How do you address the need and the want of Filipinos who prefer rice meals but need to be on the go? Bemedalled national athlete Lester Pimentel faced the same question about a decade ago and he found the answer: Rice in a Box.
"Filipinos are rice-eating people. And since there are so many people who need to eat while they are mobile, we thought that the concept would really work," Pimentel, a former world Wushu champion, told Entrepreneur.
True enough, Rice in a Box--also known as RBX--clicked not only with the consumers but also with entrepreneurs. RBX now has 75 stores nationwide, 21 of which are owned by franchisees.
Freda Co, RBX business development manager, said an RBX franchise package is very affordable starting at only P300,000 (depending on venue size and store type) inclusive of the cart, equipment, initial inventory, service crew uniform, and training. Initial franchise agreement is good for four years. The franchisee needs to pay 50 percent of the amount upon signing of the franchise contract, with the balance to be paid upon opening.
RBX sells mostly fried rice conveniently packed in a small box. It also offers noodles and rice toppings.
Putting emphasis on systems
Co said those who are seriously considering getting an RBX franchise should do it at this time of the year when consumption is at its peak. "The 'BER' months (September to December) are the best time to open the business because the people have money to spend," Co said.
But Co stressed that to be successful in this business, the owner should operate it hands-on, to ensure that the quality and standard will be maintained, which are keys in getting repeat orders. So in the franchise package, Co said they included training for the owners themselves.
"We will teach them how to cook, manage the inventory and how to run the RBX business," she said. As part of RBX's efforts to continually upgrade its business systems, the company recently implemented SAP business software to improve processes including ingredient distribution and monitoring of inventory across its outlets.
If done right, Co said franchisees can easily recoup their investment in six to 12 months. On the average, Co said a store can record sales of P8,000 to P10,000 per day. Some stores, particularly those situated in bus terminals, achieve as much as P20,000 sales daily.
Out of the box
RBX, she said, is for people on the go. Its products are also freshly cooked because they are prepared only upon order. They are also reasonably priced, so even the masses can afford them.
RBX started with three flavors---ham and bacon, chicken yangchow, and beef and mushroom. Its best-seller is still the ham and bacon because its sweet taste is suited to the liking of Filipinos.
In 1999, Pimentel narrated that he and his wife Rossettee were looking for a business to augment his diminishing income as a stockbroker because the region was then suffering from the Asian financial crisis. "Looking for a job was not an option also because of the crisis. So we had to find something else because we knew we cannot survive with my earnings from the stock market alone," he said.
They then decided to invest P80,000 for the RBX business, with half of the start-up capital going to rent. In the first three months, Pimentel said the business was losing and they thought of shutting down the first store which is located in Manila?s Chinatown. In the fourth month, however, it started to pick up. The couple opened another store near the Fatima School in Valenzuela and broke even in just three months. Because of a continually growing customer base thanks to the quality of its products and affordable price, RBX was opened for franchising in 2003.
RBX can be reached through Tel. Nos. (632) 367-3097 to 98, (63917) 836-1936 and www.rbx.com.ph.