Prudence is the guiding principle of Fiorgelato in its franchise business. Owner Ricardo Z. Cuna, who has had 17 years of experience in franchising, wants to show the younger breed of franchisers that in this difficult economic condition, exercising caution and careful planning in getting new franchisees is more important than the rapid expansion of a company.
Cuna is a former president of the Association of Filipino Franchisers Inc. (AFFI) and even before Fiorgelato started its franchising program in 1999, he has been a consultant of various companies in the franchising industry. When asked to elaborate on their franchising strategy, Cuna said they are carefully screening the franchise applicants to ascertain if they are really ready to do the business. The company has also added extra steps in the evaluation process of the prospective location to determine if the area has what it takes to deliver the sales, particularly if it has a high foot traffic, and if it is the right market for a high-end brand like Fiorgelato.
FIORGELATO AS A BRAND
Fiorgelato is one of the brands of Milkin Corp. and sells different flavors of the Italian-style ice cream called gelato. Cuna said unlike the regular ice cream which is just a mere flavoring, the gelato is a healthier type because it has less fats and sugar but is better-tasting.
Fiorgelato brand is now an institution in the industry. Aside from capitalizing on the Italian ice cream craze, the company gained another niche by also capturing the coffee drinkers when it introduced the Fior Cafe‚ in 2000.
"We are the only company that mixed gelato and coffee in one store which is the original Italian setup. We also make our own gelato with 80 percent of the ingredients coming from Italy and other countries," he said.
WHAT FIORGELATO CONSIDERS IN A PROSPECTIVE FRANCHISEE
The franchise package for a cart-type store or scooping station is P275,000 all-in. A bigger kiosk which may also include Fior Coffee is worth P500,000. For a dine-in store that has both Fiorgelato and Fior Coffee, the franchise package is P1.5 million.
Recognized as one of the "elders" in the local franchising scene, Cuna always tells the AFFI members that while franchising is a good vehicle to expand a business, it is not proper for a responsible franchiser to just sell the franchise without the legal and moral obligations attached to it.
"Offering a franchise program doesn\\\'t only pertain to the product or service but the whole franchise system that guides the operation of the franchise business. It includes the good relationship between us, the franchisors, and our franchisees."
And what can the franchisee look forward to in acquiring a Fiorgelato license? Cuna proudly enumerates that aside from the usual franchise package inclusions of inventory, equipment and training, the distinguishing factors are "how reliable is the program we are offering, the support units, the innovativeness and the future plans of the franchise program," he said.
He couldn\\\'t help but emphasize, "Franchising should be part of the business and not the only business," he said. Milkin Corp., for instance, is also a manufacturing company, so it also does toll packing and toll production of ice cream.
He stressed that prospective franchisees should have the interest in a particular franchise business, and it should be something they are good at or motivated to do. "Secondly, they have to be emotionally, mentally and physically ready to handle the tasks of the franchise business. Thirdly, they should be financially ready to acquire a franchise business. I always advise a prospective applicant to acquire franchise business within their means or budget."
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