Leveraging Your Business Resources
Balance laboratory and business by choosing the best partners
By Valerie Poon
Running a laboratory business today is not an easy task. There are many parts of a business that need balance and attention, including overhead bills (ie, rent and payroll), logistics, human resources, material purchasing, and departmental coordination, along with maintaining quality control and meeting production goals to complete the cases coming through the laboratory every day. Because there are so many moving parts in managing a laboratory business, it is imperative to be able to eliminate as many “pain points” as possible. Doing this requires management to identify and analyze them, then research and develop solutions.
A laboratory's pain points can often be identified through the answers the owner or manager provides for a number of questions: How many cases are you currently receiving per month? How many units are you outsourcing per month? What material(s) are you outsourcing? How much are you paying in outsourcing costs per month and what are the shipping costs (one way or both ways) per case? What is the origin of the milling material being used? How long does it take for you to receive your cases back? Did you know that you could save a significant amount of money when you scan and design your own cases in-house? Did you know that you could eliminate doing wax-ups by hand by scanning your own anatomies and saving them in a desktop scanner? To resolve the issues exposed by these questions, laboratory managers often realize they need to bring CAD/CAM capabilities in-house in order to decrease costs and increase production, while maintaining quality control and high accuracy.
One immediate way to address some of these needs is by leveraging the laboratory's existing human assets. Many laboratory owners and technicians can be extremely knowledgeable and talented in implantology, anatomy, and esthetics. However, laboratory owners should also dig deeper and work to understand their employees' aptitudes and skills outside of the laboratory. For example, they may be surprised to learn how intuitive some of their dental technicians are when dealing with computers and technology in general. In the laboratory, this could translate into them being able to operate new CAD/CAM technology relatively quickly. Recognizing the unique background of each technician is one way a laboratory manager can better leverage those assets already working in the laboratory.
Similarly, it is not only the face-value appeal of new CAD/CAM equipment that can make it valuable to a laboratory. Any CAD/CAM distributor can sell equipment and software and deliver it to a laboratory. But not every company provides the same high-quality customer service and post-purchase support, which should include remote or on-site installation, hands-on training, ongoing support, and frequent updates. All this needs to be determined and agreed upon before the deal is closed. It is also essential to work with a long-standing CAD/CAM distributor that has an in-depth understanding of your laboratory's business and how they can help you increase productivity without breaking the bank.
Therefore, it's critical to do your research when deciding on new equipment—and the supplier from which to purchase it. Just as you would when hiring a new technician, speak with references who will give you honest, real-life feedback on whether the distributor truly stands behind their words and promises to their customers and will customize a CAD/CAM system for your laboratory that fits your budget and meets your needs. In order to best manage your laboratory and business, you need the best equipment and the best support, provided by your own employees and your CAD/CAM distributor.
About the Author
Valerie Poon is a CAD/CAM Sales & Marketing Manager at ETI Digital Technology.