Apart from participating in the fun run, the company is sponsoring the run’s 5K Adventure Challenge. This year’s run promises to be a fun and star studded event with several celebrities participating. Among the celebrities participating is Aquabest endorser Gabby Concepcion. Participants would get to choose from 3K, 5K, and Vertical 10K runs. The company will be giving away free water and freebies to participants of the run.
BY BEN ARNOLD O. DE VERA REPORTER, The Manila Times
Saturday, January 15 2011
An increasing awareness of the need for safe water is driving up sales of water retailers, an executive of a leading water-franchise company said.During an exclusive roundtable with reporters and editors of The Manila Times on Friday, Carson Tan, the president and chief executive officer of Global Quality Waters and Environmental Solutions Technologies Inc. (GQWEST), noted that the water business in the country is growing as evidenced by the sprouting of a number of water-refilling stations nationwide.
At present, there are 20,000 water-refilling stations all over the Philippines, Tan said.
“You can’t go wrong with water, it’s a basic necessity,” he added.
Lack of access to clean water, however, remains a problem, Tan said.
“In a tropical country like ours, water is plentiful . . . [But] according to a study, 58 percent of our water are contaminated,” according to Tan, also the president of the Water Quality Association of the Philippines Inc.
He said that it is a welcome development that more and more Filipinos are becoming aware of the benefits of drinking and using safe, clean water.
“Right now, Filipinos have a high awareness of safe drinking water because they don’t want to get sick,” Tan pointed out.
But, he said, awareness does not necessarily translate to affordability of clean water, hence, GQWEST is serving the middle- and lower-class populations.
Its flagship brand Aquabest serves customers from the B and C classes, Aquaquest is for the C and D markets and Aquaspree, for those from the D and E classes.
“Our biggest market is the ‘masa,’ [masses] but they can only afford [to buy] so much,” Tan said.
According to him, the company exclusively uses an expensive reverse osmosis technology called “grander technology” to make sure that its purified water products have the best quality.
Water molecules are compressed by equipment using grander technology imported from Austria, resulting in water that is better absorbed by the body, Tan said.
“We at Aquabest aim for higher customer satisfaction, that’s why we’re adding value, something more in water to benefit the health of our customers. We invest in research and development and technology to improve our products,” he added.
Tan sees a further growing water market in the country because of rising consumption and a sizable rural population yet to be reached by water retailers.
“There are many unserved markets, about 12 million Filipinos in rural areas still don’t have access to clean water, so their water sources are still very crude, like deep wells,” he said.
Besides supplying households, GQWEST is slowly entering the bottled-water market, as Aquabest in
350-milliliter and 500-ml containers are now being sold in some convenience stores and restaurants, Tan added.
This year marks GQWEST’s 15th anniversary, and a series of events have been lined up to celebrate this milestone.
In May, the company will sponsor a 15-kilometer race, the proceeds of which will go to the Haribon Foundation.
In time for the start of classes in June, Aquabest products will be given away to school children who also would be provided school bags through the Department of Education’s “Balik-Eskwela Caravan.”
In June, GQWEST’s partners and clients will be treated to an appreciation party.
Also, as part of the company’s corporate social responsibility, it will turn over a fund for the benefit of children with hydrocephalus.
Monday, 15 January 2007
A problem can sometimes be transformed into an opportunity. For Aquabest, the problem of getting safe drinking water from the faucet turned out to be an opportunity to handle the business of providing the best source of water.
We saw the problem of water, that people cannot depend on it for drinking. We saw the need for people to have access on the present technology of producing healthy pure water, Aquabest Chief Executive Officer Carson Tan told Magnegosyo.com.
For close to a decade now, Aquabest has been providing clear solution to the problem of drinking water.
June 1997 witnessed the humble beginnings of Aquabest in Quezon City with starting capital of around Php1million.
And just as water flows from Aquabest, profit also began to make its own course. Water station sales was brisk and good, Carson said.
However, some road blocks happened along the way like theft and unomitored issuance and hot wand cold water dispensers that lead to loss of income.
The drive for excellence continues to flow for Aquabest. The company takes great pride in being one of the first companies to offer franchises of water refilling stations to expand the network of best sources of clean and safe drinking water on its second year in business.
