Frodsham Laser Clinic: Jan Williams
The Frodsham Laser Clinic founder on using her business to help herself and others
Entrepreneurial inspiration comes in many forms but how many times have you heard someone admit it was their doctor encouraged them to start a business? For Jan Williams, setting up the Frodsham Laser Clinic not only provided her with treatment for a frustrating medical condition, it took her career and life in a whole new direction.
After undergoing two kidney transplant operations, Jan’s medication left her with a new problem – unwanted facial hair. After various treatments failed Jan’s consultant suggested one way of getting access to a specific laser that could help would be to buy it herself and set up a business around it.
“Two years down the line, that’s exactly what I did,” says Jan. “It took a lot of training and research. I spent 18months looking at various different lasers and in the end I went for one used by a lot of hospitals.”
Next came the task of financing such expensive equipment. “I robbed, stole, threatened and blackmailed everyone I could to get the money together,” she admits. A combination of savings, a personal loan, as wells as bank and asset finance, eventually amounted to the £130,000 needed to get the clinic up and running.
With two lasers totalling just over £100,000, there wasn’t much left over for other expenses, but Jan still managed to secure the property of her choice. The clinic is situated off the main street in a courtyard, providing the privacy for clients to visit discreetly. With the site secured, Jan set to work on getting it up to the very strict standards needed for the healthcare commission to approve it. On March 16 2008 the clinic was given the all clear, and the first client walked through the door two days later.
“Business was quite slow at first,” says Jan. “Part of that is because of where we’re located. But this type of business builds on word of mouth so it doesn’t really matter how much you advertise; your fastest route to getting new patients is always going to be recommendations.”
Less than a year since launching, the referrals must be coming in thick and fast. The clinic treats clients from all over the South West. A healthy monthly turnover has now led to plans for two more sites early next year and the development of the community interest side of the company, which operates alongside the commercial arm.
Jan offers free or heavily subsidised treatments for people with conditions that affect their quality of life – the majority of which are referred to her though doctors or charitable organisations. “We opened the CIC arm because in general the only people that can afford the clinic are very well off. It’s difficult in this area to get a primary care trust to pay for treatment.”
Jan is now relishing the opportunity to help those going through the same experience she’s overcome and says the most rewarding thing about the job is watching people’s confidence grow as their treatment takes effect. “Sometimes when people walk in for their first consultation they can’t even look you in the face. To see them walk away confident after a couple of treatments is fantastic.”