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Expansion spree 2015-07-08

Plans to open 22 more clinics by 2016; look to franchise pet care clinics too: Dr. Batra

In an exclusive conversation with Dr. Mukesh Batra, Founder & Chairman, Dr Batra’s Healthcare group, WI Bureau find out some unidentified facts about the business expansion and growth of Dr Batra’s Clinic.

Plans to open 22 more clinics by 2016; look to franchise pet care clinics too: Dr. Batra

What change did you see in skin and hair care business? How you are en-cashing on the same?
There has been a rise in hair and skin cases due to rise in stress level. The lifestyle changes, eating habits of individuals are also accounting to these problems. We have observed a premature trend in skin and hair disorders. Diseases that were more pronounced in the age group of 30-40 years are more seen in the age group of 20-30 years. Thus, we have observed a gradual shift in the skin and hair care market heading towards natural products as consumers have realized their long-term benefits in terms of health and wellness. Dr Batra’s products contain natural ingredients and carry no harmful chemicals.  We plan to expand the category to fulfil this long-felt need in the market.

How your format is different from the other existing or upcoming clinics in the category?      
Dr Batra’s is India's leading homeopathic healthcare corporate. Homoeopathy is based on the principle of curing ailments from its root cause unlike other forms of treatments that provide stop-gap solutions. At Dr.Batra’s clinics, for instance, if a patient comes in with Hair & Skin condition, we provide them with homeopathy as well as aesthetics service, making it a one-stop solution. Dr Batra’s clinics offer world-class, holistic healthcare experience and is keyed to quality processes. We have always introduced best suited techniques for patients where one experiences safe, effective and world-class solutions with a combination of Homeopathy, Trichology and Technology.

How are you planning to take this format to the other markets?
We are present in UAE, London and Dhaka (Bangladesh) and will be taking homeopathy to many more countries by opening our owned and franchise clinics.

What are your growth plans and investments you are looking to make in your current business?
We plan to reach Rs 300 crores in FY 2015-16 and will invest Rs 25 crores.

Are you looking to raise funds or franchise your business? What’s the royalty fee for the same?
We took the franchise route in 2012 and at present, we have 53 Homeopathy franchise clinics in tier II and III cities. We plan to open 22 more by March 2016. We will soon take the franchise route for Pet care clinics.
   We have a highly successful franchise model. Our financials for franchise are defined on the basis of the market size and potential, and accordingly we suggest our different business models to suit the requirement.

How have you defined your consumers? What is the average ticket size of your consumers in India?
We cater to consumers from lower middle class to upper middle class. Our ticket size varies for the year.

Which are the new markets you are looking at? What kind of business opportunities did you witness here?
We plan to open clinics in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Muscat, Qatar, Bahrain, UK and Bhutan. The Homeopathy market has been growing at 25 per cent per annum and is gaining acceptance globally. Riding this wave as leaders in the Homeopathy Healthcare space, Dr Batra’s envisages itself as a leading global player of this high growth market. More importantly, 20 per cent of our patient base is in overseas market. Hence, we already have a good base built. We see ourselves well-positioned to leverage on our existing goodwill and relationships, to attract new patients to Dr Batra’s Clinic.

In which area do you face challenges and why? What procedures do you take to overcome these challenges and smooth functioning of your business?
It is sometimes difficult to get good doctors in smaller cities and towns. To overcome this challenge, we, at Dr Batra’s, have taken an HR initiative and have started to relocate doctors from bigger cities to smaller ones by providing them with accommodation and incentivizing their efforts.

How did you bring standardization in your business?
Dr Batra’s has achieved standardisation through infrastructure, services, medicines and treatments across all its clinics in India and abroad.
• Standardization of treatment using ERP: Dr Batra’s’ cutting edge Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system stores patients’ medical histories and treatment details online, enabling standardization of treatment.
• Treatment at Dr Batra’s is standardised through training as well as processes which all doctors follow. The clinic has in place well-defined disease protocols for measuring medical outcomes through scientific parametres. There is also a system where cases are escalated for a second opinion with an expert medical committee. The medical audit department does a regular review of treatments.
• Medicines are centrally purchased through approved vendors as per international standards and dispatched to every clinic; no clinic is allowed to buy local medicines.
• Layouts, designs are as per written manual including the right colour of red and blue of our brand and general store merchandising (GSM) of stationary used across the organisation.

Share your experience which made you gain good hold on this trade while phasing challenges in different phases of your entrepreneurial journey? How did you combat the unwanted challenges of your trade?
• The first mover disadvantage: Everyone talks about the first-mover advantage. But it can also be a disadvantage because there is no path to follow and you have to create your own path. The cost of experimentation is sometimes high. It can be an expensive learning curve for the pioneer.  Secondly, while we grow the market at our cost, others copy and just move in.
• Advertising without breaching medical ethics: In an industry where word-of-mouth (WoM) is the prime reason for decision-making by the consumer, advertising is not often well received. We sometimes hear people say, ‘They advertise so much, they must be making a lot of money, or if they can spend so much they must be very expensive.’
• Handling attrition of doctors: Gone are the days when people would start and end their careers in one company. Undoubtedly, today, for any HR in the healthcare industry, retaining medical professionals is the major challenge. At Dr Batra’s, the attrition rate of doctors is just 2 per cent. What keeps them back are good working conditions, professional opportunities, lot of emphasis on training and 500 hours of Continuous Medical Education every year and a watertight contract.
• Rentals in retail: All the retailers would agree that with property prices soaring at an unbelievable rate, it hampers our rent-to-revenue ratio, thereby, making business unavailable.
• Standardization challenge: Healthcare industry in India faces a major challenge in the form of standardisation. There is no standardisation in infrastructure, pricing or in the treatment provided. Dr Batra’s, however, has achieved standardisation through infrastructure, services, medicines and treatments across all its clinics in India and abroad.

With growing awareness and rising income levels, wellness entrepreneurs are betting high on tier II cities like Pune, Nagpur, Bhopal etc., how much potential do you see in tier II markets in comparison with metros or high-end cities? What are your plans of expansion in tier II & III cities?
We see a huge potential in tier II and III cities. We already have the first mover’s advantage by having 53 clinics in tier II and III cities. We enjoy a win-win situation with our franchises. We support our franchise by leveraging our expertise in terms of best policies and the franchise support us with the local understanding of the market. This would in turn help us in creating a sustainable model. We plan to open 22 franchise clinics in tier II and III cities.

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