- Start Up Cost:
- Franchise Type:
- Sector Type:
- Investment Type:
- £44,500 +VAT
- Home Based, Office Based
- Business Consultancy, Business Services & Support
Business Doctors is a white-collar franchise for people who love the business of business.
Since 2004, our international franchisees have helped thousands of small and medium sized companies to fulfil their potential. Quite simply, Business Doctors use their knowledge, skills and understanding to turn businesses into growing businesses.
What Business Doctors offers is unique in the sector. This is not just coaching or training; and it is not consultancy as you might know it. We are the only homegrown franchised network that can offer a tried and tested method of hands-on, holistic support, to SMEs.
When Rod Davies and Matt Levington launched Business Doctors in Merseyside in 2004, they promised to make management consultancy accessible, affordable and relevant to owners of small and medium sized companies. The pair found that small businesses were crying out for their style of no-nonsense help including sales planning, new market development, recruitment, fundraising, succession planning and team building.
Refining their SME growth support package over four years to deliver maximum bang for the buck, in 2008 they launched their first UK franchise. Today, our Business Doctors help SMEs to grow in 12 countries, including India, South Africa, Irish Republic, Belgium, Cyprus and Malta.
If you’re the kind of person who finds themselves interrogating everyone from your window cleaner to your dentist about their business model, this could be the franchise for you. Business Doctors are listeners, solution-finders and implementers; they are captivated by what makes organisations tick.
Where our approach differs from traditional management consultancy is that Business Doctors roll up our sleeves and work alongside small businesses as part of their team. This franchise suits people who want to build lasting relationships with companies of all kinds, from established family businesses to young start-ups.
How many hours you work a week is entirely up to you. You’re in charge and make your own decision about whether you’re looking for better work-life balance or to drive your franchise on full-steam ahead.
Business Doctors franchisees generally have around 20 years’ senior management experience. Most have been managing directors or have held other board level positions; some have previously run their own businesses. But whatever your level of expertise, all franchisees benefit from our extended training programme and ongoing support.
Our franchisees are highly experienced business people, but for most, this will be the first taste of self-employment. Buying a Business Doctors franchise provides the reassurance that you are launching an established and successful business model and will be fully supported along the way.
When you buy a Business Doctors franchise, you will receive:
No consulting experience is needed as full training will be provided.
Training sessions are interactive and typically consist of three separate parts focussing on sales, marketing and delivery with time in-between each course allowing you to absorb and practice what you have learned.
The training programme continuously evolves to ensure that new recruits are fully equipped with everything needed to run a successful Business Doctors franchise.
Once trained, you will benefit from proven processes, tools, materials and ongoing support from this highly collaborative network of like-minded individuals.
The need for our services is self-evident. The Management Consultancies Association (MCA) identified three of the largest and fastest-growing markets within management consulting to be operational improvement, financial management and project management.
It’s no coincidence that this magic trio is at the heart of the Business Doctors offer.
There are 5.9 million SMEs in the UK (2019) and no other national network is set up to target this kind of support to them.
Though the pandemic has seen many Business Doctors take a temporary step back from the physical boardroom and shop floor, it’s been a very busy period for franchisees, who have all become dab hands with Zoom.
“The fallout of Covid-19 has seen small business owners having to rapidly implement change, develop new business models and ways of working, bring in unfamiliar technologies and learn new management strategies,” says Kevin.
“And the Business Doctors, with their years of experience, steady hands and agile, unflappable minds, have been there to help them all the way. It’s what we do.”
When Business Doctors franchisee Kevin Cook isn't busy helping SME owners develop the full potential of their companies, he is to be found pushing himself at his local CrossFit gym.
It is this kind of drive that has seen the former retail director make a real difference to the growth journeys of scores of small businesses. As a sounding board, mentor, and most importantly, a hands-on team member, Kevin works with SME owners to help them navigate the optimal route to the next level.
In 2011, with 25 years' director level experience in the retail sector, Kevin found himself redundant in the middle of a recession. Having learned about Business Doctors a few years earlier, he knew the time was right to get out of his corporate rut - and that buying a white collar franchise was the perfect springboard.
"I wasn’t looking for a job when I first came across a Business Doctors’ ad," he says, "but something about the down to earth and jargon-free attitude ticked all of my boxes and so I kept it on file.
"When I was made redundant, I decided to call Business Doctors franchisors Matt and Rod. Nine years later, I've just signed up for my third term and, honestly, I've never looked back.