It was the customers who nagged us to open a franchising company. Surprised with the numerous requests, we used the franchise fees to operate the franchising company with the first 17 franchisees forming the preferred stockholders, with us controlling the majority shares, Carson said.
He added that Aquabest franchise needs initial investment of P500,000 to P1 million, depending on the set-up.
The franchise application process includes attending the water seminar and business presentation; testing the water; submission of application form and payment of P20,000 reservation fee. It further includes site inspection, outlet construction, machine installation, and business training.
In Aquabest’s franchise network, asssistance in technical service, marketing and advertising continues to flow.
But more than just opening the doors for business opportunities, Aquabest believes that the company reaches out to the public by providing the best source of safe drinking water through the available technology.
Understanding that many Filipinos dreams of becoming an entrepreneur to secure his financial aspirations, our mission is to provide each filipino the opportunity to own, operate a viable business and make a substantial income from a well proven franchised system. With this in mind, we have to satisfy our principles of achieving what we believe are the 7 P’s of Franchise Marketing which are as follows: Product, Price, Promotion, Place, Profile of Franchisor, Potential, Prayer, the company’s mission statement posted at http://www.aquabest.org stated .
The company now has 250 Aquabest franchises and 50 others under different names such as Aquaquest.com, AquaRevo, and Bestlife.
Carson noted that quality service, technology and brand recognition keeps the company on the mainstream. He added that high product quality and value enables the company to keep its loyal clients and make new patrons.
In years to come, Aquabest will continue to offer innovative products and services related to the water treatment industry thus widening the scope of its domain, Aquabest’s vision statement read.
21 January 2010
Looking to get bigger by franchising? Here, some factors to consider
Mention the word franchising and most enterprise owners looking to grow their business would probably tell you they have, or still are, thinking of it as an expansion tactic. And why would they not, as franchising seems to guarantee a steady and proven way of making money. Last year, franchising expert Armando Bartolome of GMB Franchise Developers expected the industry would grow by as much as 45 percent, as more companies turn to franchising to grow their business.
The fact that it’s a buzzword among entrepreneurs doesn’t make the franchising route easy. For one, not all kinds of businesses are franchisable. Aside from that, franchising requires a special kind of partnership between the franchiser and his franchisees, therefore, those who shun the idea of sharing their trade secrets are better off thinking of a different way to grow their business. As Bartolome says, “The success of any franchise business lies in creating a harmonious relationship between the two parties involved.”
How do you know you’re ready?
In an article published in Entrepreneur magazine (July 2009, by Marie Anne Fajardo), Samie Lim, chairman of Francorp Philippines, says, “If the economy is good, all franchised stores do well, and when the economy is bad, franchisers do better.” Lim clarified that franchising essentially involves transferring a successful business formula to another person or company. ‘Successful,’ then, is the operative word in franchising. “In contrast, a ‘fake’ franchiser doesn’t know how to be successful; he or she just thinks of how to make money,” Lim said.
According to Reymont Choachuy, President of Noble House , the mother company of Sam’s Everything on Sticks, Itlog on Sticks and Sumo Mai, an indication of your readiness to franchise, or if you already have a ‘successful business formula’ is to base it on your income statement. “You have a branch, this is how you run it, you’ve worked out the kinks, and you’re earning money. So it’s a matter of duplication and finding the right locations,” Choachuy says. Noble House, which also helps other companies build their brands, is behind the re-packaging and marketing of Ferino’s Bibingka.
However, Choachuy doesn’t advise plunging right ahead. “We believe in trying to adopt the formula given by the Philippine Franchise Association which we are a member of. [Its recommendation is to run the business for] 3 years and [have] 3 outlets prior to franchising a brand. Now, [we try to] learn from [each venture] for three years before we start selling the business.”
Carson Tan, President and CEO of Global Quality Waters and Environmental Solutions Technologies, Inc. (GQWEST), emphasizes that, “for you to offer [your brand], you yourself should have your own existing stores, so you can say [to your prospective franchisees], ‘Look, these are my stores and these are making money. You just need to duplicate me.” [There are some who simply] join the band wagon, but they don’t even have a [company-owned] store. It’s not realistic.” GQWEST’s flagship brand, Aquabest, is one of the country’s top brands of water refilling services as well as a bottled water brand, and has won several times in Entrepreneur Philippines’ Franchise Awards. GQWEST also offers water treatment products and services such as waste water treatment, industrial water treatment, filters and ionizers.
