To run a successful lab you must surround yourself with knowledgeable people. This includes your customers and your staff. What is often overlooked is the value brought to you by your suppliers or dealers. Supplying you with the best price on lab products is only a small part of the value a knowledgeable and dependable dealer can bring you. If price is your only driving factor in deciding who supplies you, then your business is certainly at a disadvantage.
Often the lab owner finds himself many miles away from the manufacturer of the products they use. Not only distance but time zones make it very difficult to get answers quickly on problems the lab customer needs resolved immediately.
A strong vendor partner works directly with the various manufacturers they represent to gain all the latest information on products and availability. They ensure that their staff is well trained on the conventional lab and CAD/CAM products they sell you. This includes common trouble-shooting exercises that can provide the lab owner instant results with any product performance issues. It is important to know that companies like Whip Mix send our technicians into the field or arrange training sessions at our corporate office, as well as on-line for our dealer base. This is to ensure they are the most effective business partner they can be to keep you up and running. Many companies who sell only on price cannot provide the back end support needed in today’s constant changing dental industry.
A capable dealer also provides this level of expertise on a variety of products for the lab owner. They often carry a comprehensive line of dental products that can make procuring goods simpler by limiting the number of suppliers you would have to use. Not only is it more efficient but also can be less expensive because they are dealing in larger volumes than many small companies selling direct. Your dealer is also your best advocate in dealing directly with the manufacturer when problems do arise and can quickly get to the solution keeping you running at full capacity.
It is certainly advisable to set aside some time to periodically meet with your dealers to discuss new trends in the industry. As a manufacturer, we continually pass along material, data and information pertaining to changes to our dealers. The continual shift of analog dentistry to CAD/CAM can be made easier with the help and knowledge of your dealer. Even if they do not carry the products you need to better understand, they can often steer you in the right direction and let you know how quickly others in the region are moving with the new technology. Open and candid conversations with your suppliers can lead to better pricing, on-time deliveries and managed inventory. Discuss with your dealer your desired inventory levels of the products they carry. This too ensures you are never experience down time. It is more efficient for the lab staff in ordering product. Both of which leads to higher profits and more satisfied customers.
Another significant benefit of a strong dealer relationship is they can train your staff technically on all of their products, so your own staff can work through the daily issues that arise and ensure you are sending out the best end-product to your customer. We at Whip Mix always strive to “train the trainers”. We encourage our dealers to help their lab customers make their technicians the most up to date and knowledgeable they can be.
In summary, the best and most profitable relationships are not always based on price of the product but the total of the added value your dealer brings to your lab. Take advantage of all the experience, knowledge and assets of your suppliers to make your lab the best that it can be.