Dental Office Blocking Diagram Services
The first step in creating a high-flow dental office
You may have looked at one of the many available “free” dental office floor plans offered by other companies. Did it seem like there was no flexibility or opportunity for easy re-arrangement to optimize office flow? That’s why we start the design process with fast, responsive iterations of a blocking diagram before we get to the floor plan. This process makes it easy to rotate and move the elements of your dental office design quickly to see how design changes impact efficiency.
Blocking Diagram Review
Dr. David Ahearn and his design team work closely together to review iterations of blocking diagrams and floor plans to create practices that are perfectly optimized to match the needs and goals of their clients. We know dentistry because we do dentistry.
How long will it take you to design my new office?
Our team understands that responsiveness throughout the design process is crucial to your success. We treat our client communication the same way we treat communication with a friend. We will communicate in whatever way is most convenient for you (email, text, chat, phone call, Zoom, FaceTime) and make our team available as much as possible. If you think that you have found a great piece of land or existing space for your new practice, you need answers quickly to determine if the location fits your needs. And you need that fast.
Our initial concept designs will be completed in 5 to 7 days, regardless of how many people are required to put on your design assignment. That means that you will know what you will be able to do with that space and will have a good idea about how you can do it. Fast.
After that, the length of the design process largely depends on your schedule, and the size of the project. We have had offices designed and renovated in 10 weeks. Of course, we have many more completed in 10 months. Again, much of this will depend on you, your needs, and your schedule. Just know that, if you choose to work with us, we have been doing this work for over 20 years and our team is very experienced and will be responsive to your needs.
If you are building from the ground up, administrative constraints will commonly require more time and management. But they often result in a much more dramatic, flexible, and scalable office that is free from the constraints of adjacent tenants.
How many treatment rooms can I get in my space?
Many offices desperately need additional treatment rooms, but the challenge of creating additional space is huge. Nonetheless, by using specialized layouts, it is entirely possible to create fantastic treatment rooms in extremely compact spaces. Rooms can be shortened by using specialized chairs. Width can be narrowed for special hygiene function. We even have an unlisted series of designs referred to as SRS (Small Room Solutions) for incredibly challenging space constraints. In addition, in order to make super-efficient, smaller doctor rooms, we frequently use what we refer to as "room pairs" as space saving and efficient layouts. We also frequently trim room dimensions considerably, by recommending Ergonomic Products' Inwall® cabinetry. Watch the video above for more detail on this concept.
When you understand that hygiene treatment rooms do not need to be 9 or 10 feet wide, you'll start to see opportunities for increased operatory count. Wasted dimensions will only trigger a waste in motion, and consequently a waste of time and money. Compact hygiene rooms are also much easier to work in and will make your team super-productive!
Do you design for dental specialty practices?
Yes. While our focus had been on GP practices, we have felt that the specialty market has been underserved. We have only recently provided specific dental office design services to the dental specialties. Our emphasis has been GP practices, because we wanted to make sure that we had completed our mission to supply all of the needs for high-performance GP practice before committing to doing the same for specialists. Having said that, we have designed specialty sections within GP offices for years and now, having developed new advanced technology designed for the future of specialty practice (where there has been very little in the way of advances in core components for decades), we are now making our design services available to all. Take a look, I think that you’ll be excited at what you see.
What are the biggest risks when remodeling your dental office?
The number one risk factor in any office remodel is downtime! Contractors want to work when patients want to be seen. The reality is that it is almost impossible to make up the lost income related to fully shutting down your office! Ever. A lengthily shut down, in addition to lost income, will often cause a loss of patients and staff. In many ways the lost revenue is the smallest part of your problem!
So if it seems clear that a complete shut down is a pretty horrible idea, what alternatives do you have?
The first option is to find a construction crew that will work around your schedule. For example, if it is summer and your staff is amenable to a reduced work week, you might consider a longer three or four day work week, leaving almost a full week available for your contractor who will themselves presumably work longer days.
Many doctors actually learn during this time that they can be just as productive with one fewer day of practice simply by increasing their focus and, if the renovation is an expansion, this can pave the way for additional doctors being able to join the practice and cover the open days that are created.
The second strategy is actually a subset of the first in that you want to employ phasing in all but the simplest of renovations. Successful project phasing is an extremely important part of almost any office renovation. It needs to be very carefully planned and, when done properly, will often allow contractors to work during open office hours with a minimum amount of disruption.
Here are the most important aspects of phasing:
- You do not want room count to drop by more than one or two rooms for longer than one week. It is pretty easy to create one week of longer appointments in fewer rooms. Filling up your days with single column procedures like Endo and bigger crown and bridge cases. On the other hand, most offices find it difficult to avoid short, multi column procedures beyond a weeks time.
- Temporarily repurpose existing spaces. We have had offices that successfully converted the existing staff lounge into a temporary waiting room while reworking and expanding the front desk area. They then use the new but unfinished treatment rooms as an interim staff lounge as renovation is completed in that space. The same could be done with creative swaps of sterilization areas, labs and the new treatment spaces. These examples bring up an important point. It is much easier to phase a renovation during an office expansion than it is with an office that wishes to remain its existing size! With the expansion you create additional capacity.
