At the peak of operations one day in December, the cook of Ivan Tajan of Marbel, Cotabato, a franchisee of Ted's Oldtimer La Paz Batchoy, announced he was quitting, so Tajan called the franchiser to ask for a replacement. It happened that the franchiser had no cook to spare, so Tajan rolled up his sleeves, recalled the things he'd learned training as a franchisee, put on an apron, and quickly manned the stoves. His restaurant missed no orders.
Tajan's franchiser boasts over half a century of dishing out Iloilo's most famous dish. But when Teodoro "Ted" Lepura started the business in the town of La Paz in 1945, with only P10 in capital, he had no inkling it would outlive him and survive to the 21st century.
It was a little over a year after the Philippines' liberation from Japanese rule when Ted, his wife and children joined hands in offering batchoy at P0.20 a bowl in a stall in La Paz, Iloilo's public market. Twenty branches later, one of Ted's children, Adelfa Lepura Borro, and her husband Larry, decided to franchise the business, but they also decided that they would pick their candidates carefully and expand cautiously. They would automatically weed out those interested only in profits or those not willing to get their hands dirty.
Today, any franchise applicant can expect to meet the couple when going through the formalities of getting a piece of the action. While Larry supervises the new outlet's construction, Adelfa trains the applicant and goes as far as going with him to the public market to buy supplies.
They make sure the applicant gets all the training he needs to make a good start and increase his chances of growing his business. They treat him as a partner, allowing him to tap into a system with a proven track record but encourages him to suggest ways of improving it. "As we grow, they also grow with us," says Larry. "They learn from us and we learn from them."
The couple expects all franchisees to provide hands-on management and to commit themselves to the business and its concept. They put a premium on constant communication, do spot checks to ensure that each branch is up to scratch, and invest in research and development to address the market's changing needs.
They love managing company-owned outlets but find reward and fulfillment in franchising the business. And they're particularly proud of Ivan Tajan, the franchisee who kept the kitchen humming when his cook left him on a busy day.
GOING AFTER TED
What it takes to get a Ted's Oldtimer La Paz Batchoy franchise:
- Total investment required: P2 million to P2.5 million
- Initial fee: P1 million
- Service fee: 5% of gross sales
- Marketing support fund: 3% of gross sales
- Size of franchised outlet: At least 60 square meters
- Franchise term: 5 years