Thursday, July 26, 2007


One of Jollibee's core values is FRUGALITY.

To the filosofos,this would probably give the impression that Jollibee espouses stinginess or being miserly when it comes to money. But in my experience it was really a mindset that the Tans wanted to create in their employees specially when Jollibee was still struggling during its early years.

My first taste of this was when I attended a meeting of the Operations department which was called by then Operations Manager S' Ato. In the two previous companies I worked with, when we had meetings that extended beyond an hour it was customary to provide merienda or snacks to tide us over till lunch. The snacks would usually be sandwiches and coffee or softdrinks.

During that meeting, I got the surprise (or shock) of my life when we were served a pack of Skyflakes each and water! Not even softdrinks!

How was it possible that the leading fastfood chain in the country couldn't even afford a more substantial fare for its key people?

On hindsight I now realize that it was probably because of such spartan-like practices that Jollibee kept itself profitable through its early years.

When Jollibee grew bigger and ascertained its position as undisputed fastfood leader in the country,the ruling on the food we served during merienda and during meals was relaxed a bit.

I experienced this first hand in1991, when I organized and coordinated a Strategic Management seminar for Mancom members and department managers. The session was held at one of the Training rooms of DAP, Pasig, and just across our seminar room was a training program being conducted for a group from San Miguel Corporation.

When I arranged for the food for that seminar I saw to it that we just got the cheaper variety of snacks on the menu. This was in keeping with our culture of being frugal I told myself.

But during that seminar something happened which changed all that.

S' Ato happened to look at the snacks that were being served to the San Miguel participants and he noticed that they had two types of food served to them. Whereas we had only sandwiches and a softdrink, the San Miguel group had sandwiches, pancit and softdrinks.

Compared to theirs, our snacks looked pitiful.

S' Ato got an insight that afternoon. He told me later that for our image as the leader in the industry, it didn't look good that we were eating "cheap"food. So he instructed me to order a more substantial menu for the next day, not only for merienda but even for lunch!

That was a breakthrough, if there ever was one.

From that time on,whenever we served food during training sessions we did not scrimp any more, but we also didn't go overboard. Frugality was still the order of the day...but now it would be observed not at the expense of corporate image.

No comments: