• Rowee Altura

This Guy Left His Job as an Aircraft Engineer in Qatar and Opened a Sugar Panda Franchise in Manila

It’s a leap of faith for budding entrepreneur Percival Sandigan.


The pandemic has hit all of us in different ways. It’s been nearly a year and it’s not an exaggeration to say that people have sacrificed a lot. It has been a really hard year for everyone across the country and the globe. But the cliché is true—we can always find the good when bad things happen.


Leaving a life-long career

Percival Sandigan has been working as an engineer in the aviation industry since 1990. In 1999, he moved to the Middle East to work for big airlines like Emirates, Gulf Air, and Etihad Airways. Before the pandemic hit, he had been working as an Inflight Entertainment Engineer (IFE) of Qatar Airways.


As a family man, Percy worked hard to provide a good life for his wife and children. He made sure that his career decisions are anchored on providing and supporting the entire family. However, when the pandemic hit, everything changed.



“This pandemic threw our life off course,” Sandigan says. “All the plans that we had were either kept on hold or completely disregarded. I had to quit my job then as an IFE Aircraft Maintenance Supervisor for Qatar Airways as the fear of uncertainty with what would happen if I contracted the disease made me realize that life is more important than financial gain.”


Sandigan left Qatar and moved back home to the Philippines to be with his family. But he knew the pandemic was going to be a challenge that he and his family must overcome in order to survive and thrive.


Deciding to go into franchising


Sandigan and his wife thought of going into business in order to have a stable source of income amid the crisis. It was simply impossible to survive and to take care of the family without any income streams.

The couple decided to go into franchising as they believed it would be much more viable than starting their own business from scratch.


But just like any other new entrepreneur, they also had reservations.


“It was very challenging,” Sandigan says. “We had to weigh a lot of variables when we were thinking of franchising. There wasn’t much foot traffic [in our proposed area], a lot of people were having trouble with their finances, and everyone is uncertain how long this crisis will last.”


But he remained hopeful and confident. He believed that in order to make this a successful venture, he needed to make sure that he was doing it right.


Choosing the right franchise

Picking the right franchise brand is not an easy task. Sandigan sahres the crucial steps he had to take before he eventually decided to invest in a franchise business:


1| Do your research

Percy made sure to research various brands in order to know which would be more profitable for his situation. With a clear view of his budget, he looked at various options in the price range, spoke to different brands to get the feel of the industry before finally focusing on Sugar Panda milk tea. He made sure he asked all the questions he had so he had a good picture of the business and the opportunity.


2| Choose a product you will love and would want to pay for

Percy’s choice did not disappoint him. When they tasted the product samples, they were immediately impressed. Not only did they love the taste, but they also realized how it was a bang-for-the-buck product for its affordable prices, generous servings, and authentic quality. He knew right then and there that he and his family made the right choice in going into franchising this concept.


3| Envision your franchise success

Because of Sugar Panda’s reasonable franchise fees, easy setup, competitive franchise packages, and outstanding support from the franchisor, it wasn’t hard for Sandigan to envision the success of the franchise. He says that he wants the franchise “to be remembered as the best in the area with the best ambiance, friendliest staff, and value for money products without sacrificing the quality.”


4| Plan to scale up

Sandigan’s Sugar Panda store will open this year in Pateros. Just like other new franchisees, he is nervous, excited, and hopeful that consumers will accept and love their brand and products. But this will not be the first and last Sugar Panda branch for the bidding entrepreneur. He shares that they have another pending franchise application with the same brand but now with malls as the target location. “Given the opportunity, we will definitely franchise more Sugar Panda outlets,” he says.


Franchising amid the pandemic

Franchising is a tried and tested business has been changing the lives of many Filipinos. And this remains true with Sandigan. He is optimistic that franchising will change his family’s lives for the better. He is also confident that the franchising venture will be a success because the aviation industry has inculcated in him the values of excellent customer service, safety, and adherence to procedure. He believes that these could help him in running his own franchised business.


Moreover, he is also very grateful to have the opportunity to help those in need by providing job opportunities for those who lost their jobs during the pandemic.

“For the uninformed or unfamiliar, franchising may seem unreasonable or a waste of precious capital,” he says. “But when one is already involved [in the industry], the whole picture comes into view and everything falls into place.”


Sandigan also shares his advice for fellow and aspiring franchisees. “Our own worst enemy is ourselves. There will be times that you will have doubts, you will want to compromise or worse, quit. Don’t do it. Sometimes you make the right decisions, but sometimes, you have to make the decisions right.”


U-Franchise Sales & Management is a franchise matching service company that has helped thousands of Filipinos find the right franchise brand. To get a FREE Franchise Matching Consultation, reach U-Franchise via email at franchising@ufranchiseasia.com or call Rowee Altura +63917881 6999. To see the latest franchise brands and FREE franchise webinars, visit www.ufranchiseasia.com.


Sam Christopher Lim is the CEO of Francorp Philippines; Co-author of 12 Strategies for Franchising; President of U-Franchise Sales & Management; and Chairman for ASEAN Integration of the Philippine Franchise Association.


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