Potato snack franchise widens global search
When we go to a burger shop, it’s usually the first item we eat. Sometimes, we haven’t even paid the cashier yet we already ate a couple of pieces.
Pomme frites, the French name of french fries, did not come from France. A little research shows it is Belgian, although the Spanish can also lay claim to it although the Colombians can also say they were first—having “shown” it to the Spaniards.
As to why most people think it came from America may be traced to an anectode involving Thomas Jefferson, an American President. He asked his French chef in a state dinner to serve potatoes the French way, which is cut into strips and deep-fried, thus the short-cut french fries.
One Filipino group tweaked this universal food and is now going around the globe bringing its version.
Potato Corner is expanding branches dramatically.
Potato Corner CEO Jose Magsaysay Jr. (more known as Jomag) says they have 532 stores in the Philippines; 25 percent are company-owned and 75 percent franchised.
It already has 100 stores abroad—US, Panama, United Arab Emirates.
It also has plans to set up 60 more this year in the Philippines, 10 in Indonesia.
As a comparison, Jollibee has 750 outlets worldwide—in the US, Hong Kong, Saudia Arabia, Brunei and Qatar.
Global Pinoy had a chat with Magsaysay:
GP: What’s your group’s ultimate goal? Its five-year and 10-year plans?
A: To champion the branded multichain microbusiness enterprise in the world. This does not necessarily mean only in food but in any discipline as long as it is a micro or a support to microbusiness enterprise.
To make our customers happy and to help create more entrepreneurs. In the last seven years, we’ve seen a phenomena, our new partners here and abroad were our customers when they were in their early teens.
The goal of the company is to have a presence in every significant city or community throughout the world.
Our five-year plan is to expand its local presence through further professionalization of its current business model. With better systems, propagating the brand together with its new product lines would be very easy to achieve. This would serve as the launching pad toward IPO (inital public offering) within this time frame.
The 10-year plan includes overseas expansion at an accelerated pace. With the local IPO proceeds providing the resource base, together with the various learning methodologies and strategies gained from our existing foreign projects, the growth overseas will be properly and rationally supported amid increasing competition.
GP: Why do you think Potato Corner caught on in almost all countries, considering French fries is generally a Western creation?
A: Kids and kids at heart love it. French fries now is one of the most loved food in the world. It’s a vegetable, a comfort food, a companion food and it is fun to eat. Add our variety of flavors, our basic ones and our locally tuned spices and we make flavored fries our own to make our fans always happy when they try it.
We transformed a basic side dish such as French fries into a main course, with plenty of variations that make it more interesting. With this product innovation as cornerstone, we have built quite a distance between us and our nearest competitors. Our continuous and neverending quest for more innovation propels us to further develop newer products.
GP: What’s the nutritional data of Potato Corner? What are you doing to ensure it is a good snack to munch on?
A:Potatoes are one of the most loved vegetables for kids, for energetic people in the world.
GP: Are your employees Filipinos or locals?
A: Locals and for the USA, many are Filipino-Americans.
GP: Why is Potato Corner still doing well after 23 years? What are the factors or key points that contributed to this?
A: One of the secrets of Potato Corner is that we treat employees like family. Once your employees are happy, it reflects on how well they do their jobs. They treat the company as their own—there is malasakit. It also echoes on how the customers feel valued at each of our stores.
We focus not on numbers but in the quality of our stores. For example, many do not realize this but we put a lot of effort in making sure our franchisees’ profit margins are one of the best in the microfood franchise industry in the Philippines.
This is why we have franchisees who have been with us for more than 20 years. During the ’90s economic crisis we made sure even if we also had financial difficulties that our employees would be paid first than us, the owners.
We, the owners, didn’t got a big pay cut so that our employees will not get pay cuts or be laid off. Today, five of our loyal employees are now taking a masters in entrepreneurship degree program at Ateneo Graduate School and more of our key employees will follow next.
We will always be a trailblazer in this industry, and our normal game is always a running game and because we create these trailblazing techniques and strategies, we, like in a basketball game know the rules we set ourselves. Because of this we change the play of the game as often as needed, sometimes every day.
Like all other successful companies, we arrive and we find the right road after making many wrong choices. Our employees are not only loyal to us, we are loyal to our partners, franchisees and to our employees.
GP: Potato Corner was set up in 1992. What is it like in the start?
A: “I will tell you, it was me and my partner who delivered, sourced supplies, checked stores, man the stores, etc. We took turns delivering using our cars.
Our first filing cabinet was my mom’s old oven.
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