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...
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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...
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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....
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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...
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Faster, Smarter, Better Technical Strategies to Boost Your Business: What Technical Strategies Do You Use to Boost Your Business?
Problem: It's hard to achieve consistency in our work even with a final Q/C check.
Strategy: While a final case inspection is important, it shouldn't be the only quality control system in place. Building a system of checks and balances into the entire production process allows you to find and fix errors more quickly. For instance, you might have a senior technician check each step of a trainee's work, or the department manager review each case before it goes on to the next department.
Another approach that fosters employee accountability is to send a quality control checklist around with each case. Each technician is responsible for comparing the case against the list and then approving it. If it doesn't meet the criteria, he has the authority to send it back to the appropriate department to be redone.
Problem: How can I better communicate with my dentist-clients about problems with impressions?
Strategy: To drive the point home and document potential problems, many laboratory owners...
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7 Marketing Strategies to Boost Your Business: Share Your Faster, Smarter, Better Marketing Tips Here!
Problem: I'd like to boost my laboratory's name recognition in my local community. What are some low-cost public relations strategies?
Strategy: Public relations initiatives are a valuable way to promote your company without having to spend big bucks. They can enhance your credibility and help build your name recognition within your community and amongst potential clients. Here are some ideas to get your lab name out there and keep it visible:
• Call your local paper's health editor and offer to answer any questions he may have or send a letter to the editor offering your perspective on a topic that may be of interest to the paper's readers, like cosmetic dentistry or concerns about lead in restorations. Also, when you have a noteworthy business development, such as opening a new denture department, a 10-year anniversary in business or a charitable event, send a press release to the local newspaper.
• Speak before civic organizations and senior groups on relevant...
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