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Archive for March, 2017

Franchise Talk: 5 franchise brands with humble beginnings

Posted on: March 24th, 2017 by Francorp No Comments

5 franchise brands with humble beginnings
Starting small is not a hindrance to growing big through franchising.

Written by
Sam Christopher Lim
SVP for Marketing and Strategy, Francorp Philippines
When one thinks of franchising, big players such as McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Subway, and Jollibee, among others, usually come to mind. As big as these brands are now, one should remember that most of them started out small and, more often than not, were born out of financial necessity.

The following homegrown brands are no exception. These brands prove that starting small is not a hindrance to growing big through franchising.

1. Mont Albo Massage Hut

Mont Albo Massage Hut is a spa franchise specializing in hilot, a traditional Filipino massage. While Mont Albo is now a go-to place for massages and scrubs, that wasn’t the case ten years ago when its founder, Dr. Nol Montalbo, was just starting out in the business.

Montalbo, who graduated from the UP College of Medicine in 2006, put his medicine practice on hold to help his parents make ends meet after their family businesses closed down. He decided to start a soap-making business, even pawning his beloved watch to a friend for P1,500 as capital. He made soaps in Batangas and delivered them himself all the way to clients based in Metro Manila.

Montalbo’s big break came when a client ordered 70,000 pieces of soap for Christmas. With the money he earned from this order, he was able to rent an old two-storey apartment in Makati, which he turned into a massage clinic in 2007. It grew into what we now know as Mont Albo Massage Hut, and it had its first franchised outlet in 2010.

2. VIBES Massage

Dante Tiosan became blind after overdosing on liver medicine in 1974. It took him another five years to accept his fate, and decided to learn how to massage in order to make a decent living. In due time, he became a massage instructor, training other blind individuals how to make a living through massage.

However, Tiosan noticed that his students still can’t find jobs even after finishing their training. In 1991, he decided to go caroling with some friends in order to raise money for a livelihood project he was developing for blind massage therapists. This project turned into a full-fledged company, the Visually Impaired Brotherhood for Excellent Service, Inc. (VIBES), the holding company of service franchise VIBES Massage.

Today, VIBES Massage has more than 50 branches nationwide, and has provided jobs to more than 530 visually-impaired massage therapists.

3. Sitsirya Sari-Sari

In 1983, husband and wife Eufracio and Era Ocampo found themselves unemployed. At the time, they both turned down opportunities to work abroad since their children were still young. Instead, the Ocampos decided to start their own business, using P10,000 worth of abuloy (donations) from Era’s father’s wake.

The Ocampos started selling traditional Filipino snacks and delicacies such as tamarind candies, pili nut tarts, pastillas de leche, piaya, and chicharon, among others. The name Sitsirya Sari-Sari came about when the Ocampos lost their original business name after failing to renew their business registration. But it proved providential, as the new business name was catchier and resonated well with customers.

Today, Sitsirya Sari-Sari is open for franchising, and now has more than 20 branches nationwide.

4. Lugaw Queen

Lugaw Queen really lives up to the phrase “tubong lugaw.” In 2007, husband and wife Sherwin and Beverly Aquino decided to put up their own “lugawan” in San Pablo, Laguna using a capital of just P1,100. The couple, both holding down day jobs at the time, ran the business by themselves—from buying and preparing the ingredients, to cooking the food, and even manning the store 24/7.

This came at a cost, and Sherwin wanted to close up shop once he saw how the business was affecting Beverly’s health and well-being. But Beverly did not let up as she saw that the business was already thriving. Indeed, all their hard work paid off as Lugaw Queen now has more than 20 outlets in Luzon, only seven of which are company-owned. Beverly even quit her day job to focus on the business full-time.

5. VJ Batangas Lomi House

Who knew that a humble taxi driver can become Laguna’s “king of lomi?” Celso Visleñio, a former factory worker, just wanted to find ways to supplement his income as a taxi driver. As a Batangueño, he immediately thought of lomi, a thick and savory noodle soup that is well-known in his hometown.

