Updated: Nov 19, 2018
Disclaimer: I’ve had a lot of fun and success in the dental lab business and I want to share those experiences so others may be able to learn, get inspired and grow their lab from them. Historically, when my articles were published, they were edited and fully proofed, however I am not doing that here. This is fun, free-writing about what I’ve done. I'm sure you'll find more value than errors, feel free to let me know if I was right. -Dave
How Did I Grow My Labs So Quickly?
I often get asked how I grew Dale Dental and Concert as quickly as I did. I grew them both with the same strategy. Below are the very first, foundational components, of building a company with an “inherent value proposition” that I believe gives your lab the best change of success and fast growth. It should also be noted that I largely believe my foundational rules can be applied to practically any business or individual products.
Here are my foundational rules in getting started with your lab:
1. Start with a well-identified and desirable, winning value proposition.
2. Make sure the value proposition can be easily and clearly communicated through intelligent positioning and positioning statements (preferably in your brand name and tagline for starters).
3. Make sure the value proposition is within the sweet spot of what you as a lab owner or manager can deliver.
4. Build a good selling system
5. Track what matters
Today I am going to start with the first two items.
So what do I mean by a well-identified and desirable, winning value proposition? This means you have to have a value proposition, not product, that is highly desirable. Too often labs focus on what they deliver, not how they deliver it as the value of what doctors are buying. In Dale Dental I identified that there was a likely value proposition in not being a labs competitor. So while I made the same understructures as everyone else, I offered them in a way that was more desirable at the time. Not only was it more desirable but not being another labs competitor was so clearly and easily communicated, that the message immediately resonated with our prospective lab customers.
“Dale Dental, America’s first dental lab exclusively for other dental labs. We’re not your competition meaning your work is always our number one priority and we’re not your competition.”
That was, a winning value proposition that propelled us to many thousands of lab customers in just a couple years without a single sales person during that time! Why was it so effective? Because not only did it meet my first criteria, but it also met my second criteria. It was very easily and clearly communicated. I was also proud of the company tagline Dale Dental, Build On Us, which we communicated in our materials that you could build both your restorations [on our understructures] and your business, because we provided in-demand products without being your competitor, on us! I love tight and catchy brands and taglines!
Now, you say, that was easy lab-to-lab, but what about lab to dentist? In 2014 I started a lab-to-dentist lab, just like all the other labs out there. However I created a new value proposition that had not been done before. Again requiring I adhere to my rules above. So, looked carefully at the market and noticed the problems most dentists were complaining about in 2014, were the same I had heard them complaining about since I started in the industry decades earlier, in fact, since I grew up in the industry almost 40 years ago! What was it? Seating time. Crowns that need too much adjustment and take too long to seat. I thought to myself, how is it possible that we’ve put a man on the moon and still not focused on solving that challenge?
So I set out to build a lab that had much faster seating times with little to know adjustments necessary. I spent a lot of time and money building a system to track the adjusting time of the units we did and was able to collect a lot of data. Then built a performance pay system on reducing the adjusting times of our customers. The results were astounding and the subject for another article for sure!
So, know that I knew what my value proposition was going to be and I was confident we could deliver on that brand promise, I had to make sure it could be easily and clearly communicated. Since, after all, every lab says their restorations seat fast and require very little adjusting time. However every lab that said that didn’t make it part of their labs DNA.
I decided I needed to invest the time to come up with a very clever company name and brand that absolutely communicated the value proposition of faster seating times and did so in a way that was highly memorable. The result was Concert Dental Lab, the best seats in the house!
Typically the doctors and office staff got the double entendre pretty quickly and, when they did, it really made them smile and, was highly memorable. I always told our people that dentists may not be looking for a lab when they see our information or when our sales person walks in, but at least three times a year they are absolutely fed up with their current lab and desperately want to try another lab. That’s when we have to be top of mind, again with a clear and winning value proposition of better seats, in their mind.
I promise, in an industry cluttered with labs named after owners or towns, a marketing overall that start with the brand and value proposition is time well spent. For owners who think they don’t want to lose the creditability of their already decades-old and established brands, I’d say you can still include “formerly xyz lab” in your first year of communications, website, etc, but don’t let your labs future be a hostage of your past.Take the time to look for great value propositions, go after them and don't be afraid to make the changes you may need to in order to ensure their optimal success.
Sometimes I hear people say, well I can make my brand name mean anything I want it to, just look Starbucks and, in our industry, Glidewell for value-priced dentistry! Well,I don't entirely disagree with that logic, as long as you want to start spending the time and money to do that.
Lastly I will say there are still so many untapped and undercapitalized-on value propositions to be had and uniquely owned by labs that can take the time to identify them (rule 1) clearly communicate them (rule 2) and can uniquely deliver on them (rule 3).
Contact me if you found this to be a good or helpful read, have any thoughts or questions or want me to help you think through any positioning ideas for your lab! Here's a link to more of my articles as well and I'll be adding more, so please check back! Click here to get more information about 8&9 Consulting.