Check out my first-hand look at Atlantic City!
Henry Schein’s Labnext is a cloud-based lab management software specifically designed for digital dentistry. The open system integrates with a variety of scanners, design software and practice management software packages and is tightly integrated with the company’s DDX (Digital Dental Exchange).
DDX is a HIPAA-compliant, web-based digital portal that helps labs accept digital files, manage casework digitally and create new lines of communication with clients. The dentists can submit all their digital scans, X-rays and photos via DDX. The laboratory can customize the case submission form and require the dentist to enter specific information, eliminating the need for data entry in the lab and minimizing errors and follow up.Streamline WorkflowWhen a dentist submits a case, the lab receives a notification in the DDX or Labnext software or via email and logs in to start the case. “When I get a case via DDX, an email pops up on my phone and I know right away that I have a...LMT Communications, Inc. · October 21 at 5:10 pm
LMT profiles nine software innovations—many of them new or recently upgraded—that are helping labs upload files faster, reap the benefits of the cloud, increase efficiency, track metrics, accept digital impressions, outsource more easily and enhance their customer service and communication efforts.LMT Communications, Inc. · October 14 at 10:28 am
For years, members of my family—as well as of our staff—have wanted to duck under the table whenever they’d go out to dinner with me. It is so widely known among my friends that I can be, well, a “difficult customer,” that when my sister wrote and sang a song about my restaurant escapades for a surprise birthday party years ago, it was met with uproarious laughter and praise.
There are two very good reasons for my “difficult” behavior: one is that I have dietary restrictions that require me to ask a lot of questions before I order. But the other is that, like everyone else, I work hard for the money I earn and therefore, when I spend it, I expect a certain level of customer service. When I don’t get it, I am vocal when it isn’t delivered.
I speak up because my intention is to help bring the concerns to light so they can be corrected. I think that’s what makes me particularly captivated by the TV show, Undercover Boss. I respect...
In our Ask SCORE column, George Obst, certified SCORE mentor and retired CEO and Founding Partner of Dental Services Group, addresses how to create a market-driven organization.
- November 2014
Competing on price is not, of course, an unfamiliar reality—production/high volume laboratories have been the perceived competitors of small laboratories for decades. But now, with digital technology available to all size laboratories, the competitive arena enables some laboratories to make a comfortable profit via sheer volume and that is one of the causes of industry-wide price erosion.
As you see from our cover story, The Race to the Bottom is the takeaway mantra of respondents to LMT’s 2014 Fee Survey and it isn’t pretty. Because of price competition—fueled largely by full contour zirconia, which has turned into a commodity of sorts—C&B fees have been mostly stagnant. Many laboratories are churning out more units yet raking in lower profits. Not good.
So what are we going to do to turn things around?
There are no black-and-white solutions but high on the list are:
Focusing on/enhancing your customer service
Increasing your knowledge base
- April 2014
Are you ready to take the plunge and invest in your own digital equipment? Going digital was the name of the game at NADL Vision 21 in Las Vegas in January where speakers offered tips on how to incorporate new technology into the laboratory.
- March 2014
Owners: Hal and Glenda Jones
“Hal and Glenda Jones are exceptional people first, exceptional employers second. I’ve been working here for 13 years and their genuine care for their employees shows throughout the company,” says Mikki Davis, Ceramist at Waco, TX-based Summit Dental Lab, echoing the resounding sentiment of the employees, a third of whom have worked there for a decade or more.
The Joneses believe that each employee’s character determines his ability to contribute positively to the team as a whole and enhances the quality of its products and services, as well as the work environment. So, in addition to providing a four-day workweek, outstanding benefits and hundreds of CE hours a year, Summit also offers personal development seminars on subjects such as health, financial management and character development. The package also includes the Employee Assistance Program, which includes visits from corporate chaplains as well as a...
I've been traveling around the country this season and have visited a number of laboratories, manufacturers and educational institutions. As I was passing through the Pittsburgh area, I stopped to visit Nick Hayden at Partial Foundations Dental Lab. Watch for more stories in my Road Trip series throughout the 2014 issues of LMT. ~Judy Fishman
- February 2014
Many laboratories create esthetic restorations, but some owners and their teams are lucky enough to work in facilities that are as beautiful as the work they create.
- January 2014
This year marks LMT’s and LAB DAY Chicago’s 30th birthdays and we plan to celebrate all year long. Come celebrate with us in the pages of LMT, at LAB DAY and online as we take a walk through 30 years of history.
Online, we’re taking our cue from a popular internet trend called Throwback Thursday during which users post old photos. We’re calling ours Throwback Thirty and will be posting photos and snippets from our 30-year history with you every Thursday on The Bridge at LMTmag.com/ThrowbackThirty. But to make it really fun, we want you to join in!
We’d like you to share your recollections of the stuff we post and also post your own “throwback” photos of life in your lab, photos from industry events or stories from the past. Let’s work together, as we always do, to create a living history of all we’ve created and done as the decision makers we are!*
What I didn’t realize 30 years ago was that so many of you were on the same page...
- October 2013
When it comes to marketing, more laboratories are going digital to reach dentists: theyâre building websites, using social media, advertising online and phasing out printed marketing pieces in favor of digital ones.
Read More 7 minute read
- September 2013
A year ago, Whip Mix Corp. promoted its Vice President of Manufacturing, Jim Myers, to President of the company, succeeding Allen Steinbock, the grandson of Whip Mix Founder Edmund Steinbock, Sr. This promotion makes Myers the first non-family member President in the company's history. LMT travelled to Louisville, KY, to talk with Myers about his new position and where the company is headed.
LMT: As President, how has your role changed?