Organize your support systems
Tan likewise says that business owners looking to franchise their business should have a unique selling proposition, and then a support system. “It’s very important [to have a support system because] franchisees look at the potential [of your business based on this]. Kasi, hindi naman naive ngayon ang mga applicants [Nowadays, applicants are no longer naive], they’re evolved, they read a lot, they know a lot. So pag nagbigay ka ng franchise sa kanila, kailangan may service support ka [So if you offer them a franchise, you need to have service support]” Tan continues.
Bartolome frequently tells prospective franchisees to thoroughly scrutinize how the franchiser runs the business before signing up. When it comes to spotting companies with franchising support, he says the best kind is that “where you see the franchiser and his management taking part in improving the brand, whose products are constantly reviewed, and its Research and Development is always coming up with new innovations not just on products but also on best management practices.”
Be ready to manage different kinds of franchisees
Even as today’s prospective franchisees have learned to be meticulous about the brands they’re buying into, it is even a stronger imperative for the franchiser to screen franchisees well, and to have a harmonious relationship with them.
Neil Delgado, General Manager and COO of GQWEST, disclosed one big advantage of having a good rapport with your franchisees. When typhoon Ondoy hit the country, the company’s warehouse or super store was badly affected. Equipment damaged by the floods were relatively easy to repair, he said, but the consumable stocks of course could not be sold anymore.
“Our super store supplies institutional accounts, those to whom we deliver around 800 containers a day. During the first three weeks that our facility could not function [while being repaired] some of our franchisees supported us in delivering the requirements [of our institutional accounts].” It was a symbiotic relationship: the company was able to supply clients’ demand even amidst a difficult time, while the franchisees received additional business, at least for a certain period.
On the other hand, not all franchiser-franchisee relationship goes smoothly all the time. Choachuy admits to having refused to renew some franchisees’ contracts. “Mostly, these are people who are not following the franchising standards,” Choachuy says. “Good locations are rare and hard to find, and once you award it to a poor-performing franchisee, you waste the opportunity for five years.”
He explains further: “Not every franchisee is fit to be a franchisee. The right franchisee is not someone who finished from Harvard, but someone who can implement, who can manage the business, because the business model has already been proven. Sometimes, they have their own ideas which they want to apply to the business, [forgetting that] the brand is just borrowed [by them from the franchiser]. They can’t wait for the system to take its own course.”
Tan shares that the positive outcome of managing franchisees is the rewarding feeling of seeing them succeed. On the other hand, even a franchise owner cannot please everybody, even his franchisees. For instance, even in Aquabest’s choice of endorsers, some franchisees complained, “Why him?” while others said, “Why not?” “Mahirap mag-decide [It will be hard to decide] if we will always consider everybody’s opinon,” Tan tries to explain to them. So there are certain decisions the management needs to do on its own, and there are others that it can choose to consult with the advisory council or with some franchisees.
Reaping the rewards
It is a rare company that can have hundreds of branches across the country or even in foreign shores which are all company-owned. Franchising is such a fast way to cover large areas and tap huge markets at once.
Other than the lure of rapid expansion, to be a franchiser means to share your business with your franchisee, and in return, they share their success with you. While the franchiser, according to Bartolome, should be “always ready to lend support as well as listen to the suggestions of franchisees,” the franchisees’ role and assistance cannot be forgotten, either.
“The rewarding part,” says Choachuy, “is seeing people grow with your brand.”
Monday, 18 August 2008
One of the inspiring franchisers I met in the Association of Filipino Franchisers, Inc. (AFFI) was Mr. Carson Tan, GQWEST chief executive officer. He is an open-minded entrepreneur and overflowing with sensible ideas.
After reading the book about Entrepreneurship which was authored by AFFI pioneering leaders and members, I came to know more the story of his business and his background. I gained insights from his integrity and capability in managing business – Global Quality Waters and Environmental Solutions Technologies, Inc. or GQWEST.
