We hear that things "out there" could be a lot better: many laboratories are hurting, business is spotty, dentists are slow and, worst of all, we see that price competition has gotten downright ugly. Times are tough.
It seems like this is "pay-attention-and-think-as-clearly-as-you-can time": time to grapple with what strategies you can employ to thrive in a market gone haywire.
Is the sky falling on dental technology? Despite the slump coupled with a highly competitive climate, I don't think so.
People are living longer, the world's population is growing and every one of us needs teeth. So the need for restorative services will always thrive.
What's under fire, though, is the way these services are provided. For many of you, the core purpose for entering this field—to pursue your passion for creating natural-looking dentition—is being challenged by change.
The market certainly isn't "same old, same old" by any stretch that suggests comfort and familiarity. I know, for some technicians, there are feelings of sadness and a sense of discouragement created by the transition from hands-on craftsmanship to high-tech milling. Thankfully, there are also like-minded dentists who will continue to prefer working with a craftsman.
Then there are some technicians who are finding new ways to exercise their passion for dental technology in the digital landscape. Some are even totally energized by these changes and are sailing along, continuing to innovate and adapting well to the new restorative ways.
Seeking out the innovators among us and sharing their stories is one of the ways LMT is able to be of real service to you. We hope the stories we share of labs that are thriving, growing and reinventing themselves serve as food for thought or as inspiration to your own business.
For a good dose of positive reinforcement about all that is possible, for example, see New Players on the Block ("Industry Veteran's Gamble Pays Off" ). Be sure to read the results of Straumann's research regarding the health of the implant market ("Straumann's 2020 Forecast: Implant & CAD/CAM Dentistry Poised For Fantastic Growth" ), and note that this year's Buyer's Guide—a comprehensive resource directory of all the suppliers and service providers at your disposal—hasn't shrunk at all! That suggests the dental business community, on the whole, is pretty stable.
Our ability to adapt will determine whether or not the sky falls on us. Even though these last few years have been very trying, many lab owners have told us that they are hunkered down, keeping lean and waiting for the dark clouds overhead to move on. This is encouraging.
I'm betting that the American entrepreneurial spirit—one that is quite strong in our community—will persevere and figure out how to stay the course.