Recap…

By Zoya Zaheer

Of all the days I spent here, this is the one I will remember the most because its the last. All the memories of all the days I spent in this beautiful town with these beautiful people come back to me.

First Week…

In my first week, we were introduced to Irene and her eatery. She was very warm and welcoming but also very skeptical about letting us bring any changes to her eatery. It was very difficult making her understand the importance of very small things such as book keeping and marketing. She always turned down all of our ideas by saying that they are very time consuming or not worth the expense. As much as I understood her perspective, I felt very let down. She thought of us as some young kids who have no sense of doing business. Whenever I went to speak to her she would not be at her eatery or be too busy to listen to us. We made her a very simple accounting book to maintain her records and gave it to her on Thursday. She did not write a single word on it till the next Monday.

2nd week….

In the second week we did some market research, competitor analysis and consumer analysis. We made surveys and interviewed customers. We found out that a competitor Lenny attracted much more customers just because of 1 dish they made everyday. We convinced Irene to make that same dish at her eatery every day and we saw a little increase in customers instantly. This was the point of time when Irene realized that we can actually provide insights that can actually help the business. Later, I sat down with Irene and she came up with her own accounting system she thought was much simpler. There were some obvious flaws with it but after a few suggestions we were able to devise an accounting system that Irene actually approved of and was willing to follow. From that day till now she has been collecting her receipts and writing down her weekly profits. After accounting seemed to be a little sorted, we decided to move on to marketing. Irene did not have a very big budget for marketing and therefore we had to come up with very inexpensive ways of doing marketing. The first thing we did was create her a Facebook page and asked all our local friends to like and share it. Most of Irene’s customers were school and college students and most of them used Facebook. We also met up with a few high school teachers. They wanted my insights on a entrepreneurship program and I agreed to help them if they promoted Irene in their school. The next thing we focused on was to make Irene’s stand out and be noticeable between a long line of competitors. When we met new people and told them to visit Irene, they never seemed to be sure of which eatery was Irene’s eatery out of all of them. Irene had a big blackboard that we decided to use. We put Irene’s name on the black board but it got washed away due to the rain and Irene did not bother to write on it again. So we though of using her existing hoardings and strategically placing them so that it was noticeable. We also put the exact location of Irene’s on our Facebook page in the hope that people would notice it.

 

zoya

zoya 1.png

 

Week 3….

This was the week filled with nostalgia. As our time with Irene and everybody else was coming to an end, I tried to eat lunch there as many times as I could. I always spoke to Irene and told her to maintain her records even after we left. She promised me that she would try her best. To promote Irene in different barangays we designed posters in English and with the help of my host family got it translated to Visaya. We then put these posters up on the notice boards and the advertising sections of the markets and wherever we could get the permission to post it. We also distributed the left over posters on the street trying to attract as many people as possible. Irene and her staff loved the posters and this was one of the first ones that were designed for her. We also put one next to her shop so that she and her workers could see it. As soon as I put it up all the workers circled around it and chattered very happily.Irene provides discounts on all the vegetable dishes after 1 pm and all the meat dishes after 4. Not a lot of people knew about it and then we decided to put up this information also on our Facebook page. We also kept a track of the dishes that she ran out of the first like the fried chicken and told her to increase the quantity by 20 percent to meet the increasing demand.

zoyaposter_edit.jpg

On my final day when I went to see Irene, and say goodbye to her, I felt very weird. I was happy that the work was over but I had started to feel like I was a part of their team. I sat down with Kumar to have my final lunch at Irene’s and then bid everyone goodbye. I was working with a real business with some real consequences and with some real people. The experience was a roller coaster ride with its ups and downs. I just hope that Irene listens to us and keeps maintaining records. I also gave her my number and my Facebook details so that she can contact me if she needs advice on anything. On my first day with Irene I did not expect this but I am going to miss working with her.

