ENTREPRENEUR Allen Arvin Tan just loves being in business.
The opportunity to bring something new on the table excites him—the reason right after expanding their Shakey’s branches in Cebu, brought to Cebu other food and beverage brands like Pepper Lunch, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and Happy Lemon, where he works with different business partners.
“I get excited to start new things and I feel comfortable working with people,” said Tan, who is a communication arts graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University.
The Tans own all the Shakey’s outlets in Cebu as franchisees for 41 years.
“It’s a wonderful journey. I practically grew up with the brand,” he said.
Tan grew up in an entrepreneurial family with construction as the family’s main business. But as most wise business families do, they diversified their investments into food—with Shakey’s dominating the family’s investment basket.
“Our good and healthy relationship with Shakey’s opened more business opportunities for us. It was easier to bring other brands to Cebu because of our proven track record and healthy relationship with Shakeys,” said Tan.
But Tan said growing these brands in a picky market like Cebu that demands quality products at reasonable prices requires a big dose of hard work and focus.
“All you need is to follow the system. That’s how franchising works. But it won’t work if your heart is not in it,” he said.
By this he meant that a franchisee should make sure that the brand’s promise to its customers is really delivered.
“It isn’t about purely making profits. You must know and love the brand before you can effectively share it with others,” he said.
Tan said he brought the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf to Cebu because he really loved its beverages. He felt Cebuanos must also have access to this quality product, which at the time was limited only to Manila.
Looking forward, Tan hopes to bring more brands to Cebu. He also hinted he might introduce his own brand soon.
“I don’t have concrete plans yet, but I’d like to get into a venture that involves anything about creation,” he said.
Besides being an entrepreneur, Tan is also part of the Cebu Arts Council.
What was your first job?
I didn’t have the opportunity to work in a company. I only had a short experience for practicum in an advertising agency. But right after college, I jumped straight to business and opened an internet service provider named Internet Cebu. We were installing dial-ups back then for three to four years, but when telcos came in, there was no way for us to compete with these giants, so we sold our business to Philweb.
I had a couple of ventures after that, and then I entered the family business to help in growing Shakey’s, which at that time had only three branches.
Now we are set to open our 12th Shakey’s branch in Davao City, hopefully next month.
Who inspired you to get into business?
My dad has always been in business. He loves to start new things so that if it doesn’t work out, he never gives up. He is very entrepreneurial, and he encourages us to pursue our own thing.
When did you realize this was what you were meant to do?
I’ve been asked about this several times, especially during franchise expos, and I always say that when you venture into franchising you have to look at it as a relationship. You have to be comfortable working with people, and more importantly, like the brand. And this is what I enjoyed since we grew our family business.
I have plans to create my own brand someday, and I don’t discourage my fellow entrepreneurs from doing the same. But they must understand too that it takes a lot of work to create your brand.
The nice thing about franchising is that there is always something new. You look for new locations, new ways to do things, new menus to introduce.
But again there’s also no guarantee that that store or brand will perform well, so you need to find out what works and work hard for it.
Why did you pick this type of business or industry?
Franchising is a business that allows a person with zero knowledge in business to thrive. Only if you diligently follow the system and, of course, do your part as the co-owner. This is one business model that can give you financial success.
Where did you get the training you needed to succeed?
I did Masters of Entrepreneurship at Asian Institute of Management. Aside from growing our food business, the family is also looking at going into real estate development.
How many times did you fail before you succeeded?
I went through store closures. This is part of business, but failed ventures teach you to stay grounded, and hopefully, new opportunities will come, especially after a store closes.
Another challenging part in business is the attitude of the employees. Some show up after the training. Some don’t. That is why building healthy relationships with them is also an important ingredient in the success of your business.