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Rush cases create a conundrum for many lab owners. In our lab, we made a definitive decision to accept rush cases for an extra fee but to make that work, we had to make some changes internally.
This management decision couldn’t be made in a vacuum; we needed to build a consensus with our team of technicians. This involved very frank discussions about why I believed accepting rush cases represented a growth opportunity for our lab, and addressing the staff’s very real concerns about working on them.
I believe providing rush services helps distinguish our lab from our competitors. It...
- November 2013
Brand Your Restorations
Creating your own brand of restorations helps you stand out in the marketplace and conveys exclusivity. To distinguish their all-ceramic products, D&S Dental Laboratory, Inc. in Waunakee, WI, has created its "ZR" line of zirconia restorations including ZR Crowns, ZR Plus, ZR Fusion and ZR Micro. "We brand our products to differentiate our laboratory and reinforce that our products aren't available from any other lab. When doctors start to learn your brand and your name, they start asking for it," says Travis Zick, President.
Many laboratory owners have experienced...
Read More 6 minute read
- April 2013
In the latest installment of Barry D. The Lab Guy, Laboratory Owner Mike Hill explains his strategies for protecting the bottom line.
As you know, running a successful dental lab requires more than just great technical knowledge and skills; you need to be a good businessperson. In light of rising material, fuel and labor costs and the increase in business taxes and regulations, we need to be even more focused on the bottom line.
Here are some ways I've reduced costs in my laboratory:
Make the most of vendor visits:
Manufacturer/supplier representatives can offer a lot of new product information,...
- March 2013
1. Bring communication to a new level. Using web conferencing for case planning allows real-time communication between you and your clients, making it easier to troubleshoot issues that arise. For instance, Lab Owner Stan Bookstaber, Dentprod, LLC, Marlton, NJ, web conferences with his clients up to six times a week using a Logitec 3000 webcam with a built-in microphone and speakers. He either arranges a time in advance or, if he comes across an issue and needs an answer right away, he sends an instant message to his account to see if he's available to conference.
2. Solve a problem. "Doctors...
- February 2013
From consistency and good service to referrals and successful seminars, these tips and techniques help you maintain the relationships you have and find the customers you want.
Make Consistency King
Inconsistent quality is the number one reason dentists switch laboratories. But, as you know, the technical variables and realities of laboratory production and workflow demands make achieving consistency inherently challenging. Here are some steps to getting your laboratory on track:
1. Get employees on board. Thorough training is the key to giving them a clear understanding of your expectations,...
Read More 9 minute read
- October 2012
The cost of labor can constitute as much as 50% of production costs in some laboratories, making it a key factor in determining the success of the business. One of the fairest and most effective ways management can reduce labor-to-sales ratios and remakes, as well as increase productivity is to implement a productivity incentive plan that...
- March 2012
Dr. Roger Levin, Chairman and CEO of Levin Group, Inc., offers a look at how the economy is affecting your dentist-clients and what it means for their practices.
Dentistry is going through exponential changes. The future will have little semblance to the past, and at no point in the future will dentistry ever look the way it did as recently as four years ago.
Perhaps no single event in the last 100 years of dentistry has had a greater impact than the recent recession. There have been slow periods in the past, but nothing like what many economists have termed "The Great Recession."
Growth was easy for Jesse and Frichtel Dental Labs in Pittsburgh up until 2008. "Our biggest problem was managing the workflow," says Mark Frichtel, President. "Then, to say the least, things got difficult."
Like many laboratories, Jesse and Frichtel began feeling the repercussions of the country's financial crisis in 2008. Workloads were diminishing and rising alloy costs were cutting into margins.
But when the laboratory started passing on just a portion of the higher alloy charges, the clients balked; some even jumped ship for lower-cost laboratories. "The only thing they saw was that they...
Read More 6 minute read
If there ever was a case study in the art of change, Knight Dental Group is it. Over the past few years, the Oldsmar, FL-based laboratory has made a number of strategic decisions that have left it more competitive, more efficient and better equipped to deal with a changing market.
