Instead of merely staying the course, laboratory owners are more engaged than ever in finding new ways to, as Steve Jobs coined it: "Think Different." Better yet, you are doing it—which is exactly what needs to happen! I'm freshly back from LAB DAY Chicago thoroughly impressed with the level of reinvention going on. From mergers and acquisitions to enterprising business strategies, both attendees and exhibitors are on their toes, challenged and not defeated.
LAB DAY 2012 could easily have been labeled "The Reinvention Convention."
The implant market is strong and growing, removables continue to be red hot and aging baby boomers promise to keep dentistry hopping. In addition to going digital, you are serving alternate markets, adding removable departments and economy lines while also expanding your high-end departments. In this issue, in fact, you'll see a couple of examples of how lab owners are grabbing the bull by the horns, shaking up their businesses to reinvent themselves . . . and thriving.
Exhibitors—who also are reinventing their product lines and distribution channels—told us they were thrilled with the level of interest among attendees at the show, sales were fabulous and the lecturers were fantastic.
Though the overall mood of the Exhibit Hall floor was upbeat, animated and bustling—and business at the show was brisk—when asked to forecast the balance of the year, attendees most frequently said they were "cautiously optimistic."
Just as sectors of the U.S. economy are showing signs of recovery, 20% of attendees at the How to Control the Future Before it Controls You panel discussion, hosted by Vident and Nobel Biocare, predict their business will be "markedly up" this year.
Not So Fast
I heard a rumor at the show that many laboratories are closing their doors. Hmm. If that's the case, why isn't LMT's subscriber database noticeably shrinking? We pay the U.S. postal system a fee to return "undeliverable" addresses and we're not receiving any more than the usual.
In fact, we also know there are lab start-ups. We met, for example, Mary Waldron, Associate Professor of Dental Technology at Ferris State University for 19 years before it closed, who then worked for other laboratories and, last year, opened Westwind Dental Designs, LLC, in Michigan. You'll hear more about her enterprise soon.
On the other hand, we know it is a matter of time before those "undeliverables" do become more noticeable. And we know the needs of the market are changing. New job skills are required to handle new functions and that means technicians who are computer savvy.
It may seem cruel or heartless for me to say that some laboratories will not survive the massive changes taking place. But our purpose is to call the alert so those of you who are in this for the long-term are ready, willing and able.
Come to LAB DAY East or West if you missed Chicago and even if you didn't. Please also tune in to the conversation on The BRIDGE. There's no time like the present to keep your eyes and ears wide open. And all the while say to yourself: "I will not be defeated by change!"