Catering to more than 10,000 laboratories, hospitals, nursing homes and 20,000 consultants, is India’s renowned multinational chain of diagnostic centres Metropolis Healthcare Ltd. In an interview Ameera Shah, MD & CEO, Metropolis Healthcare Ltd shares the franchise success journey of the brand.
Neha Gohil (NG): Shed some light on your entrepreneurial journey. Tell us something about the inception of ‘Metropolis Healthcare’?
Ameera Shah (AS): It’s been phenomenal, very exhilarating journey and a joy ride. In the last 10 years after I came back, I spent most of my time building this business and we are successful in converting it into a business from a pathology practice. I really can not say anything more besides that it is my baby.
My father, Dr Sushil Shah formed Metropolis in 1981. For me it was very interesting idea. It was his vision that we created a chain of labs across India. I think in 1990 when my father was growing Metropolis in Bombay, there were many international labs looking to enter into Indian Market. He had a vision and an idea to have our own indigenous chain of labs instead of waiting for multi-nationals to come in. So he started talking to few pathologists but nothing worked out. I joined Metropolis in 2001 and had an ambition to achieve the vision and that is how we started planning together.
NG: What is the USP of ‘Metropolis Healthcare’?
AS: We always do what is right for our patients and do not take any shortcuts. We sacrifice our own interest for providing good service to our customers. With this focus you will always do better for your customers. They will always appreciate you for the extra effort that you are taking for them and makes company do better. This has very well been proven in Metropolis’ case.
NG: Why and when did you take up the franchise route for expansion?
AS: We started it around 2004. Ours was the only franchise collection centre and lab. Franchising is something we do only in some locations, and not in all. Our idea is very simple where we have followed a partnership model where we believe that when you partner with entrepreneurs you get the best results. The advantage is that it helps to optimise and maximise the resources because the partners’ skin is in the game; they have put in their efforts and money to it so it’s a collective effort. This also gives them a good opportunity to make money and also provide services to our customers in places where we are not directly present.
NG: How has franchising helped the brand so far, in achieving its target?
AS: I will give an example of a smaller town like Sindhudurg. We may not be directly present there but through franchisee we can provide our personalised service there. So this helps us to create a brand recall and visibility and spread without much investment in the infrastructure.
NG: Presently, how many franchisees do you have? What are your further expansion plans via franchising?
AS: We have around 150 franchisees. We are currently focusing on Punjab, U.P., Haryana, Rajasthan and such places. We will form our partners and will work there.
NG: How much investment in terms of money and area is required from a franchisee?
AS: For healthcare, I would say that it’s not expensive at all. The investment can range from Rs 50,000 to Rs one lakh. Franchisee has to give a security deposit over Rs 50,000 and would need like 100-200 sq.ft space.
NG: It can be lucrative business venture. What are your views on it?
AS: In our sector, it can be a lucrative venture like if one works hard it will surely turn out to be a lucrative business. It requires good relations with doctors and following up with them. Once one has good relations with them can expand.
NG: What according to you are the advantages of running a franchisee of healthcare sector? Mention few challenges and how can they be overcome?
AS: The advantage is that you have lots of partners who have the same motivation that you do in running a business and to grow.
The challenge is that healthcare is very sensitive in terms of accuracy and quality as your whole brand is based on it. So it’s very important to choose the right franchisee and should take into consideration the long term vision instead of the short term vision of profit-making.
NG: Do you think the sector has a promising future for entrepreneurs?
AS: It is very promising for entrepreneurs. The healthcare industry is booming and does not have many corporate in it. It is very much suitable for new or fresh entrepreneurs. From the diagnostic case, the business is actually growing in leaps and bounds. So new entrepreneurs can take the plunge and if they have dedication and are ready to put in their hard work they surely will taste success soon.