 

The Jagna Games

By: Sagar Gupta

J&B. A name familiar to the town of Jagna, where we dared to step out and scour the streets and homes for respondents to our survey, either like sales employees or census officials. A business that runs profitably, and has a name that is common knowledge to most as a popular grocery store – does it really need anything from us enthusiastic outsiders? Is having a name the same as having an identity?

These were questions that raced through my mind as I attempted to decipher how to proceed with a business that was extremely profitable, and reluctant to receive any inputs from us, so much so that we were regarded more as regular customers and less as consultants.

One thing I did know was that the family wanted to leave a mark, be it via a convenience store or a coffee shop, it wanted to be known as a place which serves every need of every customer. This requires creating a brand, which is more than a name. It is an identity. Once this was clear, Dilys and I knew what to do.

A few score pie-charts and a couple of hours on Photoshop later we had with us a surprise for the owner of J&B, one she never asked for. A cleverly planned ambush during her free-time had us seated in front of Belen who stared back at us, eyebrows raised as if to say, “What now kids?”

 

Blog3Dilys

Dilys and I working with survey data and designing the logos.

 

I began explaining to her the importance of effective branding to maintain a competitive edge and long lasting image but obviously I wasn’t much more than a babbling toddler to her until we showed her our designs. A new logo, business cards, and employee name-cards. I now had the undivided attention of Mrs. Belen Acebes, a feat sure to have made Hercules proud.

Untimely doubts and inquiries by her sales staff were dismissed as we began explaining to her our ideas of providing identity to the J&B Brand as “Jagna’s Family Store“ which would be “One Stop For All Your Needs”. She was also quite impressed with the idea of nametags for employees as she revealed how they refused to wear the t-shirts she had gotten made for them a few years ago. It was amazing how such simple tasks ended in a complete flip in our relationship. It showed me how important it is to prove yourself with hard evidence, especially if the person in concern is unsure of your background.

 

J&B D1 (1)

The New J&B Logo

 

I went on to show her some past reports along with the kind of work that has been done through this course and her manner of speaking had me think of her as a wine bottle that either lets out everything at once or not at all. She described how the chaos of the business prevents her from making any further improvements – employees all over the place without specific tasks, having type in the inventory records every month for tax filings and having to deal with demands of raises, and resignations when left unfulfilled. Belen was the warden of a madhouse.

Solving the issue of the monthly grunt work in retyping all data came first. My love for technology is evident considering my CS background and hence I found them an alternative to expensive accounting soft-wares. It is an app that helps them keep track of their inventory and record transactions on the go. Belen’s Samsung tablet will be kept in the store for this work while she can monitor progress from her desktop at home. The process excited her although she maintained the composure of a businesswoman, satisfied with work of her consultants. She was, however, astonished that she didn’t have to pay us for our services.

This arrangement gave us license to spend the rest of the day free-riding on her home Wi-Fi to draft an employee-work-shift plan. Consequentially, I know all of their employee’s names now and they care to spare enough time to ask me about my dual life in India and Hong Kong, two worlds they’ve never seen. What is most interesting though, is our relationship with Mrs. Acebes. As a result of all the toil to gain her acceptance, our relationship is one forged in flames. It is only now that I realize how much she is like these Filipino coconuts, with a stern exterior but sweet and loving on the inside.

 

Belen

Lunch at Belen’s house

 

At her house, we were her children. Like any mother would, we were instructed to put away all our work at lunch time and were fed to our heart’s content. That dinner table conversation was when she dropped her walls and spoke to us about everything – from her daughter’s dream of becoming a doctor, to her son who is a special child, to how she surprised her dad for Father’s Day. I couldn’t help but marvel at the fickleness of life and the illusive nature of first impressions.