In 2005, Knight Dental Group invested in a complete milling system and, last year, purchased two more. Today, the lab fabricates about half of its caseload using digital technology--including almost 100% of its PFM restorations--and produces about 35% more units than it did using traditional techniques.
"You can't survive by doing the same thing you did five years ago. In this industry, we're in a time of change. Things are moving extremely quickly and a lot of factors are hitting us at the same time. There are challenges, but also opportunities," said Tais Clausen, 3Shape's CTO and Co-Founder, during his presentation, Vision of the U.S. Laboratory Market, at the NADL's Vision 21 meeting last month in Las Vegas.
What are the challenges in today's market? You know them all too well: a depressed economy, keeping pace with new technology, dentist-clients who are business driven rather than loyal...
- February 2012
In this economy, working faster, smarter, better is the key to riding out the storm. Here are 36 ways to streamline production, reduce remakes, lower costs, maximize marketing, improve client relationships, boost employee morale and create a leaner, meaner, more efficient laboratory operation.
4 CAD/CAM Strategies
7 Marketing Strategies
2 Technical Strategies
6 Financial Strategies
8 Management Strategies
3 Customer Service Strategies
6 Personnel Strategies
Have an ingenious marketing strategy? Innovative cost-cutting idea? New way to streamline production? Share your best business...
Faster, Smarter, Better: 6 Financial Strategies to Boost Your Business. Share Your Money Saving Tips Here!LMT Communications, Inc. · Faster, Smarter, Better: 36 Strategies to Boost Your Business · Management · Feb 2012
Problem: My lab is tight on cash and I'm looking to better control my inventory costs.
Strategy: Keeping a tight reign on your inventory and not stocking a lot of extra materials can be a great idea—especially when it comes to high-priced metals and implant components. On the other hand, you can also save money by buying in bulk—especially...
8 Faster, Smarter, Better Management Strategies to Boost Your Business: We Want to Hear Your Management StrategiesLMT Communications, Inc. · Faster, Smarter, Better: 36 Strategies to Boost Your Business · Management · Feb 2012
Problem: I'd like to implement pre-scheduling to help make our workload more consistent; we're overwhelmed one day and slow the next.
Strategy: Pre-scheduling—where the laboratory, rather than the dentist, determines the turnaround time for each case—helps ensure an even workflow, which minimizes the pressure of deadlines and...
Read More 8 minute read
- LMT Communications, Inc. · Faster, Smarter, Better: 36 Strategies to Boost Your Business · Management · Feb 2012
In this economy, working faster, smarter, better is the key to riding out the storm. Here are 6 easy-to-implement tips that can lead to a leaner, meaner, more efficient laboratory operation.
Problem: I feel like my staff is very fragmented, especially between departments. I need some strategies to inspire my technicians to act as a team.
- October 2011
The primary objectives of an outside vs. inside sales rep differ: the outside rep is responsible for developing customer relationships and sales whereas the inside rep handles account maintenance. Consequently, their compensation packages vary significantly. Here are some industry averages and general guidelines based on my experiences consulting with laboratories for the past 10 years.
Salary: For an outside salesperson, the average annual compensation package--including salary and commission--is $48,000 to $52,000; out-of-pocket expenses are additional. Typically, an outside rep is guaranteed...
- September 2011
Our goal with this technology center is to emulate the efforts of world-class dental education facilities like the Pankey Institute and the Scottsdale Center, while focusing our offerings on practical, innovative solutions to everyday challenges," said Jim Glidewell, CDT, President and CEO of Glidewell Laboratories during the grand opening of the Glidewell International Technology Center in July. "It is our intent to share and advance the widespread knowledge of...advanced technologies and techniques for the fundamental purpose of making a positive difference in the lives of our patients and those...
