When the financial crisis hit our country in 2008, LMT immediately responded with a survey of our readers to get a baseline for how it would affect our community. And as we promised then, we've kept our finger on the pulse of your businesses, sharing the results of periodic follow-up surveys; here's the latest.
"The very aggressive marketing we did when business was slow is paying dividends, and automation allows us to be very competitive in terms of pricing, even with offshore labs," says Bob Edmonds, CDT, President, Edmonds Dental Prosthetics, Springfield, MO, echoing the more-positive attitude reflected in LMT's latest How's Business Survey. More than half of our respondents say they're optimistic about the coming year; just six months ago, only 41% said the same.
Citing healthier local economies and steadier workflows, some respondents feel business turned a corner in 2010, with 12% more of them reporting an uptick in business last year than the year before (34% of respondents saw an increase during 2010, while only 22% had seen an increase during 2009.).
But it's not good news all around: nearly half of laboratories say business in 2010 was down compared to 2009 (see chart below). Reports on this year so far show there's still no consensus: 40% say business during the first quarter of 2011 is lower than the first quarter of 2010, while 35% report it's higher. Some respondents say there's no pattern even within their own businesses. "It's been hard to plan ahead because of the erratic swings in workflow. Some months are crazy busy and other months, not so much," says Richard Knauf, Owner, Northern Dental Lab, Marshfield, WI. "Business certainly hasn't been 'business as usual.'"