 

We wound up by showing her the findings of our survey and explaining how a coffee shop would be a great idea considering the views of the many college students around and the increasing number of tourists in the area. She was content with this validation that her opinion had received and was ready to challenge her husbands’ views to the contrary. She said to us that we would have our first coffee in Jagna at her shop a couple of years later, and we only nodded in pride – not from having convinced a stubborn businesswoman to our own accord but from having sparked the stern determination of a motherly figure. We hope that our efforts will aid the rise of a definitive identity for the J&B brand, whilst making life just a little simpler for its owners and employees.

 

J&Bpic

Left to Right: Vincent, me, Dilys, Michel and Belen. Taken outside J&B.

 

As an outsider to the world of business, this experience has provided me great insight into the workings of such ventures. It’s been a roller-coaster for me, culturally, emotionally and professionally but the results have been worth it. Sharper soft-skills and a holistic view of a business are something I have this course to thank for. It’s not a regular consulting experience and the relationships we ended up forming with our “clients” have made us feel at one with this town. I’d like to end my last blog with a humble attempt a poetry, to sum-up my experience here:

“It’s been a trip like none before,

Through Jagna’s hills and Anda’s shore.

With the thought that knowledge we will provide

Alas! We met a great divide

This stoppage did humble us for sure

We learnt to prove ourselves and more

Faulty systems we did amend

But acquired much more by this journey’s end

And now what’s left, is sweet farewells and sore goodbyes

Beneath the crescent moon and these starry skies.”

 

sky

The Jagna Night Sky

 

Goodbye

By Kenneth Ng

In the first two weeks of the course, we have done our data collection and analysis. In the third week of the course, we will be suggesting some improvements as well as prepare for implementations.

 

Via talking to the store manager Ruthcelyn in the first two weeks, we have an idea on how the store is operating and the problems it faces. As Ruthcelyn is only the manager and operator of the store, she doesn’t have the authority to make big changes like the changing suppliers or the prices of the products, we will provide easy to execute and superficial solutions.

 

The store’s goal is to sustain and generate a revenue. When we asked if there is a big store migrating into the market, what would she do. She said she don’t know. Therefore, we think that we should let her understand her store more so that she could devise a plan if there is an economic shock or a large competitor coming in. Our first suggestion for her is to have an accounting system.

 

By implementing and running the accounting system, she would be familiar with the daily operations and transactions, expenses, as well as knowing which product generate the most and the least revenue. Hence, it would allow her to direct or suggest plans to reform the products, allowing the store to generate more revenue by increasing competitiveness, and even open up an opportunity for expansion.

 

The market is highly saturated. Despite the high flow of people in the market, yet there are too many stores selling the same types of commodity and products. The whole second floor of the market sells wearables and other accessories. And on the first floor, there are a total of 23 stores selling rice grains or feeds for livestock. The products are very similar. The same feed could be sold at 10 separate stores, so the high overlapping of product is a problem in the market.

 

Although the products in our client’s store overlap with a lot of stores, we have some unique products and brands. For example, Greenhills feeds, as well as ABC rice and Pearl rice is unique to the store. As our store is close to the front entrance of the market, advertising could benefit the store if we feature its unique products. By tagging the products with “quality” or “low price”, it could attract customers.

 

Moreover, via tidying up the product arrangements, it could also make the store look more convincing and attractive. The placement of products is now messy, only placing it in accordance to its height. Yet, if we arrange them in accordance with its brand as well as its height, its look would be much nicer. By looking nicer than other stores, it could increase its attractiveness to customers, as the price of the products are the same throughout the market for the feeds, and only a little variation in the price for rice grains.

 

In a long run, after having an accounting system implemented, Ruthcelyn could introduce new commodities into the product list, and see if it is more lucrative or not. The store could be more adaptive to changes in market.

 

Ruthcelyn now keeps receipts after we convinced her that keeping record of her business is a good idea. We just need to provide her with an easy system, so she could make use of the receipts and see trends in sales. I can see that she cares about her business very much. By making use of our education in the university, we could make other’s life easier and happier.

