After having worked in Senior Management roles for a decade and a half, chartered accountant Saurabh Khandelwal wanted to explore entrepreneurial opportunities. “I had over 15 years of experience and I wanted to explore how it could help organisations that don’t necessarily have in-house expertise akin to mine. It was during this juncture that I read about Business Doctors and their philosophy of partnering with professionals across domains and leveraging their services and experience to help SMEs tackle their business challenges.” It instantly appealed to Saurabh, who reached out to them.
Business Doctors, an SME support company, defines itself as a ‘team of ex-corporate professionals with varied backgrounds, but a common goal’. In short, Business Doctors is a support network dedicated to helping small and medium-sized businesses achieve their full potential. Business Doctors partners with professionals, from successful entrepreneurs to corporate leaders, to create a network and thereby bring extensive understanding of various business aspects such as sectors, domestic and international models, operations, team building, capital management, etc under one roof. At the outset, their work might look similar to that of business consultants, but what makes them distinct is that they not only strategise but also provide hands-on support in execution, while working on a success-based charging model.
And, because it operates on a franchisee model, Saurabh saw this as his calling and began the Business Doctors India chapter in 2016. Saurabh credits his wife Rakhee Khandelwal for supporting him to chase his entrepreneurial dreams. Rakhee is also the Chairperson of Business Doctors India and oversees strategy and franchise development.
Business Doctors is headquartered in the UK and India is among the 12 countries in which it operates with plans to expand to eight other countries on the cards. The 12 countries where Business Doctors has a presence in include Belgium, UAE, Malta, Namibia, South Africa, Southern Ireland, Zambia, Burma, and UK. Globally, Business Doctors has a network of over 150 Business Doctors franchises which help businesses in their growth plans – be it starting a new venture from scratch, draw up a succession plan or putting a business on auto pilot mode.
The India story of Business Doctors
When Saurabh started Business Doctors in India, he found it extremely challenging to get SMEs onboard. And, with the challenges came the realisation that the requirement of Indian SMEs are different. While exploring what works best for the Indian Market and SME ecosystem, he went on to develop strong network of 100+ professionals, including partners, associates and franchisees to offer a blend of consultancy, coaching and hand-holding services for businesses. “When an organisation comes to us with a challenge, we do an overall assessment and assign a Business Doctor with the requisite experience and expertise to help the business tackle the challenge head on. We work with the business until a result is achieved.”
The tagline for their operating model in India is ‘We don’t just coach, we get on the pitch’.
By identifying gaps, setting benchmarks, building, executing and supervising a business plan, and building teams to achieve the set goals, Business Doctors India helps businesses move towards self-sustenance. Over the last two years, they have worked with 200 + SMEs across sectors such as auto, transport, logistics, fashion, manufacturing, agriculture and food processing, tourism and leisure and media and entertainment.
They have helped an auto and auto ancillary business which was facing labour issues and statutory overdue, to restructure their overall business and financials and create a positive working environment. They have worked with an apparel startup that had excessive inventory and operating costs with virtually no revenue to put together an optimal distribution strategy to clear the inventory. They also helped the startup establish relationships with key e-commerce brands and plan sales on their own online portal. They put together a branding, marketing and pricing strategy based on market competition, rewired the existing manufacturing process to cut costs and bring in operational efficiency and assisted the startup in building a close-knit team. Business Doctors worked with an ethnic wear manufacturer to create a B2C rental segment and a private label and integrate that with manufacturing, thereby increasing the margins. They also worked with a gaming business in India to venture into online gaming by creating a differentiated product. Business Doctors helped a real estate company based in Hyderabad earn a profit of over Rs 12 crore by helping them renegotiate key business deals.
Verticals specially conceptualised for Indian SMEs
Having worked on several such allied problems areas across 12 core verticals including Sales, Finance, HR, IT and sector-specific verticals like Defence and Security, Real Estate, Startups, Franchises, Agriculture, International Business, NRI Business etc, Business Doctors is now looking to bring in as franchisees, corporate professionals from these fields looking to break free from the corporate life.