Our executive editor Jojo M. Ocampo made an article about him…
Today, at the helm of Aquabest, he has learned to commit his business to God. It is no surprise that the company is doing very well. But in the beginning, it was a hard uphill climb for Carson and Aquabest. He used to be a silent partner, part of a group of businessmen who in 1997 saw a big market for water refilling business.
Initially, they were skeptical because only one water shop brand existed at that time. Nobody bought water then – there was plenty of water gushing out of the faucet. But with skillful marketing and educating of the public, the market soon became ready for the health benefits purified and mineral water brought. And so the Aquabest company flourished.
The good times were short-lived however when, due to mismanagement, the company soon found itself in the brink of bankruptcy. Carson and his family decided to buy out the shares of the other incorporators in order to save Aquabest and its franchisees that would be left orphaned if the company closed down.
With the help of family and friends, Carson raised P1 million to buy out the other partners and pay for the company’s debts. He started anew with nothing in the office except two tables and a skeleton workforce.
Since he used to be a silent partner and the business was so highly technical, he let the current manager operate the business. The initial goal was to just sell water, to pay the debts, and survive. Little did Carson know that inside that store, massive stealing was going on in the form of unrecorded sales. Until someone blew the whistle on the perpetrators then Carson learned the full extent of the problem.
From the time he took over in 2001 till 2004, Carson had to clean the ranks of dishonest employees, while trying to get the company back on its feet. He worked for a non-salary per diem of P200.00 with minimal commission, but eventually his efforts and faith paid off, as 2005 was a tremendous year for Aquabest.
Right now Carson has over 250 franchisees in the Aquabest network. Their approach to franchising is slightly different as they do not collect franchise fees or royalty fees, but rather flat and minimal monthly dues which include free marketing and tri-media exposure, uniforms, streamers, and filters. Aquabest is proud to provide their franchisees with top quality machines and consumables for the water refilling business at a very low markup.
To date, the Global Quality Waters and Environmental Solutions Technologies, Inc. or GQWEST’s portfolio of brands has a combined total of over 500 water-refilling stations operating nationwide, with franchises making up the majority. Added to this, GQWEST has started producing its own bottled water under the Aquabest Premium brand. “We set up an industrial water treatment system for a bottling company here. Since it’s our design, our machine, we asked them to toll pack for us. We’ve started looking for distributors of our bottled water,” announced Tan. GQWEST has also begun diversifying its business line and is now ISO certified to serve its customers better.
GQWEST is one of the top providers of water purification products and services in the Philippines today, introducing more innovations to achieve industry leadership.
Carson believes that if an entrepreneur has a plan or a vision and commits this to God, and works hard on achieving it, this will eventually lead to success. He also believes in not just jumping onto the bandwagon, but being original in some way, tweaking the concept to give the market better with innovative products.
“Keep on visualizing what the future. It’s not the product, it’s the idea. It’s the concept of what you have.”
Aside from vision, Carson believes that timing is also very important. Therefore entrepreneurs should be able to time the carrying out of their vision perfectly. Part of this is having the conviction to forge ahead even if those around you do not support your vision.
Carson believes one big advantage that Filipino entrepreneurs have is their creativity. He is amazed at the constant innovations being done on existing products – he calls the people who are behind this “innovators”.
Carson also sees the need for the Filipino entrepreneur to be more serious about controlling the quality of its products and their way of doing business. He has tried oftentimes to be a supplier or distributor for foreign corporations but is often disqualified due to the bad image the country has when it comes to product standards and how business is done in the country. As a result, the Philippines lose out on many opportunities to bring its business to the global market.
The best way to develop these entrepreneurial skills is to develop one’s character, Carson advises, as having good character means being disciplined and diligent, having integrity and vision. There are no short cuts to success, he adds.
Tuesday, 06 October 2009
This ISO-certified water refilling company promises QSVT to all its franchisees and end-users
For four consecutive years now, Aquabest Purified Water has received different awards in Entrepreneur Philippines magazine’s annual Franchise Awards. Aquabest is the flagship brand of Global Quality Waters and Environmental Solutions Technologies, Inc. (GQWEST). With more than 400 water refilling stations, plus a bottled water line distributed in Mini-Stop convenience stores, Aquabest has become one of the largest water refilling brands in the country.
