November 11, 2006

Why Would I Want To Use You?

Q. Why would I want to use you? Most of the optical display companies will do free floor plans. My builder will do all the other drawings from there.

A.That's an excellent question so let me take the time to give you a thoughtful answer.

You are right, anybody can give you a plan. It's like the old joke about doctors: "Do you know what they call the guy who graduates dead last in his class in medical school?... they call him doctor." Yes, anybody can draw you a plan.

My plans do two things better than anybody else's plans: 1) make the most money possible, every year, for the life of the office and, 2) give patients and staff a great feeling about being in the space that goes beyond the lighting, the colors, and the style.

Some people think so much of my designs that when they want to sell their practice they advertise it as a "Barbara Wright designed office." Once a practitioner has had me design a space for them they often have me do their second, third and all their succeeding offices. (My clients tend to be very successful people.)

My initial design helps them to outgrow the first office so they can step up with confidence to a bigger one. This is true especially if they value their time during the planning process, want to increase their profit per square foot and value the feel of their space no matter what the size.

These days managed care is forcing every practice to operate at peak efficiency or be left in the dust. Your level of efficiency is either built-in or botched in the floor plan design. If you make mistakes in your floor plan, you'll have to live with them for the next 10 years or more because they are too costly or downright impossible to correct later.

Some people, however, save a few dollars, get a free floor plan design and never realize what it cost them. They may have saved a few thousand dollars up front by not using me but passed up the typical 20% to 30% increase in profit possible from one of my designs vs. the free one done by a “no-name” designer.

Let's be conservative and say that the average additional profit from my design is just $200. per day. If a practice is open 20 days per month that's an extra $4,000. per month or a total of $48,000. possible profit increase in the first year alone. Over a 10-year office life span, that means $480,000. that never materializes, all because they tried to save a few bucks.

I recently spoke with a client whose office I designed four years ago. He reported that the practice experienced a 25% increase in the first year alone, but subsequently has grown another 25% in the second and third year, as well. It looks like the fourth year will be the same story. This phenomenal growth went way beyond his expectations.

Those “free” designs are offered by fixture manufacturers with the expectation that you will buy the company’s pricey products. Most practitioners realize that the plan is not really free and that it's liable to be worth little more than what you paid for it.

If you are in a moderate to low income area, have a very small space to work with, have no concerns about staff turnover, and have no intention of optimizing your profit per square foot of floor space... then you don't need me.

If optimizing your profit and the feel of your space is critical for you then I am the best deal going and we should talk further. This is especially true if your time is worth the $500+ per hour that I suspect it is and your specialty is not office design; it takes precious few mistakes to blow both your budget and your time.

If you still want to try doing it yourself, my book Ophthalmic Office Design Guide can help you. But if you want to be certain your new office will be a model of efficiency that pulls in maximum revenue for you, then give me a call toll-free: 888-422-0361

Let's discuss your project and your goals. Then you can make an informed decision on whether investing in top-notch office design makes sense for you.

November 10, 2006

Which Building Shape Is Best?

From Ask The Expert:

Q. My building started out 60 X 40. Told the builder I needed about 3200 sq ft. I would prefer the building be made longer, wider or both to make the size.The builder wants to make the building the size I need by adding a 25 by 30 extension on the back (he had his architect draw this in with a kitchen, Dr offices and Flex Future Lab). I faxed this plan to your office and want to get your help with my design.

My question is this, am I correct that a square or rectangular building will work better (better design potential and less heating/cooling problems because the addition has 3 exposed walls) than a building with an addition on the back. Next, if I can't have the exterior design changed, because of building position, set backs or what ever, how much of a problem do you see designing a well working building with the back addition.

A. Regarding the plan you sent, an L-shaped building footprint would not be my first choice. An "L" shaped plan cannot be as efficient as a rectangular or square shape. It will require more hallway space. That creates extra steps for you and your staff.

Heating and cooling an L-shaped building should not be a problem as long as your architect gets a good mechanical engineer to design the system properly. You might want to consider having a system with 2 or 3 zones that can be regulated separately.

If there is no other choice because of setbacks or other factors, I can certainly work with that shape and give you the most efficient patient flow possible within those confines. Putting staff rooms (lab, breakroom, private offices, storeroom, etc.) in the back leg of the "L" is usually the best solution. We'll keep all the patient traffic in the main part of the building so you'll still be super-efficient where it counts.

A rectangular or square shape is preferred because it enables me to make the best use of every square foot. It requires less hallway space which means more space devoted to patient care and less steps for you and the staff. The closer the shape of the building is to a perfect square, the easier it is to achieve the coveted one-way circular patient flow that is a big contributing factor to high productivity.

Sometimes the final shape of the building is dictated by factors that we cannot change, such as set-backs, irregular lot shape, easements, driveway requirements, etc. If that's the case I will wrestle the footprint of your building into the most advantageous size and shape possible despite the restrictions.

I'm delighted to be working with you and I'm very glad you brought me on board at the beginning of the project. Now I'll be able to coordinate my work with your architect to make your patient flow perfect and your dispensary a visual drawing card for your practice.