Service marketing explained
Carl Balita Review Center (CBRC) swept 10 awards in the 2019 Franchise Excellence Awards given by the Philippine Franchise Association. This includes two Hall of Fame Awards as most outstanding Filipino franchise and best in marketing. It is also an ISO 9001 2015 QMS certified company, the first and only in the industry. It is also awarded a Superbrand seal. In this interview with its founder, Dr. Carl Balita, he walks us through his journey from spotting the white space in board licensure exams to turning CBRC to what it is today—the biggest and most awarded review center in the Philippines.
Q: How were you able to identify the opportunity in academic review?
A: The low passing rates in almost all licensure examinations given by the Professional Regulation Commission is the confirmation that there is a need for academic reviews. But the market was tight when we entered the business. There were many enterprising professionals who were positioned in the market at that time. It is an unregulated business so the barrier to entry is very low. There were many players. That was a confirmation that indeed there is an opportunity. We had to make a difference to make sure we get the attention of the aspiring professionals, and challenge the players in the market space. I was a faculty of a university and became a dean and confirmed that academic review complements the college education, especially in a highly technical profession like nursing.
Q: You have many review courses. Which one did you start with, which followed, and which is the most popular?
A: We started with nursing because I am a nurse and a midwife by profession, and I was a nursing professor, dean and reviewer as well. I knew that there was going to be a decline in nursing and so I pursued my licensure as a teacher and finished my Doctor of Education degree on top of my Master of Arts in Nursing degree and a conferred Doctor of Humanities. These academic and professional preparations happened while the competitors were too busy in the red ocean of nursing reviews. The review for teachers started small as that particular segment is not used to attending review classes, but eventually realized they had to. Other programs followed like criminology, social work, midwifery, civil service, agriculture, and more to come. CBRC became very popular in nursing and teachers reviews.
Q: How long did it take you to recover your investment? What did you do to mitigate the risk of your then new business?
A: CBRC started as shared table space with two staff. There was nothing to recover as investment was very small. There was something to maintain though—the salary for faculty—which I had to work for elsewhere to be able to pay. This was because we only had 12 students in the first batch. That was the advantage of starting small. You will not be afraid to risk and fail. But essentially, the small nature of the start-up enabled me and my emerging team to master the quality of service which became the CBRC differentiation at that time.
Q: Can you share your most effective trial review strategy? Why do you think it worked?
A: The trial review is most effective as fillers to classes that may still have seats. It does not add up to costs but may serve as the most powerful means to convert reluctant reviewees to enroll and be willing to pay. This strategy has migrated to social media where we broadcast real teaching and learning virtually through our pioneering online review programs. It gives the prospect a glimpse of how we deliver the content and a peek into our teaching strategies. The trial review bridged the reluctance and provided for an experience that confirms the CBRC brand promise. It enables CBRC to incite a relationship anchored on trust and value that enticed them to eventually enroll and be ambassadors of the brand.
Q: How do you choose your franchisees? What do you look for and where do you find them?
A: The CBRC Franchise model is unique and is not the usual franchisor-franchisee relationship. Franchisees are oriented that the franchise is a privilege and is not a right. There is clarity that the brand is given the highest regard and that there is centralized management and standards especially in the areas of academics and services. Standards are written and documented. Compliance is a mandate and not a management prerogative. Performance measures are clear and enforced. —CONTRIBUTED
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