With over 60 branches across the Philippines, The French Baker is certainly one of the most successful business franchises in the country. But did you know that its founder and owner was just 22 years old when he started the business?
An assistant professor at the University of the Philippines (UP) teaching Strategic Marketing at the time, Johnlu Koa applied his teachings to build a bakery business from his small apartment. With just eight staff, he would supply bread products to SM supermarket.
Photo credit: Entrepreneur PH
By 1989, 9 years after he began his bakery in that small apartment, he received invitation to open an outlet at the then-recently opened SM City North Edsa – The French Baker was born. Set in the largest mall in the country at the time, Koa’s bakery shop would become a popular hangout.
Today, nearly 30 years after that first mall outlet, The French Baker now has 63 outlets all over the Philippines, employing more than 600 people!
On Entrepreneur PH, Koa shares 4 business tips based on his success story.
Find a Unique Niche Market
It is easy to be tempted to just copy a concept from other successful businesses in hopes that you can replicate their success and also make it big. While that might work, Koa believes it is better to find your own niche market. Learn to be different from the crowd – and build your business from there.
While it might involved more work as you have to build a customer base from scratch, the rewards are great. Because you created a niche market, you don’t have competition there.
Location is the Key!
Finding the right location is the key to success, but you have to study your market and your potential competition.
Photo credit: Kikay Sikat
According to Koa, the right location for the product or service must identify the target market.
When scouting for a mall spot, The French Baker has specific targets.
“We don’t want to be located beside an inasal (concept) for example because the people who eat there don’t come to us. We also don’t want to be in the same location with no-name brands unless they are extraordinarily good,” Koa shared.
Turn Your Idea into Reality
You could have the best ideas in the world, but if you do nothing to make these a reality, then those will remain nothing. For Koa, it is best to turn your idea into reality.
Photo credit: Small Enterprises Research and Development Foundation
Of course, that’s easier said than done, and would involve a lot of money if you do want to start a business but a ‘well-thought-out strategy’ could help you start that business and grow it.
Customers Don’t Just Buy Products, They Also Buy Experience
Koa shared that people don’t just buy the products they are selling, but also the experience.
So, you have to make sure that you provide a better experience for your customers to enjoy – and it is something that would make them come back for more, not just the delicious food you’ve got to offer.