In the pages of DE, we spend a lot of time discussing the troubling trends facing dentistry-and rightly so. Increasing consumerism among patients, decreasing adult visits, rising student debt, and other trends are challenging the way we function as small business owners. But today, I think we should spend some time looking at our friends in the lab industry.
What trends do you think are negatively affecting the owners of a small labs? Does the rise of CAD/CAM dentistry mean that fewer crowns are being done in that lab? Are labs being cut out of the equation?
As it turns out, this isn't exactly the case. CAD/CAM and modern ceramics have enabled labs to produce high quality restorations in greater quantity and at a lower cost. Like any new technology, it can be misused or used strategically to grow a business.
Clearly we need someone on the frontline of the lab industry to better address this issue. I asked Steven Pigliacelli, CDT, MDT, and vice president of Marotta Dental Studio to point out what is really of concern to lab owners. Steven has written for DE before, and he is always very candid with his opinions. His article will bring several issues to your attention.
When was the last time you had a conversation with your lab technicians? Aside from the quick chat about a case, did you ever ask them how their businesses are faring? As Steven points out in his article, dentists and lab owners are in the same boat. When one industry suffers, the other feels the effects. These days, both of us have some challenges to overcome.
It seems that all too often we try to weather the storms quietly and independently. I think we should weather them loudly and collaboratively. I encourage you to pick up the phone and reach out to your lab partners. You may find mutually beneficial opportunities that improve cash flow and reduce headaches.
Chris Salierno, DDS