Thursday, February 24, 2005

Value Creating processes for homemade goodies

The Manila Times
Business Times p.B1
Thursday, February 24, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Value-creating processes for homemade goodies

Early yesterday morning I heard Bheng Relatado “ooh-ing” and “aah-ing” in her cubicle that made me curious. She was enjoying a box of sylvannas pala. I asked her what’s so special about it that makes her so ecstatic. She replied, “Tikman mo [taste it]! That is why whenever we have meetings, I serve pastries from Twiggys so that everybody is happy and actively participates in the discussions.” I tasted the sylvannas and I couldn’t agree more with Bheng more.

Homemade goodies have become very popular as gift items or pasalubong. My balikbayan sorority sisters from Canada Milette Rabanillo and Florence Josue and from London, Ester Kazzam brought home loads of them.

So I had a little chat with Pebbles Santos (0917-538-0510) about her entrepreneurial experience.

She said that they started Twiggys more than 15 years ago as her mother’s hobby. Started with one product—lenguas de gato—which was a hit with anyone who tasted them because they literally melt in your mouth! Then other pastries were added to the line—sylvannas, yema balls, sans rival, brownies, food of the goods, San Nicolas cookies, butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies and brandy raisin cookies.

So what makes her hobby last this long and become a successful business?

Pebbles said that the main value proposition for a food item is that it must look good and taste good. Consistency in quality should always be assured so that your customers are assured they will always get a good product every time they buy. This is the most critical aspect that is carefully watched and looked after. This starts with ingredients used (thus changes in ingredients are not made randomly and are first subjected to pilot production, and taste tests and consumer acceptance tests, etc.). And then of course, follow through with the process of production, from mixing and baking, and ultimately packaging.

Another key value creating process for Twiggys is that it is virtually “open” all the time. Being perishable items, normally most of the products are produced to order. And a customer can call (721-4652) at any time and normally within a few hours it is ready for pick-up and if the order is substantial, can be delivered. And any time literally means any time. There have been many instances where orders are phoned in at night, even late at night, and certainly quite a number during weekends and holidays. This was found to be a major “competitive” advantage as it means availability at practically all times.

Overall, the primary consideration driving all these is ensuring customer satisfaction! Twiggys remain a small business and it is now managed by a mother-daughter tandem.

They want to keep it this way so that there is personal attention to all aspects of the business. They have no outlet of their own but they supply a few stores and bake shops with their products. But most important, orders are easily placed by phone.

If you are an aspiring entrepreneur who has a hobby that produces a product that satisfies the need of a customer niche, but you don’t have big capital or a big shop floor, cultivate your hobby and make it grow to become a business.

Grace Ensaymada started this way and they are now located in all major malls in Metro Manila. They even have to construct a new kitchen dedicated to the making of Grace’s ensaymadas according to proud husband Hector Dimacali.

An all-time favorite are the food for the gods and other yummy cakes from Sugar­mom’s Iya PeƱalosa (928-1260).

American Society for Training & Development: The 2005 ASTD International Conference and Exposition will be held on June 5-9 at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida, USA. To join and avail yourself of discounts, please call Ms. Grace Victo­riano for details (715-9332,

Thursday, February 17, 2005

100 Successful Years of Rotary

Business Times p.B1
Thursday, February 17, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Value-creation processes for 100 successful years of Rotary

District 3780 under hard­-working, dedicated and handsome Gov. George Howard will celebrate with the entire Rotary International family worldwide its centennial anniversary with a weeklong District Convention this February 17 to 23.

Why are good-hearted people drawn to the Rotary and give their time, wealth and energy selflessly? In business parlance, what are the key value creation processes of the Rotary organization?

People become involved in Rotary because of a combination of varied activities that adds up to enabling Rotarians to give service above self. According to the RI President’s Manual, these are:

First is fellowship, one of the main reasons people join Rotary. Although the club may conduct specific fellowship activities, fellowship among Rotarians is more than an event that occurs once or twice a year. Celebrating friendships and camaraderie is a regular part of every club meeting, project and activity.

