Questions for lab owners

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Stella02

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I'd like to open a removable lab from my house and have some questions.

1)realistically starting out more than likely dentists would be spread out which would involve a good deal of traveling to get/deliver cases. Do you have a system where the office manager calls or emails you when they have cases or is it unprofessional to ask that? Scenario- if my furthest client is 40 minutes away is it still worth me driving 40 minutes to the office to find out they don't have work and that 40 minutes could have been applied elsewhere?

2)to try and keep start up costs low if I just offered full dentures (along with other full acrylic appliances) instead of partials starting off is that going to hurt me.

3)is it better to offer different dentures (economy, mid grade, high grade) or stick to one high quality denture

4)going back to my first question, how much of your removable work is done via the mail?
 
TheLabGuy

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Great questions for first starting out. Says you must be putting a lot of thought into this. Which is great. Some of the biggest and best labs out there started at the dining room table. As for your questions, if your removable, be removable, offer everything...you can always farm it out. As for driving, just have office manager call for pick up. Once you get everyday pickups, then you can worry about setting up a set time, or get yourself a UPS,FedEx, or local delivery company to do it for ya. Keep firing the questions this way, we were all where you are at in point in our business.
 
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Great questions for first starting out. Says you must be putting a lot of thought into this. Which is great. Some of the biggest and best labs out there started at the dining room table. As for your questions, if your removable, be removable, offer everything...you can always farm it out. As for driving, just have office manager call for pick up. Once you get everyday pickups, then you can worry about setting up a set time, or get yourself a UPS,FedEx, or local delivery company to do it for ya. Keep firing the questions this way, we were all where you are at in point in our business.

Since its slowly becoming a concrete plan I figured the more questions (as dumb as some may seem) I ask the better prepared I will be. Thank you for the reply
 
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grantoz

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how long have you been a techo for
 
CoolHandLuke

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how long have you been a techo for
and how do you plan to break into your local dental market? are there many denture labs, are there many labs in general? any big labs nearby that you can piss on ?
 
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and how do you plan to break into your local dental market? are there many denture labs, are there many labs in general? any big labs nearby that you can piss on ?

I've been a tech for 4 years, worked at my last lab for 3 and had a better opportunity for a manager position at another local lab, been there for about a year. Basically the grass isn't always greener and there was a reason I got offered alot of nice shiny incentives to want to quit my old lab and work for this one. I've gotten a couple calls from other dentists who use the old lab and aren't happy, their biggest complaints are deadlines being pushed further and further back and the quality for the price. So with that knowledge that at least two long time clients are starting to window shop i think gives me a promising start. Although nothing is a guarentee, I feel if I try and sell my old labs weaknesses to my advantage it's a start. Ex: they are a big lab, more techs more dentists. They aren't going to take the time and send a tech to the office if there is a problem, but since im a one woman shop I'm the one who will handle everything and be able to make office visits if need be
 
Bumfrey

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I'd like to open a removable lab from my house and have some questions.

1)realistically starting out more than likely dentists would be spread out which would involve a good deal of traveling to get/deliver cases. Do you have a system where the office manager calls or emails you when they have cases or is it unprofessional to ask that? Scenario- if my furthest client is 40 minutes away is it still worth me driving 40 minutes to the office to find out they don't have work and that 40 minutes could have been applied elsewhere?

I only pickup when they call me telling they have a pickup.

2)to try and keep start up costs low if I just offered full dentures (along with other full acrylic appliances) instead of partials starting off is that going to hurt me.

Probably

3)is it better to offer different dentures (economy, mid grade, high grade) or stick to one high quality denture

That is for you to decide.

4)going back to my first question, how much of your removable work is done via the mail?

Half. Not relevant though in my opinion.
 
Bumfrey

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Not sure why that happend ^???
 
JMN

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I'd like to open a removable lab from my house and have some questions.

1)realistically starting out more than likely dentists would be spread out which would involve a good deal of traveling to get/deliver cases. Do you have a system where the office manager calls or emails you when they have cases or is it unprofessional to ask that? Scenario- if my furthest client is 40 minutes away is it still worth me driving 40 minutes to the office to find out they don't have work and that 40 minutes could have been applied elsewhere?

