Editor's note: The Business Mentor is a weekly business column by Armando "Butz" Bartolome, president of GMB Franchise Developers Inc. and chairman of the Association of Filipino Franchisers Inc.
MANILA, Philippines -Most people never fail to spray on their favorite perfume every day. It is often said the sweet fragrance creates inspiration and heightens positivism.
Acquasuisse Perfume Bar capitalized on Filipinos' love for scents. John Chung is the man behind the perfume bar, which now has 50 branches around the country.
Chung started by concocting his own scents, and now his perfume bar is a familiar sight in most shopping malls.
Now, he has set his sights on taking his business to another level via international franchising.
The Business Mentor recently interviewed Chung.
Business Mentor (BM): What made you become interested in creating your fragrance business?
John Chung: Growing up, I was already exposed to our family business that produces personal care products. We later ventured to supplying fragrance oils to various companies. During the first few years, my father turned over the management of the family business to me. I decided to introduce innovations, and created my own brand- Acquasuisse.
BM: Is it a challenge to be entrusted by your father the business?
Chung: Being the eldest son, I knew early on that I would eventually manage the family business. And it was something I did not resent. I really wanted to go into business. My parents geared me towards business rather than pursuing careers. It was meant for us to create employment for other people.
BM: Were there further studies you made in fine-tuning the business?
Chung: Education is important to me. I took up Business Administration in UST. However most of the things that I know now about business also came from my actual experiences. I developed to be sensitive to my observation as well as the trends of consumers.
BM: What challenges in the business did you experience? And how did you manage to provide solution?
John: Our business suffered losses in the late 90’s, and it was during that time when I started working for our company. Because of the tremendous problem we were facing in finances, I wanted to just close the business. But my father encouraged me to just continue. Slowly, we were able to move up to a better standing. The wisdom of our parents is what I treasured most.
BM: You are working with your siblings. As the head of the business, are there times when it was difficult to separate blood relations from business?
John: We are four siblings in all. Three are involved in the business. Each of us has different roles. While disagreements are inevitable, we always manage to reach a consensus. I always remind them it is one legacy from our parents, which we want to continue to the next generation.
BM: What made you convinced of exploring and looking for a franchisee in foreign countries?
John: If you believe in your product, you would want your product to reach international markets. The franchise model makes that endeavor more feasible. Aside from this, we have quite a number of balikbayans and foreigners who purchase our products to bring abroad. We even have flight attendants of several foreign airlines who even email us asking to prepare certain types of fragrance.
In fact as we speak, I have letters of intent from as far as Germany and France who want to bring the brand to their respective countries.
BM: Does this mean you are now in the position to accept any country?
John: I would like to first begin within our neighboring countries like Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and Hong Kong. The second level would then be the United States, Canada and Europe. There are special investment packages, which I intend to share to future international franchisees. I am open to win-win arrangements. I may be reached [email protected]
BM: Aside from your siblings, who else is assisting you in this business?
John: My fiancée Lei who I shall be tying the knot by June 2014 is also exposed to business and she understands the trade. We have some joint ventures. Despite our busy schedules, we always make it a point to spend quality time together. We want to inspire each other to become the best persons that we can be more so when we start our own family.
For questions and more information, you may contact Armando "Butz" Bartolome by email: [email protected] His website is www.gmb.com.ph