May 6, 2006

Orphan Dispensaries and the 11th Hour Save

It happened again this week. An O.D. who shall remain nameless called me in a panic. He's in the middle of construction on his new building and he was not happy with the dispensary design that the building architect did for him. He thought he could do it himself and started by ordering a few showcases. Now he doesn't know how to do the rest and how to put it all together so it won't look like an afterthought.

It sounds unbelievable that someone would put all that time and effort (and money!) into his building project and then leave the dispensary design til the end. They wait until they are stressed out and in a bind to get help from an optical design specialist when they should have done that in the first place.

This type of project I call the "11th hour save" because that's what I have to do for the client. Step in at the last minute and save the day like some cartoon superhero. These can be the most difficult design projects to do. We have to work with what's already been done in a piecemeal fashion, design whatever is missing, and pull it together so it all works and looks wonderful to boot! And we have to do it all in half the time it normally would take.

Maybe I have not done enough to educate people on how to work with their design and building team to avoid these kind of problems. The design of the dispensary is such a critical part of any new office. When it's done right it helps to create maximum profits for the practice. It's too important a profit center to treat like an orphan.

I am not out to trash architects here. Just like any other profession, there are good ones and bad ones. If you want a really special looking building, you need a talented architect to design the building shell for you. But if they are not intimately acquainted with the complexities of optical retailing and optometric practices, letting them do the interior design and especially the dispensary sometimes leads to disaster.

Don't let this happen to you. If you are in a position to build from the ground up, do your homework. Assemble a team of experts and let them do their best for you. Don't wind up with an "orphan dispensary" and a frantic search for a superhero designer to save you at the 11th hour.

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