2)to try and keep start up costs low if I just offered full dentures (along with other full acrylic appliances) instead of partials starting off is that going to hurt me.

3)is it better to offer different dentures (economy, mid grade, high grade) or stick to one high quality denture

4)going back to my first question, how much of your removable work is done via the mail?
1-
Unless they are an extrodinaly office going for daily pickups is abwaste of time. Just get them to call for pickups. They wont mind.

2- if you are going to offer full dentures, you really should have a way to do immediate rpds at a minimum. You will likely see more iRPDs than dentures depending on your area.

3-
if you can realistically offer different ranges ofbservice other than the price of the teeth and can keep from overdoing the cheap ones and underdoing the expensive ones sure. But that is a tightrope walk with much trouble if your cheap ones look too good why pay extra and the expensive looks not good enough why the extra?
If you are looking a pouring for cheap and something like ivobase for expensive that can be a diferenciator. But what else would set them apart? Custom staining for more natural looks? Duplication of the natural rugae? Have distinct and defendable answers as you will be asked

4- at this point only donated dental is mail in.
 
John in Canada

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I have had a denture lab in my basement for 15 years. It doesn't pay the bills, but I have designed it that way. I worked at the hospital dental program as a maxillofacial tech (no training) and never made an eye or ear while I was there. But I did make lots of dentures for mentally challenged and oral cancer patients. When that position closed, the dean from the local University asked me to come onboard and I did. That gig lasted 6 years, until funding ran out again. Enough of my situation. Why it's important is that I always had money coming in, and the work that I did in my lab paid for the necessary equipment along the way. None of it is junk and only a couple big items are second hand. So there is/was no debt-ever over 30 days.
Of the accounts that I have, most are prosthodontists, and that is intentional. I have exactly a zero remake factor in all those years. Now, I do have one general dentist, and the reason I took him on is because he was an awesome student when I was an instructor. His office calls me when he, or his partner has a pick up. My other docs, usually bring the work to my house, and I deliver to their house. This works well. I live out of the city about 7 miles.
I am finalizing the details on a contract with a local University, to get lab work from them. One of their outlying clinics is a 5 hour plane ride north. Those pick ups and deliveries cost $45 each way. Obviously, they will be charged for the shipping. I don't bury the cost of delivery in my pricing. I don't have a good, better, best denture mentality. Do the best, forget the rest has always been my idea. BUT, I will be challenged with the contract work, because (some) of their patients are not even average wage earners, so that takes out any high end teeth that I stock like Vita, Dentsply, and Ivoclar. I either press pack, (3 times, the right way) or more often than not, I inject with Ivocap. Acrylics are from Ivoclar, no Frickie, pour types, or microwavable.
IMO, I wouldn't be driving anywhere unless you're banging on doors, or an office calls you. And, I wouldn't go banging on doors either. Pick up the phone and call the office. "I'd like to take doctor so and so to lunch to discuss his removable lab needs. What day does he/she have available this week? Can you have him/her call me to discuss?" No call back, next doctor. But that's your call. I have never been one for cold calling.
Does your jurisdiction require a CDT in the lab or are you one? Credentials go a long way with some docs, others could care less-which is a shame. Certification means something, and should be mandatory in my opinion to own a lab. Don't discount it. If you're not, why not? Why do you want to open a denture lab? And, if you are qualified, yes I would offer everything, and farm out what you don't do in your lab. I am full service. But I do send out all castings only. Aside from that, all model work, crown and bridge waxing, porcelain applications, and all denture waxing and acrylic work, I do in house.
There is no such thing as a stupid question-EVER! If you can think the question, chances are that someone has/had the same question. So it's important. Good luck with your new endeavour.
When you got questions, help is right here on the forum.
 
