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The Daily Bite
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>Respondents to LMT's Small Lab Survey speak out about the future of our industry. ###The Future Looks . . . Great My business has stayed strong through this terrible economy. If I made it through...See more this, I can make it through anything. My cosmetic workload dropped off a bit during the past couple of years, but has really picked back up as of late. My future looks incredibly solid. As the masses move toward CAD technology, I move in the completely opposite direction. I educate my clients on the shortcomings of this new technology and they're grateful for the insight. I work with dentists who appreciate what I can do for them, they trust my expertise and we love working as a team. The outlook is great. My philosophy has always been keep doing what I am doing. There is a huge demand for removable technicians due to the demand for dentures, partials, etc. I currently have a full workload most of the time; occasionally, a little more than I would prefer. I have been working with my clients for an average of 20 years and we have a good working relationship. I was feeling some pressure to invest in a CAD/CAM system but for the amount of requests I'm getting for those types of restorations, outsourcing is working well for me. I only fabricate dentures. The clients love my work. I see a solid future and possible growth. The demand for my artwork is high and I have been approached to lecture and produce instructional DVDs to be marketed to schools and private practices. There will be more work as more technicians are retiring. Great. I get clients on referrals and I've been doing well. I don't want to get too busy so things are perfect for me right now. The digital laboratory's future is going to be a successful one. We've been scanning for almost five years and we're installing a Roland 5-axis milling machine. Our next step in the digital market will be to incorporate digital printing for models and possibly install a second design station. We've taken these last slower years and invested time and money in technology to be prepared for the future. We're poised for growth. Although I'm "old school" and retiring soon, I think the future for dental technology is bright, marvelous and amazing. Our industry will remain interesting and challenging. I'm busier than I've ever been. I have young doctors and their practices are growing, thus I'm swamped. My business has grown tremendously in the past three years, and I don't see a slowdown soon. I am considering hiring more technicians. ###The Future Looks . . . Grim Outsourcing to China is taking market share. CAD/CAM technology and implant companies are taking profits away from labs. Digital dentistry will eventually kill much of the posterior work. Chairside milling machines will continue to take more work away from labs. Rising costs of materials and equipment, expensive technology and sky-rocketing precious metals are all killing profits. Bleak; my volume is 50% down so far this year. It's getting harder and harder to compete with the large laboratories because dentists are shopping for "cheap" more than I have ever seen in 42 years. Digital technology is going to price the small lab out of business. The machinery needed to keep up is too expensive and outsourcing costs make your profit margin too low to survive. In recent weeks, I've learned about two different CAD companies telling my doctors they will soon be able to bypass "those expensive technicians" and just deal directly with their companies. Many CAD/CAM companies don't seem to be a good match for small labs because of the high costs and learning curve. Large laboratories have a huge advantage here. Not doing very well; may be forced to retire. Not too good! Artistry is no longer valued! It seems that larger laboratories are surviving while small labs are price cutting and having difficulty maintaining a decent profit margin. Offshore labs are destroying our business. In my opinion, these labs should be taxed to compete with the local labs. I can't afford scanners and expensive equipment. I'm sure most other small laboratories would agree we're going to end up with very few large labs and the small to medium labs will be gone--yes, even the high-quality ones. Because entry-level wages are so low, I don't think young men and women will be interested in this field in the future. Competition in NY is fierce; it's 95% price driven. When I go into a new dental office to introduce myself, the first question the doctor asks is, "How much?" Small labs will go the way of the dinosaur. Increased regulations/compliance costs coupled with cheap offshore work that flows into this country unregulated will choke them out. Dentistry is getting more expensive. The supplies are costing more. Labs cannot increase their fees, yet the doctors are charging more to the patients and complain about lab fees. Read the results of the Small Lab Survey here: [The Future of the Small Laboratory: Grim Or Great?](articles/3130)
Our latest How's Business survey shows mixed results for 2011.
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...See more emerged stronger and poised for growth.
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.
We used to associate CAD/CAM with zirconia but, today, almost any product you want to make can be envisioned through CAD/CAM--whether it's the entire product or part of the product," said Don Cornell,...See more Vice President of Jensen Dental, during his program, Critical Considerations for Integrating a CAD/CAM Strategy, at the 2012 Jensen Education Day event at the SwissŰtel. "CAD/CAM is about process; it's no longer about product." The good news is that the price of the technology is more accessible than ever before; there's an affordable option and system for every need and almost every laboratory. If you choose to invest in digital technology, be wary of using price as a differentiator. "Don't let buyer mentality take over user mentality, meaning don't believe that if it costs more, it's better," said Greg Harris, a marketing and sales consultant, who presented alongside Cornell. "Evaluate what your customers are buying from you, get the features you need--not all the bells and whistles--and use CAD/CAM as a tool to be profitable." Automation and the 25-30% market contraction caused by the recession are helping to fuel what Cornell calls a move toward "good enough" dentistry for posterior restorations which is, in turn, driving the growth of full contour restorations. "Full contour is not just about something that's cheap--it's good enough in this application, in this space, at this price point. It's shaped like a tooth, it blends in and margins are good." Since full contour is growing at a faster rate than any other product in dentistry, Cornell encouraged labs to embrace the trend and be wary of over-specializing. "When it comes to full contour there are those labs that don't want to participate. They say 'that's not who I am,' but can you really afford not to participate in this business?" he asked. "Full contour is driving posterior business today--70% of teeth are posterior. If you won't participate at this price point, you run the risk of losing some clients. Don't say 'I'm implant' or 'I'm full mouth reconstructions' only--those specialty markets are shrinking." Diversifying your product portfolio with economy restorations doesn't mean you "pollute" your other product offerings. "Just as Hilton has a brand for every need and price point--the luxury brand is Waldorf, the service brand is Hilton and the value brand is Hampton--you can offer different levels without diluting your top brand for anteriors," said Harris. "It's not about diluting your brand, but augmenting it."