My very first step into the consulting world

By Amina Hui

Time tickling…it has been three weeks since we first arrived Guimaras. We had a lot of fun here and of course, there is quite a lot progress in our business consulting work. I feel like consulting is asking myself a lot of questions and looking for ways to solve them.

Frankly speaking, I really have no prior experince in consulting nor knowledge about any industry in the Philippines. This is genuinely my very first time to do consulting work. My client busienss is Neptunes Pittman’s Garden Resort. They have a wide range of business, including its renowned garden resort, natural food manufacturing, salt manufacturing, as well as plants and herbs selling. In order to narrow the focus, my partner and I agreed to focus on the garden resort business.

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As our client business is solely owned by Neptunes, she is a really busy woman. We devoted so much effort into getting an opportunity to meet her. Before our meeting, I would draft a set of questions targeting my consulting goals. As her business is already fairly big in Guimaras, I believe her aim is to expand the operation of business and promote it to foreigners. When we first met, Neptunes also confirmed those and therefore I proposed some marketing initiatives to help her business to increase its publicity.

Two days after we first met, my partner and I paid a visit to her resort. It is genuinely beautiful and spectacular! As I was on a motorcycle ride all the way from San Lorenzo to Buena Vista when the road is full of polluted air and other vehicles, it is like you suddenly stepped into the nature when you entered her garden resort. The exotic plants and the flory decoration are eye-catching and give me a cozy feeling. I believe they spent a lot of time and effort in decorating their resort, and this makes the resort’s major selling point.

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We first talked to the staff at the resort and found that they are very friendly, but their English proficiency is just so-so. It gives me a feeling that the resort might consider providing more training to the staff to sharpen their communication skills. The staff showed us around and we got an idea of the revenue streams of the resort and the quality of the service they deliver. To be honest, I feel that rhe rooms are too small if compared to other resorts. However, as there is no any similar type of resort, i.e. garden resort in Guimaras, their unique positioning has given them a competitive edge. Yet, I still think that their accommodation can be improved a bit.

To my surprise, there are literally no customers at their resort, even though their garden resort is quite famous in town. The owner, Neptunes, explained that it is low season as school begins in June. Yet, I still quite shocked that there is not any customers. It makes me doubt how they can operate sustainably and where they can get the funding from. And I am going to explore the stories behind.

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After some thorough research and interview with Neptunes and her staff, we unveiled the mask of truth. The government is actually quite supportive towards the resort industry. Many subsidies like DOSE and governmental department like Department of Travel Industry (DTI) are established to foster the industry development. To further differentiate Neptunes Pittman’s Garden Resort from the other resorts, Neptunes has a plan to implement prima culture in its resort, which is to promote the sustainable and rural way of living for those city dwellers to escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

We also discovered that even if it is a large business like this, have a lack of good digital accounting records. Not only Neptunes Pittman Garden Resort, McNester has also kept its accounting records in books. This is in fact a bad business practice, as this is harder for us to trace the past financial records and make a budget based on past financial results. Therefore, a digital spreadsheet is recommended to remedy the situation.

I think business consulting requires much patience and one to be proactive in getting the solution. For most of the time, the answer is hidden. No one, not even the owner, is completely clear about what they are doing. We will continue to work hard in getting the solutions. Asking the right questions to get your desired answer is an art. It is a real challenge to start something new, but once you try it, it will be worth it.

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