the opposite sex, choosing a restaurant, store, financial planner or physician. I oft tell of this quote from People’s Express airline founder Donald Burr; “Coffee stains on the flip down trays means bad maintenance on the airplanes.” The Lazard Frere investment bank could get away with scruffy offices while serving a blue chip clientele because they had earned a reputation for service and success. The warehouse stores, such as Costco, may be bare bones – but they are clean, and in respectable locations.
1. Your office should be clean, neat, warm (plants, indirect lighting) and get rid of ad-ridden exam table paper, forms and the like.
2. All staff should appear professional. Personally, I like “polo” style shirts with small logo for support staff. Clinical and direct care professionals should dress the part. I think men can skip the tie, but a dress shirt is generally preferable.
3. The building your office is located in should also convey a professional image. A cheap location for a physician, the same as for a financial planner or lawyer, leads to a customer thinking “they must not be doing well if they can’t afford a better location”.
Make the time to go outside, and approach your office from the perspective of a patient. Can they find your building? Can they easily turn into the parking area – is parking and/or public transportation convenient? Does the area appear to the outsider to be safe? Is your office clearly marked? When the patient opens the door, what is the first thing they see? Is the path to the receptionist clear, without obstructions? Are patients greeted, or at least acknowledged, promptly? Is the office clean (or, as Erma Bombeck wrote, “Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.”
A walk around is a regular exercise for you, and I would recommend that you include your practice/office manager in this walk. These walks are part of your regular review of your practice, standing alongside the financial and operations reports that you look at.