Your mother always told you not to judge a book by its cover, but in the world of small business, first impressions are crucial. Regardless of the type of practice you own, a patient’s opinion of your business begins the moment he or she walks through the front door. The more welcoming the space, the better your chances of building a positive client experience right from the get-go. Here are five tips for creating an inviting reception area in your small business:

reception1. Offer a friendly greeting to each customer. One of the simplest ways to make people feel welcome is to verbally acknowledge them as they arrive. As this Smart Company article suggests, the front office staff member in charge of receiving clients should be a bit of a social butterfly with a naturally outgoing, friendly, and helpful personality.

2. Keep your entryway clean and clutter-free. Visible grime is a universal customer turn-off — it suggests that you and your staff are lazy, disorganized, and inattentive to detail. There should be an, obvious path to your “landing area”—be it a front desk, a podium, or a main product display. Even if you’ve set up shop in an older building, you can create a feeling of freshness with new paint, flooring, furniture, and light fixtures. If you put up signs, make sure the wording is clear and positive (“We’re happy to help you when you’re finished with your phone call” instead of “No cell phones at front desk”).

3. Provide appropriate lighting. There are a lot of lighting options out there, and the light sources you choose to incorporate in your clinic largely depend on what kind of mood you’re after. Soft, bright light gives people a sense of calm and increases the appeal of items on display. Low, warm light emits a “homey” quality and can add to the atmosphere and charm of your practice if you’re going for more of a family vibe. However, lighting that looks and feels artificial—think fluorescent bulbs—often comes off as harsh, cold, and industrial, and generally does not work well in a reception setting.

4. Incorporate memorable details. Lots of reception areas have water coolers; set your business apart by offering something fun and different—a carafe of fruit-infused water, for example. Follow the advice of this Optometric Management piece and establish a few points of visual interest—fresh flowers, a well-maintained fish aquarium, or a tasteful piece of art. If you provide reading material in your waiting area, consider the interests of your clientele. Do you run a sports rehab center? If so, your clients are probably more interested in Sports Illustrated than Architectural Digest.

5. Use décor to add personality. Fashion is a means of personal expression; think of décor as a means of expression for your clinic—a way to reinforce your brand identity. This definitely is an area where you can get creative, but it helps to have some kind of focused concept. Too many clashing elements will overwhelm the senses and give off an air of chaos. If you’re a little clueless in the design department, consider consulting with an interior designer or reading up on basic design principles.

Well, there you have it—five ways to spruce up your clinic’s reception area and create a first impression so memorable, it will linger in patients’ minds long after they walk out the door. Have you tried any of these tips in your rehab therapy clinic? What other advice do you have? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.

The PT’s Guide to Billing - Regular BannerThe PT’s Guide to Billing - Small Banner
  • D’Oh! 3 Major Physical Therapy Marketing Fails Image

    articleSep 18, 2017 | 8 min. read

    D’Oh! 3 Major Physical Therapy Marketing Fails

    Homer Simpson introduced the catchphrase “d’oh!” on the long-running cartoon sitcom, The Simpsons, in 1989. It’s arguably one of the most recognizable catchphrases in American pop culture. So much so, in fact, that the Oxford Dictionary of English added the word in 2001. Defined as an informal exclamation “used to comment on a foolish or stupid action, especially one's own,” “d’oh” is the most fitting—and safe for work—reaction to committing a major fail. “D’oh” is even more …

  • The Initial Visit is Everything Image

    articleOct 12, 2015 | 4 min. read

    The Initial Visit is Everything

    Patient engagement isn’t just about being friendly and nice. It’s about giving your patients the information they need for their treatment to be successful. That’s why it’s so important to prepare your patients for their first visits—in an effort to both set appropriate patient expectations and improve patient retention. Therapy Expectations If a patient has never been to PT before, expect lots of questions. Better yet, preempt those inquiries by sending patients information on how to prepare …