Myers: For 11 years, my priority was our manufacturing processes; now, it's more focused on customer needs and opportunities. I have much more interaction with our sales team and Whip Mix customers.
LMT: What stands out to you regarding your customers?
Myers: The most striking thing about our laboratory customers is their level of energy, dedication and desire to improve their businesses. Rather than hoping digital technology won't affect them, they're rolling up their sleeves, re-inventing themselves and embracing new technology.
LMT: Tell us more...
Read More 4 minute read
- November 2012
In 2004, New Image/Laboratory Solutions became the first 3M ESPE Lava Milling Center on the East Coast. Victor Harp, an up-and-coming waxer/finisher, learned the system and wowed everyone with how quickly he picked up the digital process. "He was like a kid in a candy store playing with the machine and got great results right from the start," says Fay Ashley, Customer Relations Manager.
The laboratory immediately began accepting outsourcing cases and Harp was chosen to head the department which has since grown to seven staff members and produces up to 600 units a week.
The success of the department has a lot to do with Victor's work ethic. "Some people just punch the clock but Victor really cares about the work that goes out," says Ashley. For instance, when the new division was first getting off the ground, Victor—a one-man department—frequently put in 70-hour workweeks. More recently, the lab has been experiencing power surges due to weather which cause the milling machines...
From a family of educators, Julian Infante, CDT, has both a love of learning and a gift for teaching.
He earned his Associate's degree from Bates Technical College and eventually joined Modern Dental Lab—then called Northwest Labs—in Bellevue, WA in 2006. Since then, he has earned his CDT in crown and bridge, helped develop the lab's implant and CAD/CAM departments and moved into a consulting role, advising clients on everything from materials to digital impression systems to implants—which is his true passion.
"I'm fascinated by the high level of precision that's engineered into the implant systems and the amount of accuracy that's required from the technician to complete an implant case successfully," says Infante, Technical Manager.
To learn as much as he could about the specialty, Infante has taken hours of clinical training at various conferences, is now a member of the AAID, ACP and ICOI, and plans to earn the new CDT in implants next year.
Infante also helps...
Monica Daniel didn't know what a dental laboratory was until she was hired as a bookkeeper at YDL in 2008, but her lack of industry experience has actually given her a leg up.
"My outside perspective has been extremely beneficial to me because I'm able to look at things in the lab with a fresh eye," she says. "I don't want to do things a certain way just because that's how they've always been done; I try to look at things differently and see where we can streamline workflow or gain efficiencies."
For instance, when Daniel was looking to take on more responsibility at the lab, she set out to learn about how cases were fabricated and moved through the lab so she spent some time in each department, including the model room. "I noticed some cases just sitting there not being worked on and it turned out that the client did his own model work, but the cases still spent two days in the department just like all the other cases," she says. As a result, the lab now sends those cases on a fast...
They say a goldfish will grow commensurate to the size of its fish bowl; if you want it to get bigger, then give it more space. So after Christian Saurman joined his father's orthodontic laboratory—then with 12 employees—he told him, "Dad, all you've got to do is give me a bigger fishbowl. I just need room to grow."
Eleven years later, the lab employs 35 people and, in 2009 moved into a new 7,000-sq-ft fishbowl...er laboratory.
"From the time I was bagging plaster at six years old, I knew I wanted to work with my father," says Christian, who earned a degree in computer information systems and marketing before joining the lab in 2001. However, Christian didn't just jump in at the top; his father, Bill, employed the strategy of the United Parcel Service—which makes executives work their way through the ranks—and started Christian in the trenches, cleaning the lab and answering telephones.
Although Christian spent time in every department and knows how to fabricate...
- August 2012
Many of LMT's articles stem from things we experience here. When the editorial team cooked up the theme for this month's issue, for example, you might say we were all "steamed up." We, too, have business problems that need to be solved.
In fact, the last quarter of 2011 was a whopper that tested our mettle but with our issues now behind us, we emerged sleeker and wiser for our trials and tribulations. Sometimes the solution to one problem resolves others you don't even realize are nagging at your heels. Here are some issues we've had that may resonate with you:
PROBLEM: How can I ensure I'm investing in the right software technologies?
STRATEGY: Sometimes you can't know what "right" is until you try it. The ideal strategy is one that enables you to test a system before incorporating it. Whenever that's possible, that's the way to go.
For us, the challenge was to select a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software program that could be customized for our needs. Because of the customization...
- June 2012
Three-quarters of home-based lab owners responding to LMT's survey are "very satisfied" with their decision to work from home. In addition to the financial benefits, they appreciate the flexibility, relaxed atmosphere and their ability to balance work/home demands more easily.
- 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
"For me, selling well is based on meeting a client's needs, not self-servingly trying to "sell up" when it isn't called for."
- 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!
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
3 Faster, Smarter, Better Customer Service Strategies to Boost Your Business: What Are Your Secrets For Excellent Customer Service?
In this economy, working faster, smarter, better is the key to riding out the storm. Here are 3 easy-to-implement tips that can lead to a leaner, meaner, more efficient laboratory operation.
Problem: I want to find a concrete way to reward customers who have remained loyal to us and haven't been lured away by lower prices in this economy.
Strategy: Consider a loyalty rewards program; many laboratories have programs that award dentist-clients cash, credit or even travel credits equal to 2-5% of their total volume. In 2009, Doug Egts, Owner of Esthetic Dental Creations in Rawson, OH, was spurred by the challenging economy to implement the loyalty program he had been considering for a few years. He awards clients 3% of their monthly volume in "Creation Credit Points." Doctors can then use each point for a dollar off future lab work or 50 cents in cash back.
"I always think it's unfair when businesses give new customers all the perks, while it's the loyal, long-term customers that keep...
- January 2012