Two key offerings for Indian SMEs which has seen them achieving over 400% growth
“While we will continue to offer services in our key business verticals; we will be bullish growing our International Business and Outstanding Payments Recovery services. We believe that there is a latent demand for these services, but not many have the expertise to strategise and execute a solution. The growth and interest we are seeing in these two segments justifies our belief.”
Launched in January 2018, Business Doctors’ Outstanding Payments Recovery services helps businesses recover their outstanding payments through a very effective legal mechanism. In the last six months alone, they have helped businesses recover over Rs 60 crore. “We have already worked on 250+ cases. We are now getting an average of 300 cases per month across India. Recently, we even signed up with a global conglomerate and Fortune 500 company for assisting them in their outstanding payments collections,” says Saurabh.
Saurabh says, “We have mapped a profile of debtors from whom businesses can recover their outstanding payment with Business Doctors’ assistance, specified the kind of dues which are recoverable and also the type of recoveries and scenarios we have expertise in. So when an organisation comes to us, there are no grey areas or false promises. Given that the recovery process is based on legal mechanism, we can assure of recovery in a fixed time. So far, we have achieved a success rate of 99 percent. And because we offer success-based charging, in the rare case of failure we offer a full refund.” Saurabh also states that while working towards recovering the money, they ensure that the business relationship doesn’t get affected.”
Sharing an example, he says, “We worked with a mid-sized scrap dealer from Chennai whose account was frozen for non-payment of VAT because of a huge debt of Rs 1.8 crore from an Ahmedabad-based company and Rs 2.43 crore from another in Hyderabad. Business Doctors was not only able to recover the entire money in a span of five months and also helped ensure that the dealer continues to work together with the Ahmedabad-based company while making sure that payments are done on time. The recovery of the overdue payment has helped the dealer expand his business overseas.”
The International Business Doctors service helps Indian SMEs expand into a global market by tapping export opportunities. The company has developed a facilitation model by which they help Indian SMEs get real time business from 30 countries out of a list of 40 countries. The facilitation service includes getting real business and not just leads, unlike other platforms. Business Doctors also follows up on leads, promises payment guarantee, provides after sales service, etc. The International Business Doctors service comes with a guarantee of generating a minimum annual business value of Rs 60 lakh for SMEs in manufacturing, Rs 36 lakh for SMEs in services industry, and Rs 18 lakh for medical professionals on a success-based charging fees.
“We have launched the service on a pilot basis and have already signed up with 10 businesses. We are expecting that number to go up to 100 by early January. From a long-term growth perspective, we expect this service to generate export value of Rs 250 crore by 2020.”
Success-based charging model – just what the SME ecosystem wants
In addition to a strong understanding of the market demand and a growing network of professionals, a key element that’s driving Business Doctors’ growth is that they charge fees only based on how successful they are in helping their client. Explaining the reason for this operating model, Saurabh says, “SMEs and small businesses in India often have excellent products and offerings but they don’t seem to tap the growth they otherwise can, because of limited understanding of the market, growth strategies, or complex organisational challenges. And, unlike large organisations, smaller businesses don’t understand how outside perspective can be a game-changer. This is compounded by the fact that they have little or no cushioning cash to experiment. That’s why success-based charging appeals to them. It helps us demonstrate our commitment and expertise and also give them an assurance that their money and effort won’t go into a marketing black hole.”
Saurabh says “Business Doctors India is all about success because whether its working with clients, partners or franchisees, everything is aimed at achieving results.”
Having already touched 1,000+ clients in a span of littles less than three years, stabilised its operating model and business, the company is looking to reach 1 percent of Indian SMEs by 2025. “That one percent translates into a huge number – seven lakhs. The SME ecosystem has so many untapped business opportunities and we believe that next phase of economic growth will come from this very ecosystem.”