Using his personal savings, Visleñio opened the first VJ Batangas Lomi House in 2000, which he named after his youngest son, Victor Jay. He set it up in the vacant garage of his uncle in Laguna—where there is also less competition for Batangas lomi—using cooking equipment borrowed from relatives. To make his lomi house truly unique, Visleñio used an old family recipe he learned from his uncle.

VJ Batangas Lomi House eventually became a family business, as Visleñio asked his family members to help out, including his siblings who were overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). Today, this unassuming lomi house has more than 20 branches in Laguna, and wants to achieve nationwide growth through franchising.

For the past 20 years, Francorp Philippines has been in the business of helping small enterprises grow through franchising. To know if your small business is ready to franchise, attend the How to Franchise Your Business Seminar on Jan 18 or  take a free franchisability test. Visit or call (02) 638-3149 for more details.


Sam Christopher Lim is the senior vice president for marketing and strategy at franchise consultancy Francorp Philippines; president of U-Franchise Sales &Management; and chairperson and director for special projects for Asean integration at the Philippine Franchise Association.

Franchise Talk: Young Franchisees

Posted on: March 17th, 2017 by Francorp No Comments

Am I too young to invest in a franchise?
Franchising is not just an old man’s game. Here are five ways to make it as a young franchisee.

Written by
Sam Christopher Lim
SVP for Marketing and Strategy, Francorp Philippines

At the young age of 26 years old, Ivan Kenneth Taw decided to leave a promising marketing career behind to become a franchisee of convenience store chain 7-Eleven. Four years later, he now owns two 7-Eleven outlets, and wants to own more outlets in the near future.

Taw is just one of the many young franchisees in the country today, who have taken to franchising as a viable alternative to corporate employment or starting their own business from scratch.

It used to be that franchising was seen as an “old man’s game,” seen as a great investment for experienced professionals who are looking to retire early. Now, franchisees are getting younger—some parents have even taken to purchasing affordable food cart franchises as graduation gifts for their children in order to get their feet wet in managing a business.

Indeed, franchising is a welcome alternative for some young individuals. After all, unemployment is still a pressing issue—even as the country’s unemployment rate has decreased to 5.4 percent in July 2016, that still leaves around 3.7 million unemployed, 76.4 percent of which are millennials between 15 and 34 years old.

If you are a fresh graduate or a young professional looking to franchising as an alternative career path, then follow these tips on how to make it as a young franchisee.

1. Assess your motivation.
Whether you’re young or old, buying a franchise should be a well thought out decision. What are your motivations for buying a franchise? If you’re doing it just because you can’t find a job and want something to keep you busy while finding the right career, then it’s not a good start and the franchise business will inevitably suffer for it.

Contrary to what most believe, owning your own franchise business is not going to be easier than holding a corporate job—it also requires a lot of hard work from your end. You will be in it for the long haul, as most franchise contracts last for around three to five years. And beyond the expected profit, what owning a franchise business can also give you is experience and growth, which might prove useful once you actually decide to put up your own business.

2. Research your options.
There are over 1,500 franchise brands in the country, so it will serve you well if you research the different franchise concepts and brands that you want to invest in. It also helps if the franchise business has a product or service which you personally believe in and patronize; that way, it will be easier for you to comply with its franchise system and to market its products and services. Go to franchise expos, research online, and attend seminars and talks to get yourself exposed to various franchise concepts before deciding on one.
A quick rule of thumb: If a franchise sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There are still a few franchisors out there that prioritize upfront fees and quick income, and think less about the longevity of the business. These franchisors usually target young franchise buyers who still don’t know how to tell the difference between a “get rich quick” franchise (where the franchisor gets rich quickly and the franchisees end up suffering) and a legitimate franchise business which always goes for a win-win scenario.

3. Learn as much as you can.
As a young franchisee, you will have the benefit of learning business systems and operations at a much faster rate. Franchising tends to not only speed up business growth, but to also speed up the transfer of knowledge. Competencies related to management and leadership, which would usually take you decades to learn in a corporate environment, can now be learned faster thanks to the daily operations of a franchise business.

Some franchisors actually prefer young franchisees as they are seen to be more flexible and willing to learn, even seeing franchisors and key managers as business mentors, and are also likely to be more technologically savvy than their older counterparts.

