On Leading the Chinese Fastfood Industry (Chowking’s Success Story)

Released in September 2003 issue of eNegosyo Newspaper, this is one of my favorite stories because of Mr. Raffy dels Rosa’s light and happy disposition in life – the attitude that brought Chowking’s success eversince it was acquired by Jollibee Foods Corporation.
I admire how he made analogies to explain his ideas in concise and simple language.  Sharing with you another inspiring business success story of now leading Chinese fastfood in our country, written during my early years as a writer of a business newspaper …
Photo of the actual write-up

Photo of the actual write-up

Founded in 1985, Chowking originated from its basic idea of making an Oriental quick-service restaurant more accessible to Filipinos.  From its first store in Makati, were it started offering dimsum and noodles, Chowking has gone a long way and surpassed a lot of challenges to top the Oriental quick-service restaurant player in the industry. 

When Jollibee Group finally decided to acquire Chowking in year 2000, it began to expand rapidly, serving more Filipinos with hot and delicious Chinese foods.  “Steaming hot delicious foods in five minutes, not exceeding ten minutes, with a smile from us,” Mr. Raffy dela Rosa, President and  CEO of Chowking Food Corporation, describes as he looks back how Chowking started and adopted its first slogan.

From 155 stores in year 2000and sales of Php 1.9B, Chowking already has 230 stores, both company-owned and franchised.  Chowking also expects to break the Php 5B mark this year.  Its rapid growth and expansion helped them reach the 3rd place in the rank of top quick-service restaurants in the country.  And having been awarded as the Most Outstanding Filipino Food Franchise of the Year by the Philippine  Franchise Association for two consecutive years, 2001-2002, Chowking, indeed signifies how hardwork, determination, perseverance, and excellent customer service work well to every striving entrepreneur.

The Secret of Chowking’s Aggressive Image

Mr. dela Rosa, former Jollibee’s Vice President for Finance, knew that it would be hard for him to turn around Chowking.

Holding on to his faith and determination in leading Chowking toward success, Mr. dela Rosa, together with his management team, gave a closer look on the most essential needs of their customers.  They’ve squeezed all their creative juices to develop the new image of Chowking to a more lively, more aggressive and customer-oriented Chinese fastfood.  Chowking’s new image is also marked with the extensive utilization of graphical-picture menu board – the 1st in the Philippine quick-service restaurant industry.

The existing products were improved and new products were introduced to the market later on to suit the varying needs of their customers.  And to maintain consistency and uniformity on all Chowking stores, a training school for Chowking’s new and old chefs and kitchen crew was established.  The central kitchen or “commissary”, where pre-cooked, pre-chopped and marinated products are prepared, was expanded to accommodate the demand, which in the first two years under Mr. dela Rosa, grew by leaps and bounds. 

In relation to Chowking’s mission of continuous and rapid expansion, Chowking became one of the most-wanted franchise in the country.  With this, more Filipinos are given the opportunity to have their own business while experiencing the delicious foods and the delightful service Chowking offers.

Mr. dela Rosa also declared their plan of establishing Chowking stores in Asian countries.  The very high acceptance of Chinese foods in Asian countries becomes Chowking’s natural competitive advantage, making them more optimistic in bringing the brand to other markets from the US mainland and the Middle East.

After more than three years of managing the business, Mr. dela Rosa claimed, “The restaurant business is a gold mine for entrepreneurs.  Just focus on three things:  delicious foods, impeccable service, and clean, relaxing ambience.”


A Closer Look to Chowking’s CEO

Being a Finance Director for quite a long time, he thought managing Chowking would not be that easy.  But, being trained and exposed in Jollibee’s financial and corporate setting, he easily had a good grasp on Chowking’s operations.  His learning lessons from experience were efficiently used and those that are not effective enough were discarded, “After few months, I’ve learned the ropes and it’s just so simple.  You just have to make the customers happy.  I’m a president or a CEO, but I don’t feel like one.  I feel like I’m a person who really enjoys the food of Chowking,”  Mr. del Rosa proudly declared as he looks back how he started a Chowking’s CEO.

 A very simple and jolly kinds of person, he has a very optimistic outlook in life.  Having a happy disposition in life and putting attention to important details are some of Mr. dela Rosa’s natural assets as a CEO.  He simply believes that his happy mindset as Chowking’s head will be absorbed by his management team and crew, and will reflect to happy and contented customers.  Giving personal care to their customers has been his primary objective that’s why he always tells his staff, “A customer might be a laborer.  But still, he is the master.”


A Piece of Advice and A Bite of Success

Establishing a business and managing one might be a hard, complicated task.  But with Chowking’s long journey to success where a simple management approach and careful attention to the customers’ needs works best, it is, indeed, rewarding to always give a close look to details and prioritize customers.

“Maski wala kang MBA o hindi ka finance person, simple lang ang isipin mo – ikaw yung natitinda ng siopao sa Avenida.  Dapat mayroon kang maiinit at masarap na siopao, nakangiti sa customers, optimistic ka na mabebenta mo lahat ng siopao, at malinis yung lagayan mo ng siopao.  Ganoon lang ka-simple.  Your survival depends on happy customers.  It’ s nice to be an MBA or a CPA.  But at the end of the day, it still goes down to you as a person.  You should always have a happy mindset.  Otherwise, forget it,”  Mr. dela Rosa advises to aspiring entrepreneurs.


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