His first homeopathy clinic in Mumbai that opened in 1982 is today preserved like a museum. Since then Dr Mukesh Batra has grown from strength to strength. The veteran homeopath’s success in setting up a chain of clinics and bringing to the forefront a system of medicine is worth recording. The Dr Batra’s group today comprises company-owned clinics in India and abroad as well as franchises. Services include basic homeopathy treatment, range of products and animal care among others. A recent interview taken during a visit for opening a third clinic in Ponda reveals a man with a robust business sense. The group, he says, is primarily funded through internal accruals and is debt-free.
From your first clinic in Mumbai to 163 chain clinics, it is been a remarkable journey. Did you foresee such a future for homeopathy and yourself when you started?
Certainly not. When I started my practice in 1975, homeopathy was not easily accepted by people. We had to convert people to homeopathy with missionary zeal. However, in the last five years homeopathy has seen a larger acceptance by people. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) it is the second largest system of medicine and is growing at 25 per cent back to back. The reason being that people today are more aware of the side-effects of chemical medicines while homeopathy is the safer option without side-effects. It provides solutions to a lot of chronic problems like arthritis, asthma, psoriasis, etc, which have no solutions through alternate systems of medicine.
How have you funded investment in land and facilities for new clinics since franchising came in during the last couple of years? What is your financing policy?
Our funding comes from institutional borrowings whenever required. Presently, we are a debt-free company. Basically we grow from internal accruals. We put in whatever we can back into the growth of the company.
Sound business sense is an important factor behind your success. What is Dr Batra’s prescription for the financial good health of the group?
Honesty makes good business sense. Whatever we have done and grown is with great financial transparency and a strong value based system in the company coupled with best practices in medicine and patient care.
The Goa market you recently mentioned is where you faced resistance when starting. What differentiates Goa from other cities in India in demand?
Awareness of homeopathy in Goa is less than in rest of the country. It is slow to change, so it took us time to convince people. Popular treatments here are for hair fall, respiratory illnesses, female disorders and pediatrics. Mental illness such as depression is a new segment where local patients are also seeking cure.
The clinics in Goa are management owned. Is that going to be the model for forthcoming clinics in Calangute and Vasco too?
Yes, the existing three clinics are management owned. It is going to be our model for our forthcoming clinics too. They will be funded, owned and managed by us. We plan to open one in Mapusa too.
What is the standard investment for a Dr Batra’s homeopathy clinic and how many years does it take for a clinic to start making profits?
Rs 30 lakh is the standard investment for a Dr Batra’s homeopathy clinic and it takes three years for a clinic to start making profits. Our investment in Goa market for the next two years is Rs one crore.
As a homeopath you are there for good many years, but really doing well in the last decade. Why do you think this system of medicine is become so popular in recent years?
Because 1) it is a safe system without any side effects and 2) it is holistic medicine and people are tired of going to different doctors for different problems. Third, health care costs today are extremely high and homeopathy is a cost-effective option.
Homeopathy has no cure for cancer, heart attack, accidents, etc. That is a major drawback.
Heart attacks and accidents are medical emergencies that require immediate hospitalization. Since homeopathic hospitals are very few, that can be a limitation. In case of cancer there is a treatment for certain cancers in homeopathy. A lot of research is documented all over the world regarding the same.
Another big problem is that of quality because one does not know if a doctor is properly qualified.
All homeopaths need to qualify from a homeopathic medical college by attending college for a five and half year medical course. MD homeopaths need to further qualify by attending college for another three years of medical college. Non-qualified homeopaths are not allowed to practice legally.
The cost of treatment is expensive in clinic like yours. Why?
The cost of treatment is not expensive. It averages to Rs 30 per day which is cheaper than most forms of therapy.
What are the turnover figures for the Dr Batra clinics?
Our turnover in 2013-14 was Rs 153 crore, Rs 135 crore in 2012-13, Rs 114 crore in 2011-12 and Rs 88 core in 2010-11. We are a tax paying company and are reasonably profitable.