Growing Philippine cafe franchise with Steve D. Benitez

Philippines is a land that is rich in culture and artistry. The coffee and service that Bo’s Coffee offer are a testament to their deep love of their country. Established by Steve Benitez on June 28, 1996, they have reinvented their platform for startup businesses and social enterprises to put the global limelight on Philippine Coffee and Filipino tradition.

1. How did you enter the franchise business?

Bo’s Coffee was progressing one branch at a time. Starting from a Kiosk, we had the opportunity to open stand alone stores. This became a good avenue for us to showcase our brand and what we stand for at that time – making Philippine Coffee accessible to many Filipinos through this homegrown brand. Several patrons wanted to join in that vision and that’s when we ultimately decided to open up for franchising.

In 2000, we got inquiries about franchising our business concept. We engaged a consultant to help us with our franchise program so that we can entertain interested parties. We then grew the coffee concept both by expanding our company-owned network and through franchises.

2. Where and how did the idea of your concept come from?

Coffee and entrepreneurship were things I was very interested in and so I did what I do best – research and experience it where they do it best. So the idea came from one of my trips abroad. One of my highlights when I traveled was my experience in coffee shops. I felt I could feel the culture of the locality in a coffee shop. So when I was at a cafe, I realized I wanted to bring this experience back home. And so I did.

3. What inspired the brand name?

The name was inspired by an expert coffee roaster I met in one of the coffee expos I attended. He was so passionate with his coffee and all of its intricacies. He spoke of it from his heart, and he wanted to share his love of coffee to me. He generally gave me the idea of opening up a mainstream coffee shop in the Philippines. At that point, I committed to pursuing my dream of putting up a coffee shop.

4. What is the story behind the brand’s logo?

I wanted the logo to represent a complete coffee experience; the aroma, the freshness  and the quality of the beans, etc. I also wanted a logo that is visually easy to identify as a brand through its color and shape.

5. What makes your brand different from your competitors?

Bo’s Coffee is homegrown in the Philippines and so it has become the platform that showcases Philippine Coffee, talent and artistry. We create an avenue for start up entrepreneurs and communities to share their talents and ideas. We take so much pride in our roots and we aim to make every customer elevate their sense and pride of being Filipinos one cup at a time.

6. What are the essential qualities that you look for in a franchisee?

We look for franchisees who are passionate in making our partnership successful. One who understands the coffee lifestyle, appreciates great quality coffee, keen on attention to detail and is service oriented. The franchisee must not only be financially capable, but must practice hands-on management as well.

7. How long does it take, on average, for your franchisee to realize their investment?

Ideally, it takes about 3-4 years.

8. What was the major challenge you faced in your career and how did you overcome it?

One of the major challenges in the service industry is finding the right people who share the same vision and passion of the company. Through difficult times, like the pandemic, the people who were aligned with our vision and goals were the ones who made the biggest impact in keeping the business, not only to survive, but even thrive.

8.1 What is your best achievement?

This could also be our biggest achievement too. We were able to grow despite all the challenges the pandemic brought. In fact, we expanded beyond our shores by sealing a country partnership for the UAE.

9. How does your business day start?

My day starts with my daily morning routine. The objective is to win the morning. And it starts with my daily prayers and reflections, to keep my mind in the right place and my spirit high. The next is to focus on the health of the body by exercising. This followed with my morning breakfast with my wife where we continue to build and strengthen our relationship through interesting conversations and sharing of reflections. All my daily business huddles with my team are done and finished before lunch.

10. What was your best moment throughout your franchise career?

The best moment in our franchise history cannot be pointed to one event. We always get the same high every time we open a new franchise store, and it becomes a success. We are happy to make our franchisees happy. We consider our franchisees partners in growth.

11. Where do you see your brand in the next 5 years?

I see Bo’s Coffee becoming a global Filipino coffee company present in at least 10 countries globally in 5 years. I also see it expanding its store network in the Philippines and solidly cementing its place as the biggest homegrown coffee chain.

12. Any tips you want to impart to our readers who want to be in the franchise industry?

For businesses who want to franchise, there are three key points I want to share: get a good consultant who can help in establishing your franchise program, build the right team to execute the expansion of the franchise, strengthen your back end support to franchisees.

For franchisees, find the right franchise for you. There are risks in franchising, so be sure you are aware of the risks, and commit to make the franchise work. This is a partnership between the franchisee and the franchisor. Both have roles to play.

To get to know who are the industry key players, visit our Interview of the Week page.

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To learn more, visit our Franchising Tips section.

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