After outgrowing their new medical practice in less than a year, experienced doctors and practice owners (Ajit and Alfeen Varghese) knew they would need local, expert advice to assist with the next stage of their business journey.
The couple reached out to RSM’s specialist Medical team who has since provided “instrumental support” in every aspect of managing, growing, and exiting their medical business.
Establishing a medical practice to give back to their community
Ajit Varghese and his wife Alfeen moved to Australia from the UK in 2008. As qualified doctors, they landed roles in established practices within their new hometown of Wodonga in regional Victoria.
In 2010, a desire to do things differently and give back to the local community led the couple to establish their own medical clinic. Located on Daintree Way, Daintree Medical Centre was purpose-built to house 10 General Practitioners (GPs) and an onsite pathology.
While it began with just 3 GPs, a nurse and admin staff, their quality of service led to rapid growth requiring more space.
“We started off in a couple of houses in the centre of town, but outgrew it in less than a year,” recalls Ajit.
“So, we bought a block in a new estate and built a 10 GP clinic. When we exceeded this as well, we purchased the neighbouring block and constructed a purpose-built clinic for Allied Health Practitioners, Specialists, Dentists, X-ray, and Pharmacy. Between both buildings, it became a one-stop-shop for health services.”
In need of support from skilled accountants and business advisers, Ajit and Alfeen first engaged RSM before opening the second clinic.
“There were several reasons why we chose RSM, and one was that they had a local presence in Wodonga".
The other was that our business was growing, and we wanted more engagement and support from our accountant. Peter Nicol came highly recommended by a business colleague so we reached out. We found that the team had exceptional knowledge of the medical sector which was great because they understood our vision, and we could bounce ideas around easily.”
Navigating the challenges and triumphs of growth
Ajit says RSM was instrumental in helping them establish the second practice and grow their staff from 10 to more than 100 across both clinics, which ultimately created more jobs in the region.
Daintree Medical Centre in Wodonga, Victoria
“We relied on Peter, Steven Banks and Nick Andrews to assist with everything from general tax matters to financial and business advice, as well as managing our own self-managed superfund investments."
“From day one we found them to be very proactive and approachable. Their advice was timely, and they’d always explain things clearly. Whether we were doing well or hit a rough patch, we’d go to them for advice and they’d be ready to assist. They really did a lot to help us build up the business financially."
“We were also surprised by the networking opportunities we gained through RSM. They’re always conducting talks for doctors or professionals in Albury, and we met lots of like-minded people which improved our business."
While Ajit and Alfeen had a vision to establish satellite clinics in neighbouring towns lacking access to medical services, personal reasons led them to re-assess their priorities.
“We decided we needed a change, so we sold both buildings as freehold and then sold the business a year later. RSM was instrumental in helping us find a buyer and a solicitor, and they worked hand in hand with both to get it done. They went well over and above their role as accountants.”
“It was reassuring to know we always had a port of call if we ever had problems. Whether it was a director issue, staff issue, operations issue, or financial issue, we knew RSM was there to support us.”
Giving back to the next generation of practice owners
Since the sale of their business, Ajit and his wife have moved to sunny Queensland and established a new consulting business (Varghese Medical Consulting). Together, they support aspiring and established medical practice owners to achieve success.
“We had 20,000 people on our books in our first 5 years of business so we must have done something right. Importantly, we learned a lot about what not to do. That advice can be valuable for someone who’s just starting a practice or struggling to improve an existing one. That’s the next stage in our journey; giving back to our sector by supporting other practice owners.”
“We’ll continue to work with RSM because we have a great relationship; not just within the business but as friends too.”
On working with Ajit and Alfeen, Peter Nicol from RSM says, “Ajit and Alfeen are two of the loveliest people I’ve ever met. They made a significant investment to construct the new clinics in Wodonga, and their vision provided unique medical facilities as well as employment in the region. ”
“When we came on board, their first business was already running well – they just wanted someone to challenge them on how to run it better. They transitioned from bulk billing to private billing among other changes which provided the foundation for solid growth. We were with them right through their journey to the successful sale of the buildings and the business and became friends.”
“What they created was nothing short of amazing and it was incredible to watch them achieve it. Anything they put their minds to, will be a success so we’re looking forward to supporting them in their new journey as consultants.”
Ajit’s advice to anyone thinking of establishing a medical practice is to “go for it, as long as you have a good accountant and can retain your staff. You can spend all your time and energy creating a rapport with patients, but if doctors and nurses leave then you have nothing. Learning to attract and retain staff was vital to our success.”
“RSM has been our first call in every decision we’ve made. Before anyone else, we want to hear their opinion so we can move forward based on their advice. The team is very detail-oriented, committed, and creative.”
How can RSM help your practice?
RSM have a team of accountants and business advisers who can talk directly to the issues and opportunities you face in your practice, so you can face the future with confidence. For more information on our Medical services, click here.