4. Check your finances.
As with any investment, make sure you have enough funds to finance your franchise business. As a fresh graduate or a young professional with little savings, it might be tempting for you to just settle for any franchise business because it’s all you can afford, which is often a bad start for any venture. There are a lot of ways around financing the initial investments for your franchise business, such as taking out franchise loans and even asking a franchisor for friendlier payment terms.

Your first “angel investors” can also be your parents and older siblings. However, still keep it professional—present a business plan to your family which will detail your investment needs and how they can possibly get returns from their financial contributions. Also, will they manage the business with you, or will they just be passive investors? Clear up certain expectations from the start so as not to end up causing family disputes just because of money.

5. Embrace your youth.
Don’t see your youth as a disadvantage to running a franchise business; in fact, you can make it work for you. Being young, you still have the time, energy, and enthusiasm to be fully hands-on with your franchise. Franchisors are also more than eager to tap into the digital marketing knowledge of their young franchisees.

Getting an early head-start in the franchise business will also give you enough room to learn from the mistakes you make along the way—being young, you can fail fast and learn fast. You have your entire 20’s and 30’s to keep on pivoting to figure out what your true niche is. So instead of jumping from one job to the next trying to figure out your passion and calling, perhaps you can also give franchising a shot early in your career to see if it’s for you.

Are you a fresh graduate or a young professional who wants to get started in franchising? Join a seminar on How to Invest in the Right Franchise on Nov 12 at Garage 88 Katipunan. To know more about the franchise brands which are ideal for you, you may contact U-Franchise Sales and Management at (02) 634-0586, or


Sam Christopher Lim is the senior vice president for marketing and strategy at franchise consultancy Francorp Philippines; president of U-Franchise Sales & Management; and chairperson and director for special projects for Asean integration at the Philippine Franchise Association.

Franchise Talk: Seriously Addictive Mathematics

Posted on: March 10th, 2017 by Francorp No Comments

This learning center franchise turns kids into math wizards through Singapore math
Yes, anyone can be good in math at Seriously Addictive Mathematics.

Written by
Sam Christopher Lim
SVP for Marketing and Strategy, Francorp Philippines

Students learn Fractions with LEGOS.
Photo by Alycia Zimmerman for

Most Filipinos tend to hate math, even claiming it’s not one of their favorite subjects in school. And who can blame them; after all, schools teach math through drills and memorization, methods which are neither effective nor enjoyable for young learners.

Perhaps the Philippines can take some cues from Singapore, as its gradeschoolers are among the best in the world in terms of competitiveness in math literacy. Their secret? Singapore math, of course.

Singapore math, simply put, is a learning framework which aims to teach children math concepts and processes through visual and interactive tools such as toy blocks, colorful worksheets, and even customized apps on digital devices.

This visual and interactive approach of Singapore math allows children to not only understand the underlying logic behind math problems, but to also develop a more positive attitude towards learning math. No wonder Singaporean students become math wizards at such an early age.

Seriously Addictive Mathematics (S.A.M.), an education franchise from Singapore, built on this already effective program and took it a step further with its well-crafted worksheets, engaging classroom environment, and dedicated teachers. Now, S.A.M. is sharing its unique take on Singapore math to Filipino students through its learning centers in the country.

Getting kids seriously addicted to Singapore math
S.A.M, which was founded in 2010 and now has more than 200 centers worldwide, has its own distinct way of getting students seriously addicted to Singapore math.

First, students get a hands-on learning experience as they use concrete objects such as toy blocks, dice, plastic chips, and even paper clips to understand different math concepts and processes in a tangible manner. Then, students learn different math concepts and processes through pictures and illustrations before ultimately learning how to solve math problems through numbers and symbols. It is this step-by-step process which enables students to learn how equations really work, thereby promoting mastery rather than memorization of math concepts and processes.

To further motivate students to learn Singapore math, S.A.M. created an engaging classroom environment where there’s also a low student-to-teacher ratio to ensure that each student can be properly attended to. Students only need to attend classes once a week; this way, they will not be overwhelmed by the volume and difficulty of what they’re learning.

