Reinventing good old waffles
Euclid Cezar started Famous Belgian Waffles in 2012 and managed to grow his network to 450 stores in less than five years. Cezar shares here his insights on how to start, market and grow a business.
Q: What made you start Famous Belgian Waffles?
A: Back in 2010 to 2012, we saw the increasing popularity of beverage products like milk tea, buko shake, other fruit shakes and coffee-based drinks. But on the other hand, there was no new food category in the market for quite some time. Hence, I thought it was about time to introduce a new snack category in the market.
Q: Why waffles in sandwich-like form?
A: Basically to make it a grab-and-go snack. You don’t need tables and chairs, spoons and forks, and it’s the most convenient way to consume the traditional Belgian waffles.
Q: Other than having the right location, how did you market and promote Famous Belgian Waffles?
A: We opened more than a hundred outlets in our first year. I think our rapid expansion created the initial awareness of the consumers.
Q: What were the challenges in your first year of operations?
A: We had a nice problem in our first year, and that is to accommodate demands from our franchise applicants. My wife and I didn’t expect the success [of] our organization, especially [since] the number of personnel was very limited. Hence, the initial challenge was forming the solid structure of our organization.
Q: Now you have over 400 stores, what challenges do you experience?
A: We are still a growing company and also a work in progress. Hence, they’re more internal organization problems: recruiting the right person for the job; training and development of current officers; and finance-related challenges like [the] development of a competent audit and monitoring system.
Q: You have grown up fast and now into other concepts like Mares Mami. How does that provide synergy with your existing business?
A: The synergy of Mares with Famous Belgian Waffles, plus our new concept—Gyro V—is the efficient use of company resources. Also each brand (Famous Belgian Waffles, Mares 24 Oras and Gyro V) has its own target market and I don’t consider each product [as] an alternative to another. If consumers inside malls, offices, hospitals and schools want grab-and-go snacks, we have Famous Belgian Waffles products for them. If they need lunch or dinner meals, we have Gyro V. If they are in common areas like transport stations, we have snacks and meals from Mares 24 Oras like beef mami.
Q: How do you thin-slice the feasibility of a new business opportunity?
A: As an entrepreneur, my opportunity-seeking practice and principle is always anchored on solving the problems of the underserved and unserved markets.
I think it is easier to provide products that already have automatic demand from these markets. —CONTRIBUTED
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.