by Anton Padua, Negosentro.com |
As I was dreading on what to write after the encouraging feedback on my very first attempt on writing, (thank you guys for the 3,030 views on my write up, “To Go or Not To Go) Edna, my loving wife of 21 years, asked me to bring her out to a date. As you know since we had kids, we seldom go out on dates because of our busy schedule and of course, when we go out for dinner, our two boys are always with us or if we go out without the boys, we are actually out for errands for the shop, Bake & Brew. She asked me if we can watch the movie, You’re My Boss, a local movie starring Coco Martin and Toni Gonzaga. It was a story of a lady marketing executive played by Toni (I forgot her name in the movie, hehehe!) who had to switch roles with her assistant, Pong, played by Coco, when a Japanese client, whom they want to secure a business deal with, refused to talk to Toni who was sent by her boss to discuss the business deal proposal.
As Pong struggled to act as the boss, a lot of lessons ensued that we can apply in our day to day grind as a businessman.
Honesty in Business
The major dialogue that hit me the most in the movie was when Pong told his client, “an honest businessman is a good businessman.” I always believed in the saying, “Honesty is the Best Policy!”. As a businessman, we always have to know what we can do and what we cannot offer to our clients. We have to be transparent to them. We gain respect from our clients if we are sincere in dealing with them by telling them our competence and at the same time, informing them of things that we are not capable of doing. Never ever create false expectations from clients by overcommitting things that we have not done in the past.
During the first year of operations of Bake and Brew, we have been receiving inquiries on wedding cakes and personalized full fondant cakes. While they may sound lucrative, we politely declined orders because Edna was still not comfortable doing them. Since we realized it can potentially be a niche market for us, Edna enrolled in her reliable school, “you tube” and learned the ropes of doing fondant cakes and two or more tier (layered cakes) cakes. She was active on facebook groups of fondant cake makers and from there, she learned a lot on how to do fondant cakes. Given her intuition and sense of good taste and passion for baking, she tried doing fondant cakes. A daughter of a nephew was about to celebrate her birthday and so we offered to do her birthday cake for free! That was the start of something good for Bake and Brew! Since then, we have been doing a lot of personalized cakes! As mentioned in my previous write up, right now, if someone asks as to who supplies one of the best personalized cakes in the neighbourhood, chances are, two or more neighbours would recommend Bake and Brew! So far we have done cakes for engagements, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, etc. You name it, we can do it!
This is the first ever fondant cake made by Edna which was given as a birthday gift to the daughter of our nephew.
These are the wedding cakes we have done so far…from single tier to three tier cakes including cakes with fresh flowers as toppers!
On top of being honest, sincere and transparent to our customers, we also have to be honest in the day to day grind of our business. Edna is not fond of availing low cost substitutes so she always use ingredients that she thinks provide the desired quality of cakes and pastries. For me, it is honesty and at the same time, knowing what you think you cannot compromise in your business. We have wanted to provide our customers the best quality of homemade products so this is something not negotiable for us.
Edna and I also agreed that we shall provide our staff a pay that complies to labour laws so while some establishments may not pay their staff of the required minimum wages to cut on costs, we are honest in making sure we pay our staff of at least, the minimum pay as mandated by law. Being honest in complying to labour laws and taxation, while may come out costly for the business is something that is non-negotiable for us. What is the point of having savings in cost when you are not honest in the way you do business? Honesty has a reward and God will bless you for being honest. While salaries and wages comprise a big chunk of our cost at Bake & Brew, we manage to pay our staff of the wages they deserve and God has blessed us with always good sales to compensate for these expenses. Our staff are happy and we are happy too!
Competence in Business
In the movie, You’re My Boss, Pong, the assistant was forced to learn to speak in English. He was also forced to play golf (Japanese clients are fond of playing golf) so he can relate well with the Japanese clients. While it was difficult for him to speak in English and play golf, he tried his very best to learn these things. It was difficult but it was needed.
In my previous article, I have mentioned the need for us to learn and harness our skills so we can be competent in order to sustain our business. If we want to have a successful and sustainable business, we really have no choice but to learn and learn and learn. Even if we are already competent on things, we have to continue to learn new things.
Being in the corporate world and have been exposed to the ins and out of marketing, I have seen leading brands fail to sustain good sales because brand owners fail to accept that the brand while already has the equity, refuse to understand that its market also changes and that the brand needs to be also relevant to the change of times. So let us continue to learn even if we are already competent because in learning, we develop maturity and we are able to adapt to the change in environment.
At Bake and Brew, we always make sure we listen to the comments and suggestions of our clients. Even if we generally have encouraging feedback from customers, we are aware that there are still a lot for improvements in the way we do things so we are open to suggestions raised.
Humility in Business
The other line that struck me the most was when Pong told his client, “a good businessman learn from his mistake”.
Pong who was always sincere and honest, was able to influence Toni, the supposed boss, to also become honest and humble at the end. The Japanese client was almost convinced to award the deal to Pong because of the heart and sincerity that the business proposal showed until Toni revealed to the Japanese client that Pong was not the real boss. The Japanese client got frustrated and cancelled the deal right there and then. Few days later, the Japanese client came back awarding the business deal to Toni and Pong because of their honesty to tell the truth, the humility to accept the mistakes they have committed and their braveness to accept the consequence of the mistake they have committed. This was the climax of the movie that provided lessons in life and to our business.
At Bake & Brew, we also had our share of shortcomings. Our cinnamon roll was also a hit at the shop. One time, because of our eagerness to immediately replenish stocks, we hurriedly delivered a batch of freshly baked cinnamon rolls to the shop. Moments later after delivery, a customer bought 5 pieces of it and then gave us feedback that it seemed different from the previous cinnamon rolls we made. We found out that we forgot to put cream cheese toppings on them! We immediately told our customers that we forgot to put the final fillings on top, apologized and ask if we can just deliver new cinnamon rolls to their house to replace the rolls bought. Our customers felt our sincerity of admitting our mistake and so they appreciated our effort of making up for the shortcomings we have done to our customer.
It maybe shameful for some to admit mistakes and it takes a lot of humility to accept the shortcomings we make no matter how small they are. Our sincerity to accept these mistakes create some respect from our customers so we should always be humble in dealing with our customers.
So what are the traits of a good businessman? Plain and simple, be honest, be competent and be humble and you will go places in business!
May the force be always with us!
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Anton Padua is a Manila-based entrepreneur who manages a successful community coffee shop south of the metro named Bake and Brew. His day job as Supply Chain Manager for a diversified conglomerate helps him get more on-ground entrepreneurial insights from SMEs.
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You can also email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.