S.A.M. also crafted more than 30,000 pages of worksheets, which turned otherwise complex math concepts and processes into bite-sized pieces that students can easily understand. A student can even complete an assigned worksheet within 30 minutes, without interruption. At S.A.M., teachers believe that, given the right tools and the proper learning environment, any student can be good in math.

Photo by Seriously Addictive Mathematics

Investing in children’s education
Thanks to franchising, the world-class Singapore math program of S.A.M is now within reach of Filipino students. Contrary to what some parents fear, Singapore math is not just a fad; the program even complements the math lessons taught in private and public schools, especially under the K-12 basic education curriculum.

Indeed, more Filipino students are now embracing Singapore math and reaping the fruits of the program. This year, the Philippines finally topped the 12th International Mathematics Contest held in Singapore last July. In total, Filipino students won 208 medals and 120 merit awards, edging out contestants from 12 different countries and territories.

Currently, S.A.M. has one learning center located in San Juan. Its second branch will open in Marikina Heights Center, Marikina City on October 22, 2016, and the first few sign-ups for this grand opening will get a free trial class and some awesome S.A.M. freebies. More S.A.M learning centers are scheduled to open in Cebu, Zamboanga, and Davao within the year. To register, please visit

To understand more about the S.A.M. Franchise opportunity or explore other franchise opportunities in children’s education, contact U-Franchise Sales and Management at, (02) 634-0586, or


Sam Christopher Lim is the senior vice president for marketing and strategy at franchise consultancy Francorp Philippines; president of U-Franchise Sales & Management; and chairperson and director for special projects for Asean integration at the Philippine Franchise Association.

Photos courtesy of Seriously Addictive Mathematics (S.A.M.)

Originally published in www.


Posted on: March 3rd, 2017 by Francorp No Comments

By Samie Lim, Chairman Francorp
Speech delivered at the Myanmar Franchise Association Conference

I come from a family of retailers and by natural progression ended up working for the family business. Our appliance retailing business was founded in 1948 making us a pioneer in the industry. When I was given the opportunity to manage our family business, I transformed it into a chain of lifestyle stores selling appliances, furniture, and other home accessories.

Majority of Philippine retailing, however, at the time was characterized by traditional shop-houses.
With my background and track record in the retail industry, I was elected President of the Philippine Retailers Association (PRA), which I co-founded with the objective of modernizing Philippine retailing.

This goal of modernizing Philippine retailing was given the stimulus when I championed the hosting of the Asia Pacific Retailers Conference and Expo (APRCE) in 1993. During that time, we invited the best retailers in the world and learned from what they shared that there was still much room for improvement for Philippine retailing.
I am proud to say that because of that pioneering effort to steer a new direction for the Philippine retailing industry, our country now boasts of a sophisticated retail network with 4 Philippine malls included in the top 10 biggest malls in the world.

But not the type to rest on my laurels, I continued to look for other ways to revolutionize the retailing industry in our country. Then, in several conferences I attended abroad, I discovered that as much as 50% of small , yet successful, retail stores are under the franchising model.

This discovery inspired me to promote franchising as a strategy to create thousands of small enterprises and millions of jobs and thus stimulate economic growth. And so in 1995, I co-founded the Philippine Franchise Association (PFA) together with my colleagues in Francorp Philippines, Bing Sibal-Limjoco and Manny Siggaoat.

Before the founding of PFA, there were only 45 franchises in the Philippines. But with the founding of PFA, franchising grew at a rapid rate that today, we already have 1,500 franchise brands – both homegrown and foreign – making us the leading franchise industry in the ASEAN region. How did this happen?

At this point, please allow me to share our strategy in growing the Philippine franchise industry. We are sharing this because we consider Myanmar a brother and we want you to make the most of franchising and make it work for your economy and your people. This is, after all, the vision of the ASEAN Economic Community – to have an ASEAN where there is equitable economic growth for all member nations.

Earlier, I said that the Philippines was second only to Japan in terms of economic growth. Not only that, there was a time when the Philippines was one of the most respected nations in Asia and even the world. In fact, we have produced some of the world’s greatest statesmen just like your very own U Thant.

