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Cut to fit

There\\\'s a franchise for you whether you want to manage your business part time or full time.
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It’s critical to be hands-on if you want your business to float. Ben Uy knows this only too well. As a franchisee running three outlets of Metropole Laundry & Dry-Cleaners Inc. shops, he has learned to run the business and hold a job as sales manager for another company at the same time. Uy opened his first laundry franchise on Roces Avenue in Quezon City in March 1999, the second on Kamuning Road in December 2000, and the third at Sikatuna Village in October 2005. He tapped his wife Imelda to help him keep the books.

Uy starts opening his outlets at 7 a.m. and stays in each shop for 20 minutes to check on the washing machines, supplies, and other things. Then he leaves them to his staff and goes to the office to work from eight to five. He returns to the outlets around six to deliver laundry to customers. “Everyone keeps asking why I do the deliveries myself, and I tell them I do it myself to save P8,000 monthly,” he says. After the deliveries, Uy gets back to his shops to collect the day’s sales and brings them home to his wife to book. “I decided to get a franchise because a business should be able to run itself,” he says. “In my case, I can spend only four hours a day looking into the business. The rest of the time I have to spend in the office.”

Like Uy, Ian Francisco thought he could hold on to his job and manage his own business at the same time, so he did. Francisco, a marketing fraud analyst at a leading telecommunications firm, invested P100,000 in a Mobile Carwash franchise in September 2005 and parked his unit at The Medical City in Pasig to offer services including vacuuming, carpet shampooing, stain removal, and upholstery cleaning. He hired three people—two washers and a supervisor—to help him run the business starting at 7 a.m. Monday to Saturday. He gave them a cell phone so he could call them any time or inquire about the previous day’s sales if he’d failed to visit that day.

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Francisco usually drops by The Medical City to supervise until the carwash closes for the day. He tries to stay up to an hour on office days and up to five hours on Saturdays, and does not mind washing and drying cars, calling clients, or guiding customers to their parking slots. Once in a while his people come across customers demanding services they don’t provide, and on rainy days the business just slumps. “Our sales go down because no one wants to have their car washed,” he says. “But I make my staff feel they’re my partners. The good thing about The Medical City is that our concession fee is based on our monthly gross sales, so the hospital makes it a point that the services we provide are accounted for.”

Francisco submits daily sales reports to the Medical City administration and monthly reports to his franchiser. Uy hands in monthly sales reports incorporating the daily sales reports of each laundry branch. Gigi San Diego, franchisee of a Figaro coffee outlet at the Rockwell Power Plant in Makati, does weekly sales reports, and she feels they give her franchiser a better idea of how the business is doing. “This weekly report includes the happenings at the mall and the promos going on and how they affect Figaro,” she says. “I also submit monthly sales reports and monthly marketing reports including the activities we propose to attract more customers.”

Unlike Uy and Francisco, San Diego, a single mother of two, manages the business full time. She opens the store at 9 a.m., an hour before the mall does, to make sure everything is okay and then meets her staff. “We always start the day with a prayer, and after I open the store I run to the bank so we don’t run out of loose change,” she says. She stays until 2 p.m. and then leaves to pick up her children from school. She returns at 4 p.m. and stays until the shop closes. She helps man the counter and entertain customers—all including the dregs. “You can’t imagine the kind of people we get here,” she says. “They’re supposed to be members of high society, but they can shock you with their behavior and language.”

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