Everything Dental Blog November 2018

Dental Conventions

The environment at dental meetings is much different today than it was when I started in dentistry. Back then, the meeting was a family affair. Doctors would attend with their families and they’d load up shopping bags of samples and literature. Twenty-six years ago, the dental office was a mini apothecary. Doctors would mix powders, liquids and pastes (sometimes hazmat’s like mercury) to create cements and restorative materials. Selecting a dental material in those days was less about personal preference and more about chemistry. Clinicians did not have the luxury of today’s science or the auto-mix syringe delivery system.

The Greater New York Dental Meeting is coming to the Jacob Javits Center on 11/23 and will run through 11/28 (exhibitor dates 11/25-11/28). The GNYDM is more than an international trade show and CE venue; it is an instrument of measurement for our industry. It tells industry experts and exhibitors about the dentist’s confidence in the economy and what equipment and technology they are interested in and are buying. The business activity at the show is a major indicator for business planners. A good show for exhibitors means a strong finish for the current fiscal year and provides momentum for the first quarter of next year. This affects future investments on the part of manufacturers and puts a positive spin on sales projections. In addition, a company’s performance will determine if they return to the show the following year and if they will expand or shrink their booths footprint.

For industry enthusiasts, the early nineties were the beginning of the dental renaissance [technological revolution]. Dentists began to embrace esthetic materials, magnification devices and visual aids to educate patients and sell comprehensive dentistry. By the year 2000 [Y2K] most doctors were thinking about computers in the ops. In 2005, the move to Windows from Unix and Dos applications accelerated the computerization of the dental landscape. As a matter of fact, the adoption of digital radiography was delayed because most doctors did not have computers in their operatories. We used to sell intra-oral camera cart systems and digital radiography laptop systems, so the clinician could go from one room to the next. During this period there was little or no integration with the image capturing software and the practice management system. In most cases you relied on an unsupported bridge and a hope and a prayer.

For the last ten years, technology acquisition has been widespread. Multi-specialty dental facilities and dental specialists have led the way. Those progressive offices have upgraded their film Pan to a digital Pan and now they are replacing their digital Pan with 3D imaging. Today, 3D imaging is standard of care in Ortho, TMD/TMJ, Oral Surgery and Implantology. As we approach the GNYDM 3D Imaging, CadCam and digital impressioning are the hottest categories for all dentists!

While the GNYDM is still the largest dental meeting and educational symposium in America, conventions have been on the decline for exhibitors for over a decade. Dental conventions have become large equipment showrooms with a big CE offering. Most younger dentists tell me that the meetings bring little value to them unless they are buying capital equipment or desperately need CE credits. The sentiment is, why take a financial hit and lose a day of production or R&R unless there is an urgent need?

There are great buy/get offers on merchandise and small equipment all year long. However, large equipment offers do vary and are more aggressive at trade shows. Technology and large equipment offers vary because of manufacturer convention offers and rebates, showroom and demo stock options as well as financing rates and terms. So, if you plan on buying expensive capital equipment before the convention, make sure you get the show special price and the same lease rate and terms in writing. When you buy expensive technology, max-out the extended warranty, support or club options that are available to you. This will ensure 5-8 years of support, software updates (when applicable), hardware upgrades, replacement components (when applicable) and no headaches! Be sure to consult with your Dental CPA regarding section 179 and section 199A. These deductions may provide access to cash or tax relief for your capital equipment purchases and lease hold improvements.

Looking back on 2018 we can say it was one of the most transformative and impactful years. It was transformative because many industries consolidated due to deregulation or private equity investment and there was an unprecedented acceleration of technology acquisition and utilization. It was impactful because change touched everyone. Whether you are a retiree fixated on cable news, a school teacher worried about lockdown drills and weaponizing the profession, a small business owner worried about some national chain opening next door or a high school kid whose been shamed on Instagram, 2018 was impactful and sometimes, scary. Our politics went from grid lock to tribal warfare and civility took a hit.

As we approach 2019 with high hopes for our future and a return to decency we must focus on our business. Dentistry is a business and every business must grow or the opposite will happen. When a business replicates the previous year’s activity [production/collection] that business is on the decline. Overhead costs will continue to rise so growth is the only option unless you are prepared to take home less compensation next year. The good news is that a dental office can be more profitable by being more deliberate and more efficient. That’s why so many of my friends (dental coaches and consultants) guarantee a 30% increase within eighteen months of taking on a new client.

Dentistry is a great profession and our industry makes a difference in people’s lives. We provide relief for those in pain, prevent disease and enhance the patient’s confidence by improving their smile. We know that our patients with good oral hygiene live longer and have less medical complications than those that don’t.

I will be at the GNYDM from Sunday morning through Wednesday afternoon. Please load my cell number [914-879-9251] in your phone and call me while you are at the show. It would be great to meet with you and catch up. Let’s schedule your annual practice analysis in December so we can identify revenue opportunities and balance your fee schedule for the new year.