That was back in my youth and whenever I’m in other countries, I was amazed at how people would go out of their way to speak to me just because I am a Filipino. This was the time when many of our Asian neighbors would go to the Philippines to study and learn from the best schools.

But then we became the sick man of Asia and I dreamt of making my country retrieve its pride and give it a fighting chance in a fast changing world. Then I saw that franchising can help achieve this vision because of its ability to create businesses and jobs; because of its ability to create wealth. But then a dream will continue to remain a dream unless there is a plan.

The first thing we did was to prepare a 300 plus-page master plan to unleash the power of franchising. This master plan conceptualized a 15-year, 3-phase agenda to grow the food, retail, and service sectors of the industry. The first 5 years was allocated to developing the food sector, followed by the retail sector for another 5 years, and capped by another 5-year growth program for the service sector. Having successfully finished our 15-year plan, we are now on our 2nd cycle of franchise development for the next 15 yrs. I can discuss this with you in some future conference, if you are interested.

Yes, we had a plan but we also realized that we need help from those who were more advanced or ahead of us. So we invited the best minds in the industry to give talks during our annual conferences. We organized business missions and visited the best franchise shows in the world to benchmark with and draw inspiration from them.

Closely related to this, we forged international linkages to sustain our intentions to learn the latest best practices in global franchising as well as help open opportunities for the international expansion of Philippine franchise brands. We became a member of the World Franchise Council (WFC) and a founding member of the Asia Pacific Franchise Confederation (APFC).

Today, we are a key player in global franchising. We are proud that PFA, represented by myself and Ms. Limjoco, has been elected to be part of the WFC working committee tasked to create programs that will further advance the agenda of global franchising. On top of this, PFA was also appointed to be the Secretariat of APFC as it intensifies its efforts to bring franchising in Asia Pacific to new horizons.

Another important thing we did was to professionalize the industry by bringing in the Certified Franchise Executive (CFE) program to the Philippines in September 2001. The CFE program, which is a mini- MBA course, is the only internationally-recognized development program for franchise executives. We are proud to say that the Philippines has the most number of CFE graduates in Asia. But we are more proud that this program has been instrumental in growing the franchising industry in the Philippines.

This is also the reason why it has been attracting enrollees from other countries in Asia and even the Middle East.
We must have done something right because I, or my fellow founding trustees of PFA like Ms. Limjoco and Mr. Siggaoat, have been invited to represent the Philippines or Asia in various conferences, forums, symposiums across the globe to talk about the Philippine experience in franchising.

Lastly, but definitely not the least, a very important key in growing the Philippine franchise industry was introducing franchising to SMEs. We all know that SMEs are the backbone of every economy. There is a concern, however, that most SMEs – especially in less advanced economies – provide very little or even no value added services. Because of this, SMEs remain SMEs forever.

Franchising, however, has the power to upgrade the capacities of SMEs – whether in branding, business methods, marketing and others. Franchising has the capability to make SMEs grow big. Before PFA introduced franchising to SMEs, franchising was a business model reserved for multi-national and large corporations. This is the reason why franchising hardly made a dent in the economy. Things started to change when PFA encouraged SMEs to use franchising as a strategy to grow. Since then, growing big was no longer an impossible dream for SMEs.
We will be more than happy to share in detail with our Myanmar brothers our experience in growing the Philippine franchising sector. Before I end my speech, I would like to share with you an ideal which I have nurtured since my youth. I realize that in order to have a meaningful life, one must seek one’s higher calling. This higher calling for me is to be of service to the most number of people. Franchising, which has created about 140,000 franchise outlets and generated more than a million jobs in our country, has helped fulfill this ideal. It is my sincere wish that this will also happen to your country.

Francorp is the world’s leader in franchising. Take a free franchisability test ( and learn whether your business is ready to grow through franchising. For more information on franchising, contact Francorp Philippines at (02) 638-3149, (+63917) 835.55.30, email, or visit


Samie Lim is the acknowledged “Father of Philippine Franchising.” He is currently Chairman of franchise consultancy Francorp Philippines, Chairman Emeritus of the Philippine Franchise Association and Chariman of the Blims Lifestyle Group

Originally published in www.