Friday, August 24, 2007


(Cover of the Franchising brochure I made for the Taiwan exhibit)

I believe that one of the ways that Tans brought out the best in their people is that they gave them challenging tasks, and recognized a good job when they saw it.

I experienced this first hand when I was given an assignment by then head of International Operations S' William Tan Untiong (WTU, as he was more popularly known.)

There was to be an expo of fastfoods and restaurants in Taiwan and he wanted Jollibee to be represented there. Jollibee had just opened its first store there in 1987 and he thought that by making the brand visible, we would have some prospective franchisees that would help grow the chain there.

It was Jimmy Enriquez,the point person for our Taiwan operations, who told me of the assignment. What WTU wanted me to do was to come up with a brochure about Jollibee that they would distribute during the expo. What made this extra challenging though was that I had less than a month to finish the brochure.

I had some prior experience doing this kind of work so that was not a problem. The short deadline however, presented complications and limitations.

For one, it would be impossible to have any color printing done since no printer then would accept a job order for color separations less than three weeks. The other concern was that it was only days before Holy Week when I got the assignment. That meant that the printing presses would be closed for a week,leaving me a window of only two weeks tops, to get the brochure out.

Fortunately, I had worked with a printing press that was willing to take on the job, but they told me that the brochure had to be in black and white. I informed WTU about it and since it was a no choice situation, he gave the go ahead.

I sat down with the layout editor of the press and drew up a schedule of when I should submit the dummy layouts, when I should get the blueprint and when they would get the final document out.

I couldn't take any new pictures so the week before Holy Week I already started looking for photos from existing file photos. As I found the pictures, I composed in my mind what the brochure would look like.

During the Holy Week I worked on the contents of the material, writing the copy and creating a layout. There were details and information that were missing so Jimmy and his then girlfriend, Meann San Juan, paid me a visit at home just to give me the data I needed.

The Holy Week break gave me enough time to complete the layouts such that by the Monday of the following week I was at the printer's submitting my dummy layout and all the needed photos.

I kept WTU posted on the status of the project. The only possible hitch we anticipated was that the brochures would be finished a day before he had to fly back to Taiwan to attend the expo.

Thankfully, the printer completed the job as promised. However, that meant I had to wait till about 6 PM at Culmat building for the delivery.

I received the glossy black and white brochures and then drove over to WTU's residence somewhere in Cubao to deliver the copies. I kept one for myself as a souvenir.

WTU greatly appreciated the effort and really wished we had had more time to come up with a color printed material. But he said, that it had come out better than he expected considering the short lead time.

He wrote a letter of appreciation to my boss commending me for what I had done, which really made me feel good!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


This is a favorite story of mine. For me it illustrates how Tans believed and trusted in their people's good judgment.

This happened sometime in December of 1986 when I was preparing for the first ever Managers' Convention of Jollibee,which was to be held in January,1987.

I got a call one afternoon and when I picked it up and said the customary greeting I recognized the familiar voice at the other end. It was S' Tony Tan. And he wanted to get my idea about something related to the convention.

We who were in the committee had agreed to give all participants a custom made jacket as a souvenir. S' Ato,who was head of the project, suggested that we have the Convention logo embazoned at the back of the jacket so that when the managers wore it they would be constantly reminded of our convention theme ("No. 1 Again in '87'.)

What S' Tony wanted was my opinion on where to put the logo. He said,"Ato told me that you plan to put the Convention logo at the back of the jacket. What do you think?"

"What do I think?" I couldn't believe my ears! Here was the President of the company consulting me about a simple matter! He wanted my opinion so I gave it to him.

I told him that when we had met about the matter, it was S' Ato who recommended the placement of the logo at the back. (I made it very clear that it was his brother's choice.)
But if I had my way, I told him, I'd much rather put a small version of the logo in front, at the left side. My reason for that was the jacket looked elegant and having a big logo printed at the back would "cheapen" the look. (But of course, I didn't tell him that.)

After I said my piece,he simply said,"I think so too."Meaning he agreed with my idea about the logo! Then he said thanks and hung up!

I was quite concerned after that because it might appear that I had disagreed with S' Ato's point of view. But at the same time I felt a sense of elation, simple because I had been consulted by the President and had given him my 2 cents!

When the jackets came out,the logo was printed the way I had suggested it..and it really looked great!

I never heard any negative reactions from S' Ato about my "reversal" of his decision, and that is what I admired about the owners and the company.

I would be consulted about many more things during my long stay at Jollibee, but I will always remember the day I reversed S' Ato's decision!

Sunday, August 12, 2007


I have always been against crash training, specially after having experienced its ill effects while I was still at KFC.

Shortening a training program to its bare essentials and expecting that trainees will be equipped with necessary skills to do the job is really expecting too much of the trainees...and usually ends up as the name suggests, in a "crash."

However, in 1987 I had to agree to launching a "crash training" of our BOTP (Basic Operations Training Program) not only for one, but two, batches of management trainees.

This happened because all of a sudden we had to open three Jollibee stores in two months and there were still no managers ready to run those new stores. Since our regular BOTP ran for one and a half months, we needed to crash the program down to two weeks, after which the trainees would be deployed to their store assignments.

In a crash training situation it is important that the trainers are top caliber instructors and it is also imperative that the trainees' progress is closely monitored. To meet these requirements we required our Training specialists (who were former store managers themselves)to personally handle the training of the management trainess who would go through the crash program.

With the shortened time also we had to do training differently.

We requested that the two best training stores at the time be given to us as venues for training. We converted part of the dining areas of these stores into classrooms where the trainees would undergo lectures on store procedures. After their lectures they would go to the stations and practice what they learned.

To make sure that the trainees themselves were prepared for fast paced learning we made sure to tell them they were going through a special program.

For almost a month, I had no one with me at the office because all my trainers were in the training stores. I visited them occasionally to find out how things were going.

It was physically taxing for my team then because they not only had to teach but also work during operations,coaching the trainees. The trainees too felt overwhelmed by the overload of information they were getting,but they felt challenged, so they gave their best.

Did we succeed after all?

In so far as filling up the new stores with managers, yes, we were able to do that. The "crash trainees" had enough experience to get them through the opening of their stores. But over the long haul, we felt that we failed.

Many of those who joined the crash training resigned within a year. There were survivors but they only did so because of personal tenacity.

We never ventured into crash training the BOTP after that.Things were planned better so that before a new store opened, its managers would have received ample training.