Improve your leasehold veterinary hospital's look
Are you stuck in a strip mall or neighborhood that's seen better days? Try these tips from veterinary architect Dan Chapel, AIA, to freshen up your practice's look.
Nothing impresses a client more than their first impression of your veterinary practice. It could be the way your hospital stands out in the retail center … or the convenient parking space right next to the front door … or the pleasant odor pet owners notice when they come in, first impressions are important!
Before you take drastic action or spend a lot of money to try to boost your foot traffic and stand out in a bad location, assess the situation.
When is the last time you really viewed your hospital through the eyes-and nose-of your clients? Over time, most animal care facilities, though initially well designed, need to be updated.
Be objective-take pictures
To get started, take photos of all areas of your site and hospital to review and analyze. Review these photos after hours and away from the clinic. They can give you a more objective view of your facility.
After your review, make a list of suggestions for improvements, future repairs or alterations that would help fulfill your practice goals or image. This list will assist you in prioritizing repairs and projects to improve your hospital's function and appearance.
Perfect your parking
If you're stuck with a strip mall or shopping center's aging or outdated exterior, consider these following items you <i>can</i> improve-or ask the landlord to hop to:
> Parking and driving areas should be adequately lighted, with particular attention paid to client safety and convenience. Some spaces should be extra wide for clients unloading pets or carriers.
> Parking lot paving should be in good repair. Parking spaces and directional arrows should be clearly striped.
> The hospital entrance should be easily visible from all parking areas.
Look at your landscaping
Plants, grass fences and other outside touches are important. Unfortunately, the size of landscape areas, fences and the type and number of plants are often controlled by your building's owner. If you have room, pick a few low-maintenance plants (hopefully with some colorful blooms) and plant them in pots flanking your entrance.
Want bonus points? A marked pet urination area for pets entering hospital is a helpful convenience for clients if one could be placed near the hospital entrance.
Seek clients with your sign
Most shopping center or strip mall signs may have a number of smaller tenant signs all competing for attention. If you're able, try to redesign your sign to make it stand out and grab the eyeballs of passers-by. And make certain the signage above your entry is clear and easy to spot as well.
Fixing things for your leasehold or location-challenged hospital is never a one-size-fits-all answer. But you'll get your best results if you always think first of your clients and their pets. Make certain a visit to your hospital is an exceptional experience in every way. You want satisfied clients to to tell friends about your wonderful hospital inside-and make your exterior does that wonderful interior justice.
Dan Chapel, AIA-president of Chapel Associates Architects-has designed more than 600 facilities, including at least two Veterinary Economics Hospital of the Year Award winners. Chapel is also a Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member.