A word of caution: we have offices that have utilized as many as five phases in making these moves. It's something that must be carefully planned and executed. Most contractors do not work out the details to the level that will ensure your smooth workflow during this time (they don't realize that our patients really don't want to hear jackhammers during treatment!).
We've helped doctors through this process hundreds of times. Don't hesitate to reach out to us for our help with this aspect of your design.
Finally – before undertaking a full remodel of your office, you might consider upgrading your systems first. Design Ergonomics offers three proven dental office training programs to optimize the flow and productivity of your dental practice.
The first, Dental Reboot, addresses bottlenecks in sterilization, resupply and clinical support at the root level. In this 2-day, on-site training we take a hands-on approach to reorganize those systems and get your team working more efficiently. These improvements might buy you some time by increasing the productivity of your existing space. They’ll also make challenges of an eventual remodel much easier to manage.
How much does it cost to build a new dental office?
So, the first, and perhaps obvious answer to this question is that the dollar amount that your new dental office will cost is likely more than you want to hear! And worse than that, more expensive tomorrow than it was yesterday! But ... the good news starts now, with a change in how you think about the investment you are making in a new dental office.
Instead of focusing on the dollar amount for building a new dental office, you w to focus first on two things:
1. What will my PERCENTAGE of production cost be once I am up and running - 6 to 12 months from the start? You shouldn’t have your amortized monthly cost be more than 10% of production. So a good starting point is to work backwards from there.
Focusing on what your production number will be needs to be the starting point
At Design Ergonomics, we have a large number of client offices where this percentage is actually 5%. So, at that point, the cost of the building is just noise. In fact, in our one year post-completion surveys, far too many offices report that they should’ve listened to us and actually made space available for more treatment rooms. To learn more about how to right size your office, refer to our Math of Growth article.
Make the right investments in your dental office
Let me get to directly to the second, and most important, question to focus on:
2. There is a concept referred to as competitive strategy. People that understand real business understand this. We dentists don’t. In the mindset of competitive strategy your understanding would be that you CAN’T control the average construction cost in your area. What you CAN control are the performance results that your new office will have.
And so, the far more important question instead of “What is the cost?” would be:
“What can I get of income producing VALUE for every dollar that I spend?”
When you focus on THAT question, you become laser focused on your design! Your focus changes from dollar cost to:
- Efficiency of construction
- The effectiveness of space planning
- The productive results of the equipment you plan to use
All of this is with the end goal of being more productive - by design - than anyone else in your region! The rest of the cost; of leaseholds, the cost of land in your area, construction costs, permitting delays, you largely can’t control! And no past, present, or future competitor can either.
Bad planning is therefore your biggest expense!
So, if your area is one of those places where the cost to build is $450 a square foot (OMG) then that is what every competitor has to spend too! But the focus stays the same: How much production can I comfortably get per square foot?
So, here is what we would suggest. Figure out how you can create that great practice design, but with a need for one-third less space to get the same amount of treatment rooms.
Do that with a layout plan that is twice as productive.
Do that with dental equipment that costs less but gets much better results.
What results from this - as understood by the rest of the business world, but apparently not to us dentists - is referred to as Sustainable Competitive Advantage. Every other dentist that has NOT done what YOU do to create this advantage will have a very difficult barrier to compete. Forever! They can buy new technology or spend more on marketing, and do anything to train people ... but they will always have higher costs! Which, for example, means that you’ll always be able to pay higher wages for better people.
If you’ve done this correctly, you’ll have clear and simple systems - by design - so your staff will be able to get up to speed faster. Training will take less time. Room turnaround will be faster and cost you less. In each and every aspect of what you do YOU simply pull further and further ahead.
Build a dental office with a "forever advantage"
So how much does it cost to build a dental office in 2022? I discuss a range of numbers for both a tenant improvement and a ground-up build in my YouTube video at 3:42. I've also put the numbers in the images below.
But it's important that you understand that these numbers are just estimates from April, 2022 and they would need to be updated constantly as market conditions change. And there’s your challenge. There's a wide variation in cost - sometimes over double - in range. And this range is not just because of material costs. Labor is also a huge factor. So, while this may not precisely answer your question about how much it costs to build a new dental office, I hope it also illustrates the point that you shouldn't focus on the cost to build your dental office. What you should focus on is what you can control - spending your money in a very deliberate way that creates a sustainable competitive advantage that will also keep you ahead of the competition ... forever.
So here we are. You probably have more questions at this point than you have answers. I suspect that I just have told you some things that may stretch your understanding of what is possible. But, simply stated, in over twenty years we have NEVER had a dentist take our advice and fail. EVER! We design dental offices that create a forever advantage.
If you have more questions, feel free to contact my Design Ergonomics team. We probably know great builders in your area and more importantly, we know how to get you what you really need - that forever advantage - and the knowledge that with it nobody can catch you!
The sooner you start the process, the faster your dream becomes a reality.
Call us today1-800-275-2547