It is a more than one hour’s drive from our host family to the business. Most of our target business is in the town, but not for my target. As the jeepney was driving away from the town and approaching the rural area, I kind of knew what the Liberty Cashew was going to be like.
Let me introduce it to you first, Liberty Cashew, a 30-year well-known brand, is a licensed cashew processer and retailer based on Guimaras, with multiple products lines, regular customer base and strong potential to expand.
That sounds like a good business, right? Let me describe it again in a more critical way with plain words:
Liberty Cashew is a small grocery store, selling daily essentials, soft drinks and mango products with a small corner for cashew nuts. There is no processing room and cutting, pealing and cooking are all done by the owner. Neighbors nearby are the regular customer of the store. Though it has opened for 30 years, it is quite hard to tell the difference between this store and a store in the 1980s. Improvement could be made in every aspect and definitely it is of great potential.
Frankly speaking, I feel a little disappointed when comparing my business to others’. I gradually calmed down and asked myself several questions:
Is a successful consultant going to be picky?
Is the cashew store already in best position?
Is the relative big business owner able to talk with us all the time?
Am I going to learn from the experience?
The answer is obvious and most importantly, it is I who said in previously blog that I would try my best to improve the business, whatever it is like.
However, i didn’t get much information as expected in the first meeting due to the language barrier and lack of good thoughts. But one thing is certain: the owner told us firmly she wanted to make more money through the business to support the education of his children.
Soon my partner Tina and I had our second visit on Wednesday and we had exchanged our ideas and came up with some goals for the business.
Since Mr. Lefler was able to find an interpreter for us next week, we made up our mind to learn more about the cashew processing and retailing business on Guimaras from different angles. Small as it is, the whole product line is completed. Supplier, intermediary, processor, wholesaler, retailer, regulator and customers are all involved in the cashew business on the island.
Our starting point was the trading center and we wanted to know whether there were some barriers to enter. But sadly, it turned out that everyone could do the processing business if they wished to. And indeed cashew nuts were sold in quite a lot stores and there are some big players in the market whose products were commonly seen. Besides, you can never imagine how friendly and helpful the officials are. And it was they who took us to the agriculture department and learned out the productions and suppliers of the cashew.
Our final destination was one of the most successful cashew processor on Guimaras. After the visit, we did feel the distance between our business and this Merly’s Cashew. This could be a good model for Liberty Cashew to learn and finally to exceed. We also learned about other sections of the line as well.
Information gathering is just the first step and it was still a long way ahead to digest the information and develop feasible strategies from it. Thanks to the wisdom of the whole group, adding different flavor would become our first attempt to differentiate from others.
There is now only two weeks left and little progress have we made so far. But now, we have the plan, we have the knowledge and we have the confidence. Let witness the change we could make in two week’s time.