Franchising as a tool to bring homegrown brands to mainstream markets
By Sherill Quintana, President, Oryspa
Fifteen years ago, I was making candles and practicing aromatherapy. I wanted to stay home for my firstborn while earning my keeps. I didn’t know that those simple chores made me into an accidental entrepreneur.
I never planned to be an entrepreneur. In fact, I was looking forward to going back to development work when my baby can already be partly taken cared of by a nanny. But, I wasn’t able to find an available nanny. So with the help of a sturdy baby car seat, I brought my son with me to bazaars in Ateneo and Miriam College. Then and there, I realized that entrepreneurship is a good fit for mommies.
After 10 years and three more children, the business still had no projections and not much of a system. It had its ups and downs. I ran it like my household. Later on, I learned that most micro entrepreneurs like me were losing opportunities to build an empire and touch more lives by missing the business systems in place.
For several years, we were supplying different spas in the country using virgin coconut oil, grape seed, almond oils as carrier oils. However, without a differentiating factor, my products tended to drown during price wars.
In 2008, during one of the mandatory product development sessions with the Department of Trade and Industry, I stumbled upon rice bran. Locally known as “darak,” rice bran is a byproduct of rice production, which is usually fed to hogs. Aside from the high nutrition content of its oil, it has a high smoke point and is highly absorbed by the skin. I already knew then that producing spa products would be a breeze in using rice bran.
Our story is filled with strings of failures and short successes. I was inspired by the fast failure theory in design engineering –the faster you fail, the better chances you have of getting nearer to success. From this theory, ORYSPA (Oryza sativa or rice for the spa like “food for the soul”) was born.
Initially intended to produce spa products, we expanded to personal care. Knowing we are the only rice bran based spa products in the country, we had to expand it quite dramatically to propel the brand and ward off copycats. The first ORYSPA store in 2010 was an instant success that gave us a full ROI in eight months. This paved the way for the much needed confidence and faith by a micro entrepreneur like me back then.
I knew that the business had a good proposition, so I had to plan out and be able to see high volume production, store operations, expansions, branding, systems integration and –later on–franchising. These were concepts that were mostly alien to a micro entrepreneur.
Other businesses in our industry chose direct selling and distribution as a way to expand. ORYSPA chose franchising. How will you be able to sell through franchising? You can ask help from the experts. Be a learner but stand proud of your own knowledge.
I had to make an overhaul, a review of what I had been doing for the past years and why my business style won’t work with current “concept discovery.” So I had to come up with strategies for a business restart.
I reviewed client feedback and listened to consumer pulse regarding which products are in need. Studies show that there is an increasing consciousness about the carcinogenic or cancerous effect of chemical-laden topical products and that alternative organic products prove to be more in demand in sustaining a healthy lifestyle. ORYSPA focused on offering products to address this.
In theory, when you start a business, you have to study what the customers want. This wasn’t the case for our business. We decided to create our market when there seemed to be none. Based on my own needs –a working mother of four who is busy all the time but wants to be pampered in a spa, I discovered that there a lot of other mothers who are in the same predicament. We can somehow induce the market. ORYSPA’s tagline “bringing the spa products into your homes” was created.
As the entrepreneur, you have to create your brand’s DNA and be its own ambassador. Hence, an overhaul of oneself is needed. A myopic leader has no place in building the brand because an entrepreneur has to see what lies beyond him/her. As the cliché goes, “you cannot give what you don’t have.” Take your business, your concept very personally. Stash it inside your heart and let it occupy your mind and your dreams.
I remember Francorp and A.S. Louken’s brand building workshops that I attended. There were only eight participating companies. I knew I was surrounded by established and mainstream brands. But, the founders were emotional in defending their concepts. In fact, some even cried. Developing the vision and mission of your business is a personal exercise as an entrepreneur. This is how you create your brand DNA. No one will be able to exactly copy your concept because it was born from your being. Your business should be a reflection of yourself. The more you truly know your core, the stronger your business concept will be.
The business concept goes into fruition by building a support system. In our case, we started to first hire people for roles I was not able to fulfill. Delegation followed.
When I create a new product concept, the guiding premise is that no one should have already done it exactly as I am imagining it. If there is a norm, challenge yourself to imagine the opposite. In business, it pays to be deviant.
In one of those branding sessions, I was advised to remove the word “Filipino brand” from my vision because the Philippines is not well known for health and wellness products. However, I deem that during the initial brand building process, it’s like I am building a house with one post missing because my motivation lies in being known as a Filipino brand.” We retained “Filipino” in our vision. And we will just evolve as we go along. Changing the culture of your business changes your game.
Franchising as a tool for expansion paved the way for an SME (small/medium entrepreneur) like us. By selling your concept and the whole store, you not only make use of the funds available from franchisees but you also build a team of people ready to propel the brand and realize the vision with you. Make the business also profitable for them and avoid making the relationship self-serving. When you make it profitable for your franchisees, you create a web of people ready to protect your own brand’s interests.
With the ASEAN integration affecting the business landscape, franchising can pave the way for an SME. Our ASEAN neighbors are reviewing the Philippine market potential, experimenting on concepts and bringing their homegrown brands into our country. This means that we can do the same. It is mandatory for us to level up and compete. Let us show our government and country that to be able to have a strong base of entrepreneurs, we need to be able to build homegrown brands wherein production and employment provision creates wealth locally.
Export the whole store, the whole concept instead of the products alone. This is how we strengthen our Filipino brand in the international playing field.
Proudly developed by Francorp Philippines & its team of Franchise Consultants and Certified Franchise Executives. To learn more about how to franchise your business both in the Philippines and internationally, contact a Francorp franchise consultant or take a free franchisability quiz.