"It’s one of the best decisions I have ever made. Being a Business Doctors franchisee has allowed me to fulfil a dream of running my own business, drawing on my prior corporate experience and loving the buzz and excitement that comes with helping all kinds of small companies to grow.
"It's given me freedom and flexibility, an improved work-life balance and a ready-made worldwide network of other friendly and experienced director-level Business Doctors to tap into."
Cardiff franchisee and former Chamber of Commerce director Graham L Morgan, says: “With a background in supporting SMEs, I could see just how relevant and saleable the Business Doctors’ proposition was. The fact that Business Doctors is already established across the UK also played a big part in my decision to buy a franchise”.
A new Business Doctor has launched in Hemel Hempstead and Watford.
Gary Brown qualified as a chartered account in his native South Africa in the early 90s, moving with his family to the UK in 2005.
In his last employed role, Gary spent 15 years as chief financial officer for a holding company in the automotive sector. He has previously worked as group financial controller for asset management company Bateman BV as well as a stint at Deloittes.
Gary will now spend his time with SME owners, helping them to work 'on' their businesses rather than 'in' them. An extensive programme of training from the Business Doctors head office team means that he has a full raft of expertise to complement his existing knowledge of strategic planning, leadership, restructuring, financial controls and governance.
According to Gary, the pandemic brought forward his decision to become self-employed, though it had always been on the cards.
He said: "I had set myself a timetable to be out of the corporate world by my early 60s. The pandemic accelerated this by a few years as I was keen to continue working from home and to be more in control of my working life.
After 30 years in corporate financial roles, Gary thinks he has much to offer small business owners who are looking for growth.
"I find it very refreshing that small businesses are less tied up in red tape and that real changes can be made in a relatively short space of time that can help SMEs to really thrive," he said.
"The Business Doctors training helped me to realise how much I already knew and to fill in a few gaps. I better understand how to market myself and have overcome my reluctance to engage with social media. I appreciate that by buying a franchise, my business is up and running much faster than if I started from scratch."
Matt Levington, co-founder Business Doctors, said: "Gary is a highly experienced board level director, with a very personable manner. He has so much to offer small businesses and we are delighted that he has joined our network."
Gary is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants and Institute of Directors.
He is an avid rugby fan and enjoys watching Saracens. Settled in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, he also enjoys reading novels, gardening, DIY, and the occasional round of golf.
When did you become a Business Doctor?
I launched my franchise in August 2019, so I had approximately six months of normality before Covid hit. It was a busy time for me though, because in the November, I found myself a candidate in the General Election, having only become a councillor in Chesterfield in the May! I love that being a Business Doctor gives me the flexibility to have many strings to my bow. I am also a trustee of a local charity for the homeless. Buying a franchise has allowed me to develop so much more of myself. I turn 40 this year and finally know who I am and that I am on the right path.
What did you do previously?
I read Business Studies at university and then became an accountant. Though numbers are important for business, I always felt my people and strategic skills were underused in my previous role. I found myself cautioned for spending too much time 'relationship building', when in my mind, that is what business is all about. Although glad to turn my back on accountancy, my understanding of 'the numbers bit' has actually stood me in very good stead as a Business Doctor.
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 was right for me.
What you 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?
Well, obviously, having a pandemic in your first year of trading knocks you for six! 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. Interestingly my accountancy skillset is of more importance than I thought. 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.
When I was an accountant, I learned not to discuss being a local councillor, as it was perceived as a distraction and conflict in my workplace. As a Business Doctor, I understand that the skills, contacts and broader understanding I gain in politics make me better able to support small businesses.
Since joining our team back in 2018, Wicus Van Bijon has taken to becoming a Business Doctor like a duck to water. Wicus’s “go the extra mile” attitude and natural flare for business mentoring has made him a highly successful and recommended coach by the many businesses he’s supported over the last three years.
Before Business Doctors
Wicus has gained a vast depth of knowledge and experience over the last 30 years.
Originally trained as an accountant, Wicus soon realised that this practice was not his passion as he enjoyed the commercial business aspect more. Wicus’ role at Messer Fedgas Ltd in SA took him across the globe, looking at failed investments and helping those businesses turn it around or sell up. The group then used his turnaround skills to help them grow and scale a local subsidiary Weld-cut Equipment as part of the Air Liquide group of companies
However, the turning point for Wicus was when his daughter thought he worked at an airport because he was away so much. During his handover of responsibilities, he stumbled upon an opportunity and with his brother, they created St Pauls Underwriting Managers a company withing the Financial Services industry that they exited in 2017, the same year Wicus immigrated from South Africa to Scotland. During his tenure at his own company he was also seconded to Saxum Insurance company to implement a turnaround strategy for a year to return the company to profitability before handing it back to the shareholders and Management team.
