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What our existing Franchises have said

Why did you decide to buy a franchise?

Despite wanting to become self-employed, I knew I liked being a part of something. The collaborative nature of the Business Doctors' network really appealed to me.

Buying a franchise is less risky than setting up on your own. It has given me the freedom and autonomy of self-employment, but someone has my back!

I don't see the point in starting from scratch, designing logos and working on expensive branding, when someone else has already done it. From my first meeting with Business Doctors' co-franchisors Rod and Matt, I knew that our values were aligned and that I believed in their approach to SME support. I didn't even look at any other options as I knew Business Doctors were right for me.

What do you enjoy most about being a Business Doctor?

I am finding helping people with their business problems very satisfying. The work draws on so many more of my skills than my previous role. Although it is only relatively early days, I already feel I am making a difference to SME owners. I spent 15 years trying to fit in as an accountant, hiding the real me; now I can be my enthusiastic, smiley self as a Business Doctor. I feel liberated.

I look forward to each meeting and find myself thinking about my clients' business issues in my spare time - in a good way! It means my brain is happy and engaged. The Business Doctors all learn so much from each other; we all have different backgrounds and different perspectives and that is what makes the network so valuable. In my previous profession there was so little interaction. I used to turn up each day and just slog through it. Now my work gives me a buzz.

Everyone has choices in life and I chose to make the jump. It was terrifying, but it has been so worth it.

What have you learned since becoming a Business Doctor?

I've quickly become a pro at online networking. It's currently the only way to get out there and build up your network. But fortunately, I like interacting with people and hearing about their businesses. The clients are definitely still out there, you just have to go and find them.

Online networking requires a higher level of energy than face-to-face. You really have to work hard to put your enthusiasm across on the screen. Being well put together helps me to feel professional and to convey that I have everything under control.

I think we have all learned lots about interacting over Zoom since the start of the pandemic. People are generally now better at taking turns to speak, and dealing with potentially awkward silences.

What qualities make you an effective Business Doctor?

Empathy. Listening, relating and understanding. I wanted to forget that I used to be an accountant, but it turns out it was a great starting point.

In partnership with two of my Business Doctors colleagues, I recently developed an online course for small business owners, called Parlez-Vous Accounting? It's a crash course in the basics, empowering people to have a decent conversation with their accountant, without becoming flummoxed.

Have you found anything particularly challenging?

During training, I was encouraged to speak up more about myself. It was not something that came naturally, but gradually I am finding it easier. I would say I suffered from imposter syndrome in the early days, but some mentoring from one of the regional directors has really helped me to find my authentic self and to be more confident in talking about my abilities.

What made you decide to invest in a franchise?

Wicus invested in a Business Doctor franchise back in 2018. “I wanted to build something for myself, work for myself, use the skills I’ve gained over the last 30 years and put them into play”. Having dealt with franchises in the past, he found that it provided a good opportunity with a strong support structure behind it - “The business model of Business Doctors is fantastic because it’s your own business, you make it work, as long as you're always in the brand guidelines and as it is your own business you have to make it work for you”.

What qualities make you an effective Business Doctor?

Wicus believes that listening to understand and not listening to reply is a hugely important quality that has made him a successful Business Doctor. “When you listen to a reply, you want to give them a solution or another question. When you listen to understand, you hear what clients are saying as you’ve given him the freedom to express what they are saying! When you talk to people, most people are ready to fire off a response and aren’t taking the time to listen.” Instead, Wicus responds by repeating it back to them to confirm that what he’s hearing is what they’ve wanted to express. “It’s an effective communication skill. Active listening and effective communication makes me a good Business Doctor - If I speak for 15 minutes, I’m doing my job, but if I speak for 205 minutes I am not doing my job. It’s not about me, it’s about them”.

How do you encourage potential clients to sign up?

Instead of providing one free health check, Wicus provides three. When meeting with potential clients, he encourages them to consider where their business will be down the line. “If in a few years when we meet for coffee, are we still going to be in the same position with the same issues or will you have done something different by then? If you do the same thing, you’re going to keep getting the same results. So, are you prepared for change?” If they’re not at that stage yet, Wicus takes it upon himself to reach out and help them with applications for grants for example. “They remember what I did for them, then they come back to me automatically. They come back as they know that they need that critical pair of eyes”.

How many SMEs are you currently supporting?

By June, Wicus will have a total of 20 clients. “I sell a strategy year, not day. All my clients are engaged for a year, with many going onto value builder now. Clients usually continue engaging with me for around three years.” When asked about having so many clients to support, he exclaims that he thrives on it. “I can plan them - with zoom it’s easy because I can slot them in and have a half an hour to catch up each week if they choose to. Then I’ll see them twice a month for two and a half to three hours.”

How do you keep your clients focused on the process and the long-term benefits?

When it comes to keeping SME’s looking forward, Wicus always turns their focus back to the long-term plan. “When Business Doctors deliver a program, the beginning always refers back to the plan: Where are we? What are we doing long term? Why are we doing long term? This sets the tone for our meeting. We spend the first half an hour establishing where we are in terms of the strategic review and why it’s important. Then the rest of the day is focused on making sure the actions we’re doing are driving strategic vision! The following catch up focuses on the day-to-day actions we’ve had to complete: Have we done it? Have we done what we need to achieve?”

Wicus firmly outlines that the strategy day is the most integral part of the process - “The strategy day is the most important because you get a really good grip on what your client’s business is all about and what they’re aiming to achieve.”

What do you enjoy most about being a Business Doctor?

Wicus gains the majority of his enjoyment from working with the many different businesses he’s supported over the last 3 years - “I enjoy talking to them. I get to see such a variety of businesses, each one with their own different issues and problems. I learn just as much from these clients as they learn from me”.

Is there a client that stands out in mind?

“My very first client stands out for me. I did the strategic review for free and the client then agreed an annual fee payable monthly to help him implement the strategy. We took a business turning over from £450,000 to £ 1.8 million in two years, which was a huge success story. A few of my clients have doubled their revenue over the last two years which is really good to see. I also helped to take my third and fourth client from £100,000 to £300.000 in the space of a year.”

What did your first client specialise in?

“They’re an all-trades business but it started with painting and decorating. We then expanded the offering and are now able to project manage even the most complex projects . Even in lockdown we’ve managed to stay successful as part of the strategy focusses around risks and our risk mitigation plans helped to keep the businesses afloat. We’ve actually grown through lockdown, from the volume of clients to the new services we offer. Our order book is filled up 4 months in advance and part of our success story is placing the clients at the heart of what we do. We are a community-based business so we focus on communicating with the community as well as our clients about how they are doing and what we could do to help them with, from delivering the home shopping to helping with the chores.”

And finally, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Scotland is home to some of the most prestigious golf courses in the UK, and as a keen golfer, Wicus has had some really unique experiences. “A few of my clients are members at some of the best golf courses, so I’ve been fortunate enough to play at some of them. I’ve played at the old course in St Andrews, Kingsbarn, Carnoustie and Gleneagles and all because my clients are members.”

Without a doubt, these wonderful opportunities gifted to Wicus by his thankful clients must make putting up with the British weather that little bit easier.

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