A North East physiotherapist is expanding to open a second clinic after an increase in enquiries brought with it new opportunities to grow the Fighting Fit brand into Bishop Auckland.
Fighting Fit Physiotherapy opened in Seaham in 2017 after owner Paul Hartburn decided to take the first steps to grow his customer base with a private clinic specialising in musculo-skeletal physiotherapy arising from sports and physical activity. Initially launched with help from TEDCO Business Support and Virgin StartUp, the business has developed as a key part of the sports physiotherapy sector in recent years.
Paul Hartburn has been a high-profile physiotherapist in the local sports scene for a number of years, working with Middlesbrough FC both on and off the pitch as well as athletes at the World Athletics Championships and Olympic boxers and professional fighters. Following several years working at a private clinic, Paul realised a growing number of clients were making appointments to seek his direct treatment and advice and decided the time was right to look at creating his own physiotherapy business.
Paul Hartburn, owner of Fighting Fit comments: “I think for many people, the idea of growing a business during current Covid-19 restrictions might seem out of step with the rest of the economy. However, we have seen demand for our services actually increase post national-lockdown and we want to help improve pathways to physiotherapy for people struggling to access NHS services.
“Not only have we seen a surge in people looking to address issues they may have put off during lockdown but as pressure on the NHS has grown, private physiotherapy options have become increasingly important to help bridge the assessment and treatment gap. As our clinic in Seaham has welcomed new clients, we wanted to also look at ways to bring the Fighting Fit brand to clients outside of the area.”
After being approached to take over an existing physiotherapy business in Bishop Auckland, Paul considered carefully the chance to open a second Fighting Fit in County Durham in addition to the existing clinic in Seaham.
Paul continues: “The opportunity to grow the business was too good to pass as it offered the chance to bring our brand of experienced physiotherapy to a new area of the region. We want to invest in Fighting Fit and create a more widely available and trusted brand in physiotherapy that supports sporting performance, rehabilitation and injury. We are already well on our way, with a full refit and renovation of the new premises now complete ready to treat anyone from age 8 to 80. We aim to help a full range of clients from recreational sports enthusiasts to professionals and can help treat conditions including arthritis, neck and back pain, post-operative care and more.”
Paul has worked with business advisor Mark Johnston from TEDCO Business Support to help initially launch Fighting Fit. Working together to fine tune the business plan and advise on day-to-day demands of self-employment, Mark worked with Paul to ensure the business was financially viable from day one. TEDCO is the exclusive delivery partner for the Virgin StartUp low-cost business loans programme and Mark was able to help Paul secure financing via Virgin StartUp to manage the initial launch costs of Fighting Fit.
Paul continues: “Mark has been fantastic in helping me not only secure the financing I needed to initially launch Fighting Fit but also provide the kind of ongoing support and guidance to make considered decisions around the running and future of the business. It’s great knowing he is always on the end of the phone to ask any questions and his support for Fighting Fit has been unwavering since day one.”
Virgin StartUp is the not-for-profit organisation designed to assist ventures with low-cost business loans to help get new enterprises off the ground. Exclusively delivered in the North East by TEDCO Business Support, Virgin StartUp has helped hundreds of new businesses access over £5 million in funding in the North East since its inception in 2013.
Mark Johnston, business advisor at TEDCO Business Support comments: “The last 6 months have been challenging for businesses through the region but Paul put a clear plan in place and identified ways to offer continuity to clients despite difficult social restrictions as well a look at ways to capitalise on new opportunities. With a goal to diversify the offering in the clinic and deliver new therapies, Paul has an entrepreneurial attitude to growing both his services and business on the back of an already strong reputation. I wish him the very best of luck with Fighting Fit.”