 

(photo)

 

The past three weeks was fun and inspiring. I would say I have a really good roommate and project partner. My host family is the best because they treat me well. The food was nice, and I love the bamboo shack where me and Kumar sleeps at night. Although there were no hot showers, but the whole living environment is still very nice!

 

What I love for these kinds of trips, is the people I meet. I met some really good people in the trip, either from our class or from the local community. I especially want to thank my host family for taking care of me for so long. It must take lots of efforts as our living schedule is so different. I know they delay their sleeping schedule for us, as I heard that other families sleep at nine. But my host family they would sleep at eleven if I was with them.

 

I would say that the children I meet in my host family and from host’s relative’s family, are very intelligent. They learnt so much and think maturely with such limited resources. I recognize what our visits means to them as they could learn more about the world, and have a wider vision. Therefore, I love to share my view with them, and have some good conversations with my family (we even talked about my crush). They are true people. I feel no pressure when I was with them and I think it is the reason. Their personality allows me to open up my feelings and thoughts to them, and as an ambivert, it is something hard.

 

Gosh I would miss my host family so much after I leave Philippine. And the beautiful sceneries as well.

 

Goodbye

In the first two weeks of the course, we have done our data collection and analysis. In the third week of the course, we will be suggesting some improvements as well as prepare for implementations.

 

Via talking to the store manager Ruthcelyn in the first two weeks, we have an idea on how the store is operating and the problems it faces. As Ruthcelyn is only the manager and operator of the store, she doesn’t have the authority to make big changes like the changing suppliers or the prices of the products, we will provide easy to execute and superficial solutions.

 

The store’s goal is to sustain and generate a revenue. When we asked if there is a big store migrating into the market, what would she do. She said she don’t know. Therefore, we think that we should let her understand her store more so that she could devise a plan if there is an economic shock or a large competitor coming in. Our first suggestion for her is to have an accounting system.

 

By implementing and running the accounting system, she would be familiar with the daily operations and transactions, expenses, as well as knowing which product generate the most and the least revenue. Hence, it would allow her to direct or suggest plans to reform the products, allowing the store to generate more revenue by increasing competitiveness, and even open up an opportunity for expansion.

 

The market is highly saturated. Despite the high flow of people in the market, yet there are too many stores selling the same types of commodity and products. The whole second floor of the market sells wearables and other accessories. And on the first floor, there are a total of 23 stores selling rice grains or feeds for livestock. The products are very similar. The same feed could be sold at 10 separate stores, so the high overlapping of product is a problem in the market.

 

Although the products in our client’s store overlap with a lot of stores, we have some unique products and brands. For example, Greenhills feeds, as well as ABC rice and Pearl rice is unique to the store. As our store is close to the front entrance of the market, advertising could benefit the store if we feature its unique products. By tagging the products with “quality” or “low price”, it could attract customers.

 

Moreover, via tidying up the product arrangements, it could also make the store look more convincing and attractive. The placement of products is now messy, only placing it in accordance to its height. Yet, if we arrange them in accordance with its brand as well as its height, its look would be much nicer. By looking nicer than other stores, it could increase its attractiveness to customers, as the price of the products are the same throughout the market for the feeds, and only a little variation in the price for rice grains.

 

In a long run, after having an accounting system implemented, Ruthcelyn could introduce new commodities into the product list, and see if it is more lucrative or not. The store could be more adaptive to changes in market.

 

Ruthcelyn now keeps receipts after we convinced her that keeping record of her business is a good idea. We just need to provide her with an easy system, so she could make use of the receipts and see trends in sales. I can see that she cares about her business very much. By making use of our education in the university, we could make other’s life easier and happier.

 

(photo)

 

The past three weeks was fun and inspiring. I would say I have a really good roommate and project partner. My host family is the best because they treat me well. The food was nice, and I love the bamboo shack where me and Kumar sleeps at night. Although there were no hot showers, but the whole living environment is still very nice!

