3 Reasons Why a Messy and Unorganized Practice Hurts Patient Retention

We have learned at a young age to not judge a book by the cover. But we do it because the cover sometimes says a lot about what’s inside. The cover is the first impression and believe it or not it has a lot to say, maybe its message is completely contrary to what’s on the inside. Have any of you judged a book by the cover– whether in regards to a stranger, a place, or a business?


It’s hard not to.


As just a small example of the kind of impact, a first impression can make, let’s take a look at recent news. If you’re like me and have been keeping up with it, you know all the characters in and associated with the President of the United States. However, when someone new comes onto the scene, such as happened a few times already, we tend to judge them right away. When the new Communications Director arrived on the scene, what did you immediately think of him? As soon as I saw him, I thought “mafia” and that was just from the look of him. And I wasn’t the only one, below, the comedian Steven Colbert summarizes his first impression of the new Communications Director.


Stephen Introduces His Anthony Scaramucci Impression (run forward to 1:30)


The attitude alone gave Mister Colbert something to work with as he managed to imitate and exaggerate the attitude and expressions of the new Communications Director. Did you think, after seeing his first press briefing that he would stay on or were you already under the assumption he’d be let go? I didn’t think he’d stay on. From the first impression alone, I could already tell that something about him did not mix well with the White House.  


This unspoken rule of the first impression doesn’t just apply to new White House administration officials; it also applies to you and your practice. The first impression is really the only impression that matters and it is critical to shaping the way prospective patients view you and encouraging those patients to return.


Of course, your first impression comes from the look and feel of your office. What do people see as soon as they walk through the door? Is the cover clean and presentable or messy and unorganized? Your office is a reflection (true or not) of you and your team.  


Below are just three reasons why a messy and unorganized practice not only makes a negative impression but will actually deter patients from ever returning.



  1. It increases stress and anxiety


Mess and clutter and disorganization in the office has more of an effect on your patients than you might think. In an article published by Psychology Today, messy homes as well as messy workplaces “leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed.” Clutter, according to that same article “bombards our minds with excessive stimuli that aren’t necessary or important.”

So what about the clutter in an office where patients come to expect a clean, organized safe space? As a ball of anxiety myself, the last thing I need for my anxiety is a messy, disorganized office. Even just having to remove a book from where I’m going to sit down is enough to increase my stress-level and make me reconsider my decision to keep coming back.


  1. It Indicates you don’t care

Have you ever stepped into a messy office? If your first impression of that office and the team within was that they didn’t actually care about their patients, you are not alone. The fact is, this might not be true at all. But that’s the downside of first impressions; the facts don’t matter just the perception, and if the perception is that you don’t care, that’s the impression all of your patients are going to leave with.


  1. It makes everyone feel uncomfortable and out of place

It’s difficult to feel comfortable knowing what’s coming– be it a harmless cleaning or an invasive procedure. But in a messy and disorganized office, that feeling of discomfort is increased ten-fold. Patients feel like they don’t belong there, that the people there don’t care about them or their teeth. It’s like sitting in a messy apartment, looking from one direction to the other and wondering when is the earliest you can leave so as not to look rude. It is that squirming uncomfortable feeling that the faster you can get out of there and not come back, the better.



Obviously, there is a lot more to your office’s first impression than just appearance, but appearance does count and does have a significant effect on the patients who just walk in. Take a look around right now and see if your office is making a good first impression, and if not, it might be time to do a little bit of cleanup to give your patients the gold standard treatment they deserve.



  1. YouTube: Stephen Introduces His Anthony Scaramucci Impression
  2. YouTube: The Mooch Loves Donald Trump – The Daily Show | Comedy Central
  3. Psychology Today: Why Mess Causes Stress: 8 Reasons, 8 Remedies