Stories of hope: How 2 small local businesses reaped big victories
Valerie De Guzman, 33, was only starting to get comfortable in her role as a project manager for one of the leading Market Research agencies in the country when the pandemic hit and she was eventually given the pink slip.
Meanwhile, Layra Santos, 27, forewent corporate employment in favor of putting up her own small boutique selling everyday knick-knacks. Still, the pandemic caused her sales to take a worrying hit; she knew that this drop in sales would hit her daily income hard.
De Guzman and Santos are just two of many workers and entrepreneurs severely affected by the pandemic. But like many who were suddenly bereft of a regular, stable income, the need to provide for themselves and their families served as fuel for the fire to pivot and take on new strategies to doing business.
Baguio products delivered overnight
Based back in her hometown of Baguio, De Guzman decided to put up Valerides – a play on her name relating to her new service of running bicycle errands.
She provides Baguio products to her Manila-based patrons: they place their orders online, she fulfills the orders and delivers them by bulk (and by bike) to the logistics terminal where they arrive in Manila early the next day.
“My friends from Manila wanted coffee, strawberries, and other Baguio products so I did errands for them. This inspired me to set up a business offering items from Baguio which my customers in Manila can immediately get the following day,” shares De Guzman on her inspiration for her small business.
For this, she taps the services of Victory Liner’s Drop and Go to dispatch the goods on time and in good condition.
She said, “I’ve been a fan of Drop & Go Kinabukasan since they started. I love their services since my clients usually order perishables and they arrive the following day. The clients can pick up their orders as early as 6AM.”
Though De Guzman credits the success of her new business to putting up a digital presence, she also admits that logistics played a major role in reaching out to the majority of her customers.
She is all praises for Victory Liner’s logistics services and her partnership with them. “The buses always arrive on time, if not earlier. Those are big points for clients because when they are satisfied, there will be repeat transactions,” she said.
She added, “Their staff and porters are also approachable, and they will help you with your package. Most importantly, their rates are affordable and they have a wide reach!”
Drop & Go Kinabukasan operates within Victory Liner’s own bus network, so clients really need only find the terminal nearest them to claim their goods like a classic padala.
Thanks to the warm reception of her initial offering, Valerides has since expanded its services to moving vegetables and accomplishing various errands to further help not just her friends in Manila but the people in her town as well. “I partnered with local farmers and small entrepreneurs to deliver fresh produce and other items for them,” De Guzman explained of the expansion.
Although some days are tough – with the physical deliveries day in and day out taking their toll – the thought of giving up never crossed her mind. Just knowing that many small businesses rely on her affordable errand services is enough for her to endure the challenges of lugging heavy parcels.
De Guzman revealed that she is planning to soon launch a mobile app for Valerides, for easier access to Baguio goods and booking for her services.
Unique boutique items delivered overnight
For online boutique owner Layra Santos, the pandemic showed her the importance of thinking on her feet, pivoting fast, and catering to a niche market in need – the formula to her success amid the challenges.
“My competitors and some of my co-sellers were not able to sell that time because most suppliers and couriers stopped operating,” she narrates, “But I thankfully managed.”
With quick wit, hard work, and a bit of luck on her side, she decided for the time being to move away from boutique items and knicknacks to instead focus on selling necessities such as masks and hand sanitizers/isopropyl alcohol. She was also able to locate suppliers that still operated despite the lockdowns to provide these items.
Her real breakthrough came by summertime, after the height of the pandemic. Some people were looking to mitigate the woes of essentially losing their summer to the lockdown, so with a demand for home pools at an all-time high, Santos made a killing by offering inflatable pools.
Santos consigns her goods to Metro Manila customers via courier and transportation network vehicle services (TNVS). For her provincial clients, she relies on Victory Liner’s Drop and Go to deliver her items as fast as the following day.
“I love that customers in the provinces don’t have to wait long for their parcels to arrive. I don’t even have to track and talk to the staff anymore because they always text that the goods have reached their destination on time,” she shared.
The pandemic-induced boom of online businesses benefited small-time entrepreneurs like Santos. But just like other start-up sellers that are now thriving, Santos endured some difficulties at the beginning before she could feel like she ‘made it’ again.
“It was hard at first but consistency is always the key,” she said.
That is, by continually providing affordable products that meet a niche need, then backing it up with excellent customer service.
“And having reliable business partners like Drop and Go,” she added.
Your parcels delivered overnight
Established in 2018, Drop and Go Kinabukasan is the fastest and most economical way to safely transport parcels across North Luzon. With Victory Liner’s extensive network of terminals and being one of the largest provincial bus companies operating in the Philippines, businesses can expect their goods to arrive at their destinations as quickly as overnight. Its service routes include the provinces of Central Luzon (Zambales, Pampanga, Bulacan) and Northern Luzon (Benguet, Pangasinan, Bataan, Nueva Vizcaya, Kalinga, Isabela and Cagayan.)
By providing affordable shipping services with a fast turnaround time, Victory Liner supports local micro and small businesses in efficiently fulfilling their customers’ needs.
“We’ve seen an unprecedented uptick in micro and small businesses that have beaten the odds,” observed by Marivic Del Pilar, President and General Manager of Victory Liner, Inc. (VLI).
“It wasn’t easy though. It was certainly tough but here they are, thriving and creating opportunities even during a health crisis,” Marivic Del Pilar added. “We consider ourselves at Victory Liner lucky to be able to witness their successes, and that we have a part in it somehow.”
For more information on what terminals are currently open for cargo services, and to know more about Drop & Go, visit https://dropandgo.ph/Coverage or Victory Liner’s official Facebook and Instagram accounts.
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.