Being too cheap with your technician?

I’ve worked with several owner/driver technicians during the past 15 years. I like working with them and I feel for them too! In my experience, dentists save their best side for their patients and they keep their worst side for their technicians. Good labs see their role as working in partnership with their dentists in order to support them and deliver great outcomes for their patients, yet many dentists:

  • Squeeze important conversations with their technicians into their breaks or into too few words on a lab ticket
  • Forget to feed back to their technicians when a job goes well, but always send feedback when it goes badly
  • Blame their technicians when they needed to send a better impression/scan, more information on the occlusion/bite/shade etc
  • Complain about the bills and then pay them late

Who would want to be a technician when your customers are likely to treat you in this way?! The technicians I’ve worked with who have gone on to be really successful (one now owns a state of the art implant practice) have learned to stand up to their dentists with a mixture of charm, confidence and the ability to say no when people send them rubbish work.

I know that many dentists behave in a coin-operated way — that’s fine — however, I really don’t understand the obsession with using cheap labs. I met a good, mature, experienced dentist recently who proudly told me that she was paying £25 for her crowns and said, “They’re quite good for the price.” I also know a dentist who probably has the highest fees outside of Harley Street, who complains about paying £200 for a crown.

From the outside looking in what I see is an unhealthy obsession with costs, whereas I could prove to anybody who will listen that a healthy obsession with gross would be a much better use of everyone’s time and heart muscle… I also see a lack of pride, self-respect and respect for an honourable profession (not dentists, dental technicians!). Is life really all about the profit on an item of dental treatment? Cheap crowns, really???

Let’s do the maths…

£300 crown fee

1 hour’s work

£85 lab bill



£550 crown fee

1.25 hours work

£135 lab bill



£775 crown fee

1.5 hours work

£195 lab bill


Is there really any need to pay less than £85 for a bonded crown or £135 for a metal free crown or £195 for the best crown you can buy? I have a technician client who has invested in all the digital tech: milling machines, 3D printers, scanners etc and is likely to be one of the best technicians in the UK.

He is surrounded by dentists selling their crowns for circa £775 and yet he struggles to sell his beautiful crowns for £195… The dentists around him are squeezing a few more pounds profit out of their crown work by buying cheaper crowns and charging their patients a top dollar fee. However much short term financial sense that makes, I think you can guess where the story ends. Unhappy patients, higher patient attrition, lower profits. (Otherwise known as the price of being too greedy.)


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