Our team got together with Dr. Alexandra Jensen, a partner and dentist at Clermont Pediatric Dentistry in Florida. Dr. Jensen holds a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and received her doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine.
The IDS team installed safari theming throughout the Clermont clinic back in 2014 – Dr. Jensen joined the office straight out of school, missing the foundational theming process, but was excited to find herself starting her career in a thrilling new workplace. Follow along as we ask about her experience working in this environment and uncover how IDS theming has helped her business over the years.
IDS: Why did you decide to add theming to the space?
Dr. Jensen: I was not a part of the decision to theme as I had not yet joined the practice, but I will say that it definitely played a role in terms of my decision to join the practice. I came to visit the office and opened up the front door and it was just like a theme park.
IDS: In your opinion why was a Safari theme chosen?
Dr. Jensen: We work with a pediatric population and have kiddos all the time who bring in stuffed animals – elephants, monkeys, zebras, anything you can imagine. I think coming in and seeing real-life sizes of animals that match the stuffed animals that they have is super cool for the kids.
IDS: How do you think theming has helped the practice thrive?
Dr. Jensen: I think our theming has given our practice a name. In the community, we are known for what we do because of the theme of our office. It has become our brand.
For example, we are known as Dr. Julie and Dr. Alexandra at Clermont Pediatric Dentistry, but we are also known as the “Elephant Dentist” or the “Animal Dentist”. All of that came to be from and through IDS.
I’ve been at the practice for 7 years now and any communication that I’ve had with the IDS team has been wonderful – they are informative, on time, very fast, and organized. It’s been no small feat to make sure that our office is organized and set up to the nines in regards to everything that we need to do, and they made it happen.
IDS: You mention kids sometimes bring in a plushy toy from time to time and are wowed by the real-life versions in your office. How do you think that patients may be more relaxed than in traditional pediatric offices?
Dr. Jensen: I would say the big things that stick out in our office are the animals coming out of the ceiling, the wall, or the monkey coming out of the glass. These animals help make light of any situation.
As a dentist, the dental office is not a scary place for me, but as a patient, it’s a place where at a young age or even during their teenage years, they come in and think what are you going to do to me not for me. However, I like to think that if I was their age and I walked into an office with a monkey bursting through the glass I would start to laugh and feel eased about the situation.
I feel that there is a lot of power in laughter and smiles, and when kids see these characters it brings that fear down because it puts a smile on their faces that is so big.
IDS: How would you describe the reactions of patients when they come to this place for the first time? Are there any specific instances that stick out to you?
Dr. Jensen: I would say the most memorable interactions that I’ve had have been with patients that have come in super anxious and worried about an appointment – some tears may have been involved. But they are able to walk into the office and see the theming, and it’s something that is common ground for them to take their mind off their worries and talk to the people in the office about. Something along the lines of “I saw the monkey in the glass!” or “I sat with the elephant and took a picture with him!”
It’s a matter of these patients remembering the characters that are in the office. I know in particular when we do restorative appointments, we have stuffed animals for support in the back, and some kiddos come in and can name these stuffies and our characters!
You know, I joke during consults with parents saying, “You know, it’s not Disney World but we try to make it as fun as possible.” Having theming most definitely helps with that.
IDS: Are you gaining new patients as a response to the theming?
Dr. Jensen: We live in an age where the big thing online is the review, it’s the Facebook ads, it’s the Facebook mommies, and just hearing word of mouth. That being said, I think the theme of the office gives parents something to talk about when they come to our office – what their children loved and enjoyed.
Parents can also tell their kids more than they are going to the dentist. They can tell them they are going to the place with the elephant, that they are going to watch a movie, and that they are going to have such a good time! So I think the theme itself just fosters that warm inviting environment.
IDS: Do you think there is something to be said about the return of current customers and their satisfaction level as well as gaining new customers? I say this because we live in an area adjacent to theme parks that are very historically very exciting.
Dr. Jensen: I would say we definitely live in an area where children are used to having a theme park in their area. We have Disney World, Universal, SeaWorld, and Lego Land and kids love visiting them. I feel like being able to theme the office in a similar way where they can come and see the animals, hold a stuffed animal during a restorative procedure, or sit in a chair and look at the kiddos on the wall on a safari tour gives them a trigger in their mind to say that this is fun, familiar and is different than I expected it to be.
Like I said before, we are not Disney or Universal, but we are a place that can be fun! It is a place where kids can find components in the office to find interest in, whether it be the elephant or the bamboo on the wall or the games – it is something memorable to them.