 

What I love for these kinds of trips, is the people I meet. I met some really good people in the trip, either from our class or from the local community. I especially want to thank my host family for taking care of me for so long. It must take lots of efforts as our living schedule is so different. I know they delay their sleeping schedule for us, as I heard that other families sleep at nine. But my host family they would sleep at eleven if I was with them.

 

I would say that the children I meet in my host family and from host’s relative’s family, are very intelligent. They learnt so much and think maturely with such limited resources. I recognize what our visits means to them as they could learn more about the world, and have a wider vision. Therefore, I love to share my view with them, and have some good conversations with my family (we even talked about my crush). They are true people. I feel no pressure when I was with them and I think it is the reason. Their personality allows me to open up my feelings and thoughts to them, and as an ambivert, it is something hard.

 

Gosh I would miss my host family so much after I leave Philippine. And the beautiful sceneries as well.

 

Develop Together with The Business -Diligence Matters

By Maggie Ke

 

If you have great talents, industry will improve them; if you have but moderate abilities, industry will supply their deficiency.

-Joshua Reynolds

 

Before I came here, I had never thought that I had the ability to set up a website and to draw 3D pictures. Before I came here, I had never tried so hard to learn skills that I was not familiar with. Before I came here, I had never expected that significant individual development would come with the improvement of the business. For me, BUSI 2816 is more than a course about transformative business immersion, the experiences offered by it is a priceless treasure of my personal growth.

 

It is our last week in Jagna, and it is the time to fine-tune, optimize and implement the strategies we proposed. In the past few weeks, we have spared no effort to collect information, investigate and analyze the market, and thus, we came up with the rudiments of recommendation. When we started to implement our plans, we found that we were ambitious in the beginning. Many strategies we intended to do, such as building websites and designing 3D pictures, are new to us. In other words, I needed to learn it and apply it instantly.

 

In my dictionary, there is no ‘give up’. Once I made the determination, I would not recoil in fear. Since I had limited knowledge in JavaScript, I searched for some free online website design tools. In this way, it would be easier for Irish to take over the website, because I could make it by sharing username and password. Besides, the free domain name provided by the design tool helped us to save a large amount of money. In this stage, it is important for JPI Tinsmith Centre to accumulate capital to generate flexible cash flows, hence, it would be better to spend less without impacting on the efficiency.

 

In the homepage of the website, many parts are included, such as company overview, contact information and product description. In addition, in the reading 5 Most Important Questions, ‘What does the customer value’ is a foundation stone to formulate a successful plan. According to our market survey, many people value ‘Price’ and ‘Quality’, therefore, the tagline of JPI Tinsmith Centre shown in the homepage is ‘Affordable and High-quality Hardware in Jagna’, which emphasizes these two aspects that customers care about most. Paying attention to what the customer value let them feel that JPI Tinsmith Centre puts their needs first, and when their voice is heard, they are more likely to purchase products due to their satisfaction. Furthermore, the website made by the design tool can adjust its screen size automatically, so it is friendly for both computer and phone users.

shop website

The ‘Shop’ section showing detailed information regarding each product

3D

The 3D picture of JPI Tinsmith Centre

 

When I showed the website to Irish and her father, their smile told me that my effort paid off. As Joshua Reynolds said, ‘if you have but moderate abilities, industry will supply their deficiency’, I did not have talents for website design, but with trial and error, I finally made it. It is not a pretty website, but at least it shows necessary information clearly, and that is what we aim to do.

 

As far as I am concerned, diligence can really make a difference. With the determination to expand promotion channels of JPI Tinsmith Centre, with the memory of my grandparents’ family business in my childhood, with the expectation from the business owner, I felt the responsibility, and I fulfilled my promise. The website is a small improvement for JPI Tinsmith Centre, but it also indicates my personal development, doesn’t it?

