The Entrepreneur: Joshua Catlett, Capital Physio

Following its recent acquisition of Physio in the City, Joshua Catlett speaks to Startups about his physiotherapy business Capital Physio

Founder: Joshua Catlett
Company: Capital Physio
Description in one line: Capital Physio is one of the largest and fasting expanding private physiotherapy clinic groups in the UK with a reputation for quality treatment and lasting results.
Previous companies: None.
Turnover: £2-2.5m
12 month target: £2.5-3m

Business growth

Describe your business model and what makes your business unique:

  • We provide fast access (typically within 24 hours) to physiotherapy appointments at 40 clinics in major cities across the UK.
  • Our clinics operate from medical centers, gyms, and business centers, carefully chosen for convenience of access.
  • We have centralized all management and booking process to ensure consistency and deliver a seamless client journey from referral to discharge.

What is your greatest business achievement to date?

Agreeing the terms of an acquisition deal that is good for all parties is a very satisfying feeling. Every acquisition has been slightly different but I have got a great sense of achievement out of every one.

What numbers do you look at every day in your business?

I have alerts set up to notify me any time we get a three-star review or below. You can’t always help everyone in healthcare, but I want to make sure our clients are getting the best care and experience possible.

I also have access to a dashboard which shows the number of new referrals received, today’s appointments, active treatment cycles, and future bookings – this gives me a good overview of how the business is performing and growing day-by-day.

To what extent does your business trade internationally and what are your plans?

Our vision has always been to become the largest private physio group in the UK, and to deliver fast and convenient access to physiotherapy in every major city.

Once we have reached our target of 120 clinics, we would be keen to explore opportunities internationally. We particularly have our sights set on replicating our model in the UAE.

Describe your growth funding path:

Our growth to date has been through a mix of retained profit and angel investment. Until the end of 2017, we achieved over 30% year-on-year growth and made five acquisitions without any borrowing what so ever.

We borrowed a small amount for out most recent acquisition, partly due to its size but also so that we can start to build up a strong reputation with our bank for future acquisition and expansion opportunities.

We have turned down a number of PE approaches historically but are currently reviewing our funding strategy given our growing acquisition pipeline and size of deal.

What technology has made the biggest difference to your business?

Because we manage all our clinics centrally, the choice of practice management software was crucial to get right.

The ‘off-the-shelf’ practice management software doesn’t have the right level of functionality for a business our size but we opted out of creating our own, in house system (we wanted to focus on delivering great healthcare, supported by good IT, not become an software company).

In the end, we found a great compromise and chose to partner with a company called Lumeon. Our system offers all the great features the standard practice management packages do, but with an added level of configurability and much richer data.

This means we have been able to do things like create a bespoke online booking platform that shows live appointment availability and set up really efficient processes internally to maximize quality and service.

Where would you like your business to be in three years?

We expect to continue our current growth trend and reach a turnover of £5.5-6m within three years. We also hope to have achieved our clinic target and opened 120 clinics with coverage in every major UK city.

Growth challenges

What is the hardest thing you have ever done in business?

When buying a business, taking on the existing team is an important part of the value we are buying.

However, sometimes it doesn’t make business sense and you have hard choices for the greater good and to save a failing business. Thankfully it hasn’t happened often but it’s always hard to make someone’s role redundant.

What was your biggest business mistake?

When I first started the business I spent a significant amount of money trying to create the perfect website with a bespoke practice management module in the back end.

I quickly learnt that it is far better to focus on getting new business in and using existing market solutions before spending large amounts of money creating bespoke software.

Piece of Red Tape that hampers growth most:

Recruitment is tough in our industry and we often rely on international candidates and sponsor then but the process is very laborious, expensive and time consuming for both us and the candidate. It often means we miss out on great candidates or new clinic opportunities because we can’t get them on in time.

What is the most common serious mistake you see entrepreneurs make?

I constantly see entrepreneurs in my industry spend a huge amount on setting up the ‘perfect’ clinic, spending a fortune on rent deposits, costly leases, fixtures, fittings, expensive kit etc and expect clients to come flocking in from day one.

We open clinics in complimentary locations (i.e gyms and medical centers) which keeps set up costs low and invest in quality staff, efficient systems, and generating new business.

How will your market look in three years?

The physiotherapy market is undergoing big changes at the moment. Its currently very fractured with lots of small independent physio groups. However, we are seeing a number of high profile acquisitions at the moment and predict several of the larger regional groups will consolidate over the coming years.

What is the single most important piece of advice you would offer to a less experienced entrepreneur?

Don’t try and do everything yourself. Learn to delegate quickly but keep a close eye on business critical functions. Create an environment where your team feels comfortable challenging yours and each other’s decision making.

Personal growth

Biggest luxury:

Spending a week skiing in the alps. There’s no better way to relax, recharge, and refocus.

Executive education or learn it on the job?

Learn on the job, but I would love to do an MBA or accountancy course in the future.

What would make you a better leader?

I have a great non exec team that keep me on track but it would be great to be surround by more experienced professionals on regular basis. I learn best from the experiences of others.

What one thing do you wish you’d known when you started?

I wish I had realised early on that every mistake, failure or negative outcome is only an opportunity to learn, improve and do things better.

One business app and one personal app you can’t do without:

I’m a big fan of Audible as it allows me to listen to a digest business books on the commute into London.

My guilty pleasure app is LadBible – an entertaining distraction.

Business book:

It’s quite old and a bit predictable but ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ wins because of its clear, action advice.