Franchise talk with The Bistro Group boss

After two decades, the Bistro Group made an indelible mark in the local restaurant industry, operating 17 concepts with over 70 branches nationwide and expanding the Bistro brand at an impressive pace by bringing in franchises of international brands to the country.

The Bistro Group President and COO Jean Paul Manuud believes the time is ripe for the company to delve into franchising once again—only this time, as a franchisor—and accelerate the growth of its brands and, at the same time, reach untapped markets. The company is offering opportunities to franchise its five concepts: Bulgogi Brothers, Denny’s, Baker & Cook, Ka Tunying’s Café and Fish & Co.

“We are known for being a ‘quality-experience restaurant.’ With the empirical know-how we have as a franchisee for the last 23 years and the kind of organization we have, we know we can support our partners/future franchisees,” Manuud said.

But while many people may be interested in buying a franchise, Manuud cautions that not everyone who has the capital is cut out for this kind of business. For the partnership to work out, while potential candidates don’t necessarily have to come from the food business, an inherent love for the brand is a must.

“We are looking for partners with similar interest, experience and the same kind of passion,” the The Bistro Group honcho  noted. “We’re open to partners who are willing to operate, and who know the Bistro brand by heart, not just those who have the capital,” he added.

Conversely, franchisees can expect The Bistro Group’s all-out support, from finding the perfect location, staff training and setting up the interiors to marketing assistance. The company also assists with the architectural/design template for the construction of a store to ensure its swift completion.

Passion and motivation aside, Manuud provides some advice on areas franchisees should consider when looking for a company to invest in.

A winning growth strategy. The Bistro Group adopts a two-pronged strategy to maintain steady growth: franchising international brands and building their own restaurants. Presently, the company operates all its restaurants but, as part of their growth model, they have ventured into growing their brand through franchising.

Solid support system. Getting into the franchising game, especially if it’s your first time, can be daunting. That is why it is very important for a franchisee to receive all the support to move forward. The Bistro Group’s franchising opportunity comes with an existing clientele/customer base for all five brands, as well as leverage on staffing, training, operational management and marketing efforts.

Flexiblibility and listening ability. Manuud said that one of the things he learned as a franchisee is to be flexible to the market because there’s no such thing as “one size fits all.” And to achieve flexibility, a partner must have the ability to listen to new ideas. “This is crucial because success depends on a good relationship with your partners.”

Adherence to standards. Too often, we’ve seen a lot of franchise concepts that would open then close after a year. For many of these businesses, the common denominator has always been the operator’s lack of experience and background in operating a restaurant.

“People think that the restaurant business is easy, when, in fact, it’s very difficult. Restaurant is variable every day. You’re handling people, customers, you’re handling quality of food. The quality today may be excellent, but tomorrow is a different day. So, there is a world to consider. Experience is paramount and our franchisees will know that they can depend on the experience of The Bistro Group. There is strength and leverage in our numbers; there’s a brand equity attached into it,” Manuud concluded.

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