Inspired to create and setup his own business, Cebuano businessman Alexander Choachuy, Jr. decided to invest in Cebu's favorite lechon (roasted pig) in 2002.
Choachuy said he believed Cebu's lechon would be easier to market because it was already a popular food product.
He then set up his first kiosk at Savemore at Mactan Marina Mall in 2002 with only a few thousands as capital.
?I decided to venture into the lechon business as my first because I thought there are many people here in Cebu who would know how to make it, the process of cooking lechon. Now my challenge is how I can do it better and produce the best tasting lechon in Cebu,? he said.
Choachuy said that during the first few months, he had to operate his lechon outlet at a loss with only very low sales.
He said it's normal for every business to experience that especially when one still has to prove himself to the very discriminating market of Cebu.
?My brand Se Ben's Lechon was not yet known then and we were still trying to convince people to try us out. That time other brands were also already popular among buyers both local and tourists,? he said.
He and his employees sacrifices eventually bore fruit as his lechon business started picking up in the second year of operation that he could afford to expand and open another kiosk in Marina Mall to cater to more buyers in the mall.
He also added another product to his roasted products ? lechon manok or roasted chicken.
He also added a restaurant and three more kiosks in Mandaue City and Cebu City.
?We then opened more with more and more people wanting to buy our lechon. We opened a restaurant in the north reclamation area, a kiosk in White Gold, Rustan's Banawa and Parkmall,? he said.
He, however, had to close the restaurant at the North Reclamation Area because there were less traffic of people in the location.
?The food we served were a hit to our customers but the location was really the problem so we have no choice but to close it last year. We are however still looking for other areas where we will relocate the restaurant,? he said.
Choachuy attributed his success to the aggressive marketing of his products, which included placing advertisements in newspapers and doing the rounds of the companies to inform them that they were offering their lechon for corporate events.
Choachuy also is meticulous in the quality of his products in order to compete against rivals in the business.
He monitors the operation from the first process of choosing the hogs, to the slaughtering of the pigs, the cooking and the proper handling of the lechon and of course the good packaging of the product.
He said he would always implement the triple A slaughtering of their hogs for lechon to make sure that their products would be of the best quality.
?I also experiment a lot on the spices to achieve the best flavors for my lechon,? he said.
Choachuy's hands-on style of managing his business is also a positive factor in its success.
?I'm very hands on when it comes to managing Se Ben's Lechon. I often visit my kiosk to check on what my people needs in order to give the best shopping experience to our buyers,?he said.
Choachuy said that as of today, he maintians four Se Ben's Lechon areas which includes the two kiosk in Marina Mall, another one in Rustan's Banawa and another at White Gold.
Choachuy said from an employee manning his lechon kiosk, he now has four more to man his other kiosks.
Despite the competition, Choachuy said he believed that there would still be growth in the business.
He cited his increasing number of satisfied clients, who would always order from him during occasions for celebrations.
?For this March which is a month of graduation, we have already some orders and I'm sure that we'll get more in the coming weeks because most people usually place their orders for a whole lechon during the last minute,? he said.
For a whole lechon, price ranges from P2,800 to P7,000 and a kilo would be had for P440.
?We also have packaging for those who will be bringing lechon to other places as pasalubongs. Our packaging are airport-approved so they won't encounter any problems when bringing home a kilo or more,? he said.
Choachuy said he was planning on adding different flavors that would suit the customers tastes.
?While I still very much would capitalize on the traditional Cebuano lechon, I would also like to see other flavors in the future like perhaps offering spicy lechon. Although we already offer that now, I would also like our brand to be known as the best brand when it comes to these different flavors,? Choachuy said.