The technology learning curve for both dentists and technicians is ramping up to a never-before-seen level, putting tremendous pressure on laboratory owners to educate themselves, their staff members and their dentist-clients about our changing industry; it's a one-two-three punch!
There are other issues-- some long-standing, some relatively new--contributing to the immense training pressure on owners and managers. The U.S. military, which was once a key training ground for many technicians, is offering significantly fewer opportunities for dental technology education. For instance,...
- April 2011
As a business owner, you're legally bound by standards issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to provide a safe working environment for your employees. Even if you're a one-person operation and your business is incorporated, you are considered an employee and are subject to OSHA regulations.
Therefore, it's your responsibility to familiarize yourself with all applicable standards set forth by OSHA. Given the scope of the regulations—covering everything from electrical wiring and housekeeping to training employees and preventing contact with infectious materials—that...
Read More 9 minute read
Are you getting the most from your precious metal scrap? Or are valuable dollars literally slipping through your fingers? Refiners share their hints for maximizing your scrap returns and elaborate on their services.
Establish regular scrap collection procedures and be diligent about sticking to them.
Look at all sources that may contain...
When an employee is "caught" doing something right--like handling a customer call really well--laboratory owner Larry Borman, Tetra Dynamics, West Babylon, New York, recognizes it on the spot and hands him movie tickets or a gift certificate to Home Depot or a local restaurant.
To recognize improvements such as fewer remakes, employees at Ottawa Dental Laboratory, Ottawa, Illinois, are surprised with make-your-own-ice-cream-sundae events and submarine sandwich luncheons.
In addition to a quarterly drawing to recognize good attendance, Town & Country Dental Studio, Freeport, New York, also...
Mention "remakes" in a room full of laboratory owners and you know you're in for a spirited discussion. It's no wonder: not only do these cases-gone-wrong cut into your profits, but they can wreak havoc with your production schedule and erode the relationships you've built with your clients.
Add to that the frustration expressed by technicians who feel the bulk of remakes are beyond their control; in fact, our survey participants say more than three-quarters of remakes in their laboratories are due to dentist error. These laboratory owners and managers repeatedly say that--across...
The first wave of out-sourcing began two decades ago with jobs for making shoes, cheap electronics, and toys departing to developing countries. It caused a huge blow to the U.S. manufacturing sector. But as factories were closing, the "knowledge economy" emerged. Many thought these jobs, many of which were service- and technology-oriented, would be safe from the effects of outsourcing.
But, the explosion of the Internet, digitization and high-speed data networks around the world paved the way for a second wave of outsourcing. Now, as corporate America embraces the premise that work should...
The age-old problem of collections takes on new steam in an economy like this one. An outstanding amount that seems manageable when business is good can be alarming when dentists' workloads--and payments--are sluggish. Here, laboratory owners give their take on basic strategies for keeping accounts receivable in check.
Strategy: Put Preventive Policies in Place
I get the impression that some dentists--like many consumers--overextended themselves when the economy was booming and now are having problems keeping up. During the last year or two, many of our clients have become slower...
In an ideal world, your long-term business plan includes an exit strategy that outlines how much income you need to retire, what exit route you want to take and how you'll prepare your business accordingly. Experts say you should be thinking about how you'll retire from the moment you open your doors; at the very least, you should begin formulating your plan 10 to 15 years in advance of your expected retirement date.
An exit plan is not just about the day you'll leave the laboratory, it's about setting long-term goals for your business and yourself so the future doesn't sneak up on you. When...
Read More 10 minute read
Generation X is the term used to describe Americans born between 1964 and 1981—but they've also been referred to as disloyal and demanding, especially by their baby-boomer managers. Generation gaps aren't new, but given the influx of Generation Xers into the job market—43 million of them—it's no surprise that this topic has been getting a lot of coverage in the business press lately. Is it hyped-up stereotyping or are there significant generational differences?
Every employee—regardless of his age—obviously brings his own attitudes to the workplace. But human...