World-Class Business Solutions for Everyone

Manila Bulletin, March 18, 2013 | Go to article overview

World-Class Business Solutions for Everyone


Many of my readers know that I've been in the food business for more than 20 years. I love everything about being a restaurateur. I get a natural high conceptualizing new restaurants, trying out new recipes, building the place and interacting with my guests. To me, the creative process of it all is what makes the business worthwhile.

Back in the '90s, I started a fast-food chain to feed my passion. The first few years were fun as we opened one store after another with quite a bit of success. As we approached the sixth or seventh store, structural problems began to rear their ugly heads and I found myself becoming more involved in the back office side of things. Issues like warehouse management, systems for purchasing raw materials, delivery and logistics were concerns I had to grapple with. Even if this was not what I signed up for, as an owner of a fledgling business, I had no choice but to tackle them squarely. Not to do so would mean the demise of my enterprise.

For the next few years, I devoted the lion's share of my time building and strengthening the structural backbone of my company. After countless trial-and-error attempts and investing a sizable portion of our earnings, we finally got our house in order. My business was efficient and in tip-top form. But I was burnt out and had fallen out of love with my own company. I spent too much time in the back office doing things I didn't enjoy.

The business continued to grow in succeeding years, but only marginally. I was too preoccupied to think creatively and pursue growth. If only there was an expert back then to do the backroom job for me, my company would have been bigger by the time I sold it years later.

My story is not new. It is the story of every entrepreneur in the creative field on the fast track to expansion.

The Arkipel Solution

I recently met a Swiss-American investor, Rene Mader, who put up a business solutions company based in Manila called Arkipel, Inc. I was both delighted to know that the range of services Arkipel offers is exactly what I needed when I was building my restaurant chain. I told him I was glad that he is now operating in the Philippines, but regretted that he came five years too late!

Arkipel provides local companies with solutions to better manage their backroom operations. In other words, they create systems to make warehouses operate efficiently, a fleet of trucks operate up to schedule, retail stores properly stocked, and accounting departments up-to-date, among other things. All these free up the business owner to focus on what is most important-creating better products and growing the business.

Arkipel also provides the manpower and the computer hardware to make its solutions work. This allows massive savings on the part of the business owner who would otherwise have to shell out millions of pesos to purchase computer mainframes, back-up mainframes and related accessories. It also saves him the need to hire his own technical engineers who he'd have to pay on a monthly basis, not to mention their tenure cost.

But the biggest savings of all is the cost of trial and error, which, in my experience, can run up to millions. Arkipel delivers its business solutions to its clients debugged of glitches. All the business owner needs is a computer terminal and an Internet connection, and the information he would need (e.g. delivery schedules, inventory stock positions, cash status, etc.) can be accessed at the press of a button. The beauty of all this is that data can be accessed in real-time and in multiple locations. In contrast, Excel, the spreadsheet program most Filipino firms use, does not provide real-time information unless uploaded or sent via e-mail.

From experience, I know too well that errors are more likely to occur as more people handle a system. I had four people to sort, process and archive data coming in from my restaurants. This made the probability of human errors occurring four times more likely. …

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