The 5x rule

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Dr Mark Hassed

There seems to be an inviolable rule with respect to lab fees.

If the fee you charge is not 5 times your lab fee (or more) then your practice profitability will be low.

You might be tempted to say “Duh” at this seemingly obvious relationship but it’s amazing how often I’ve seen this rule violated.

Recently I was in a practice where they paid their laboratory $460 and charged the patients $1,320 for a crown. The technician was, according to the dentist, a friend.

The predictable result was that the practice was marginally profitable and, in my opinion, only survived at all due to being situated in a pathetically small office and using old, worn-out equipment.

Another time when dentists often violate the 5x rule is when they make dentures. In some offices I’ve seen dentists charge as little as 2x lab fee for dentures. What this means is that, when you factor in all the time involved (including the adjustments), it often costs the dentist money to make dentures.

So, I say go back and look at your lab made procedures. If you are violating the 5x rule then now is the time for either a fee increase or to find a more economical lab.

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