Since her high school days, Kamella Seen has always been a food buff. She loves to experiment on recipes and takes time to enroll in culinary courses. So it is no wonder that even if her family already had a burgeoning bakery business in Dagupan, Pangasinan in the late 90s, Seen still devoted time to develop a type of bread that is originally hers. And, thus, came into being Plato Wraps--now one of the hottest food concepts in the local franchising scene.
After a brief stint in a corporate job, Seen went back to her hometown in Dagupan to establish a bakery business in their own backyard called the Panaderia Antonio, the mother company of Plato Wraps. A year later, she put up another bakery in the nearby town of Urdaneta. Still finding herself wanting to scratch her culinary itch, Seen told her husband she wanted to come up with a bread that they can claim as their original. And after two months of research, she finally blurted "Eureka!"
Instead of using thin cuts or shreds of chicken, Seen developed a bread filling made out of chunky chicken. And instead of a round-shaped bun a la Siopao, she decided to use flat bread. These chunky chicken fillings wrapped in a flat bread and spiced up with original flavorings and then grilled would later become the signature product and best-seller of Plato Wraps, which was introduced first in Dagupan in early 2001, and later in the Metro Manila market in the last quarter of the same year.
Franchising strategy: quality over quantity
After establishing five company-owned stores and with so many requests that she offer the concept for licensing, she decided that the business was already ripe to foray into franchising as an expansion mode. In November 2003, franchising of Plato Wraps began.
Yet, contrary to most business expansion practices, Plato Wraps' policy is to conservatively market its franchising business. It targets to open only 5 to 10 stores annually, and Seen maintains a stringent screening process, since she does not accept franchisees left and right.
First, the applicant must be a customer of Plato Wraps and a real believer of its products. She explains, "If you really love and believe in the product, then marketing and operating the company would be easy. It will come out naturally."
Second, there will be a lengthy discussion about the business, including the revenue assumptions and how she wants the business to be managed. "We give them a detailed explanation so every thing is very clear, including the worst-case scenario. Then we give them ample time to think about it," she added.
But do not mistake that the growth path of Plato Wraps is limited; to date, it already has 60 outlets nationwide. And future plans are not minuscule, either: In Dagupan, Plato Wraps already has a 40-seater store, definitely a new take on its usual food cart set-up. "And this, I think, will be the direction of the business for our next outlets," she said.
The franchise fee is P200,000 for a six-year term (franchises outside of Luzon) and P150,000 for a five-year term (franchises within Luzon Island).
For the food cart set up, the cost is P275,000, including all cart structure assembly, signage, cart equipment, small wares and containers, signage, and initial cart personnel uniforms.
The refrigeration unit costs P95,000 for a four-door commercial chiller unit standard for all Plato Wraps (to be located within the mall, at franchise store location or feasible site near store).
Initial stock is worth P60,000 to 80,000 depending on projected requirements and store location.
Plato Wraps' head Office is located at 301 Crisologo Compound Tapuac District , Dagupan City, Philippines. It can be reached through: Phone : (632) 532-3177 or (632) 532-1034 Fax no: (6375) 515-7692 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.platowraps.com.ph.