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 your 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 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 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 focus’ 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.”
Have you found anything particularly challenging?
In terms of challenges faced, Wicus refers back to the beginning of his Business Doctor venture. “Finding new clients is always challenging because you think you need to solve their problems and if you don’t, you haven’t done what you should’ve been doing. You don’t need to solve their problems because if you do, your taking ownership and responsibility of someone else’s problems . I came in with no track record nor networks which made it a lot more difficult as guys over here didn’t know what I could deliver or who I was. In South Africa, I didn’t need to network as people immediately knew what I did. I needed to work hard to create a new network in this area to improve my visibility as well as credibility.”
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 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 manged 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 volume of clients to the new services we offer. Our order book is filled up for 4 months in advance and part of our success story is placing the clients at the heart of what we. 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.
When did you become a Business Doctor?
I became the Business Doctor for the North Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire regions seven years ago, back in May 2014.
What did you do previously?
I am a qualified accountant who moved into general management shortly after doing an MBA. I have run businesses in corporate, private equity and family owned environments. Just a selection of my previous experiences include;
Why did you decide to buy a franchise?
Having left corporate life, I wanted to see if I could set up a business on my own. Having looked into it, I felt a franchise business was the lowest risk and came across Business Doctors when doing my research.
What do you enjoy most about being a Business Doctor?
You can make a real difference to your client’s business. What we do isn’t rocket science, however most business owners don’t have the inclination, time or skill set to do what they know needs doing. That is where we step in – our strap line “we don’t just coach we get on the pitch” really sums up our approach. We roll our sleeves up and help clients make real progress in their business. The positive feedback we get from our clients is what makes the job so worthwhile.
What would you say to someone considering a BD franchise?
It is a great way of creating your own business but with a safety net. It’s hard work as is any business start-up, however there is immense personal satisfaction in creating a successful business. Opportunities also present themselves over and above the traditional Business Doctors approach which might lead to formal non exec roles or investment opportunities.
Briefly describe one of your most enjoyable/successful/fruitful projects
MotorDocs, an automotive digital software company was a fledgling venture in need of guidance when I was introduced to the business owner Ritchie Kelk six years ago.
The business was centred around Ritchie’s soon to be launched revolutionary electronic deal file platform - iDealFile, specifically designed for use in the automotive dealer sector. The product enables car dealerships to move away from traditional unsecured manual paper-based document processes to a secure digital document system. Ultimately, the software was developed to make car sales much more efficient and auditable whilst also significantly reducing paper, storage and retrieval costs and improving sales productivity.
Over the course of the last six years, I have gone from being Ritchie’s business coach to an investor, to then finally running the day to day activities as Managing Director. During this time we have :
How would you summarise this experience?
“This was initially a classic Business Doctors client relationship which developed into a productive and highly enjoyable deep working relationship and ultimately a very beneficial exit”
Business Doctors set to launch second operation in Scotland
Laurence Heron is the latest professional to join the Business Doctor’s Network and will be supporting SMEs in the Edinburgh region.
Laurence has a wealth of experience from an impressive 25-year career in business. His work has taken him all over the globe, having run businesses in the UK, Australia, the USA, and China.
“I strongly felt I wanted to do something positive within Scotland, which is my original home country. Helping smaller businesses and the wider business community with my experiences and knowledge is an incredibly rewarding prospect. I enjoy helping people.”
As for why he specifically chose to invest in a Business Doctors franchise, Laurence explains.
“What stood out to me about Business Doctors is that they were very genuine. And by genuine, I mean, frankly, no-nonsense. What you see is what you get. They don't try and pad things out with fancy words, fancy rhetoric. They are just there to help businesses grow and achieve.
I've done very well in the corporate sector. But, investing in the franchise allows me to downsize and run my own business, be in control of my destiny in a sense. I can now do that in a way which I find personally rewarding and enjoyable.”
Laurence believes that there is a tremendous amount of untapped opportunity for SMEs in Edinburgh, and he is looking forward to finding it.
Matthew Levington Co-Founder said “Laurence is a great addition to our team, he the experience we look for in a Business Doctor and is completely on board with our ‘pay it forward’ ethos and values.”
Business Doctors has 37 operations throughout the United Kingdom and recently added Bulgaria to their international portfolio.