Dentist Nigel Mallon likes to make people feel they can smile - and that goes for both patients and staff.
Ensuring the 1,500 people who attend Taptonville House Dental have teeth to be proud of is paramount. But so too is ensuring his staff are happy with their appearance.
So when it came to the practice uniform, Nigel came up with a very bright idea.
“Just as one size doesn’t fit all, we had come to realise that nether does colour,” explains Nigel, who took on the practice in 2000 and transformed it from private to a seven-days-a-week NHS surgery.
“We had given our premises at Taptonville Road in Broomhill a smart makeover, using cool, contemporary shades of grey and lilac. We thought the best idea was to dress all our staff, from the receptionists to the dentists, in similar colour,” says Nigel. “But it didn’t work. They seemed to fade into the background - and the cool shades just didn’t suit all 50 staff.
“Then one day one of our new nurses came to work in fabulous fuchsia-pink scrubs. She looked terrific. The next day, she arrived in a mint green uniform, which looked equally good on her. We realised that colour was the answer.”
Nigel abandoned a “one colour suits all” approach and Taptonville House dental called in Broomhill-based colour and style experts True Colours Image Consultancy.
He asked for a colour analysis of each staff member to identify the range of shades that perfectly suited each of them. Jane Chapman, one of the most highly-qualified image consultants in the world, used her swatches of shaded test drapes to identify the range of colours which brought out the best in each member of staff’s natural colouring.
“The difference it makes is amazing. The right colours make you look healthy and alive and boost your confidence,” says Jane. “Wearing the right colours is so important for business because it helps people relate to the company in a more positive way.
“Colour is one of the first things we notice in any situation; it affects us at an emotional level. So, we make it easier for people to like and trust us when we are wearing colours and clothes that suit us.
“At a dental practice, lots of patients arrive feeling nervous. It stands to reason they would rather see dentist a who looks healthy instead of one who tired and drained - and the colour of uniform they wear can make that difference.”
A person’s most flattering shades denote whether they are a Summer, Winter, Autumn or Spring type - the season denoting how cool or warm, fresh or muted their future colour choices should be.
Nigel was impressed. “I’m a Summer,” he says. “I look dreadful in orange and terribly drained in pastels. Jane told me I look best in warm blues, salmon and navy.”
He chose the cut and style of a new uniform, then encouraged staff to choose it in two of their diagnosed colours.
“The result is a rainbow effect, which staff and patients love. It’s a significant departure from the typical, drab pale green or blue dentist uniform and is great for a friendly dental practice like Taptonville,” says Jane Chapman, who worked her colour magic again with the dentist’s latest recruits recently.
Says Nigel: “I think it’s a genius idea. The difference it has made is amazing. The dental practice looks brighter and more dynamic. All the different colours I think make patients feel relaxed and see the staff as warm and more approachable. The staff feel better about themselves because they know they look good and feel valued because we’ve gone to the time and trouble for them. Everyone wins.”
Added Jane at True Colours: “There’s still a strong argument for having the same colour uniform in many businesses. But the more flexible approach to colour was perfect for Taptonville and we really enjoyed helping the practice create a friendly yet professional image.”
Jane advises bosses: “No business can afford to leave the image of its staff to chance. Ask yourself what message you are communicating by how your staff dress. What we wear speaks volumes. In business, it’s important to get it right.”