Sunday, March 9, 2008


I think that one of the reasons for Jollibee's tremendous growth and success during the '80's was that it was able to attract good talent and keep them.

During its expansion binge from 1986 to the early '90's there was always an opening for store managers and since there weren't many ready talents from the ranks of the crews, Jollibee had to resort to pirating from other fastfood chains. By then, it already had the reputation for giving higher than industry salaries and benefits. It was also known as an employer that took good care of its people.

From KFC alone,there were so many of us who transferred to JFC in 1985 to 87. There were the likes of: Jimmy Ramos,Connie Mendoza,Leonie Soriano (they were among the first to migrate to Jollibee.) Then came Jimmy Enriquez (one of the prize catches from KFC,)Raffy Selga, Meann San Juan, Livia Pinggoy,Mimi Fernandez,Bambi Bejo,Iyoh Villamayor,Macy Ang,Malou Vidal,Louie Madlangbayan, Susan Almazan,Carmen Reyes and myself.

Then sometime in 1987,nine managers from McDonald's joined the ranks of Jollibee. Those whom I recall were: Fermin Fajardo, Rafael Recio, Tess Valdepenas,Gildy Abrigo, and Vina Evangelista.

Later on, managers from Pizza Hut, Shakey's and Wendy's would turn up at the recruitment office of Jollibee,all wanting to be part of the number one fastfood chain in the country.

Jollibee benefitted a lot from this infusion of "fresh blood" even if it came from rival chains. Each of the brands had their peculiar strengths from which Jollibee learned.

For example, it couldn't be denied that McD's strength lay in its strong operating systems. The ex-McD's shared their ideas on how to further improve Jollibee's production and service systems. In fact, a lot of the ideas we implemented in our Managing Service and Managing Production projects originated from a study of McDonald's operations.

When it came to people handling though, ex-KFC managers had an edge. At KFC,they had to handle tough,hard-headed union regulars. So when they transferred to Jollibee,which was also unionized but under a moderate union, the labor problems they had to face were relatively"easy to handle."

The other brands' losses became Jollibee's gains. Many of the ex- KFC people rose to occupy key positions in the Jollibee organization. For instance, Iyoh Villamayor,who became the Regional Business Unit head of Jollibee Metro- Manila is now spearheading Jollibee USA's expansion in the East Coast. Jimmy Enriquez is now Operations Director of Chowking,Jollibee's sister brand. Others became Area Managers or Group Managers of Franchise stores.

Many of these have also stayed with Jollibee for a long time (more than twenty years) which says a lot of how Jollibee has really taken good care of its key talents.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


(The end tag of the "It's Jollibee Good! TV Commercial)

It will probably be remembered as the TV commercial that launched the career of actress Carmina Villaroel. But for those of us who were present at that sales rally in June,1988, it was a marketing coup of sorts against our rival McDonald's.

During the latter part of the '80's,the rivalry between Jollibee and McDonald's was heating up,with both sides claiming supremacy over the Philippine fastfood market. By 1988,we had more than 30 stores while McD had probably less than 20.

But they,through spokesperson Greg Yang, always boasted of having higher sales per store. Their argument was if we matched them store by store they would come out on top.

Bobby Sumulong, our Marketing VP then, had a ready answer to that argument. He said that if you computed sales on the basis of floor area, our Jollibee stores, which were usually smaller than McD's behemoths, would definitely be generating more sales per square meter.

One arena where the Battle of the Burgers was closely fought was in Marketing. For instance, when McDonald's hired Martin Nievera to do a commercial, Jollibee countered with a TVC featuring Martin's close friend,Gary Valenciano, in what we call the "Gotta Bite" commercial.

Whenever McD had a novelty promo using their mascots,we came up with our own featuring all 8 mascots. When they saw that we were making brisk sales with Jollibee Spaghetti,they retaliated with their own McSpaghetti,which we found out was only served here in the Philippines.

McDonald's had an advantage when it came to launching TV commercials because they could just easily use any canned material from the USA. They also didn't have to figure out what campaign would work because any marketing effort would most likely have been tested somewhere else in the world.

At about this time,they had a very catchy slogan: "Good Times! Great Taste! McDonald's" which, besides being easy to remember and recall, was a direct attack on a strength we at Jollibee claimed:i.e., we had better tasting products than they had.

