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“We knew we could no longer build a value proposition around technology that can be procured by anyone,” says Lab Owner Mike Hill. Read about his strategies for engaging clients on a new level.
This article first appeared in LMT’s August 2015 edition of the LMT Insider, our monthly e-newsletter, and takes a closer look at the pros and cons of the minimum wage ordinances that have recently made national headlines.
Whether you have two technicians or 20, there is perhaps no greater challenge in the laboratory than managing your staff. From morale issues to interpersonal conflicts, Lab Owner and Manager respondents to LMT’s Personnel Survey share their strategies for achieving pleasant and productive work environments.
In our industry, where the economic barriers to entry are relatively low, it’s all too common to hear stories about employees leaving a lab and then winning that lab’s customers, or worse, other staff members. Of course, from the lab owner’s perspective, the former employee didn’t win the customer or staff member; in his mind, he was stolen!
Like some of you, we too have been burned and it’s happened often enough that we were compelled to change the way we deal with new hires. In California, the Department of Corporations allows companies to pursue financial damages if it’s determined that protected, confidential information has been taken from your business, so we incorporated two documents into our hiring process to legally protect us from employees pursuing our customers and staff once they leave our lab.
Our goal in this process is not to create overly burdensome legal documents but rather to simply obtain a mutual understanding of our company’s...
In our Ask SCORE column, George Obst, certified SCORE mentor and retired CEO and Founding Partner of Dental Services Group, draws upon his 30 years of experience to address questions about building successful and profitable laboratories.
How can I effectively solve recurring problems? In any type of business, unresolved problems can fester, leading to poor quality and service, and may ultimately lead to the failure of the business. To effectively solve a recurring issue, you need to identify and fix its underlying cause—not just the symptom.
To get to the root of the problem, a simple and effective technique is to ask “why” four or five times. The premise of this technique—started in the 1930s by Sakichi Toyoda, Founder of the Toyota Motor Company—is that the answers to most problems come from the people who are working within the process. Once the “why” questions are answered, corrective procedures can be put in place to ensure that the particular...
- February 2014
- November 2013
It's a perfect storm heading straight for your bottom line: the economic crisis, new technology, profit erosion, offshore competition and the changing demographics among your dentist-clients...
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- April 2013
In the latest installment of Barry D. The Lab Guy, Laboratory Owner Mike Hill explains his strategies for protecting the bottom line.
- March 2013
- 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.
- 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 financially rewards employees for their efforts to achieve these goals.
In many laboratories, profit sharing is either nonexistent or handled in an inconsistent manner. But when you have an established bonus plan that incorporates quality control measures into each production step and involves both technical and administrative personnel, it motivates employees, breaks down animosity between departments and promotes teamwork, and instills a sense of employee accountability and responsibility.
Productivity incentive plans should be predicated on two figures only:
- Cost of Labor
- Total Sales/Cases
Produced and Invoiced
The differential between...
- March 2012
Perhaps no single event in the last 100 years of dentistry has had a greater impact than the recent recession. Dr. Roger Levin explains how the economy is affecting your dentist-clients and what it might mean for their futures.
Declining profits and the loss of its largest client would send even the healthiest laboratory reeling. But as a result of its customer-focused plan, Jesse and Frichtel Dental Labs in Pittsburgh, PA, has emerged stronger and poised for growth.
Read More 6 minute read
Thanks to a number of strategic decisions over the past few years, Oldsmar, FL-based Knight Dental Group's annual output per technician has nearly doubled!
3Shape Co-Founder Tais Clausen offers advice for maximizing your competitive edge and taking advantage of positive market trends.
- February 2012
Have an ingenious marketing strategy? Innovative cost-cutting idea? New way to streamline production? Share your best business boosting strategies with over 3,000 of your peers on THE BRIDGE!
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Faster, Smarter, Better: 6 Financial Strategies to Boost Your Business. Share Your Money Saving Tips Here!
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 for frequently used items like acrylic or ones that have a long shelf life, like teeth. Other strategies to save on inventory costs include combining multiple orders into one to lower shipping costs, taking the time to shop around for the best prices and requesting bids from various manufacturers/suppliers before placing orders.
Another way to save money on products and materials is to maximize your buying power by co-oping with local labs to purchase products in bulk. Perdue Dental Laboratory, Sarasota, FL, often partners with the C&B lab with whom it works on combination cases, and the labs save between 5% and 10% on orders of common...
8 Faster, Smarter, Better Management Strategies to Boost Your Business: We Want to Hear Your Management Strategies
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 enables a technician to focus on his product quality.
For example, some laboratories use a manual pre-scheduling system. Each technician has a designated block of time and pre-determined number of units he can handle per day. As cases come in, the office manager schedules them into an appointment book according to this set capacity and the laboratory's current workload. Once a technician's slot is full, no more cases are scheduled for him that day. The office manager then calls the dental office with the date on which the case will be delivered. There are also a variety of software packages on the market that can streamline the pre-scheduling process....
Read More 8 minute read
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.
Strategy: Have some fun. Encouraging your employees to have fun together and to develop relationships is an excellent way to foster mutual respect and teamwork. People who enjoy one another usually have a greater loyalty to each other and to the laboratory. "The power of having fun at work should never be underestimated. People simply are more productive and motivated if they are having fun...it's just the way we are wired," says Derik Mocke of the Sustainable Employee Motivation website.
While some laboratory owners have gone all out--treating employees to wine tastings, boat trips, ballpark outings and golf tournaments--you can achieve the same...
- October 2011
The primary objectives and responsibilities of an outside vs. inside sales rep differ and so do their compensation packages. Nick Azar offers average salary ranges and guidelines for commission.
- September 2011
Glidewell Laboratories is once again âcrossing the traditional boundaries of dental technologyâ with the opening of its 2,800-sq-ft, state-of-the-art training, education and technology demonstration facility.
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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. LMT looks at the indust
- April 2011
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 precious metal scrap like bridges, crowns, inlays, clasps, grindings, casting splash, sludge, sweeps, vacuum bags, crucibles, towels, rugs and ventilation systems. Even molds and investment waste can take in small amounts of gold during casting.
Install carpeting in metal finishing areas to capture grindings and filings.
Process and store precious and non-precious metals in separate areas. Then separate precious scrap materials by type to make it easier to keep track of what and how much you sent. Always separate solids (crowns, sprues, buttons and flash), grindings and sweeps when possible. Keep filter bags, castings and investments separate as...