Selling Your Clinic? Do This Right Now!!!
Doctors often ask ‘what is the one mistake chiropractors consistently make when selling a practice?’ Unfortunately, there are more than one answers to this question- but one of the most common mistakes is using ‘good enough’ pictures to market their clinics. I bet you know what I’m talking about- these pictures are usually snapped on a phone, in about three minutes total, as the doctor hurries through their office between patients.
The truth is, this is a serious impediment to your practice sale. Think about this- as a society, we are used to seeing everything styled. Beautiful advertising images are the norm for even discount retailers now. And think of your Facebook feed! Everyone online is posting artfully captured pictures of their children, their vacations, and even their coffee! As a society, we are used to things being presented to us in the absolute best light, so when you put up shabby pictures of your clinic, well, the underlying assumption is that this is the best light in which your clinic can be portrayed. And I doubt that is true.
As a passionate hobbyist photographer, I wish I could come and style and photograph all of your clinics! We would have such fun and you would be amazed at how different your clinic can be portrayed through intentional pictures. But since this isn’t feasible on my time- and many of your budgets- I will share some easy tips for you to get the best possible pictures of your clinic.
But before we get into the details, to take great pictures of anything you need to understand two things.
First, eyes see things differently than cameras. That’s because eyes are connected to brains, which are far more sophisticated than any camera. Brains automatically filter out clutter, make adjustments for areas that are too bright, too dark, or have oddly tinted lighting. But cameras just portray these things as they are. So this means that even though your office looks “fine” to you as is, it does not look fine at all to your camera.
This brings me to the second point- it will require some tweaking to get the bright, uncluttered, attractive images that will show your clinic off in it’s very best light. The easiest way to accomplish this (read: least frustrating) is to invest in an inexpensive tripod. This lets you take a picture, examine it, adjust the light and styling, and retake it without having to remember where you were standing and how you were holding the camera to get that great shot before.
Yes- in this article I am suggesting you spend some time and money to get these clinic pictures right. But in terms of attracting buyers and justifying your asking price, I promise it will be worth it!
So here is a little secret. You know the amazing interior pictures you see in magazines like Architectural Digest and Better Homes and Gardens? These are typically from houses that have been meticulously designed by professional decorators- often very recently. And guess what? They still require stylists to come in and spruce everything up so they photograph well. If that is the case for those rooms, what do you think the chances are that your clinic, designed by you solely to be functional for treating clients, doesn’t need some freshening up to look it’s best? The answer, my friend, is Zero. So before you snap your pictures, follow these essential steps to first declutter and then style your clinic.
Stand where you plan to take the picture
Identify and remove any cords in your line of sight
Move any stacks of paper, file folders and office supplies. All desks and counters should be clean surfaces
Remove knickknacks and decorative objects that are smaller than a basketball; they will just look like clutter in the picture. Clutter is very disorienting in a picture and makes the viewer want to look away- not the reaction you are going for with a potential buyer of your clinic!
Tidy up the room. Straighten crooked lamps or wall art
Take a quick picture of the room- does it look cluttered? If so, remove any unnecessary furniture.
At this point your room may look a little empty. Overall this is much preferred to cluttered, but we also want it to have some life and character. Luckily, this is not too hard or expensive to add:
Consider moving in furniture or décor from another space
A very simple upgrade is to add new wall art to each room in your clinic. If you add large scale artwork from a store like World Market or Home Goods it quickly adds a very upscale look, usually for around $60-$100 per piece.
Add flowers! Go to the grocery store and get several bouquets of inexpensive flowers in a single color, put them in a vase, and add that to your space. Now you have a colorful, fresh focal point that will liven up the room
Add people. If you have a staff member with a great smile ask them to come up and be in the pictures. Ask your family to come as well. Everyone should wear bright, solid colored outfits and the pictures can feature the receptionist handing the file to a patient while at the front desk, a patient reading a magazine in the waiting room, etc. In other words, the people are not the focus of the picture, but they add life to it by doing the things that are done in the spaces. If you include people, don’t have them in the center of the picture and try to get a side or profile view of them. This keeps them from being the focus of the picture, which would look out of place. Try to emulate the lifestyle pictures you see in magazines rather than a posed portrait.
Now that you have all the elements of the picture together, here is one last styling tip for you to play with. Ideally you want to have something in the foreground, the middle ground, and the background of the picture. This makes the viewer feel as if they were there, because it adds depth to the picture and makes it look more realistic and less flat. So can you move those flowers to a side table near the front of the area in the picture, have a “patient” sitting in a chair in about the middle of the picture area, and have a wall with some fresh new wall art for the background? That will be a great picture!
Good lighting is THE KEY to great pictures. You can take a picture of almost anything in amazing light and it suddenly becomes beautiful, interesting and worthy of hanging on a wall. No matter what you do with your office pictures, make sure you follow these keys to get the best possible light, because otherwise all your effort is wasted.
Pick the right time to take the pictures. The best times to shoot a room with east facing windows is in the morning, and westside in the afternoon. The north and south sides can be shot whenever the light is bright in the room.
Turn off your flash. Do not use it. It will make your picture look flat, uninteresting, and impossible for the viewer to connect to.
Let in as much natural light as possible. Open all blinds/ drapes/ doors/ etc. Natural light is clean and bright- which results in the bright pictures that people love to see of rooms
Turn on the lamps in the room. I’m talking table lamps. Try to avoid turning on any overhead lights, especially fluorescent
Add more light! Buy some 150-watt halogen light bulbs to replace the existing lamp bulbs. Bring extra lamps from other rooms or from home to either place into the picture or put them on the floor behind or under the camera to add more light to the room (extension cords are very helpful here!)
So now your picture is styled and lit- you just need to take the picture from the right spot. So what is the formula for the perfect picture? Well, good news, there is one! It may not result in perfect pictures, but it will likely result in some very good ones. Here is your four-step process for each room/area:
Hold the camera lower to the ground, around the height of a light switch or your belly button. This makes sure you don’t get too much of the ceiling, the room and furnishings won’t look distorted, and it will be a more inviting scene
Shoot straight on. Point your camera at what you are taking a picture of and make sure that the view in the viewfinder lines up with a wall in the room.
Now reframe the picture to shoot from the door or a corner of the room, into another corner. This will give a lot of depth to your picture and make the room look as spacious as possible.
Now move around the room, taking more pictures both straight on and into corners. Lots of shots and angles will give a higher likelihood that you will get something great. Remember, the camera sees differently than you do, so even if you don’t think it’s the best place to take the picture, the results might surprise you
Last but not least, make sure you get an inviting shot of the outside of your building. Here are two easy takeaways:
Style the exterior, too! The shots of the outside of your building need to be very welcoming. Make sure that you include any trees, landscaping, or other attractive elements in your photos. Clear away any trash, hoses, or anything else unsightly. If your clinic is lacking, maybe invest in some nice oversized urns with flowers to frame your door. Also make sure to turn on all the interior lights and open all the blinds and curtains inside to make the building glow from within, adding some interest and light to the picture.
Timing is everything! When photographing a building, make sure you are taking the picture when the light is hitting the building. The soft light of dusk or dawn is ideal. An overcast day is also good. If that is not feasible, the best time to shoot an east facing building is in the morning, and west side in the afternoon. The north and south sides can simply be shot whenever the light is bright.
Are you planning on using some (or all!!!!) of these tips? Do me (and all the other doctors who read this blog!) a favor- take some before pictures, then use my advice and take afters. We’d love to share them so all of our readers can see the difference a little effort can make.
Until next time!