But it is not merely name recall which makes potential franchisees seek an Aquabest license. Its focus on QSVT–quality, service, value and technology–has not just earned for it an ISO-certification, but the trust of both the franchisees and end-users.
Quality based on international standards
“We are the only water treatment company that is ISO-certified,” proudly shares GQWEST President and CEO Carson Tan. The company received its ISO 9001:2000 certification in October 2008 in recognition of the company’s compliance with quality process standards and effective quality management. “It validates what kind of quality we have, hindi yung kami lang ang nagsasabi. It’s validated by a third party.” Bureau Veritas, an independent certifying body, audited their systems using the International Office of Standardization (ISO) criteria.
Since the company’s establishment in 1997 (when it was still named Bestlife Franchising, Inc.) the founders wanted the company to be known for quality, hence they employed the latest technology in delivering superior purified water. Yet they were still surprised to find that there was plenty of room for improvement to be able to acquire an ISO certification.
“Akala natin ganun lang when we say ‘quality’, di ba? Pero, we spent around two years for the validation and auditing. They told us, ‘separate the warehouse from the offices–everybody has access to your systems, there are no controls, etc.’ Minsan, it could take a while (before we could act on their recommendations) because there were major investments involved. But we learned a lot, in terms of the standards that have to be followed.”
According to Tan, they avoid engaging in price wars just to be competitive. Instead, they make sure their products have superior quality. “Other water refilling stations still use reverse osmosis in purifying their water. We went a step further, and started to use Grander Technology,” says Tan.”
Wikipedia defines reverse osmosis as a process that’s similar to membrane filtration, however, it involves using pressure to efficiently separate the pure solvent from other particles. This process has been used to purify water since the 1970s. The water produced reverse osmosis is near pure and similar to distilled water in content.
On the other hand, Grander Technology is a process invented by Austrian Johann Grander. It changes the inner structure of the water and returns the water molecules to a highly ordered state, therefore, the water remains pure longer regardless of storage conditions.
Furthermore, the company switched from subcontracting the construction of the franchised water stations, to making it part of their core business. “Pag nag-outsource ka, hindi nagiging pareho ang quality. Baka tinipid yung piping, tinipid yung parts–so we realized that we can not continue to outsource this,” explains Tan.
Value for franchisees, value for end-users
Aquabest is targeted towards the educated middle class or the B and C markets. It is priced a bit higher than the others, and it undergoes 24 to 28 stages in the purification process. Under the brand, a franchisee can sell 3 products: Aquabest Oxyplus, Aquabest Mineral Plus and Aquabest Alkaline Plus. The other purified water brands of GQWEST are Aquarevo, Aquaspree and Bestlife.
Why does GQWEST offer many different brands? “It’s all about market segmentation. We provide what the market needs. If your location is within areas where the market is more of the D and E, we will offer you a different brand which is not as expensive.” Tan says they don’t collect franchise fees or royalty fees, only monthly dues and the initial investment for the construction of the water station.
Recently, they signed up Gabby Concepcion to be the endorser of the product. Tan explains this is part of building the brand, since they believe a product’s message is often heard more clearly if there is a voice that communicates the product’s features. “If you build the brand, and give what is due to your customer, even if they try other brands, babalik sila sa yo. I tell the franchisees, ‘I-plastic mo yan, ‘wag mo tipirin sa ganito, gandahan mo ang service mo. Malalaman nila ang difference.”
Aquabest franchisees go through business operations training, are periodically visited and graded, provided promotional materials such as tarpaulins, and receive text blasts about updates through an improved communication system. According to Tan, there are still a few programs for the franchisees in the drawing board, a testament to how they value their relationship with their partners. “It’s heartwarming sometimes, when some franchisees come to the office, wow, may bago nang Fortuner! Nakapagpatayo na ng bahay! Katas ng tubig! We’re very happy for them.”
Additional opportunity for franchisees
GQWEST has also introduced Laundrybest, a laundry service franchise which can be bundled with an Aquabest franchise. For the franchisee, this means extra income without requiring much additional investment. The water used in Laundrybest comes from the by-product of Aquabest’s purification system. Instead of discarding this waste water, it is used for laundry, therefore it is economical and eco-friendly, too.
