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Everything Dental Blog – November 2012

If you are like me then you feel like the hurricane, snow storm, the election, daylight savings (its dark at 5pm?) and this stuttering economy has been dragging you down. I’m tired of being overworked and stressed by the uncertainty in our business community. I’m glad the election is finally over but I want winter and the holidays to have come and gone already. I want longer, warmer, summer days and I want the economy to surge. I want a break from it all.
My exhaustion and frustration is a common thread when I speak to friends, family and clients. Many of us have been pushing the business uphill for so long that we want a break. We share a sense of exhaustion and look forward to a more friendly business environment in 2013.

So what needs to get done now?

Practices must continue scheduling and treating patients with approved treatment, those entitled to their second re-care appointment and those spending down their medical Flex accounts.
The dealers must market the plug and play technology items and give incentives for bulk merchandise orders. In some circumstances, the doctors and dealers are limited by the order/deliver/install timelines for large equipment and technology. This is a big concern for dentists that wish to take advantage of the section 179 deduction.

The dental manufacturers must hustle to close as many deals as they can to secure a good year and move market share. Market share numbers identify the big dogs and the emerging products in any given category. Product penetration and usage determines a products dominance and it helps other products in a company’s portfolio grow. If a particular product exceeds the industry growth rate for that year, it suggests a gain in market share!

Our Supporting Cast

None of us can run our business without the help of others (dedicated employees). They are at the core of our business and in many cases, they represent us to the public and to our customers.
If you were to interview most of these folks, they will tell you that they are over worked and under paid! Despite their dedication and hard work, these people are struggling today. These lucky workers maintained employment during the Financial Armageddon but the downsizing, restructuring and layoffs of the past few years has increased their work load in many cases.
Additionally, the movement towards global competitiveness and efficiency has changed many jobs and careers forever. There is truly a significant movement towards a more educated and better skilled workforce. My son Jordan and I discussed the plight of the common worker when he came home from college during Hurricane Sandy. We were at a diner and overheard some people talking in the booth next to ours. They were sharing their concern for friends or family members that were unemployed and struggling.

Jordan was so concerned and feared for those people. He felt horrible about the plight of those people and their kids and said, “Dad, if a machine, robot or software can do the job, it eventually will. Businesses want to make more profits and don’t care about workers. What’s going to happen to all of these people out of work with no special talents or skills?” This was one of those rare moments that I didn’t have a quick remedy or easy answer for such a complicated question.
The last few years have been difficult for the middle class. There was a decline in the quality of life for so many Americans. I hope our government and business leaders work together to train and educate the unemployed. I hope the promises of our politicians bear fruit for the middle class and that our safety nets protect the innocent and needy during this transformation.

What are your colleagues saying?

According to the Dental Business Forum (a practice management and education organization based in the northeast) seminar attendees are overwhelmingly positive about the future of dentistry but are concerned about the unknown. They are unsure how the Affordable Healthcare Act will affect dentistry.
The good news is that the business seems to be picking up! In an unofficial survey, I asked my clients (over a three day period) how they felt about the state of the business today and their outlook for 2013. I asked them if they felt the business would be better or worse in 2013.
Below are their responses:
3- Clients were not confident in the economic recovery and thought things would get worse regardless of the next president.
6 – Clients said the business would be about the same next year.
17 – Clients said business will be better in 2013 and would continue to improve for the next several years!
3 – Clients thought the business will be the best it’s been in years and were very encouraged about the future.

Game Changer

For those of you that have talked about going Cad Cam or wanted to ease into it by going with digital impressioning first, your time has come.

This 3MESPE scanner is now the size of a curing light or intra oral camera handpiece!
CadCam and Digital impressioning will change the way dentistry is done forever – it is a welcomed change and same day dentistry is going to be the norm by 2020!

1992

Twenty years ago, this month, I began my dental career. I was working for a regional, family owned, company from Pennsylvania. During that time, I was the only representative for the northern suburbs of New York City and had the incredible opportunity of introducing my company to the greater New York marketplace.
The business was segmented in those days. We had the big guys – the full service distributors (they sold and serviced dental equipment and had a sales force selling dental supplies) and the catalogers who did business on the phones and only sold merchandise and medicaments. My company was a small but progressive, regional full service distributor.

The national distributors of that era were few. There was Healthco (The biggest U.S. dental supplier) and Patterson dental. In the cataloger space was Henry Schein and Darby/Spencer Mead. There were many other companies and marketers but none equaled the extensive selection, services or market share of the aforementioned companies.