One of the things I like about being a Rotarian is the equal status accorded every Rotarian. You might be an executive in your own company, but in Rotary you are simply a Rotarian. Everybody is on a first name basis. Titles are given to those who contribute and serve in projects and as club or district officers. In a club like RC Quezon City North, everybody is an officer.

Second is service that enables the Rotarians to participate in local or international service projects that can instill a sense of pride and ownership in club activities and service efforts, encourage members to expand service activity by regularly discussing important issues facing the community and the world and demonstrate that individuals, through cooperation and through Rotary, can improve their communities and the world.

Every Rotarian acts on their belief that everyone can make a difference in making communities and the world a better place to live in. The most successful project, among many others, is the Polio Plus, which has helped eradicate the menace of polio globally.

In the Philippines some of the favorite projects of Rotarians are feeding of malnourished children, micro financing for community livelihood projects, literacy, provision of potable water and poverty alleviation like skills development. One of the things that Rotary does not do is to give outright dole outs. They believe in the adage: Give people fish and they will eat for one day. Teach people how to fish and they will eat for the rest of their lives.

For Rotary Year 2005-06, DGE Benjie Bacorro and RC Quezon City North will embark on a skills upgrading project for teachers.

They believe that the messenger is equally important as the message and when you develop the teaching skills of teachers, you increase the learning opportunities for students.

The third success-inducing process of Rotary is networking. Rotary provides ample opportunity for club members to make contact with other civic-minded individuals, build business opportunities, and share expertise and advice unique to their own professions.

Rotarians from all over the world visit each other. Recent visitors of RCQCN are Rotarians from Japan (RC East Osaka Central, Kyoto Yamashiro, Tokyo Kyoto and Oji-Nara), PDG Keith Hooper of RC Smith Center, Kansas and PDG Geoff McLennan of Tasmania, Australia. We were also visited by PP Tony Mateo of RC San Miguel Manila.

The Rotarians work hard and play hard. But at the end of the day they know how to enthuse and motivate fellow Rotarians. The process of Recognition is very much imbedded in Rotary at the club, district and International levels. Rotarians recognize excellence in club management, active participation in service activities, contribution and support of The Rotary Foundation.

You don’t apply to become a Rotarian, you are invited to be one. But if you are interested in Rotary, please call CP Lore Veneracion at the RCQCN Soup Kitchen, Food Bank and Training Center at 4307666 and 9398288 or DG George at the Rotary Center at 4123269 and 4119062).

Moje, president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp, is the president-elect of the RC Quezon City North for RY 2005-2006 and needs all the support and assistance she could get from everybody who cares for the less fortunate among us)

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Value creating processes for retail stores

Learning & Innovation – February 10, 2005
By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Value creating processes for retail stores

Nimfa and Teddy Abustan assert that, in the retail business, the customer is king and every business, product and service process is there to serve the king (queen, prince or princess). This assertive statement comes from the couple’s 10-year experience as sari-sari store owners at Ang Buhay Street, Barangay 596, Manila.

Both say the first and foremost key value creation process is assessing customer needs, preferences, wants and even dreams. Having been born and lived in the same place, the entrepreneurial couple knows everybody in the neighborhood of mostly working folks and students. They know what kind of detergent, food, liquor, personal care and hygiene and other products each of their neighbors would buy, in what quantity and, if they will pay in cash or “lista.”

Nimfa says, “you need to talk to your customers regularly. Kwento-kwento tungkol sa buhay-buhay. They will not exactly tell you what products they want. You need to know what television shows they watch, where they work and what kind of work they do. You need to keep count how many kids are in the block, how many teenagers, adults, senior citizens, males, females, gays. You need to observe their lifestyle, clothes they wear, car they drive, their profession, their make-up even, their sports, their food preferences, etc. Then you would know what products to sell, in what quantity. You have to be both ‘usyosero’ and “tsismoso,’ short of examining what’s in their wastebasket, to get all these data.”

Second is marketing and trying to match customer needs to the available products in the market. “They key here,” Teddy says, “is price. Since our customers mostly belong to the working class and student group, one of their major concerns is price. That is why we sell by ‘tingi’ or small quantities. Everything is practically sold in small packets—oil, cooking gas, shampoo, candy, everything. So if the manufacturer only sells them big, we repack these goods and sell by piece or small measuring cups. Nobody buys by bulk from a variety store. Those who can afford to buy large quantities go to the supermarket.”

