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Reception and client waiting areas

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Abstract

Getting the reception and client areas right is a fundamental part of the success of a practice, yet one that many practices do not fully appreciate. There simply is no second chance to make a first impression, so it is essential to make sure the reception and saying exactly what they should be about the practice. This chapter explains design considerations, the role of the receptionist, the client waiting room experience, and planning and managing changes.

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Figures

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5.2 The modern reception area should be well maintained, clean and bright with good lighting and the counter should be at a user-friendly height.
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5.3 The front desk should also be well designed at the back, with enough space available to house essential items such as computers, keyboards and phones. The area should be kept neat and tidy, with cupboards and drawers provided for storage. It is important for the wellbeing of staff that chairs are comfortable and set at the right height.
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5.4 Raised and lowered areas on a desk provide areas for clients to write and to place personal objects such as handbags. A hook is useful for clients to secure a dog lead while their hands are otherwise occupied.
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5.5 This desk has a built-in mobile drawer unit on castors. This section of the counter can be pulled back, creating a space/recess in the client area to allow knee room for a wheelchair user.
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5.6 Inviting clients to use scales to weigh their animals will encourage footfall. Scales set into the floor can be aesthetically pleasing.
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5.7 A small cache behind the desk can be used as a temporary safe store for any banknotes received.
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5.8 Seating. This bench seating in the dog waiting area is easy to clean underneath and encourages dogs to stay out of the circulation area. Bench seating can also provide underseat storage. Long client reception areas can present a challenge for seating layout. This example, which has a welcoming appearance, uses comfortable easy-clean seating and allows some separation of waiting pets. These individual seats have hardwearing and cleanable fabric covers with special backcare foam for improved comfort.
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5.9 Toilet facilities must be pleasant, clean and tidy. They should be suitable for disabled users; appropriate bars and supports can be retrofitted to existing facilities.
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5.10 Colour schemes should be chosen carefully, both for ambience and for ease of cleaning.
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5.11 Vinyl flooring, both smooth and safety non-slip types, can be laid creatively to include patterns or images in different colours. (© Vets4Pets Ltd)
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5.12 This reception area uses neutral-coloured vinyl ‘safety’ flooring, which is non-slip and quiet. (Courtesy of Nuvet and Veterinary Business Journal. © Veterinary Business Development)
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5.13 A hard-floor scrubber/dryer is usually necessary to keep vinyl 'safety' flooring looking clean. Flocked textile floors can be scrubbed and cleaned like vinyl, but take longer to dry. A professional carpet scrubber/dryer and minimal use of detergent are essential to keep the floor clean and looking good. Barrier matting is essential in reception areas where people are walking in from the outside. Here the matting is inset (recessed) into the floor. Regular deep cleaning is essential; a scrubber such as the one pictured is effective on both the matting and the safety flooring. (b, © Vets4Pets Ltd)
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5.14 A ‘who is who’ board is useful for introducing the team. It must be well presented with current photographs and can be a collage of separate pictures, or a professionally printed poster prepared with photo editing software as in this example. Also shown is an interactive touch screen unit giving pet health care information, which is particularly popular with children.
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5.15 This automatic door opens into a lobby holding area, with a second, manual, door into reception. Manually operated double doors may be less accessible but are more secure. (b, courtesy of Nuvet and Veterinary Business Journal. © Veterinary Business Development)
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5.16 Open spaces in reception allow browsing.
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5.17 Excellent telephone skills are essential for a receptionist.
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5.18 Taking an interest in clients and their pets will show that the practice cares.
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5.21 Pinboards can be used to provide useful information and to increase awareness of practice promotions.
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5.22 Posters should be laminated or framed, and changed regularly to tie in with marketing activity.
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5.23 Wall space is needed for siting a TV display. Care should be taken to avoid reflections, and blinds may be needed.
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5.24 Client ratings for clarity of price marking, showing percentage of practices rated in each category. (Source: aggregated national Onswitch data to June 2011)
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5.25 Glass counter areas can be useful for seasonal or high-value items.
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5.26 A seasonal wall display can raise awareness and increase sales.
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5.27 Colour sells: colour-block brands and packaging if space allows.

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