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Live from 2008 Hospital Design Conference: No. 1 way to create client loyalty


An office is more than a place to pile charts and make callbacks.

The doctors' offices at Animal Medical and Surgical Center in Scottsdale, Ariz., are designed to be professional yet welcoming to clients during consultations. (Photo by Steven M. Pullen.)

Dr. Charles Pullen, owner of Animal Medical and Surgical Center in Scottsdale, Ariz., and winner of the 2008 Hospital of the Year Award, uses his office as more than a place to pile charts and make client callbacks. As he told a crowd of 100-plus attendees Wednesday at the 2008

Veterinary Economics

Hospital Design Conference, he considers his office "the number-one place for building client loyalty."

See, Dr. Pullen uses his office for client consultations. When there's an important treatment to recommend or a serious diagnosis to discuss, Dr. Pullen seats clients at his desk and addresses them from behind it. The atmosphere is calm, professional, and quiet.

"I've found that clients are much more willing to spend $5,000 on a surgery in this setting rather than if you're standing in an exam room showing them X-rays," he says. "The public should be able to see your office. It should reflect professionalism and give a sense of who you are."

Here's another tip from Wednesday's conference: When you're weighing your design alternatives, consider a "build with leaseback" option, says Mark Hafen, AIA, a Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member and owner of Animal Arts/Gates Hafen Cochrane in Boulder, Colo. In this scenario, a developer builds your facility and leases it back to you.

"We're all conditioned to own our home so we can build equity," Hafen says. "But this might not fit with your business. Your money might be able to earn more somewhere else than sitting in the ground tied up in a piece of real estate." More and more companies are doing this, Hafen says, including some veterinary practices.

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