Customers are likewise given additional value. They don’t have to bring their laundry to Laundrybest shops; instead, the same staff who delivers Aquabest picks up their laundry and delivers it back to them at the next water delivery schedule.
Franchising is not about joining the band wagon
When asked to give guidelines to entrepreneurs who want to franchise their business, Tan gives four tips. These are: first, have a unique selling proposition; second, be ready with a service support system; third, establish your own stores first. He adds that franchising should be seriously thought about, instead of something that one would get only into because everybody else does the same.
Tan further says, “Of course every businessman’s goal is to make money, but actually, money is just an indicator of your success. In our case, our goal is to make honest work; money is the reward for the work that we have done. Besides, there’s always the factor of God’s provision. Sometimes, kahit anong endeavor mo, kahit masipag ka, if there’s no blessing from God, your effort will be in vain. I would like to believe our company is a Christian-based organization, and that, with God’s blessing, our efforts will not be in vain.”
Saturday, 24 July 2010
MANILA, Philippines – Filipino entrepreneurs look for value for money when they subscribe to business tools that would enable their operations to run smoothly and efficiently. Every entrepreneur aims to grow his business and it is important that he achieves cost-efficiency for his business.
These are the considerations that Carson Tan, president and CEO of Aquabest, take into account when sourcing out products and services that would be of help to the growing water refilling station business of Aquabest nationwide.
Aquabest is the flagship brand of Global Quality Waters and Environmental Solutions Technologies Inc. (GQWEST), which traces its roots as a water refilling station on Matalino Street in Quezon City in 1997.
The company began franchising a year later. Today, Aquabest prides itself of having close to 400 outlets all over the country and a bottled water line distributed at all Mini-Stop convenience stores. It also has a sister brand, Laundrybest, a laundry service franchise that utilizes the by-product of Aquabest’s purification system.
“For us Filipinos it is important that we get our money’s worth. We choose whichever gives the best value for our money,” said Tan in an interview at the Globe NegoStar Fair in Batangas that gathered more than 250 entrepreneurs in the province.
“Also, in our line of business, reliability is critical. So for our means of communication, for instance, having clear connections every time we make calls is very important to us,” Tan added.
Aquabest has been a long-standing partner of Globe, using Duo and Biz Talk that Tan describes as sulit na sulit offerings. Duo — mobile plus landline in one — is a two-in-one mobile and landline service that allows unlimited Duo to landline and Duo-to-Duo calls all day within the subscriber’s registered area. This breakthrough offer from Globe is available to prepaid and postpaid subscribers.
Especially designed for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), Biz Talk gives unlimited calls among employees so they are in touch all day every day for those crucial operations coordination and business decisions.
Globe caters to the unique demands of SMEs through Globe Business, providing value-added services such as Duo and BizTrio. It aims to reach more SMEs through the Globe NegoStar Fair, a venue for entrepreneurs to see the enabling business tools and communication services that Globe Business has to offer.
“SMEs are the lifeblood of our economy,” said Manny Aligada, head of corporate and SME segments at Globe Business. “We feel that nurturing the needs of entrepreneurs will help create bigger and stronger Philippine industries, which in turn, can help spur economic development and create more jobs. The Globe NegoStar Fair helps us link up with SMEs where they get to see for themselves what information and communication technology can do for their businesses.”
Tan has been regularly taking part in the Globe NegoStar Fair. He encourages the negosyante like him to visit the fair as it moves from one province to another.
“What we want is a one-stop shop for all our communication needs, it’s just easier and cheaper that way, and in my case I appreciate how Globe provides for these,” Tan added. “Globe Business has truly been my partner in growing Aquabest.”
Globe NegoStar Fair had successful runs in Baguio City, Cabanatuan City, Malvar in Batangas, Angeles City, and Metro Manila.
Gaining popularity among SMEs, Globe Business not only showcases a wide array of communication and information-technology based products at the NegoStar Fair, it also gives treats such as exciting games with wonderful prizes and other surprises.
Globe Negostar Deals are also available for SMEs at Globe Stores. For more information on NegoStar, call the Globe Business hotline (02) 730-1288 or log on to http://www.globe.com.ph/negostar.