Profit Vs. Relationship and The 3 Lies You Tell Yourself in The Lab Business

Posted on: April 7th, 2016 by Cornerstone

By: Jay Collins.

One of the hardest things for a lab owner to manage is relationships versus profits. The larger your company grows, the more stressful this becomes. Owning a small business is a simple equation; the more bottom line profit, the healthier the business. That is easy for the day to day running of the lab, but what the money people, or the people looking outside in on you do not tell you is, the best way to drive profit has nothing to do with sales, cost, or production, its largest contributor is the relationships that you build.

Owner / Tech Relationship

If you are like me and work in a dental lab, you mostly work 8-12 hours a day. I do not know many successful lab personnel that work less than 8 hours. So, let’s do some math…if you average 9 hours a day and there is an average of 20 working days in the month, that is 180 hours a month, I can argue that you spend more of the best hours of the day with your team than anyone else in the world. So, naturally these people become like family. In that becomes the hard part. You are running a business, a department, or yourself, if we all want to drive profit then the personal relationship with the team can get in the way of making a clear choice about profit. And with that is lie number 1, “It is not personal…it is business.”  Say that to someone that has killed themselves for you for years right after you lay them off.

This can lead to endless stress and worry.

Owner / Doctor Relationship

This industry can lead to very unbalanced lab/doctor relationships. Lab to doctor, some doctors will build their Dental Practice with you. You save them with many cases of patients and the doctor starts to think they cannot work without your lab. You think this is great, but the doctor is building this “workflow” with one person in the lab and not the lab its self. See, there are over 7,000 labs in North America, and every one of those labs feels that they make the BEST restorations in the industry. For our core clients this is true…but in the back of our heads, we know anyone can really duplicate the work we are doing for our doctor. So, with that head trash always floating around, and a sprinkling of the fear of lost sales revenue, we tell ourselves lie number 2 “The doctors is always right!” We use that lie not just to cave to the correctness of a restoration, but also everything else, from their manufacturing terms, time tables, unit cost, and lastly payment schedule.

This can lead to endless stress and worry.

Owner / Family Relationship

To be the loved one of a person who has a career in the dental lab can be very stressful. Due to the lies and pressure I already spoke about, most lab people negate their loved ones the most.  This is where we tell ourselves lie number 3, “I am doing all of this for YOU!” Most people do not pick the dental field, the dental field picks them, ask anyone you may know in the dental field and you will find they have a friend or a family member in the field. You almost fall into it, and you don’t even know how you got there. That makes this lie even stronger, because most of the time there is the added stress of love and pressure of the family or friend business is weighing on your mind, not to let anyone down, family or yourself. It takes a very mature person to separate business and people.  Interject love….OH BOY.

This can lead to endless stress and worry.

Good Luck.