By Danny Chan
We all know how stressful clinic renovations can be. It typically begins with a good amount of research to locate a reliable fitout company. After deciding on one, you have to deal with a barrage of emails, meetings, site visits and phonecalls – even at the initial design and planning stages – before a single brick is laid. If you’re lucky, actual construction promptly rolls out, and – more fingers crossed – ends on schedule with only minor hiccups along the way. Otherwise, the building phase can be fraught with multiple – unforeseen – problems and missed deadlines.
For Dr Mark Levi, Owner of Dr Levi’s (previously known as The Smile Shop), the process for his clinic’s renovation was quite different, but in a good way. Last July, Dr Levi decided to move the Sydney CBD practice into an empty 92-sqm unit within the same arcade building as his former premises, the sole location he had been practicing for more than 20 years. Without giving it another thought, he immediately turned to Levitch Design Australia for the fitout – essentially a ground-up design and construction project that includes reworking the ceilings and four walls.
Dr Levi’s confidence in the specialist renovator stem from almost 25 years of employing their services for ad hoc renovation works and familiarity with their “professionalism and work rate”.
“Just make it look fantastic”
Although this would be the first major construction project he is entrusting to the fitout team, Dr Levi did not even consider alternatives or get a second quote. He didn’t even have a budget per se – just a ballpark figure of 300K-500K. The final bill came up to $420K, including all construction work, new equipment and installations.
“With Levitch Design, it’s all about quality, quality and quality. We’re talking about a David Jones level of quality and I’ve always been happy with their service,” he enthuses. Despite going in with high expectations, Dr Levi says the results still managed to exceed them.
The self-described “challenging customer” says he knew what he wanted but not how to get there.
“All I wanted were two dental rooms, a consulting room for patients and a bathroom. My only request was that (Levitch Design) make it look fantastic. And they did!”
Dr Levi ascribes Levitch’s performance to their “solutions provider” mentality. This was immediately apparent from the two to three “quick roundtable meetings” during the design and planning stages.
“Every subsequent meeting would effectively address problems raised in the previous one, such that no time was wasted. In the end, all the discussion points and ideas came together in the form of an extensive visual presentation with highly detailed schematics.”
Exacting groundwork, Dr Levi says, paved the way for a smooth construction phase. Once the stringent time frame of 8 weeks had been confirmed, that was it – no hand wringing requests for extensions or excuses for “unforeseen circumstances”. The effective work rate, Dr Levi avers, had also to do with the attitude and mindset of the fitout team.
“Levitch people”, Dr Levi addresses affectionately, “work cohesively as a team and with the client in a calm and unassuming way”.
“I know at least 10 people working in Levitch – all on first name basis. I could just ring any of them up and things get done. They are proactive.”
Dr Levi praises the team’s unflinching confidence and resolve to get the work done on time. “They never used ‘car-salesman tactics’, didn’t tell lies or get flustered under pressure. They were always patient and transparent with what was going on.”
The overriding goal of the fitout was to render the clinic a professional yet comfortable environment that accentuates the practice’s image and branding – as well as the principal dentist’s stellar reputation.
Dr Mark Levi is a highly sought after dentist with a special focus on teeth whitening. He claims to have performed more whitening treatments each year than any of his Australian peers. Dr Levi specialises in difficult teeth whitening cases, of which the prime example is “turning blackened front teeth white” – he reckons only five dentists nationwide can provide such dramatic results and welcomes referrals from dentists who come across similar cases.
Another area of Dr Levi’s expertise is sleep medicine, which along with teeth whitening, are main topics of his local and international lectures. The energetic practitioner is also a high profile dental commentator regularly featured on Nine Network television programmes as well as guest judge at the Miss Universe Australia competition.
Design articulates brand image
Commenting on the final outcome, Dr Levi says a more professional statement could not have been made. “From the ergonomical design and layout to clever details that enhance patient and staff comfort; from the avant garde decor to the calm and relaxing environment, the fitout embodies the quality standards and professionalism that our practice stands for – and continues to strive for.”
Among the many standout features are the three digital lightboxes that serve not only as practical marketing tools, but strategically add a touch of sophistication to otherwise staid looking walls.
Dr Levi says the team cleverly incorporated his idea to keep the clinic’s lights on after closing hours, as a lifesize billboard aimed at the arcade’s late passerby traffic. “They tweaked the ceiling lights and absolutely delivered the effect I wanted. The lighting generates a beautiful aura of the clinic at night.”
In terms of space utilisation, he effuses: “(Levitch’s interior design team) so cleverly used up every nook and cranny of available space that I literally went from thinking I have limited storage space to having more than I could have ever imagined.”
Happiest dentist in town
Levitch’s vast experience with dental fitouts meant they understood not just the client’s mindset but the patient’s as well. For example, Dr Levi’s initial misgivings that an enormous floral artwork at the entrance could be better utilised as a display shelf for marketing collaterals, had been logically countered by the interior designer. The rationalisation given that tasteful artwork helps to illuminate the practice’s propensity for beauty and artistry was a sound one, Dr Levi readily acknowledges – especially for a cosmetically-driven practice like his.
“All in all, they must be doing something right”, the Sydney dentist quips, pointing to overwhemingly positive feedback to the clinic’s new look and feel. “In all my 30 years as a private practitioner, I have never seen more positive patient response to a dental clinic environment than the feedback I have received for this one.”
Concluding that the money is well invested, Dr Levi explains: “The renovation is critically important as it tells the world the sort of dentistry you want to do and the sort of dentist you want to be.”
Calling himself the “happiest dentist in town”, Dr Levi believes the fitout articulates his practice’s message right down to the letter: “What more can I ask for?”
This article first appeared in Australasian Dentist