Renovating or Building is a Matter of ROI-Assembling the Right Team
Can you picture a work environment where you feel very productive, energized, and creative? Is it possible that you can also get up every morning and look forward to going to work, because you really feel at your best, because you enjoy working with your co-workers, look forward to meeting your patients and feel a general sense of well-being just by using the space? Can you believe that patients look forward to a root canal in your office, that clients really trust your recommendations and that your action plans seem to move in a smoother fashion? And can you believe that this could happen after a construction or renovation project?
The need for renovating an office environment to refurbish, add more space, or move and build is anxiety ridden. The myriad of decisions required to carry out the project to conclusion is daunting. How business owners manage this process will determine if in the end, the office feels renovated or devastated. The best way to ensure a great project is to assign the best qualified people to manage it. This will in turn spawn not only financial, but emotional savings as well. If we look at the four most important steps involved in a construction project and its intended outcome at each level, we can identify who are the optimal individuals or groups best suited to help the business owner reach an informed decision. It is a question of ROI.
Step 1. Readiness
The root of the problem may be the need for additional space, outdated décor, staffing issues, or legal compliance. It may simply be a gut feeling originating from the doctor or staff. All these reasons have value, because they all reflect a need. How this need is fulfilled depends on the business’ readiness factor.
Readiness is based on a clear business vision and a coherent and fully articulated growth plan. It is the business owner who articulates the problem and the desired outcome, then engages and directs the appropriate staff to move through the project.
Step 2. Ownership
Ownership of the project establishes trust and cooperation and it is a crucial step in its overall success. It is important to acknowledge the need and reward staff members originating the concern by inviting staff representatives to become involved in the decision-making steps. If the business owner originates the need, the entire staff must be engaged through sharing the doctor’s readiness level and selecting a staff representative to participate in the renovation team. This is part of step 3, the human investment factor.
Step 3. Investments-Financial & Human
All space design projects must be considered investments, and as already discussed, they must be planned according to clear and realistic growth goals.
The accountant/financial consultant provide financial investment parameters. Attempts to renovate a space without a clear financial picture spell trouble. Whether the need for renovation is motivated by legal compliances or lack of space, knowing the financial limits is a must. Nobody can invest without knowing how long it will take to pay it and begin to collect dividends. A financial advisor must be part of the team.
Depending on the scope of the project, the business owner often initially considers whether to manage it within the office, or hire professionals. If a doctor and staff don’t have a clear understanding of what their target market wants, how to retain and attract the right employees and what makes an optimal office environment that will support those needs, they must seek expert advice. The initial team must be able to effectively answer these questions, because these factors affect the human investment.
Managing the project with existing personnel—the doctor or the office manager, may imply costs savings. Hiring professionals may imply access to innovative ideas, but increased costs. Yet, like a dentist is uniquely qualified to recommend whether a patient needs a root canal, a tooth removal or an implant, qualified experts ensure that both financial and human factors are effectively and efficiently addressed. In fact, the cost of not hiring qualified personnel begins to escalate even before the project starts. The in-house design renovation route does not really reflect the actual costs, because they are not disbursed as tangible expenses. There is no dollar sign allocated to a hygienist-turned untrained marketing researcher. No value identified in creating a floor plan by a doctor-turned part-time interior designer. Yet if quantified, these expenses may actually be higher as a return on the investment (ROI) than anticipated, not only in financial terms, but in human terms as well.
Step 4. Assembling the Right Team
A marketing consultant will assist in obtaining a clear understanding of the target market needs and wants; assess the value of existing marketing tools and suggest high powered substitutes.
A specialized interior designer will look at the best possibilities given the existing layout, review conditions and recommend an action plan, which may mean adding team members such as architects, engineers, real estate agents and dental equipment specialists to arrive at the best solution that can then be presented for bids to contractors. The right individual is an invaluable team member who collects all information gathered through the previous steps and assists the team in successfully creating an optimal office environment. A smart business owner will add a marketing consultant and a specialized interior designer to the team.
Assembling the right team will provide a high ROI. The doctor and the designated staff representative, furnished with accurate financial information are the initial quality “seeds” for the project. Marketing and design experts provide the best nourishing for the original seeds so that the “plant” will grow healthy and beautiful. Once the right people are in place, it is important to trust their recommendations. Their decisions are based on their area of expertise.
Next time we will discuss who qualifies for the title of specialized interior designer and how to create the optimal office environment where everyone feels productive, energized and creative, all look forward to working there day after day and patients love to come, trust treatment plans and are happy to pay for the services provided.
Lidia Scher is the principal of L.A.S. Associates, she is an interior designer, Feng Shui master and visual artist with 23 years of experience in designing successful office environments.