It has been 17 years since Lester Yu put up his first Fuitas outlet in SM Manila. Since then, he was able to experience failure, but that did not dampen his spirits. Instead, he used those failures to inch his way towards success.
Before Fruitas, Yu already had 75 outlets of Lush Coolers, an ice-blended tapioca shake. However, he had to close all outlets when the trend faded, and sales went downhill. After that failure, he entered into a trading business that did not end well, too. That’s when he realized that the fruit shake business is a stable business that he should enter into after noticing that there are only two brands of such at that time which had been running for more than a decade.
At first, Fruitas performed short of his expectations. However, he persevered and studied the business until the demand for healthy drinks started to increase. That’s when Fruitas began to its success.
Now, with more 1,000 multi-brand outlets, Yu is already planning to list Fruitas in the Philippine Stock Exchange. The first food cart to do so, Fruitas will have a target market value of P5 billion as soon as it becomes a publicly listed company.
Paying it forward, Yu has these five tips for budding entrepreneurs:
Find the right market
When Fruitas started its operation in SM Manila, sales were not that good. After some time, Yu noticed that most of his competitors are selling in the central business districts such as Makati and Ortigas. He then realized that he should sell his product to the higher-end market.
Do not just give up if you encounter a problem.
Though he thought that he must have entered the wrong business, he does not have the money to start all over again. What he did is to stick by and believe in his products. While their growth was slow at first, they kept what little earnings they had back into the company. As soon as they were able to save some, they bought a vehicle to service the stores.
Plan how to grow the business
One of Yu’s biggest regret is that he opened up for franchising. He realized that the nature of his product is not ideal to be franchised. As soon as his business started to grow, they bought back almost all his franchisees. By doing so, they did not only made more significant profits, but they were also able to control the quality of their products. Today, they carefully select their franchisees and here’s how to franchise Fruitas.
Get ahead of the competition
Think of ways on how you will sail past your competitors. Fruitas offered their products at a price 60 percent lower than the competitors. Yu’s company also located its outlets in areas where there are no competitors.
Know what will add value to your customers.
Yu said that when you understand your customers and their needs, you will be able to innovate new products and ensure your continued growth and profitability.
When they are just starting, Yu had some insecurities because his competitors have been around for more than ten years already. However, he thought he just needed to focus on his customers. Now, he has Buko ni Juan, Buko Avenue, and 20 other brands in all their outlets.
For Lester Yu, successful people never feel that they are already successful. Success for him is when one can do everything in their power to help people live a better life.