Empowering Laboratories to Win More Business
Offering the highest levels of service is critical in today’s environment as dental laboratories seek to differentiate themselves from the competition. To help them do so, Sterngold Dental offers the Lab Partnership Program, which allows laboratories to bundle implants and restorative components with their custom restorations at a competitive price. Inside Dental Technology spoke to Sterngold Dental President and CEO Gordon Craig to learn more about the program.
Inside Dental Technology (IDT): What was the genesis of why Sterngold decided to create the Lab Partnership Program?
Gordon Craig: It was a combination of both the impact of COVID-19 and the challenges we are seeing in the dental laboratory space. Laboratories are constantly pressured; competition is becoming even more intense. We are seeing the industry continue to compress through consolidation as well as retirements. We decided to define this program that would allow dental laboratories to focus on growth, be able to combat pricing pressures, and really have a competitive edge to remain viable, improve profitability, and offer expanded services to their customer bases.
IDT: What sets Sterngold apart from other implant manufacturers in terms of the ability to do something like this?
Craig: The biggest thing is we control the supply chain on our products. We manufacture dental implants and dental prosthetics, and we reach the customer directly, so no other channels are applying increased pricing. We decided to partner with the laboratories to provide that incentive to help them grow their dental implant businesses, expand their customer bases, and generally differentiate their laboratories. It is not a one-size-fits-all program; we have different levels of engagement based on the focus that each laboratory wants to project for themselves. In many cases, laboratories do not need to redefine themselves to take advantage of this program. The most significant benefits are the integrated workflow options. For example, a laboratory could choose to utilize a workflow arrangement whereby the materials are drop-shipped directly to the dentist from Sterngold. There are so many different options like that.
IDT: That ability to customize the arrangement seems to fit a trend we have observed of laboratories offering personalized service to their dentists. How important is that?
Craig: Laboratories that focus on the service metric are the ones surviving and growing. A lot of companies offer really great products; that is the entry level for being in business. What differentiates good businesses from great businesses is that higher level of service, whether it is personalization or just a more efficient level of service that creates better dialogues, more efficiencies, and fewer headaches. We designed the Lab Partnership Program to streamline workflows from beginning to end on a case-by-case basis and provide a wonderful experience not only for the dentist but, ultimately, for the patient. We have designed this program to really encapsulate focal points on making sure the service levels are highest all the way through that chain. That turns into a win-win-win-win scenario, because we all have an eye on making sure the patient is satisfied, and if the patient is satisfied then so are the dentist and the laboratory. If those three are all satisfied, then we are satisfied. The key is making sure the entire chain is intact.
IDT: Can you paint a picture from a laboratory’s perspective of how exactly this program works?
Craig: What brings everything together is the All-in-1 bundle; using single-site implant crowns as an example, Sterngold provides all the materials needed to create an environment for the laboratory to place its crown into the workflow. There are multiple levels of variations, so we can work with dentists and laboratories using either analog or digital methods. In simple terms, Sterngold is a manufacturer of dental implants, attachments, and prosthetics; we manufacture everything here in Massachusetts with our own machinery. So, we can provide the implant, cover screw, healing abutment, either an impression coping (analog) or scan body (digital), and either stock abutment (analog) or Ti base (digital), all for one bundled price. Usually, the cost of the components cuts into the laboratory’s margins, but this allows the laboratory to maintain those margins. They can really capitalize on the ability to offer an implant, restorative components, and a crown for less than $500. This is a huge differentiator in the marketplace and allows for a tremendous amount of growth at all levels. Most importantly, we are creating a chance for everyone to take a bite of the apple, but, ultimately, we want the patient to have the most affordable solution that gives them a better quality of life. The driving force is our belief that many underserved patients need implants and cannot afford it. This program fills that void. It is not a matter of devaluing other solutions on the market; it just provides the dentist, through the laboratory, another option to offer to try to get the patient to accept a level of treatment that will give them a better quality of life.
IDT: What has the initial feedback been from laboratories and dentists?
Craig: The feedback we are getting is very good. I would encapsulate it this way: We are taking somebody who has a pretty good-sized paintbrush, and now we are making that paintbrush wider. You are painting with fewer strokes and covering more. Most importantly, dental professionals now can have a predictable case cost that is affordable and reduce overhead all around. Having an implant-to-crown total cost of less than $500 allows the dentist to offer an affordable solution to the patient while maintaining their profitability. Where this plays really well is in the realm of DSOs and group laboratories; everyone knows the goal of these organizations is to drive costs out of the network. The idea of our program is to develop a solution that increases the efficiency of consultations by increasing acceptance rates. We are targeting the large percentage of patients who, to this point, have been declining dental implant treatment. This is where the industry is going, and we have just decided to get there faster than anyone else.
IDT: What other support does Sterngold offer as part of the Lab Partnership Program?
Craig: We educate and work with laboratories to help educate clinicians. We have integrated educational programs—both virtual and live—that the clinician (and laboratories) can utilize to become fully capable and experienced on how to use these products. We also provide marketing support for the laboratories in the form of digital collateral and communication templates the laboratory can use to create custom flyers with their pricing and their logos. We want to help them promote and grow their prosthetic business. It is an all-encompassing program that has a tremendous amount of value built into it all the way down the line.
IDT: What else should dental professionals know about the program?
Craig: We talked about single-tooth implants, but we also have packages for removables and fixed hybrid solutions as well. For all the package variations, it is really easy to get started. Next year, Sterngold will celebrate 125 years in business, and we are a company that stands behind our products and is always here to support our customers. That is the driving concept behind the Lab Partnership Program.