The Dental Lab Expert – should we be excited about 2023 as labs? Heck yes!

‘It’s our time to really step up’: this month, Ashley Byrne discusses all of the things we can look forward to in 2023, calling it ‘the year of opportunity for the dental technology industry’.

In my last post I spoke about the 2022 summary which, for me and my team, was stressful, manic, overloaded, successful and disastrous – all in one year.

Reflecting over the Christmas period and seeking answers to how on earth we tackle 2023, a lot of positivity came to light.

I would say 2022 was a blur for me. I made some huge mistakes, but mistakes are how we learn. And recovering from them is what make us a better business.

A good friend of mine said recently there is no such thing as losing or making a mistake – you either win or you learn. It resonated with me. What a positive approach! He could not have been more correct.

Change your outlook

In 2023, we have some facts to deal with, so let’s start with the negative.

We may have a recession looming. We have a shortage of technicians, and the scarcity of skilled technicians will only get worse. Energy, materials, freight and general costs are inflating. And let’s face it, I don’t think many of us believe this is going to go down – at best it may flatline.

That may seem negative, and these are things that we cannot change, but we can change how we look at it.

On the positive side, dentistry is often fairly recession-proof, so we don’t need to get bogged down on the media negativity.

The lack of technicians has proved a problem, but it’s also weirdly become a positive in other ways. The lack of technicians and labs pushes prices up, it drives demand, and it improves the respect and the value of what we do.

It’s harder for clinics to jump from lab to lab as the next lab is often not taking on work. In addition, if a clinician leaves, they may not be able to come back to you. Therefore, we we have a mutual opportunity to invest in a good working relationship.

The year of opportunity

In my opinion, 2023 is the year of opportunity for the dental technology industry. But we need to think less teeth, and more about the business of making teeth.

As technicians, we get bogged down on the art of making teeth, yet we must also accept that this is a job and this is our livelihood.

It’s in our nature to be focused on the product, but so often in high end manufacturing this can also be our downfall.

If we can become more business-focused, we have a huge number of positive things to look forward to.

Let’s look at some positive facts. For a start, there are simply not enough labs to satisfy demand, so there is more than enough work for all of us. That puts our industry in a very strong position. It is also the main reason we are seeing large corporates investing millions into our industry.

Where there is opportunity, there is investment. And if our industry was gloomy and without a future, we wouldn’t be seeing what’s happening.

It’s time to step up

For labs, it’s vital that we handle this opportunity correctly and take full advantage.

Clinicians and practices are having a tough time with a lack of nurses and a recruitment crisis, so they are leaning on labs to help more than ever.

It’s our time to really step up and help practices, make it easy to work with us, help them with their challenges, and truly work as a team.

Materials, treatment planning, and the increasingly high expectations of the general public is making life for the dentist increasingly challenging. As technicians, we have a great opportunity to help our fellow dental professionals by making the lab work one of the easier aspects of dentistry.

The cost-of-living crisis and rising costs are a challenge for all of us, so we do need to charge accordingly. Our industry is notoriously run by a love and a passion to do good, but that doesn’t pay the bills.

We all need to up our business game and charge the value of what we do. We are highly skilled professionals that offer outstanding treatment options.

Therefore, in this challenging period, we need to value ourselves and look at how we can help our industry as well as our clients.

Customer service, value, and a drive to help practices needs to come to the forefront of our jobs. Simply making good teeth is no longer enough.

2023 –  I really feel we have a lot to look forward to, but we do need to reinvent ourselves a little. It’s full of opportunity, so let’s look at the positives as we all have a fantastic year ahead.

Catch up with previous columns from the Lab Expert:

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