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The Philippines' 'Father of Franchising' Survived COVID-19. Here's His Vision of Tom

Samie Lim looks at the future of the franchising industry.

With the government gradually easing the regulations to manage the spread of COVID-19, businesses and entrepreneurs are starting to gain hope in recovering from the impact of the pandemic. The franchising industry, in particular, has managed to stay alive and proactive through strong operational networks, management, income streams, and most importantly, knowledge-sharing.

Knowledge-sharing has proven its worth as we all are in need of useful information to help us cope with the adverse effects of the pandemic. The Philippine Franchising Association (PFA) has been regularly conducting the PFA e-Kapihan via Facebook Live and Zoom, featuring various topics and personalities in the food, retail, and service industries.

In one of the most recent PFA e-Kapihan sessions, thousands of participants were able to join as big names such as Robert Trota of Max’s, Jose Magsaysay of Potato Corner, Richard Sanz of Bibingkinitan, along with others, shared words of wisdom as the industry takes the road to recovery.

Samie Lim is considered the father of Philippine franchising

The session was also graced by the well-respected “Father of Franchising in the Philippines,” Samie Lim, who shared his experiences and lessons as a COVID-19 survivor and why he thinks that the next five years will be the golden age of franchising.

“I recently recovered from COVID-19, by God’s grace and mercy,” Lim said. “I was given another chance to live and continue to be of service. It has been a long and difficult 60-day journey, and as I recount my story, I couldn’t help but relate it to franchising and how my experience can be paralleled to the industry’s own roadmap to recovery.”

As he recounted his experiences and realizations, he emphasized that together with strong faith, medical help, and compliance to regulations, the road to recovery of the franchising industry (and everyone for this matter) has to be guided by the three A’s: Assess, Act, and Accelerate.

Assess the situation

“I was feeling relatively okay, [but] because of my coughing, I went to the hospital to get a swab test,” Lim said. “[There] they were able to get critical information about me. That I was 71 years old, I was coughing, have stage 1 hypertension and diabetes, [and] so they subjected me to further testing. Then they found out I had pneumonia so I had to be confined in the hospital. In this scenario, I was able to get an objective assessment by a third party,” Lim said.

In terms of franchising, this is relatable to how getting help from an expert, preferably a Certified Franchise Executive, will be the best maneuver to assess franchise viability, resources, systems, and the program’s capacity to sustain the business amid and after a pandemic.

When Lim’s results came back and it was confirmed that he had COVID-19, he said that what came after was acceptance. He likened this to business owners and entrepreneurs who have to accept the reality of COVID-19 and what it is doing and will do to their businesses.

“You have to accept your company’s financial limitations and its ability to meet all the financial obligations,” he explained.

Act as soon as possible

Once one is aware that he is infected, he should act ASAP. Each hour counts when it comes to managing the symptoms and curbing the complications of the disease. Acting immediately is also applicable in the franchise business.

“You should act ASAP to stop the bleeding, cut necessary operating expenses at this time, consider seriously closing underperforming stores that could not even meet the operating expense,” said Lim. He added that rental negotiations, strict health and sanitation practices, training, digitization, and financial security strategies should be considered to protect the business.

Then, accelerate

Lim said that he was forced to quickly transition to living a healthier lifestyle so that he will recover full and fast. “Now I eat more vegetables, fruits, and seafood. I exercise more,” shared Lim. This is also what the franchising industry should metaphorically do in the real world—accelerate growth and prosper.

Through acceleration, Lim said that he envisions 2021 to 2025 to be the Golden Years of Franchising. Here are the reasons why:

1. We currently have the biggest pool of potential franchisees. These are retirees, enterprise owners, buy-and-sellers, and other people who have the money to invest, the time to manage the business, and the network of potential customers.

2. The success of business is highly dependent on location, which makes rental one of the biggest expenses of a store. Since there will be many vacant spaces, this gives entrepreneurs the perfect opportunity to expand, not only in the Philippines, but worldwide.

3. New market opportunities will emerge, as new communities will be created, and as people migrate to a safer environment and less densely populated areas. These opportunities include the rise of delivery services, ready-to-eat meals, cloud kitchens, products to regain pre-COVID beauty, PPEs, health products and fitness equipment, hobby-related products, homeschooling, hospitality services, mental health and therapy, MSME financing, cleaning services, and crematoriums/columbariums.

Lim ended his message with a powerful note.

“In COVID-19, some businesses will survive, some will not. But let’s keep the faith because there are always opportunities in the midst of adversities. PFA will always be here to serve and help, we will continue to come up with plans and programs that will accelerate recovery and usher in the Golden Age of Franchising in the next five years.”

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