Remodeling your practice

Grand Rapids, Mich. — When Dr. Andrea Toth bought an existing practice in October, she knew she needed to remodel.

Dr. Toth

Dr. Toth

Soiled carpets. Furniture from the ’70s. Wallpaper falling apart. White walls no longer white. Bathroom floors appeared moldy.

“The equipment needed updating,” Dr. Toth said. “The dental X-rays and countertops were green. The chairs and upholstery were ripped. It all needed to be cleaned up and modernized.”

Three months later, she got her wish. New equipment. New dark wooden floors. Modern furniture. Clean new granite countertops.

“It’s given me a completely different feeling when I come in to work,” Dr. Toth said. “The best part is that my staff and my patients love it.”

Dr. Toth spoke with ADA New Dentist Now blog to share some advice and suggestions, based on her experience, for making a remodeling experience as smooth as possible.

With financing, be patient

The biggest obstacle Dr. Toth said she faced in the process was the issue of finance.

“I was trying to get a loan from a bank, but it was taking so long,” she said, adding that when she finally heard back regarding the loan, the bank wanted to hold the practice as collateral.

“My husband and I just decided to pay for it,” she said. Even then, with the holidays and the search for contractors, the construction and remodeling couldn’t start until Jan. 10 — finishing a week later.

For those who can’t afford it and need a loan, be patient.

“I would advise that you have a realistic idea of how long this this will take,” she said. “Give yourself enough time and plan ahead. Realize that you can’t have it all in an instant.”

Lobby (Before)

Lobby (Before)

Lobby (After)

Lobby (After)

Find the right people

Another process that took time was the search for a contractor to be tasked with the construction — replacing the floors, painting the walls, removing the wall paper, etc.

The dentist that Dr. Toth had bought the practice from had been in the space for over 30 years. When she came to acquire it, she didn’t have the layout of the of the facility.

“I didn’t know what were in the walls,” she said. Contractors asked where and how the plumbing was set up; where the electrical wires were.

“My guess was just as good as theirs,” she said. “So some contractors didn’t want to work with me.”

In addition, some companies would send someone to visit the practice, then never submit a bid as promised. Then there were contractors who would submit bids that excluded costs on certain work — which made their bids appear low.

In the end, Dr. Toth found a local contractor, Copper Rock Construction from Grand Rapids.

“They were very upfront with me on the costs,” she said, adding that they were more affordable compared to the other bids. “They said that if they go over budget, it won’t be over 15 percent. They were sincere, with good prices and did good work.”

Dr. Toth also went with Dental Equipment and Repair, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, to remove and reinstall all dental-related items such as cabinets, dental chairs and dental equipment.

“I was very happy with the results,” she said.

Utilize the Internet and friends

When it came to decorating the space, Dr. Toth said, Dental Equipment offered to furnish the space.

However, after conducting simple Google searches, she found pieces that were much more affordable, including artwork, mirrors and furniture.

It was through looking at photos online of other dental practices that she was inspired and decided to get dark wooden floors.

“The rest sort of fell into place,” she said. “I met with neighbors and friends to give me some input on what they thought. And I considered what they said in my decisions.”

Operatory (Before)

Operatory (Before)

Operatory (After)

Operatory (After)

Oversee the operation

Once you’ve hired the right people, don’t disappear.

Dr. Toth said she made sure she was available to coordinate schedules. For example, Copper Rock Construction couldn’t paint until Dental Equipment finished installing a certain equipment or cabinet.

“I would come over and make sure everything was going as planned,” she said.

In addition, her front desk staff worked during remodeling week to answer phone calls from patients.

“If anything needed my attention,” she said. “I instructed them to call me.”

For more information or tips on remodeling your practice, visit the ADA Center for Professional Success website here.

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