Finding and maintaining a strong relationship between a dentist and a dental lab is no small task. It can be incredibly challenging to forge a relationship that will withstand the pressures of the industry. In fact a study done in 2013 by, stated that within the next five years there’s a 50 percent chance that dentist will switch laboratories. Now, 50 percent is a nice round number that leaves dental labs right in the middle, with seemingly no indication of which half to focus on in order to retain their clients. It reminds me of David Ogilvy’s quote regarding advertising, “50 percent of all advertising is useless. We just don’t know which 50 percent”.

Worry not dear readers, this article will help point out a few key areas of the dentist and lab relationship that if strengthened, can help maintain the partnership for the long haul.

Some of the top areas of focus, as identified by the survey respondents, are an honest working relationship, easy and clear communication, consistent turnaround times, and consistent quality.

Consistent Quality

dental lab work areaNot surprisingly, the consistency of quality from the dental lab is the highest priority for the dentist who participated in the survey. Whether it is poor occlusion, open margins, or just long seating times, these can be issues that continue to grind and wear at the relationship. The good news however, is that most dentists say they feel comfortable and inclined to call the lab in order to help iron out the problems. The problem?…Irons are hot and eventually they can burn. We don’t want to burn these relationships.

Turnaround Time

Coming in as a close second is the turnaround time of completed work. Interestingly enough, this is not a concern of fast turnaround times, but rather it again refers to the consistency. Just as the dental laboratory has dentists as their clients, the dentist’s also have clients themselves, the patients. Patients do not want to wait too long for their work to be done, but as long as the dentist can rely on consistent turnaround times they can set a realistic expectation with the patient. Thus fostering a win – win – win scenario between the lab, the dentist, and the patient.

Price Point

Rounding out our top three priorities is as some might expect, the price point. It is natural to feel the need to shop around for pricing. And to be perfectly honest, some of that does exist. However, it is not as prevalent as one might think. According to the survey only 26 percent of dentists respondents say that price was a factor when they switched labs. The moral of the story here is that if the product quality and turnaround times are consistently good then a higher price point is warranted and worth paying.

Every dentist is different and has individual concerns and needs. At the same time each dental lab has specific strengths and experience that it brings to the table. Finding a happy marriage between the two is critical in establishing and maintaining a solid professional relationship. The points listed above seem to be the most relevant across the board and are a good starting point.