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grantoz

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i think 4 years is a bit short on experience.once your the owner things get a lot harder and more high pressure good luck with it all .its a big decision and if you get it going its very rewarding and frustrating at the same time.
 
kcdt

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I've been a tech for 4 years, worked at my last lab for 3 and had a better opportunity for a manager position at another local lab, been there for about a year. Basically the grass isn't always greener and there was a reason I got offered alot of nice shiny incentives to want to quit my old lab and work for this one. I've gotten a couple calls from other dentists who use the old lab and aren't happy, their biggest complaints are deadlines being pushed further and further back and the quality for the price. So with that knowledge that at least two long time clients are starting to window shop i think gives me a promising start. Although nothing is a guarentee, I feel if I try and sell my old labs weaknesses to my advantage it's a start. Ex: they are a big lab, more techs more dentists. They aren't going to take the time and send a tech to the office if there is a problem, but since im a one woman shop I'm the one who will handle everything and be able to make office visits if need be
My only comment to that is make sure you don't work a foot into the grave at that pace. The number of problems someone will gladly slough off on a willing victim is endless.
Never attend clinic without ironclad expectations/protocol/renumeration.
 
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XxJamesAxX

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I'd like to open a removable lab from my house and have some questions.

1)realistically starting out more than likely dentists would be spread out which would involve a good deal of traveling to get/deliver cases. Do you have a system where the office manager calls or emails you when they have cases or is it unprofessional to ask that? Scenario- if my furthest client is 40 minutes away is it still worth me driving 40 minutes to the office to find out they don't have work and that 40 minutes could have been applied elsewhere?

Yes have them call you, as others have mentioned no need to waste a trip. I would set up a alternate delivery method though as a back up. Check and see what will be best in ur area. UPS, FedEx, or post office. Most important thing with them is you want next day delivery. In the beginning though use pick up and delivery to your benefit dentist absolutely love having a tech that does the pick up and deliveries. It’s a great time to communicate.

2)to try and keep start up costs low if I just offered full dentures (along with other full acrylic appliances) instead of partials starting off is that going to hurt me.

As others have mentioned you need to offer all services even if you only do acrylic work outsource the cast, flexibles, etc...

3)is it better to offer different dentures (economy, mid grade, high grade) or stick to one high quality denture

We offer two levels, but also as mentioned be sure to have clear cut differences between them.

4)going back to my first question, how much of your removable work is done via the mail?

For the first 5 years we were open probably 80% of our worked we picked up by hand, over the last 6 years we have transitioned to 80% of our work being delivered by UPS.

See my answers above.

My only other comment is as you mentioned the grass isnt always greener on the other side. And running a business is no different. Though it can be very rewarding in many ways it’s not always greener.

One important thing to prepare for is working twice as hard as you do now, what I mean by that is currently you only have to do the work. On your own you have to work hard to get the work, then you have to go back and do the work.


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XxJamesAxX

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i think 4 years is a bit short on experience.once your the owner things get a lot harder and more high pressure good luck with it all .its a big decision and if you get it going its very rewarding and frustrating at the same time.

I agree but disagree, I opened my own after just 5 years of Lab experience. And to top it off I was only 21. Yup I dropped out of high school at 16 went to work at a lab full time was there 5 years and then opened my own. That was 11 years ago this coming June.

I do look back and realize I may have been a little young and inexperienced but I made it work. Just gotta be prepared for the challenge.


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John in Canada

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Agree with James, and grantoz with respect to experience. In fact this post has actually bothered me for a couple days now. You can't even get a certification in any discipline without 5 years experience-there's a reason of that. there's LOTS to learn. Funny, I opened my first construction company at 20. By the time I was 23 I had 5 full time guys working for me. When my wife at the time suggested that I open that business, I said, "who is going to believe a 20 year old has any experience?" I had been working by my dads side since I was 7 or 8. Changed out my first hot water tank at age 10 totally unsupervised doing the gas and sweating the pipes in 1.5 hours, and perfectly! Guess that's why I had plenty of business in those early days. But I did everything-framing, drywall, gas fitter, electric, roofing, masonry, ceramic, plumbing, etc. And pulling the permits to do it all.
Definitely NOT trying to dissuade you from opening, BUT, I am a believer in knowing many ways to do a job, and that takes time. And, there's so much more to just doing dentures in Dental Technology. Why would you want to pigeon hole yourself to just dentures? Or just C&B, or just Ceramics? for that matter. Also part of my beef with production labs is that's exactly what people do day in and day out, the same thing, day after day. And lots don't allow cross training, and I'm totally against that! I get bored that way. Gimme a great combo fixed with removable case, and I'm happy like a pig in ....mud!
I know, different strokes for different folks. Just want the OP to have YOUNG, open eyes as to all the possibilities in the field when you take the time to LEARN what's available, and then make a move to do your own thing. Work in several different labs first. You pick up so many great tidbits, and set up methodologies, waxing techniques, processing and finishing methods, and on and on. Go get 'em tiger!
 
