This month’s Lab in the Limelight is Go Digital Dental! Here lab owner Mark Brown discusses how the business has grown, his future ambitions and his top tip for a successful lab business.
Please introduce yourself
We are Go Digital Dental, a digital lab based in Nottingham, designed around the concept of utilising digital technology for the manufacture of all dental prosthetics.
We like to think of ourselves as a digital lab start up or a new generation of lab business focussed on digital design and manufacturing.
In addition, we pride ourselves that the lab looks more like a design studio than a traditional dental lab.
Can you please tell us a little about how and when your lab was created?
The lab was created in December 2022.
After 20 years in private equity, I had recently set up a spot practice and could immediately see the opportunity in the lab space.
In my mind it was an advanced manufacturing business and technology was just kicking in to change the industry. The challenge was to find the team to build on this vision.
We were extremely lucky to hire and incredible team of technicians to get the business going.
How has the business grown since then (in terms of staff additions/location moves etc)?
Initially we started with a small team of four technicians and an office manager. Since then, we have been blown away by the speed of growth.
We have added three more technicians and are constantly looking for more to join our team. Finding good technicians is the biggest challenge for growth in the UK.
We have started an apprenticeship scheme which we are very proud of and are already seeing how quickly these guys learn their trade. In addition, we have recently hired a client services director – we want to revolutionise how labs communicate with practices.
It’s about proper client account management to ensure our clients are happy and have the best digital and face-to-face channels to communicate with us.
What renovations/additions/changes have you made to your lab and why?
We are only a year in so no major changes yet. We focus on digital only.
The main change for us is the purchasing of new 3D printers as we have grown!
What type of work does your laboratory carry out (eg what percentage is crowns, implants, dentures, prosthetic work, is it exclusively private work?)
Our lab does exclusively private work – predominantly crown and bridge and implant work.
We also see digital dentures as a massive area for growth for us.
We have invested a lot in R&D to get our processes and materials right to make the process work.
What kind of high-tech equipment/technology do you use at the lab?
We have a range of digital manufacturing equipment from 3D printing and processing through to milling.
All equipment has a high level of training required and we work with leading providers of these items to ensure we get the very best out of them.
In addition, we use all the CAD/CAM software and have invested in the quickest computers out there to speed up processing.
What have been the biggest challenges in establishing and running the business?
During the start-up phase of the business, we enjoyed a strong start to trading which was very encouraging.
However, we couldn’t keep up with the recruitment of technicians which put our entire team under significant pressure for a period of time.
To address this, we stopped taking on all analog work to increase capacity in the laboratory.
We are a digital-only lab so we accept clients who are already using digital intraoral scanners to provide impressions. We see this as the way forward and we also have a scanner partnership.
In simple terms, this means we will help a dentist who wants to move into the digital arena with provision of a scanner and the training to establish themselves in this new way of working.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
We enjoy the challenge of learning about the new technology and being a new business installing the latest equipment to process our work.
It is always a challenge mixing technology with artistry regarding hand-finished restorations, but we strive to be the best we can.
What are the future aims of your lab?
Our team has the collective goal of establishing a national brand as a leading dental laboratory.
We want our brand to be associated with high quality dental prosthetics driven by technology while providing a high level of service.
Where do you see dental technology going in the next decade or so?
Most readers are probably aware of the challenges facing the UK dental industry. We are often surprised by how little attention the dental laboratory industry gets given the crisis it is currently going through.
We believe there will need to be fundamental change taking place in the coming years from investment in technology to creating an environment that attracts talent into the industry.
What are your top tips for maintaining a successful laboratory?
Focus on quality. At the end of the day, technology and customer service are important. But the product is the star of the show.
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