Building trust & relationship with Lodi

By: Angeline Hong

Theme: Business Consulting

It’s the third week since Jax and I started consulting Lodi regarding her small snack shop business. Actually we only managed to talk to her for approximately 8 times although we visited the shop almost every day in the first week since we wanted to understand more about the business operations. Initially we thought she is really busy with personal matters, however after speaking to my friend, Hale who visits the shop often, apparently she is shy to speak to us in English. I immediately felt bad since our presence made her uncomfortable. Jax and I figured that we need to build a good relationship with her first before she would trust us with our recommendations. After identifying the issues, we visited her in the second week and with the help of Hale with translation, we managed to convince her to implement our recommendations for the business.

Recommendation 1: Building a Brand

Initially, we wanted to create a banner with an official display name for the shop so that customers can identify the business easily. However, Lodi told us that she needs to register the name with Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) before she can display the name. Hence, we designed the display name for the business and sent the soft copy to Lodi so that she can print it after she registers the name with DTI in the future.

Next, to allow customers, especially first-time-visitors to know every product offered by Lodi, we designed a menu for Lodi. Although Lodi already named every product she offers, we were surprised when Elsa, her employee served fried egg for a customer one day. “Ah, yes, we have fried eggs as well!”, said Lodi, this shows the importance of a menu to prevent loss of sales from customers who does not know the existence of certain products.

IMG_0718.JPG

Menu which was printed and laminated. 

Recommendation 2: Simple Accounting System

As Lodi does not keep records of her business previously, she does not know the profitability of the business. To encourage her to utilize an accounting system, we devised a simple recording system for her. As there is less than 15 snacks offered by Lodi, we decided to use a whiteboard to record the daily revenue. We created boxes for each product on the whiteboard with permanent marker and Lodi just have to mark the respective boxes when a product is sold. At the end of each day, she can transfer these figures into a record book we prepared with the layout shown in the photo below. For expenses, we also created a simple layout for Lodi to record, she will record the daily expenses in the same book. Then, she can calculate the daily profit. We hope that the accounting system is able to facilitate the preparation of snacks and provide insights about the profitability of the business.

IMG_0868.JPG

Whiteboard to record amounts of product sold. 

IMG_0869.JPG

Layout for daily revenue and expenses. 

Recommendation 3: Product Differentiation

In order to create a competitive advantage, we suggested Lodi to increase her product offerings to stand out from its competitors. With only the assistance of one employee, Lodi is pretty occupied with the preparation of snacks. Therefore, we identified snacks that require minimal preparation such as peanuts and cookies. As my host mother has a small peanut business, both the parties have agreed to cooperate and sell peanuts at the shop. On the other hand, since our classmates, Ann and Vish are working with Vicky’s cookies, we purchased cookies from their business. This can increase the revenue for the business without additional time costs.

IMG_0907

Promotion material for new products. 

Implementations

On the day we prepared the menu and materials for the accounting system, we left them in her shop and planned to explain to her the next day since she was not around. When we entered the shop the next day, we saw Elsa, her employee recording on the whiteboard which was already hung on the wall. I immediately expressed my excitement and Lodi said, “We are trying today, we will officially start tomorrow!”. I was happy to see Lodi willing to take the initiative to try even before our explanations. However, she was confused about the accounting system so we explained it to her and she was also enthusiastic to try it.

With the remaining days here, we will keep track of the progress of the implementations and evaluate the effectiveness of our recommendations.

Reflections

When I first learnt about Lodi Snack Shop, I was wondering what can we actually do with a business that only sells less than 15 products. I also pondered upon my ability to utilize knowledge learnt from university in a practical situation. After working with the business for three weeks, I realized that although it is a simple business and our recommendations might not be considered innovative, I believe our plan can bring positive impact to Lodi and her snack shop business. Lodi might be shy to meet us initially, we eventually built a good relationship with her. When she learnt that we will be leaving in a few days, she asked us to come back and visit and we also exchanged contacts to keep in touch. I definitely want to visit again to witness the results of our recommendations!