Dundee physiotherapy business extends its reach

Best friends Lynne Falconer and Sally Kiddie launched Heal, a physiotherapy business in 2004.

Since then, the pair have significantly grown the business. Here, they share with us the story behind their business.

How and why did you start in business?

We feel like it was meant to be as two key things happened in the same week. Sally had gone to register with her new G.P after recently moving back to Dundee and during the initial appointment, the G.P mentioned they had a large, purpose built physiotherapy room and would she be interested in renting it. A few days earlier, Lynne had called to say that she was moving back from New Zealand. After a long chat we decided to take up the G.P’s offer. We managed to secure a part time NHS physiotherapy job and shared this role while working part time on the business based within the medical centre.

How did you get to where you are today?

Since launching we’ve offered a range of services, including Pilates and massage therapy and we’re now the largest clinic within Dundee and the surrounding area. This was a result of us buying over an existing business in 2008 and moving out of the medical centre into larger premises at City Quay. Importantly, we placed an emphasis on customer care and offering services that we knew were lacking in the area. In 2017, we opened a private clinic within the University of St Andrews, where we provide treatment on a self-referral and self-funding basis for the university’s athletes, students and staff. After a three year search and months of renovation, we opened the doors to our new premises in Dudhope Street, Dundee in June this year.

Who has helped you along the way?

We used Business Gateway even before we opened our doors. Lynne attended her first workshop the day after she got off the plane from New Zealand. We attended courses on marketing, accounts and branding and have used the skills we learned throughout the years. More recently we have secured funding through the Small Business Finance Dundee scheme which was a great help and now that we have settled into our new premises the plan is to work with our Business Gateway adviser further and benefit from its Digital Boost services.

What was your biggest mistake?

We haven’t made a big mistake. If we have made decisions that were wrong at the time we have learnt from them and so they have been important factors in future planning and decision making.

What is your greatest achievement to date?

Over the last 14 years we have developed and grown which has been fantastic. However, moving into new, larger premises is a great achievement. With nine treatment rooms, a Pilates studio and a separate rehabilitation gym, we can continue to expand and offer even more. Our biggest achievement though, is building an amazing team around us including administration, management, physiotherapists and health professionals.

What do you hope to achieve in the future?

We have plans to extend our class schedule to include Yoga, ante and post-natal Pilates and condition specific classes focusing on osteoporosis and back pain. We have a Clinical Psychologist and a Psychologist with a specific interest in sport related issues, now working with us and we are also hoping to start offering a women’s and men’s health physiotherapy service focusing on pelvic pain and continence. In addition, this year we have secured occupational health work for St Andrews University and we will work with student services to expand into the wider student community.

Do you want to recruit in the future?

As well as us, we employ a further six physiotherapists and one part-time self-employed associate. Two additional physios deliver our evening Pilates classes and we also have a practice manager and three further administrative staff. We also have two massage therapists and two psychologists who are self-employed associates and a self-employed yoga teacher. With the expansion in our services we are looking to employ another full time physiotherapist who can work between St Andrews and Dundee. As the clinic in St Andrews becomes more established with the non-university population we will be looking expand our hours there, so over the next two years we expect to take on more people.

What is the hardest thing about running your own business?

We are physiotherapists and at no point in our training was there any education around business management or being self-employed. We know our trade but it has been a steep learning curve in regards to business management, human resources, policies and procedures and recruitment. As our business developed and we met new hurdles we have looked for external help and advice, via Business Gateway and The Federation of Small Businesses.

Any advice to wannabe entrepreneurs?

It can be scary and daunting but plan well, roll up your sleeves and be prepared to work hard. Ask for help and use services like Business Gateway and don’t wait on people or business to come to you, reach out and find them.

Find out how Business Gateway Dundee can help your business by visiting their local page or calling 01382 843016.

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