Meet the sisters behind Manang's Chicken

Posted at 02/28/14 4:54 PM

Editor's note: The Business Mentor is a weekly business column by Armando "Butz" Bartolome, president of GMB Franchise Developers Inc. and chairman of the Association of Filipino Franchisers Inc.

The two sisters behind "Manang's Chicken," Jenilee Gerodias Slagle (left) and Jill Gerodias-Borja.

MANILA, Philippines - Not many people know the story behind the popular fried chicken chain "Manang's Chicken.

The unique glazed fried chicken started in the Gerodias family's kitchen. The recipe was developed Marissa Gerodias, who taught it to their family cook, who was fondly called "Manang."

Manang would constantly cook this special fried chicken for the Gerodias children. Soon, it became popular among friends and relatives, who would request Manang to cook it whenever they visit.

In December 2010, sisters Jill Gerodias Borja and Jen Gerodias Slagle decided to introduce "Manang's Chicken" at Mercato Centrale, where it became an instant hit.

Jill is a CPA lawyer, while Jen is a trained chef and a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Currently, Jill handles the operations and marketing while Jen is in charge of the commissary operations and R&D.

The Business Mentor (BM) conducted an interview with Jill Gerodias-Borja to talk about "Manang's Chicken" and their future plans.

Manang's Chicken started at Mercato Centrale in Bonifacio Global City.

BM: Can you describe what is the business concept all about? Who are your customers?

Jill Gerodias Borja: Manang’s chicken is a fast casual chain of restaurants that specializes in our special crispy glazed fried chicken and other Filipino-inspired comfort meals. Our customers are primarily Filipinos -- from children, students, young professionals and adults who are open to trying something new yet familiar.

BM: When you were young, did you find yourself wanting to be an entrepreneur?

Jill: Yes, even as a child, I would start small businesses whether it was selling iced candy to employees of our family business or selling items laptops to friends. I believe it was due to my parents being entrepreneurs themselves thus I was exposed to it as such an early age.

BM: What prompted you to get into business? Did you ever work before in previous companies?

Jill: I used to work in the US, as an auditor in an accounting firm but despite the high salary, there was a lack of personal satisfaction since I played such a small role in a large company. I decided to move back to the Philippines and after opening another business related to the finance industry, I decided to “side-line” and start Manang’s Chicken by joining weekend markets. Starting my own business gave me a sense of purpose in my day and seeing the company grow is the best satisfaction one can get from your efforts.

BM: How long has the business been in operation? What are the challenges/obstacles in the business? How did you manage to surpass such challenges?

Jill: The business has been in operations for 3 years. Our main challenge has been growing the business by opening more branches and still is able to maintain the standards and controls to ensure consistency. We do this by developing specific manuals and though continuous training of our people and audits of our stores.

BM: Are you alone in this business? Do you have business partners? If you have partners, how do you foster healthy business relations?

Jill: We established the business as a family corporation but my younger sister and I are partners in running the business. Luckily for us, we each have our own clear strengths thus we complement each other’s work. I run the day-to-day operations and management while she runs the commissary because she is a trained chef.

BM: Has the business grown in terms of products and services?

Jill: Yes, over the past 3 years, we have grown the business from a stall selling fried chicken and rice to 13 branches nationwide with an extensive menu ranging from sandwiches, noodles, other rice meals.

BM: Can you share business’s success factors?

Jill: For a business to be successful in today’s highly competitive market, the customers should clearly experience the value in your product and/or service. What you give the customers must at least match, if not, exceed their expectations.

BM: How many hours do you spend in attending to your business?

Jill: I spend at least 80 hours a week. Sometimes more. Owning your own business is more than a full time job but since it is yours, the hours just fly by. I feel it’s not even enough!

BM: How do you manage to sustain your business amidst competition?

Jill: Just try to give your customers a little bit more than what they expect. Also, think outside the box and offer something new and fresh.

BM: What will you advise those who are planning at starting a business?

Jill: Stick with your idea, develop it further and see it through.

BM: Those who are in business?

Jill: Don’t give up. All businesses have ups and downs and success can only be achieved if you rise above the difficulty and persist. It takes a few years for a business to be sustainable so try not to get discouraged if it is not immediately successful.

BM: If you were to do it all over, would you retain the same business?

Jill: Yes I would retain the same business because our success is really a blessing and despite the challenges, iI would not have it any other way.

BM: How do you promote your business? How important is Social Media to you and your business?

Jill: We promote out business through both traditional marketing and advertising as well as social media. We were first known in the industry through the push of bloggers and social media like Facebook. It is important to have an active presence in social media these days in order to tap the youth and stay current.

For questions and more information, you may contact Armando "Butz" Bartolome by email: [email protected] His website is http://www.gmb.com.ph