“Every town should have a Tapa King,” asserts Pablo “Jun” Hicban, operations manager of the 24-year-old company. It’s not an arrogant boast or an aggressive stance, however. It’s simply part of the core philosophy that Tapa King’s expansion strategy.
[related|post]It’s a testament to the quality of their products that they are one of the most recognizable brands in the market offering affordable rice meals targeted to the middle market.
The family-run Tapa King began in 1987, in one unassuming location on Gallardo Street in Makati City. For 10 years, it grew carefully and methodically, without franchises. A decade later, though, they saw merit in broadening their horizons.
“In 1997, we started to franchise,” Hicban recounts. “At the time, franchising wasn’t really a booming system yet. As the market got bigger and we had more stores, we really had to add more people to our restaurant support group. When we restructured in ‘97, we started awarding franchises, and by that time we were really overseeing everything.”
The company has very strict quality and image controls. They’re meant to help maintain standards, however, and not to unnecessarily constrain franchisees. Hicban underscores the value of responsible franchise management: “Each franchise has a different market, and they all have their own ideas about how to run the business. When you’re the franchisor, however, you also have to control them. You have to make them realize why they got the franchise in the first place. ‘Here’s the system,’ you tell them, and they have to follow, since it’s tried and tested. But if they have suggestions, we implement them if they’re good. We’re open that way.”
Given the company’s strong recall and customer loyalty, they’re definitely doing something right. Success and solid market share come from well-established basics, and Tapa King has that down to a very effective (and commensurately palate-satisfying) science.