Personally, this is a good trait of the Filipinos—buying only what they could consume. Unlike other cultures like the Americans who buy by bulk, stock them in large pantries and, I suspect, never get to use all of them or use them wastefully since they have plenty.

Some argue that price-wise, buying ‘tingi’ cost more because you don’t get the wholesale discount. But, if you will not really use the product in the immediate future, then imagine what you are paying for the cost of money. Your money is stacked in your pantry, unmoving, not earning value, useless.

Nimfa and Teddy say that one key business decision they make virtually everyday is whether to give credit or insist on cash payment. Teddy says that they have condoned so many debts all these years because they can’t really wring money out of an empty pocket and sometimes, it is the honorable thing to do knowing the dire circumstances some of their neighbors are in like the fire last Saturday where some 21 houses burned to the ground and rendered families vulnerable or when it is Christmas and New Year.

American Society for Training & Development: The 2005 ASTD International Conference and Exposition will be held on June 5-9 at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida, USA. Please visit To join our delegation and avail of discounts, please call Ms. Grace Victoriano for details.

(Send Moje, president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp, your feedback via

Thursday, February 3, 2005

Value creating processes for taxi operators

Business Times p.B1
Thursday, February 03, 2005

By Moje Ramos- Aquino, FPM
Value creating processes for taxi operators

Last column we gave the example of Bayantel’s key processes—selling, delivering and collecting—as key processes for a telecommunication company. According to the Baldridge Criteria for Business Excellence these are products, services and business processes that aim to create value for your customers and other key stakeholders, and to improve a company’s marketplace and operational performance.

This whole week, I asked taxi drivers-operators about their key value creation processes. All of them said there is one important process that helps entrepreneurs like them not only stay on the road for long, but even grow their fleet. This is proper and regular maintenance of vehicles, including keeping them looking and smelling clean.

Still some added that good customer service is an equally important process for business success. Among regular taxi riders like me this came as a surprise that taxi drivers even care for their customers. You know what I mean—tampered meters, smelly taxis, dilapidated taxis, discourteous drivers, unkempt and sometimes smelly drivers, reckless drivers—the list could go on. Our drivers could learn a lot from their counterparts in London who are models of good customer service.

I had one rare happy experience, though. One time I got into a cab and the radio was on. I noticed the driver looking at me intently on the rearview mirror. I was starting to get scared and I dialed the number of my son ready to hit the call button at the first sign of danger. Then he smiled, turned off the radio and fed a tape to the player. Before long I forgot my fears and I was singing along with the tape and swaying to the music. The driver said he was glad I liked his music. I said I knew the songs from high school.

He smiled even wider and said that he never missed guessing the age of his passengers that help him pamper them with their favorite music. I was kind of offended by the age-guessing game, but I truly enjoyed the music in the midst of the nonmo­ving traffic. Now, that is a customer satisfaction process par excellence!

Interesting description of process management came from sari-sari store owner Nimfa and Teddy Abustan. Let’s discuss that next column as we continue our Journey on Entrepreneurship using the Balanced Scorecard.

Speaking of music and dance, please join Rotary Club of Santa Rosa Centro (RCSRC) in hosting the District 3820 fund-raising campaign, “Love for Infanta,” this Saturday, February 5, at Club Intra­muros inside the In­tramuros Golf Club. This dinner-dance intends to help rehabilitate a barangay in Infanta, Quezon, by assisting the displaced residents with livelihood projects. According to Ursula Lijauco, charter president of RCSRC, they have stopped giving relief goods, except to some Dumagat communities in the hinterland, and are now concentrating on life-building help.

This fund-raising event will feature John y Cash and the Jukebox Retro Band for all-night fun to raise funds. Also catch the Jukebox all Thursdays of February at Funnside near the Timog-Morato Rotunda, Quezon City.

American Society for Training & Development: The 2005 ASTD International Conference and Exposition will be held on June 5-9 at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida, USA. Please visit To join our delegation and avail of discounts, please call Ms. Grace Victoriano for details.

(Send Moje, president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp., your feedback via