"When business is slow, hunters start looking for new clients; farmers, on the other hand, have already planted seeds and have 'rows and rows' of potential clients they can contact. The key to having the amount of business you want is to be a farmer, not a hunter," says Marc Daichman, partner of 20-employee Asteto Dent Labs, Maplewood, New Jersey.
High-energy and sales-savvy, Daichman has long been known for his out-of-the-box marketing strategies. For instance, in the early '90s, Daichman was one of the first laboratory owners to offer destination education, such as sponsoring seminars for dentists aboard cruises around Manhattan. Today, Asteto Dent hosts an ongoing education series, offering an average of 15 courses per year and typically gaining anywhere from 10 to 20 clients annually, making it the most formidable tool in the lab's marketing arsenal.
Working with a 2-3% of total sales marketing budget, Daichman's goal is to continuously find innovative, cost-effective ways to keep Asteto Dent's name in front of his target market: New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. In addition to dentist education, here are some of his most effective strategies:
Partnering up. Daichman works with an independent sales representative who represents dozens of manufacturers and has hundreds of dentists in his customer base. Here's how the partnership works: Asteto Dent buys a product, like diamond burs for instance, in bulk from the representative. Once the representative gets an order for a bur, he lets Asteto know and the lab ships the product to the dentist, including a laboratory flyer or continuing education announcement with each shipment. For each bur shipped, Asteto Dent pays the representative a commission. "It's really a win-win situation: the representative increases his sales and our lab information is brought to the attention of the dentists who may not have heard of us otherwise," Daichman explains. "It's great exposure."
Maximizing networking opportunities. Asteto Dent Labs is a member of the Dental Resource Alliance, a New Jersey networking group of about a dozen dental-related companies, and the group is proving to be a valuable source of referrals for the lab. "One member of the group is a practice broker and he always introduces our lab to new dentists buying or taking over a practice by handing them our newsletter or practice-building seminar announcements. He even gets their permission for me to call them and introduce myself," says Daichman.
Giving dentists an Internet presence. Asteto Dent Labs is a laboratory sponsor of AmericaSmiles.com, an internet network that refers patients to dentists in their local area. Dentists are listed for free, provided they are sponsored by a laboratory, which costs Asteto Dent a small fee per month. The lab also offers its clients the opportunity to be listed on the lab's regional site, NJ-Smiles.com--an affiliate of AmericaSmiles.com--when their Asteto Dent bill is $1,000 a month or more. "These types of programs illustrate to our dentist-clients that we're working towards directing new patients to their practices," explains Daichman. "The fact that we offer this value-added service helps make our laboratory more attractive and entices dentists to use--or keep using--our laboratory."
Augmenting his sales efforts. While Daichman spends a lot of time selling the lab's services, he also relies on an outside business development company, MarketReach, Inc. in Hightstown, New Jersey, to telemarket to prospective dentist-clients. MarketReach staff members understand Asteto Dent's business philosophy and work with a script that includes an invitation to one of the lab's upcoming CE courses and an attempt to set up an in-office visit. Daichman has been using the company for about nine months, paying them $900 per month for 15 hours of cold calling. MarketReach has set up about 50 face-to-face appointments for Daichman, about 10 of which became new accounts, resulting in over $30,000 in business thus far.
Asteto Dent Labs Maplewood, NJ
Asteto Dent Labs was established as a C&B laboratory in Summit, New Jersey by Peter Solomon in 1981. Three years later, Solomon met Marc Daichman, a sales representative for a dental manufacturer, and they instantly became friends and, soon after, business partners. They divided their responsibilities according to their strengths, with Solomon overseeing the technical side and Daichman managing the business and marketing aspects of the two-person laboratory.
In 1988, the partners expanded to be a full-service operation and five years later, moved to their current facility in Maplewood, New Jersey. Today, the lab employs about 20 people, 15 of whom are technicians, and services approximately 200 dentist-clients.
As for the future of the lab, Daichman says, "In this competitive environment, our laboratory will continue to think 'out-of-the-box' and bring the latest technical and business-oriented education to our clients. We are constantly thinking of ways to better service and help them."