Secrets to scaling your lab no one talks about
Not enough qualified CAD designers and too many cases to handle—it’s a common complaint we’ve heard from labs. That’s why we recently launched a design service option for labs that want to outsource their overflow work and stay within the exocad platform. Our first partner to tackle those overflow cases in a click is the design powerhouse Evident in Vancouver, Canada. We checked in with Evident’s resident New Zealander, snowboarder and VP of Design Guy Menzies to hear more about how the process works and why it fills a critical need in the industry.
Q: Hi, Guy! Tell us about who you are and what you do.
A: I’ve been with Evident for seven years, but I haven't really had a typical journey into dentistry. I went to university for sport and recreation management in New Zealand. Then, as most New Zealanders do, I thought it would be a good time to travel the world, and I moved over to England and got into telecommunications, particularly the sales side of it before moving to Canada and falling in with Evident. I spent the first four years at Evident involved in lab management software—developing it, selling it, and supporting it, which gave me a good overview of how a lab operates its entire workflow. Then about five years ago, we opened our digital design center, and I helped launch that product. Now, five years on, we have about 350 technicians doing thousands and thousands of units a day.
Q: For those who aren't yet familiar with Evident, can you give a thumbnail sketch of all the different services you offer?
A: The best way to describe us is that we do CAD design. We're one of the world's largest CAD design centers. But we know that design is such a small piece of the overall workflow for a laboratory now. We look at the entire workflow of a lab, and we work with our partners to find more automation to help them tackle bottlenecks while also giving them personalized CAD designs. We say, “We Have Your Back” because we basically help our customers look good in front of their clients by providing the platform, education and support to expand digital workflows and personalized CAD designs regardless of hardware and software.
The problem that we're helping labs solve is essentially being able to scale their business in a tight labor market and handle that bottleneck in design.
Q: Speaking of helping labs manage overflow, tell me about the new design service option you’re offering through exocad’s dentalshare platform.
A: We work with thousands of labs globally, and what we're finding is that there is a shortage of skilled technicians out there. For general laboratories, it's very difficult for them to recruit technicians. Dental labs are being held hostage by a tight labor market. The problem that we're helping labs solve is essentially being able to scale their business in a tight labor market and handle that bottleneck in design. We see that a lot of laboratories are having cases pile up in the CAD department. They've got this expensive machinery, but you need a CAD designer to make everything run and get those cases out the door.
Q: And how does that intersect with exocad’s dentalshare program?
A: The initial reason we got into it was to help tackle the bottleneck in CAD designs. Now, as we grow and as the industry gets more digital, we're seeing a demand from exocad users to help them with complex cases. It's dentures, partial dentures, all-on-fours, implant cases—these more complex cases that require technical expertise. That’s what Evident offers.
And then as we touched on before, it's about the workflow. By integrating directly with Evident and exocad, we're able to provide a seamless one-touch workflow where we stay really within the exocad system, which saves our labs the need to go out of their system and send files back and forth, which is really an inefficiency in the lab. It helps streamline their operations as well.
Q: How does a lab access this service?
A: They get a case and go into exocad’s dentalshare, where there is now an Evident extension. They can simply click on the Evident logo and send the case directly off to Evident.
Q: What's the process and communication like?
A: If you're a new customer, there is a small signup page that gives us the information we need to know who you are. But then more importantly, we ask you to fill in your design preferences, and that's where you start to build your design profile so that we know what a good case looks like.
Q: What do you mean by that? What’s a “good case” for your customers?
A: We work off customer preferences to design and build a profile that we can use for future work with the customer. Then we use that information to essentially design their cases their way. We'll pick up the case overnight and typically send it back the next day. It shows up within their exocad platform as if it was designed directly in their laboratory by themselves. It's all within the system. and it's just a couple of clicks.
This on-demand design service helps labs handle the peaks and troughs in production.
Q: What feedback have you heard from customers about this service?
A: I think what we hear most often is that we’re helping labs get more cases out the door. What we also hear a lot is that labs see us as an extension of their business. We’re able to build CAD design teams for them, so they get the same designer each time. Some people see us as their night shift for their CAD design team. They know our designers by their first names and communicate with them via our channels. It really helps a lot of labs scale their business. This on-demand design service helps labs handle the peaks and troughs in production.
Q: Why did you want to partner with exocad?
A: A big reason is exocad’s open architecture software. A lot of companies are trying to close their systems and control that workflow from end to end. But exocad’s open architecture system means that it works with all the different intraoral scanners, 3D printers and mills. Where we value exocad and how it helps the laboratories and us is how it holds that file true and really works within any workflow to produce great results every time. exocad software is also stable—really, really stable. We have hundreds of these dongles, and they never crash. And I can tell you if you’re at the end of a big all-on-four case and your CAD program crashes, that’s a nightmare.
Q: Where do you think the lab industry is headed? What do you see coming down the road?
A: What we’re seeing big time in North America is the consolidation of dental labs. When I started in this industry, there were somewhere around 10,000 to 11,000 labs in North America. On estimate, we're down around 4,000 to 5,000. Covid was rough on a lot of the small operations, but you've got a lot of the big guys consolidating too. That means there are fewer laboratories but just as many patients. Because there is this consolidation of labs and not a huge number of technicians globally, all the work will funnel through labs that are digitizing now and establishing digital workflows. They’ll be able to benefit from digitization and consolidation.
Q: Time to have some fun. What was the first song on your playlist this morning?
A: It's kind of an old song, “Push on through,” by the New Zealand band Salmonella Dub.
Q: One word for exocad?
A: Well, we love exocad.
Q: Then I’ll go with “love” as your answer.
A: Hah. Ok. “Love” or “open architecture.” Both fit.
Q: Favorite one-night getaway?
A: Whistler. Snowboarding.
Guy Menzies is currently VP of Design at Evident. He is skilled at developing the right action plan for each client's unique needs and is committed to helping them grow their business. Guy has earned the trust of several dental businesses and maintained strong relationships that generate repeat business. You can reach out to Guy at firstname.lastname@example.org