When you have more patients that want to see you than you have time for in a day, that is a difficult situation…but difficult in a good way. It provided an opportunity that could only be seized in one way, expansion.
That is the situation Dr. Carrington Crawford, of Lynchburg Dental Center in Lynchburg, Virginia, found himself facing. After graduating from dental school, he spent four years working in a large dental practice, but eventually he decided to open his own general dentistry office. He bought an existing practice from a retiring doctor in 2010. However, when Dr. Crawford added Dr. Karen Kenny as an associate in 2012, the amount of patients quickly grew and the lack of office space started to hinder the efficiency of the practice.
“Our biggest limitation was space,” Dr. Crawford began. “The facility suited a single practitioner just fine, but I’ve always wanted a practice with two or three doctors. Having multiple doctors affords all of us the ability to take time off and rotate
Henry Schein Equipment Sales Specialist Rob Welch, who has worked with Dr. Crawford since 2010, also noted that the lack of space was limiting the doctor’s use of his equipment.
“He wasn’t able to use the technology he already had to its fullest,” Mr. Welch said. “For example, he owned a Planmeca FIT Restorative System, but he couldn’t do as many same-day restorations as he wanted because he didn’t have the treatment space available.”
Patient Overflow Creates Opportunity to Build
In 2012, Dr. Crawford contacted Kerry Straine, a consultant partner of Henry Schein who helps dental practices identify opportunities to maximize their business success. Straine analyzed Lynchburg Dental Center’s operations and determined the practice was losing money each day because Dr. Crawford and his associate could not fit in all of the patients that were seeking treatment. They had more patients than the capacity needed to care for them.
The conclusion was clear: the doctor needed a larger space. Based on the data analyzed by Straine, Dr. Crawford was reassured that if he built a new office, he would have the production to pay for it. In addition, mortgage interest rates were still at historic lows, as were property values. He decided to move forward with building a new office but admitted that even with all of the data pointing him in that direction, the decision was hard.
“I met with Kerry Straine to evaluate our cash flow and budget forecast to make sure that this project was economically viable,” Dr. Crawford acknowledged. “This was a very daunting idea for me. But once we concluded that the project would fly, I began looking for real estate. Within two months we had a property identified two miles down the road. Once I purchased the real estate, I knew things were going forward.” He worked closely with Mr. Welch and Henry Schein Field Sales Consultant Robbie Schureman to create a floor plan. “We did 10 drafts before it was just right,” remembered Dr. Crawford. “I had everyone who knew anything about dentistry look at the plans and make suggestions. When it was all said and done, I think we achieved an excellent plan with a great workflow.”
In addition, the Henry Schein team arranged for him to travel to Midmark for a VIP tour. As he worked through the process, Dr. Crawford developed definite ideas about the style of his
“I wanted to build an office that was beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, but not so elaborate that you’d forget you’re in a professional medical facility,” he explained. “I feel like we struck a perfect balance.”
Dr. Crawford chose many local contractors for his build because of his deep involvement with his community. He serves as an adjunct faculty member and a mentor to Virginia Commonwealth University dental students working at the Free Clinic of Central Virginia, but he also volunteers his time every month as a provider to patients who come for care during “Extraction Nights.”
Natural Materials Provide Soothing Environment
The reception area of Lynchburg Dental Center features a soothing cascading water feature and natural stacked-stone walls. Earth tones add color while maintaining a serene, soft focus. High 15-foot ceilings in the waiting area transition to 10-foot ceilings throughout the practice, which gives the whole office an airy, open feeling. Wide hallways add to the overall feeling of spaciousness.
I wanted to build an office that was beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, but not so elaborate that you’d forget you’re in a professional medical facility,” he explained. “I feel like we struck a perfect balance.”
The office is truly spacious, at 5,200 square feet. There are 12 operatories, an onsite lab, a state-of-the-art sterilization room, and well-equipped staff areas, including a large employee lounge/kitchen. The floor plan has distinct zones: the waiting/reception area at the front, treatment areas that encircle the centrally located sterilization and laboratory, and staff areas, including the private offices and lounge, in the rear.
“This design enables a seamless flow of patients without any bottlenecks or people running into one another,” noted Dr. Crawford. “That saves time, and more time equals more production.”
In 2014, Dr. Crawford added Dr. Brad Lentz to Lynchburg Dental Center, and now each dentist has two dedicated operatories, fully outfitted with Midmark Elevance chairs featuring luxurious heat and massage functions. Ten of the operatories are open bay and divided by Midmark center consoles; two are private surgical suites or quiet rooms.
Larger Office Leads to Greater Use of Technology
The increase in treatment areas also allow the doctors to take full advantage of Lynchburg Dental Center’s cutting-edge technology, and that contributes directly to their bottom line.
Dr. Crawford used digital imaging and CAD/CAM in his previous office, but he upgraded to the new PlanScan scanner and switched to DEXIS sensors when he moved. In addition, he purchased a Planmeca Panoramic X-ray System and plans to add cone beam capabilities in the future. Now, he can offer same-day restorations without worrying about where patients will sit while their restorations are milled! His robust use of technology has made a huge impact on the success of the practice, and increased production as well.
“We’ve increased production by 18% this year, and the practice has added 700 new patients so far,” he noted. “Up to 100 new patients come to the practice every month! We have always received good referrals based on our dentistry and customer service, but the curb appeal of the new office has bumped things
Dr. Crawford is thrilled patients appreciate his clean, organized, and state-of-the-art Lynchburg Dental Center. He plans to continue to work with Straine Consulting and the Henry Schein team so he can always provide the best possible dental care to his patients and further streamline his operations. He also offers this bit of advice to any doctor considering a new build: take your time and speak with as many other colleagues as possible about floor plans, new equipment, and what to do and not do.