  • The Essential Guide to NPS for Private Practice PTs, OTs, and SLPs Image

    articleOct 8, 2015 | 6 min. read

    The Essential Guide to NPS for Private Practice PTs, OTs, and SLPs

    Dale Carnegie said, “To be interesting, be interested.” This wisdom is the foundation of the net promoter score® (NPS). In the simplest of terms, NPS is a standardized customer loyalty metric. It rates how likely a customer is to recommend your brand, product, and/or service to a colleague or friend. NPS is a solid indicator of customer (i.e., patient) engagement and retention , because people typically only recommend brands, products, or services they feel are truly deserving …

  • Stalled Out: 5 Reasons Your Patients Aren't Progressing (and What to Do About Them) Image

    webinarDec 22, 2017

    Stalled Out: 5 Reasons Your Patients Aren't Progressing (and What to Do About Them)

    If life is a highway, then it’s a wild, bumpy one. And while our patients want to ride it (all night long), with all those twists, turns, and potholes, they’re bound to get banged up. Fortunately, you’re here to help get them back in top form. But, helping patients achieve their goals is hard work—for you and for them—and while everyone strives to be a Ferrari, it’s common to plateau at Pinto. And that’s when the risk …

  • Knock Out Patient Dropout: 8 Ways to Increase Retention and Revenue Image

    webinarFeb 12, 2018

    Knock Out Patient Dropout: 8 Ways to Increase Retention and Revenue

    In one corner, we have a highly skilled rehab therapy provider known for delivering amazing clinical outcomes through noninvasive, movement-based treatment. And in the other corner, we have a discouraged, disengaged patient whose quality of life has taken a major hit due to musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction. [video://]   If you’re a rehab therapy provider, you’ve probably seen this battle play out more times than you can count—and we’re betting that more often than not, your therapy …

  • articleApr 4, 2013 | 4 min. read

    Finding and Marketing Your OT Niche

    The second rule in marketing any professional service is to know your audience; the first is know yourself, but as an occupational therapist, you have this part covered—for the most part. You know you want to provide exceptional service, but to whom and how may still be challenging questions. A common mistake in business is the we’ll-fit-anyone approach, which results in a jack-of-all-trades master-of-none phenomenon. While you may catch a few flitting minnows, you certainly won’t attract …

  • Founder Letter: Branding Private Practice Physical Therapy Image

    articleMay 6, 2014 | 5 min. read

    Founder Letter: Branding Private Practice Physical Therapy

    So, what is a physical therapist? Ask around and I’m sure you’ll get a variety of answers—everything from a physical terrorist (or someone who inflicts pain and torture) to a glorified masseuse. I mean, we’ve all heard some variation of these responses before, right? And yeah, it’s sort of funny. It might even make for some great comedy if Jay Leno asked people on the street: “What is a physical therapist?” during a “Jaywalking” skit. But perception …

  • Six Steps for PTs Considering Crowd-Funding Image

    articleMay 14, 2014 | 8 min. read

    Six Steps for PTs Considering Crowd-Funding

    Your next-generation rehab tool is poised to be a big hit in the market, but you can’t construct a prototype because you are maxed out on credit cards. You’re looking to expand your practice to a second location and are on a capital campaign to secure the lease and fund the build-out. Maybe you’re simply trying to purchase a much-needed piece of equipment for you clinic, but the bank isn’t extending your business’s line of credit. What …

  • articleJun 17, 2013 | 2 min. read

    How to Finish a Business Plan

    You’ve got all your business plan ducks in a row —you’ve analyzed your staffing needs, nailed down your financing options, and set your business goals—and your partners are on board. Now, it’s time to put pen to paper. Well, hopefully fingers to a keyboard because even though most business plans have gotten much shorter than they used to be, they’re still pretty detailed documents. However, as Palo Alto Software President Tim Berry points out , “don’t confuse …

Achieve greatness in practice with the ultimate EMR for PTs, OTs, and SLPs.