Many people watch home improvement, fashion makeover, or similar programs that feature experts of a certain field rebuilding part of a contestant's life. One such show of which I have been a long-time fan is Restaurant Impossible. The show's premise is that a famous chef, Robert Irvine, steps in to help a failing restaurant and offers his knowledge of the restaurant industry to set the owners on a path for success. While I do not expect to come across any such program relating to dental laboratories, I cannot help but notice a similarity between the issues that can hinder our own businesses and those on the show. Family conflicts in management, poor communication, lack of leadership, outdated system processes, insufficient or inept technology usage, lack of brand direction, mismanaged fee schedules, and poor product quality are all dilemmas that can bring failure upon any business.
I would argue that although all of these issues play a role in the success of the business, the quality of the product is of the utmost importance. As Chef Robert often teaches the restaurant owners, if the food is sub-par, the consumer will not buy, regardless of presentation, fair prices, or good atmosphere. Similarly, in our dental laboratories, we must emphasize the quality of our restorations. Fresh, high-quality ingredients in a restaurant are as important as the materials that we choose to use in our laboratories, but they are not enough. A good chef must know how to combine and use these ingredients; we as technicians must make the best use of the tools we have at hand. Using 40 ceramic powders does not make the restoration better if it is not done properly. Adding stain to an improperly designed monolithic restoration or without taking the time required for micro stain layers and firing cycles will not produce the best results. Thus, in order to ensure that a business creates the highest-quality product for its brand, the team members must not only know how to choose the right materials, but must also have the knowledge and skill to turn those ingredients into a high-quality final product.
Each of these issues challenges all kinds of businesses, whether it is a restaurant, a clothing store, or a dental laboratory. No matter which country's laboratories I am visiting, similar problems arise in the workplace. However, as Chef Robert demonstrates, knowledge of these fatal business flaws is power. By understanding which elements of a business lead to success and which often lead to failure, laboratory owners can set their businesses on the path to success. While it is of utmost importance, a high-quality product alone does not guarantee success. Chef Robert often says that the restaurant cannot be all things to all people; the focus on the intended market is critical. In the laboratory profession, we cannot be all things, either. Leadership is the cornerstone of an efficient laboratory. Only with strong leadership, high-quality products, a hard-working team, and a clear brand vision can a business pave the road for success.
Peter Pizzi, MDT, CDT