Metro Foodcart Business Corp. Food cart company offers familiar delights of street delicacies without worries.
As a young professional in the 1990s, Eric Cabrales found it easy to secure jobs, but he didn’t have much luck in keeping them.
After six stints at different companies—the longest stint at 11 months, and the shortest, just two—he knew he was at a turning point. In spite of the career setbacks, Cabrales firmly avoided wallowing in disappointment. He says: “I’m a problem solver. I don’t entertain negative vibes.”
The La Union native reviewed his options and decided he wanted to put up his own business. He then had to zero in on a concept he could develop. As a student in Baguio City’s St. Louis University, Cabrales became a fan of street food. [See three questions for aspiring retailers here]
However, he also noticed that while these edibles were widely available, a lot of people refused to eat them for fear of getting sick. Then it occurred to him: what if he offered the same kind of food—quick, satisfying, affordable—in a clean and hygienic manner? He also thought: instead of setting up shop in the streets, how about operating a movable kiosk in shopping malls and commercial centers?
Not having enough funds to start on his own, Cabrales sought ways to finance his venture, until he found someone who liked his concept enough to buy it. Using P20,000 of what he earned from that transaction, Cabrales put up a food cart at the Robinsons Starmills Pampanga in San Fernando, Pampanga, selling fish balls and squid balls, as well as coated eggs (in the vernacular, kwek-kwek).
Slowly but surely, his business gained ground in the area, and people began asking how they could get a franchise. By 2001, he had 15 franchisees in Pampanga. With his business firmly established in the province, Cabrales trained his sights on Manila. [See guide to a successful food business here]
After a few months, Cabrales put up a food cart at Save-a-Lot, a Makati City shopping center that has since closed down. Called Tokneneng (after the colloquial word for a boiled chicken egg dipped in batter and fried), the kiosk offered the same fare as his Pampanga food outlets.
His work team consisted of himself and his business partner, Alma Canlas, plus two service crew members. Eventually, the fledgling enterprise’s earnings steadily rose, and potential franchisees had to come to Cabrales’ outlets to make inquiries. “I didn’t have an office then… my only capital was trust,” he says.
By 2006, Cabrales struck out on his own and took control of his venture, calling it Metro Foodcart Business Corp. (MFB). The company has developed various kinds of kiosks that serve food ranging from noodles (MFB Hong Kong Style Fried Noodles), corn (Mang Juan Mais’san), hotdogs (Mighty Joes Footlong), ice cream (Mighty Soft Ice Cream) and fried squid (Push-It Calamares). [See five pitfalls to avoid in starting a food business here]
Such fare may not be considered strictly “street food,” but they all cater to the “Pinoy taste,” as Cabrales puts it. The company also expanded operations as its selection of food carts grew. MFB is now staffed by 50 workers and has about 300 carts based in different parts of the country. In addition, it runs a commissary, located in Bagong Ilog, Pasig, that prepares the food sold by the kiosks, and a fabricating unit at in Pasig’s Rotonda district that assembles the carts.
Cabrales, now 31 years old, is aware that competition among food cart businesses has heated up, yet he is confident that Metro Foodcart would remain relevant. The company’s edge, he points out, lies in its after-sales support to franchisees.
He says its nine years of experience has allowed it to develop “proven systems” to address complaints, especially problems related to equipment malfunction or supply deliveries. “We don’t just sell a food cart, we’re selling quality service,” he says. [See 28 unique cart businesses here]
Cabrales keeps a watchful eye over product quality by personally supervising his research and development team and by actively seeking suggestions from franchisees. MFB is working on several possible additions to its lineup, including a cart designed to be a make-your-own lugaw (congee) station.
These plans are aimed at attracting more of Metro Foodcart’s target market: overseas Filipino workers and retirees. Cabrales explains that a franchise would allow family members based in the Philippines to avoid the pitfalls of depending on padala or money sent home by loved ones toiling abroad. Retirees, meanwhile, can be their own bosses after years of working for others.
Cabrales hopes that more Filipinos will answer the call of entrepreneurship. In a country where poverty is rampant, he says, going into business for oneself is not only the ticket to a better life. It also paves the way for others to do the same. [See food cart business basics here]
METROFOODCARTBUSINESSCORP. www.metrofoodcart.com Unit 602, 6FAIC Burgundy Tower ADB Ave., Ortigas Center, Pasig City (02) 901–170
Original Source : http://www.entrepreneur.com.ph/franchise/article/metro-foodcart-business-corp