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you do see guys with 4-5 experience who are very good but most of the failed labs that i have seen are guys and girls who didnt have the experience not just with lab work but also business experience my besty started his lab when he had about 3 years experience once fully trained and is in his 30th year now.
 
John in Canada

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hey it's possible. But fully trained? This I had made for me while in the USN over 30 years ago. it's still on my bench. Maybe someday I'll be fully trained! LOL. Although doubtful now with all the CAD/CAM technology around. I don't even go down that road. Farm it out, finish it off when its back.
 

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Serious questions:
1.Are you looking for something to do to pass the time of day while spending (losing) money?
If yes...How long do you figure you can keep paying to have a business?

2. Do you understand removables is not like c&b where you open the box, make the crown, put it back in the same box and send it...
Nightguards and repairs/relines are like that. Everything else requires lots of back and forth and, if using a courier gets expensive fast for each 2 way trip....

Good luck to you. BTW all you need to open up is a propane torch, a Dremel grinder, a turkey roaster, a ladle and you're good to go. Take your tools and burs when you quit and you're good to go! Be sure to name your business the same as your name so you can cash all those checks.

This post is a joke, right? IT'S NOT APRIL 1 IT'S MARCH 1!
 
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Serious questions:
1.Are you looking for something to do to pass the time of day while spending (losing) money?
If yes...How long do you figure you can keep paying to have a business?

2. Do you understand removables is not like c&b where you open the box, make the crown, put it back in the same box and send it...
Nightguards and repairs/relines are like that. Everything else requires lots of back and forth and, if using a courier gets expensive fast for each 2 way trip....

Good luck to you. BTW all you need to open up is a propane torch, a Dremel grinder, a turkey roaster, a ladle and you're good to go. Take your tools and burs when you quit and you're good to go! Be sure to name your business the same as your name so you can cash all those checks.

This post is a joke, right? IT'S NOT APRIL 1 IT'S MARCH 1!

I'm sure this post is a joke to many, but I'm the only technician in the lab I work for now and aside from the fact that I don't own the business it's basically mine. So I sit here and ask myself if I'm putting in all this time, work and energy into somebody else's lab why shouldn't I branch out and make something that's mine that I'm proud of. As far as the difference between a c&b lab and a removable lab, I'm very aware of the differences, I've worked in both departments at my previous lab, but I have more experience and enjoy working with removables over c&b.

I realize 4 years doesn't seem like enough experience, but that's why I'm asking questions now to get whatever information I can before I take the plunge
 
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I have two opinions on this.

You don't have enough experience. Imagine prosperity lands on your door step, but its all complicated cases. Are you able to do the tough stuff? Its not just the dexterity and parts. Can you think your way through?
Prosperity keeps coming because youre doing things right and getting paid. Do you have the ability to regulate how much youre willing to work? As the boss, greed can set in. Gold mine in your back yard...how much time are you going to spend digging? Its easy to get your life out of balance.

But that's not likely, because youre going to fail. You don't have enough experience. You either have anxiety now, or you will. What if your not good enough? What if you think you are, but that's not how it goes? Why wont they send me cases?

Maybe you should just sit on your duff, working for a paycheck and clocking out at 5. Not everyone is cut out to be a boss and run the show. You probably don't have what it takes to be in charge of your life and should just be happy with the way it is. You can always live vicariously through watching people on TV pretending to be happy and successful.

Or you can make a plan, attack life like youre the star and prove that you can do it. Worse case scenario? You have some issues and need to make some modifications to your plan, or you just give up and go get another job.

If you don't try, the guaranteed result is...you wont be the winner.

If you don't try, the unknown will always haunt you. You will grow old and bitter because 'what if I...'.

Don't watch life pass by. LIVE IT.
 

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