Who doesn't love Potato Corner? Over the years, this beloved french fries brand has won the hearts and trust of many Filipinos and has grown into a successful franchise business. Given its marketability, it comes as no surprise that some of us have thought of franchising our very own Potato Corner kiosk.
For husband and wife, Trisha, 27, and Martin De Leon, 31, there was no better time to take that leap of faith than late last year when Potato Corner lowered their franchise packages. Despite starting in the middle of a pandemic, they have managed to keep their business running. In an interview with Female Network, the couple shared their experience in opening a Potato Corner franchise and the lessons they've learned along the first way.
Taking their first steps
Before submitting a letter of intent, they had to find a suitable location for their store first. Getting a space approved took them around one to two months to accomplish as the management had particular location requirements.
According to Martin, "Yung una naming location na pinropose, actually, nareject siya. Kasi sa tricycle terminal 'yun but since pandemic, tingin ni Potato Corner walang masyadong estudyante na dumadaan. Yung market kasi nila yung mga bata bata pa eh." Luckily, the second location got approved, and they were well on their way to set up their store.
Among the packages offered by Potato Corner, the couple went with the Standard Cart. "Initially, we shelled out around 500k that includes all expenses like the franchise fee and permits," shared Trisha. They also rented a bare unit, so they had to factor in construction costs as well.
Enlisting the help of a bookkeeper
With both of them having day jobs and a one-year-old son to care for, one of the things Trisha and Martin realized early in their business journey was that processing of government registrations and fees tends to take up too much of their time. So now, they've hired a bookkeeper who handles all of these for them so that they can focus on the other aspects of their business and their lives.
Hiring the right staff
Like many of us, they leaned towards looking for someone to man their store was to hire from among the people they know. “Yung una siyempre, gusto namin yung kakilala namen eh. Nagtanong tanong muna kami sa friends namin, sa relatives. Meron bang interested maging crew ng Potato Corner. Unfortunately, wala kaming nakuha dun sa kakilala namin".
Afterwhich, they decided to take their search outside their circle and posted a job ad on social media. Fortunately, they were able to find a suitable crew from those who showed interest. "May nagustuhan kami. Basically dahil dun sa tirahan niya. Walking distance lang siya dun sa store. Tapos yung background niya rin. Sa canteen siya dati nagtatrabaho. So far, okay naman." Trisha added, "Sobrang blessed kami kasi ngayon mukhang trustworthy naman siya. Wala naman kaming problema. Madali siyang kausapin."
More so, both their hired crew and the couple underwent extensive training via Zoom to familiarize themselves with Potato Corner's standards. It used to be done face-to-face but has since been done virtually due to pandemic restrictions.
"Mahigpit talaga si Potato Corner sa standards niya. Every month, nagpapadala sila ng auditor to check the store at kung nasusunod lahat ng guidelines," Trisha said. Martin was quick to add, "On our part naman we're doing our best to follow those standards. So far, wala naman ngang complaint. Actually, marami kaming returning customers."
Is Potato Corner a good investment?
It's hard to say as it's not something that one can determine based on the experience of just one franchisee. Besides, many factors influence the success of a business. So what may be a good investment for some may not be the same for everyone. Likewise, given the economic downturn brought about by the pandemic, it's best to keep your expectations low, just like what Trisha and Martin did when they pursued franchising their stall.
"Expected na naman that we will go through some rough times. So 'yun, knowing na pandemic pa rin and we still wanted to push through, ayun medyo nahirapan kami [at] the start. Kasi wala talagang nag-wo-walk in. Bawal pa yung mga bata”.
However, Potato Corner did what it can to support its franchisees in these trying times. "But good thing naman kay Potato Corner, nagooffer sila ng other alternatives. Like for us, since walang nagwowalk in ang ginagawa namin nagbebenta kami ng mga home bundles [online]. Doon kami kumikita. Para hindi lang yung store ang nagg-gegenerate ng income.”
When asked about how their income has been so far, Martin has this to say. "Di naman lugi. Below expected lang ng income. So I'd say break even lang. Nasusustain naman niya yung day to day operating expense niya. Thankful naman kami na kinakaya naman".