Business Principles from Successful Dental Labs

The New Year is typically a time when we reflect on the past year and, inevitably, thoughts go to what we wish we would have done better. The start of a new year is the Perfect time to put those thoughts into actions.

Success in 2010

This year, business is at the top of my list. Let’s not even talk about the economy. I don’t know about you, but I’m fed up with all the facts and figures and doom and gloom every time I turn on the news or pick up a paper; I’m of the mind that it doesn’t matter. If it did, then we all better start getting smaller, hunkering down, laying off employees, lowering prices, stop advertising, and stop spending money on training. Just try to survive until they tell us it is ok to get back to the business of prospering. On the other hand, we could look around and see if there is anyone in our business prospering. If there is, we need to find out what they are doing and do that. I know it’s not rocket science but, none the less, it is a tried and true method.

I know of several dental laboratories that are, and have been, prospering and expanding despite the current economic scene. There are a few very basic principles they have followed that I believe are the source of their success. I would like to share what I believe are the most important with you. The truth is that you already know what they are and many of you probably have tried them this past year. Maybe they worked, maybe not. If not, I hope I will be able to shed some light as to why not.

Business Principles for Success

The first and most important principle is that they ignored the doom and gloom economic news. They refused to become a part of the down statistics. Most, in fact, hired employees instead of laid off.

The second is that each of them had developed a clear vision for what they wanted their business to look like.

Third, they all had clearly defined plans on how they were going to achieve their vision and continued to execute those plans faithfully.

Fourth, they had in place marketing and sales strategies and continued to promote, they continued to think of new ways to inform their customers of their efforts to provide new and better products and services by holding Doctor Training courses.

Last, they continued to train their technicians. They sent them to courses on the new technology, but equally as important, they increased their training in the fundamentals.

As a matter of fact, it is their training in the fundamentals that brought their success to my attention. In a shrinking economy and when many lab owners were reporting 30% drop in sales, these owners were ordering more PTC training than usual. My discussions with them confirmed what most of us already know but so often fail to truly understand. And that is without a clearly defined vision, there can be no plan. When there is no clearly defined plan things only get done according to the most urgent problem at hand (crisis management). When one is constantly fighting the next crisis you simply do not have the desire, energy or foresight to create a well thought out vision.

I think this quote by Michael Gerber, author and business guru, says it very well:

“You must analyze your business as it is today, decide what it must be like when you’ve finally got it just like you want it, and then determine the gap between where you are and where you need to be in order to make your dream a reality. That gap will tell you exactly what needs to be done to create the business of your dreams. And what you’ll discover when you look at your business through your …eyes is that the gap is always created by the absence of systems, the absence of a proprietary way of doing business that successfully differentiates your business from everyone else’s.”

It must be noted that all six principles must be executed simultaneously to be truly effective. It also must be noted that no matter how you decide to improve your business, everything depends on well trained technicians.

The Next Step

Lay the groundwork for expansion in 2010 by taking a fresh look at your production areas and evaluate whether establishing standard technical objectives and procedures in your production area would be a good place to start your recovery/expansion.

I’m reminded of the old Native American saying: The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”.

Why not take that first step?

All the Best,
Jim Mahan, CDT
President and CEO

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