It was a great summer for me. I had some rest and spent some great time with friends and family. However I also spent almost three months on the new acquisition of a medical software company called WARP Technologies.
After countless meetings with the owners, lawyers and the usual due diligence, we were delighted to close the new acquisition, buying the company in mid-September. It’s a great business, which creates the software used by all doctors who work with my other business, Premier Medical, which provides medical reporting, screening, rehabilitation and diagnostic services to the personal injury claims market.
However, it provides a range of products in the health sector, so the potential for diversity and new products is very compelling. I’m excited by the prospect of being able to get stuck in, drawing up plans, which hopefully will double WARP’s turnover to £3m within the first year. It’s a great addition to the business portfolio and creates an important footprint in the medical software world. Plenty of meetings set up for the next few weeks and more on that next month.
It’s been a busy time since returning to Premier Medical – a company I originally set up in 1995 – in mid-July. I appointed my management team within hours of the deal and have been regularly meeting them over the past two months to agree priorities to help drive through my vision for the business over the next year.
It was a pleasure to reacquaint myself with staff at our head office in Ludlow and our second largest office in Durham. It’s been really important to meet everyone in person, update them on what’s happening, give them insight into the plans for the future, and to find out what they really think about the “new” ownership.
I’m a strong believer in the personal touch and don’t want to be an anonymous leader, hidden behind a computer screen sending out corporate missives by email. Yes, there is a time and place for email communication, but relationships are strengthened by getting to know people in person. It’s important to hear directly from everyone involved in the business about the impact of changes. Every opinion counts and that includes everyone from our security team all the way through to senior management.
So far, so good – there has been positive feedback and employees are pleased about our more clinically-focused service. We are now returning to a more nimble management structure, which will mean we are better able to handle report writing for our 300-plus clients, coupled with improved service levels.
There has been discussion on other ways to improve the business and a key focus is on internal processes and structures. IT is extremely important and investing in the right technology will really help to improve service and delivery, opening up improved ways of working. The acquisition of WARP will be at the centre of this strategy. The vision is for Premier Medical to offer the best service delivery in the sector by the end of the year. This will require some investment and improvements to our service structures. My aim is to return solid organic growth of up to £10m by July 2017 across the group.
Outside of my business life, I am chairman of the English National Opera and Lancing College. Both institutions have had their first board meetings of the season and for the academic year and both are buoyant, inspirational and display great ambition. It is a privilege to be involved. The arts and education are both so important to a vibrant community.
I also took my two-man play – Dial Medicine for Murder – to the Edinburgh Festival – treading the boards of the Gilded Balloon with my sidekick Andrew Johns, a forensic psychiatrist. The show is a forensic analysis of the similarities between two of the most prolific serial killers who also happened to be doctors – Harold Shipman and John Bodkin Adams. The show goes on the road from January 2017 and will be performing twice a month across the UK starting out in London and hopefully ending up at Brighton in May next year.
People often ask how I manage a work/life balance given my business portfolio, new acquisition activity and non-executive roles. It is fundamental to look after your own diary. I do my best to try and spend Monday to Thursday focused almost entirely on work in London. Most days it is “back to back” meetings from 8am through to end of play. Although not always successful, I head home to Sussex at the end of the week and look forward to seeing my family, playing a round of golf and walking the South Downs with my wife and dog on Saturday afternoon. The perfect juxtaposition and preparation for another full-on week in London.
This article is part of a wider campaign called Founders Diaries, a section of Real Business that brings together 20 inspiring business builders to share their stories. Bringing together companies from a wide variety of sectors and geographies, each columnist produces a diary entry each month. Visit the Founders Diaries section to find out more.
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