Kids have an amazing memory and a way of processing things in a way that adults don’t. When patients come into the office, they can find something fun that imprints on their little brains and it is something to remember and associate the dentist with. I’d much rather have a child associate a big elephant with the dentist, rather than something that is challenging like having a tooth extracted. So I think theming in that respect is very important. Our environment gives them an opportunity to make an association that is positive and familiar with doing something that they enjoy doing outside the dental office, like visiting a theme park.
IDS: What have you seen from the staff that is a response to the theming?
Dr. Jensen: I love working here truly – it is a very well put together office. We know every other dental office tries to stay clean and organized, but I feel like having properly placed theming in an office that is kept up to date and clean gives us that edge where every day is fun and interesting.
Every room is a bit different and in those rooms, there’s something for me to find joy in and put a smile on my face.
Like I said, we work in a dental office, and sometimes that is not considered the most fun environment because of what we are doing – we are extracting teeth, fixing teeth, and cleaning teeth. But we make it fun because we consider our staff our family and by theming the office this way it makes it feel more familiar and like home.
IDS: What is your favorite themed character or area in the office?
Dr. Jensen: I love the monkey in the glass because I feel like it sparks the imagination side of every patient. They want to know how the monkey got there and if it really broke the glass. It’s so fun to see the little wheels in their heads just turning and seeing them facing the reality of, “oh my goodness there’s a monkey there!”
IDS: How do you think the quality of the theming has stood the test of time?
Dr. Jensen: I think it is amazing. To be honest with you, it is something that from day one, until now that I haven’t seen a lot of change or wear and tear happen to. You are going to have a lot of wear on tables and chairs that patients, parents, and staff are going to sit on. But the theming itself has been amazingly resilient, and any concern that we’ve had with the theming has been corrected immediately.
And may I add, that the concerns have not been because of the failure of IDS. It has been something where a patient has hung on the elephant and we needed to fix a part. So overall, it’s been amazingly resilient in keeping its color and design and making the office beautiful.
IDS: Do you think there are any previous issues that the theming has helped solve. What are the main advantages?
Dr. Jensen: I think our theming brings the office to the next level. It gives the office the opportunity to imprint on our patients, as well as show the parents we care about the surroundings and environment that we are treating their kids in.
Walking in and seeing white walls in a pediatric office is something that is going to seem generic and hospital-like, and this can be scary for patients. Walking into a themed office gives patients the opportunity to enjoy the time in our space and feel comfortable in it.
They can sit and wait for their appointment, take in the scenery, watch a movie, hang out with the elephant, or play a game and this fills the void between them and their upcoming appointment.
IDS: How have you used the safari theme to continue your branding efforts beyond your space?
Dr. Jensen: Right now, Dr. Julie drives what we like to call the pediatric dental mobile. It is a car that IDS helped us outfit with a little horn on the roof that looks like it’s coming from a rhino squished inside.
Branding wise this car has been big in terms of the community. When you see the vehicle driving around it is always “Oh my goodness it’s Dr. Julie my dentist!” or “It’s the Elephant Dentist!” so the car is definitely something that has transitioned our theme from the office out into the community.
We can have an ad anywhere online or even on a billboard, but it’s not going to be the same as driving on the road next to the dentist or seeing the car out in the community.
We are talking about possibly doing two separate vehicles, one for her, and one for myself. We’ve been in contact with IDS and it’s going to be exciting to see where that is going to go next and spark some more discussion in the community.
IDS: What do you think are the most important benefits overall to theming a space?
Dr. Jensen: I think theming a space makes it more like home. Theming this office as a safari makes Clermont Pediatric Dentistry home for its staff members who we consider our family, and it makes it home for our patients who we also consider part of the family.
I also think it gives us a physical touch of the identity we have created in terms of communicating our goals to the community – that we provide quality dental care from the heart. And we are showing our patients this by making our space a warm and welcoming environment.
IDS: What has your experience personally been when working with IDS?
Dr. Jensen: IDS has been wonderful. Every communication that I have had in terms of emails, I get an almost immediate response which is wonderful. We live in a day and age where it is sometimes hard to get in contact with any business or individuals because we have busy schedules and I will say that every contact I have made email-wise has been phenomenal. They are organized, on time, and answers every question dotting their I’s and crossing the T’s.
IDS: Would you recommend working with IDS?
Dr. Jensen: I would recommend working with IDS to others. If for no other reason, it is just so fun to see.
Curious to see more of the Clermont Office? Check out our interview with Dr. Jensen’s partner, Dr. Russo.
Or check out the featured office photos here.
Contact Imagination Design Studios (IDS) to get started transforming your office from a mundane to magical patient experience. Or download our inspiring look book and start imagining the possibilities in your office.