When I came on board in November of 1992, Healthco International was dominant but experiencing massive financial difficulties. This created a real void in the market place. It was good for Patterson and my company but also energized the catalogers.
There was no internet back then and most distributors and dental companies were privately held. It was a cottage industry and everyone knew everyone else. Back then, we discussed things like the silver content in amalgam and what was the best X-ray mount (plastic or cardboard) to use that didn’t hurt the assistant’s cuticles. I remember promoting fax ordering as a new technological advancement in those days!

A Big Thank You

I would like to thank my clients, industry leaders and manufacturing partners for the past twenty years. During these past twenty years I have witnessed and participated in an esthetic and technological revolution. We have gone from no tech to low tech to hi-tech. It has been fun and I feel like I am a very lucky fellow.

When I began my dental journey, my daughter was two years old and my son was not even a thought. Today, my daughter is in her senior year of college and my son is a freshman in college. I have been able to provide a good life for my family since joining this dental fraternity. I am truly humbled by the relationships I have made with my clients, vendors and my corporate management team. Many of whom are my friends and mentors today. I am excited about our future and look forward to another decade or two? (at least 12 more years) of working with all of you.

This 3MESPE scanner is now the size of a curing light or intra oral camera handpiece!
CadCam and Digital impressioning will change the way dentistry is done forever – it is a welcomed change and same day dentistry is going to be the norm by 2020!
1992
Twenty years ago, this month, I began my dental career. I was working for a regional, family owned, company from Pennsylvania. During that time, I was the only representative for the northern suburbs of New York City and had the incredible opportunity of introducing my company to the greater New York marketplace.
The business was segmented in those days. We had the big guys – the full service distributors (they sold and serviced dental equipment and had a sales force selling dental supplies) and the catalogers who did business on the phones and only sold merchandise and medicaments. My company was a small but progressive, regional full service distributor.
The national distributors of that era were few. There was Healthco (The biggest U.S. dental supplier) and Patterson dental. In the cataloger space was Henry Schein and Darby/Spencer Mead. There were many other companies and marketers but none equaled the extensive selection, services or market share of the aforementioned companies.
When I came on board in November of 1992, Healthco International was dominant but experiencing massive financial difficulties. This created a real void in the market place. It was good for Patterson and my company but also energized the catalogers.
There was no internet back then and most distributors and dental companies were privately held. It was a cottage industry and everyone knew everyone else. Back then, we discussed things like the silver content in amalgam and what was the best X-ray mount (plastic or cardboard) to use that didn’t hurt the assistant’s cuticles. I remember promoting fax ordering as a new technological advancement in those days!

In The Drivers Seat

The dental arena is still very lucrative and rewarding today. While we bitch and complain about the costs, the margins, the insurance companies and the regulatory issues, dentistry is still one of healthcares most lucrative segments. It is a rare and very special privilege to work in an industry that continues to grow its relevance year after year. The systemic/oral connection will make our work even more important in the future. Many older dentists say the glory days are in the past but I believe dentistry’s best days are in the future.

We are in the driver’s seat and we have a choice to make. We can wait for the old days to return (they never will) or we can acknowledge some obvious trends and take action now to improve our business. Here are some thoughts.

• Americans are aging (the Boomers rule the roost and have the money). Do you actively market them?

• The middle class has been squeezed and there are less of them. Are they still your primary target market?

• If you were a marketing professional advising a client whose market had shrunk and competitors were targeting their patients, what would you recommend? Would you say stay the course? Market more? Offer more products and services? Would you suggest your client identify distinctions in their offering or delivery?

• Your patients and prospective patients are internet savvy and they text and e-mail and use the web. Do you?

• The affordable Health care Act just grew the insurance pie. It is doubtful that this change will populate private care facilities but Americans have never been more focused on their health insurance. While I believe in the Fee for Service model, I acknowledge its challenges and understand its rewards. A dentist must determine their business philosophy and commit to it. Insurance involvement is a marketing expense. The reduction of fees to obtain new patients is the arrangement. The fee for service model must lure patients in with the promise of better care and a better experience!

• Life is more hectic and consumers are more demanding these days. Have you investigated Cad Cam yet? Same day dentistry is on the fast track in America. More milling units will be sold in the next two years than were sold in the last ten years! The reason is simple; one visit, no temps, better restorations, bigger profits! Do you still require your patient to make two to three visits to your office for a crown? What’s going to happen when the DDS down the block advertises same day dentistry?

Before You Know It

Soon we will be sharing turkey with our families for Thanksgiving. The weekend following is the Greater New York Dental Meeting and shortly after that, we will be hunkering down for the Holiday Season and the New year!

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One comment

  1. i love visiting your blogs! hope to see post about Washington DC Endodontists ,keep it up the good work.