We had capitalized on this by highlighting that McD's taste was bland and not suited to the Filipino palate. For several years, we had used the tag line "Jollibee...Langhap Sarap" with great success.

Our advertising agency, Basic Foot,Cone & Belding (Basic FCB) thought it was high time we became more aggressive in the fight for our customers top of mind. They came out with, not one... but two,TV thematic ad concepts which revolved around the tagline:"All the good things you hunger for..IT'S JOLLIBEE GOOD!"

The accompanying jingle was easy to remember and memorize, such that even after 20 years I can still sing it :

If you long for something good
It stays in your mind
If you want it so much
You crave deep inside
And when you get it
It's Jollibee good
When you get it
It's Jollibee good
All the good things you hunger for
It's Jollibee good!

In a subtle way,we had counter attacked McD's "Good Times! Great Taste!" and come up with a catchy line of our own;"It's Jollibee Good!"

Needless to say, when the commercials were aired on TV and the supporting media blitzes were launched, we left McD eating our dust, so to speak.

Monday, March 3, 2008


"Sir Tony! Could we have a picture with you?"

Our Franchisees' Convention program had just finished but Chowking franchisees,Managing directors and even Chowking officers stayed behind asking to have their picture taken with S' Tony Tancaktiong, Jollibee's founder and Chairman.

Several feet away,other franchisees were having their photo taken with singer-entertainer Ogie Alcasid,who was our guest speaker. Eventually,this group thinned out when Ogie left the session hall but the cluster of people surrounding S' Tony didn't. They wanted to have their picture with Mr. Jollibee himself, and S' Tony,ever the kind person he is, obliged.

Since it had been quite a while since I had my own picture taken with TTC, I snuck up beside him when I had the chance, and my wife, Jaja, took one of us for posterity.

Anyone who has read about Jollibee's success and Tony Tan's ever growing dynasty of food chains can have the impression that he is probably unreachable,as other so-called taipans seem to be.

But S' Tony is none of that.

For me, he is an example of a person who knows where he came from,and who has not been spoiled by success. I admire him for his humble when in fact he owns bragging rights for having built a Filipino brand.

One of Jollibee's core values is "Humility to Listen and Learn." There is no better embodiment of this than S' Tony himself.

It's interesting to note that "Humility" was not listed among Jollibee's core values when in 1996, Jollibee's top management went through a review and re-defining of its core mission and values. It was one of the Tan brothers, William Tanuntiong, who insisted that "Humility" be included.

He cited an example from his own Real Estate division,where some of his people chided one of their colleagues for being arrogant. "That behavior does not belong here," they had told the erring manager,"that belongs to McDo."(referring to McDonald's)

Then his clinching argument...he said that in the first place S' Tony, the President, was modelled humility by his own behavior.

Nobody questioned that.

In fact, when I conducted the series of orientation sessions on The Jollibee Way (a Jollibee corporate culture workshop,)whenever we talked about the value of humility,someone always had a story to tell about S' Tony's humble ways.

A favorite of mine came from one of the Area Managers,Rachel Bracamonte. She told the story of how she, during one of our Franchisees conventions,had lost one of her earrings somewhere at the lobby of the hotel where we held the event. A search ensued,and she was surprised to see S' Tony on his knees helping out in looking for the missing earrings!

Others would tell of how S' Tony,when he was at a Jollibee store, would pick up litter and throw this himself into the trash bin. He also did not expect preferential treatment when he visited Jollibee stores,always queueing up with customers at the counter lines when he could very well have been served at the tables.

He did not pull rank as President when it came to management decisions. I saw this myself when I had the opportunity to sit in at Mancom sessions in 1996,when my boss, Atty. Buddy Demaisip, would be absent. When he saw merit in a VP's position he acknowledged it and was willing to change his own.

During a recent Leadership learning session here at Jollibee where he was the featured speaker,he somehow explained the reason for the humility he was so known for. He said that he believed that he did not know everything and that he can always learn from someone else.

I can't help but recall one of the beatitudes which goes: "Blessed are the meek for they shall possess the land."

It's no wonder that S' Tony's Jollibee dynasty has now expanded beyond Philippine soil to the Asia Pacific region and to the USA.