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How to run a health clinic

Interview with...

Sarah Scardino
15 years as an osteopath
Business name:
Osteopathy, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, massage
South-east England
When bought:
3 years ago
Price paid:
How to run a health clinic

After 15 years working as an osteopath, Sarah Scardino decided it was about time she set up her own business.

"I wanted to be my own boss offering quality care to the community, instead of working in clinics where I had to pay rent," she explains.

Sarah opened her complementary health clinic - offering a wide range of treatments such as osteopathy, acupuncture, hypnotherapy and massage.

I would advise other buyers not to be scared to ask loads of questions

Sarah Scardino, Health Clinic owner

"I had always known that I wanted my own clinic one day, but having a clinic with many therapists was my real aim."

Her aim has already become a reality, and although she has no direct employees as yet (except for her receptionist), five other therapists rent rooms in the clinic.

Sarah's search for a business began with and she bought the business through business transfer agents Adams and Co.

She cites one of the agents at this brokerage as being one of her most helpful allies during the buying process.

"Jackie was brilliant - very helpful and supportive. She was always there with answers to my questions. That's one thing I wish I had done more of: asking questions.

Stressful process

"I would advise other buyers not to be scared to ask loads of questions to solicitors, mortgage brokers and the seller - find out as much as you can as to why they are selling."

Sarah admits the whole process was quite stressful at times.

"It can be very daunting buying a commercial property and you need to collect a lot of information. Preparation and patience are vital.

"I think if I was going through the process again I would find out more information myself. It would have benefited me more.

"I would certainly not take peoples' word as gospel."

Buying her own business meant Sarah moving from south-west London to a town on the south-east coast.

"We relocated to a new area away from our friends and family and we didn't know anyone. But as time has gone on we have become so happy to be here.

"We have made new friends and we get a lot of visitors because we live by the sea. I have made a lot of contacts with local businesses and there is a real feel of community.

"It's been a great move for us and an improvement on our lifestyle."

Many business buyers find the change in ownership a tricky transition period where the previous owner struggles to let go. Sarah, too, initially found settling into her new life as a business owner quite stressful.

Learning curve

"In this case," she explains, "the seller was moving abroad. However he was still around when we first moved down, and although we worked well together it did have its issues. Now he is gone I am looking forward to concentrating on moving the clinic forward.

"Other teething problems - issues with computers and telephones, things going wrong with the clinic - took up a lot of my time and stopped me from concentrating on something more worthwhile.

"It's been a real learning curve for me.

"I had some skills in running a clinic before but I have been learning on the job with regards to the admin and computer work. I have a great receptionist who has helped me a lot.

"I feel I have achieved a lot and surprised myself. I still have a lot to look forward to and feel more prepared and positive about the future.

Now the previous owner has left her to her own devices, Sarah can't wait to get stuck in - and has big ambitions.

"My immediate plans are to expand the client list and fill the treatment rooms with more therapists. I would really like to extend upstairs and eventually open a bigger therapy centre.

"I want to run the leading health clinic in the area."

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