Manila Food and Beverages Expo 2015

Today, I had a chance to take part in the Manila Food and Beverages Expo (MAFBEX) at the World Trade Center. Now on it’s 9th year, I must say that MAFBEX still doesn’t disappoint as one of the most sought after gatherings of the newcomers and pillars of the foodservice and hospitality industry. Whether you’re a company looking to showcase your products, a business owner looking to source out some decent supplies, or just a curious individual wanting to check out the latest trends…this is absolutely an event worth checking out!

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For the purpose of this blog post, I have handpicked some of the brands (and items) that were of interest to me:

Malagos Chocolate ~ Did you know that 70% of the cacao beans produced in the Philippines are grown in the Davao region? Well, these guys should know as their cacao beans are produced in the foothills of Mt. Talomo in Davao, Philippines.

Malagos Agri-Ventures Corporation have ventured into the cacao business since 2003. Aside from their cool booth design, I really enjoyed my quick chat with Rex as well since he made an effort to give me some cool information about cacao and how to best enjoy their product.

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Shakey’s…on Wheels! ~ A clever strategy from Shakey’s by parking the bus inside the World Trade Center. Literally. Definitely a scene stealer!

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McDonald’s ~ One of the most well-known brands in the country and the world. One thing that I like about McDonald’s (aside from their food, obviously) is that they are always making sure that their presence is felt. Whether in events or different advocacies, they never stop.

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11721132_10153433475466136_1441160570_nCoffee brands ~ Really happy that I got to see some coffee brands present at MAFBEX! And guess what? They’re all franchise-ready! I had a trip to Bangkok recently and there were coffee kiosks in almost every street that I went to. Amazing! That would be a perfect dream.

There’s no doubt that the coffee culture in the Philippines has been improving, but I believe that there’s still some room for coffee kiosks and other players to come in.

One of those brands is Farron Cafe. They actually have 80 branches nationwide and growing! I watched the baristas make the drinks and their techniques for mixing the drinks are easy to learn. Not only that, they have a wide range of drinks and their prices are affordable too. Check out their cute mascot!

11787429_10153433475401136_105537773_nBaking supplies
~ There were several booths selling cake decorating tools, packaging materials, stencils, etc. But, I just had to take a photo of the materials below because they were really huge.

Booze On-line Inc. ~ Now, who doesn’t love some fine, imported beers? online!

Empanada de Norte  ~ A popular snack in the Ilocos region. Authentic, savory, and tasty…this definitely hits the spot!

Overall, it was a great experience for me and met lots of great people. If you’re interested to attend MAFBEX, the event will run until this Sunday, July 26th, so make sure to catch it this weekend while you can.

PayrollHero Scoop (Take 1)

The PayrollHero Interns in our Singapore office put together a Restaurant News Cast for Singapore. What do you think of their first attempt? Would you like to see more videos like this? Let us know by dropping us an email and posting a comment below.

Want to learn more about the restaurant scene in Singapore? Philippines? Download our Knowledge Kits now (free) for a boat load of helpful information for opening a restaurant.

Creative Destruction in the F&B Industry

Creative Destruction in the F&B IndustryCreative destruction, a term coined by the economist Joseph Schumpeter in 1942, is the concept of “incessant product and process innovation mechanism by which new production units replace outdated ones.” Schumpeter says that disruption is an important part of capitalism because it increases productivity.

As the term suggests, creative destruction isn’t a particularly comfortable concept, especially for those who are on the wrong side of it. The invention of the steam engine led to the creative destruction of travel by horses. The invention of automobiles led to the creative destruction of travel by steam engines. It’s an inevitable result of innovation which can make complete industries obsolete, and take thousands of jobs along with it. The positive outcome is that it creates new industries and redefines jobs within them.

So where is all of this going? McDonald’s recently announced its plan to install self ordering kiosks, thereby reducing manpower in their outlets. It’s not the only company to make a move towards automation. Chili’s Grill and Bar has made a move towards self ordering tablets. Restaurants in the US find automation a way to improve productivity.

There already exists a machine that creates 360 gourmet hamburgers in an hour. The entire machine could replace any human making burgers in the kitchen. According to this report, McDonald’s could fund the development of a burger making machine and see a one year return on investment. There are many reasons why companies are moving towards automating their processes.

In the United States, a big reason for this is the growing cost of labour. Currently, the minimum wage in the US is $7.25 per hour. For a few years now, workers in the F&B industry have protested that this number is far too low for it to be sustainable. They say that the reasonable wage floor should be at $15 per hour. LA recently passed legislation for $15 per hour.

The result of this is that fast food franchises are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the labour costs. The alternative is to automate. Mundane and repetitive tasks can be done by smart machines. Jobs where human interaction is required, like serving food, can be taken up by people. Another reason why automation makes sense is that it’s more efficient and faster. Queues are shorter, human errors are less common, if not completely erased.

You can see parallels in the F&B industry between the US and countries like Japan and Singapore. On the one hand, labour costs are increasing in the US, forcing companies to automate. On the other hand, Japan and Singapore are facing a labour crunch often due to unwillingness of the countries’ citizens to participate in this industry, leading these countries to automate as well. The story is the same, where labour as a factor of production is being replaced by machines that can do the same work and produce better results. And this is where creative destruction fits in.

What does this mean for the F&B industry? Restaurant technology will develop and will facilitate automation. The hamburger machine by Momentum Machines, Inc is just the beginning in the back-end of a restaurant. POS systems, self ordering kiosks, cloud based scheduling applications and online reservation websites are taking over the work of regular staff in a restaurant. An entire ecosystem of automation surrounding retail and F&B already exists but what will trigger the momentum of creative destruction is the lack of a sustainable solution to the problem of increasing costs: in this case, the cost of labour.

How to Deal with the Labour Crunch in Singapore

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As you know, the F&B sector in Singapore has been facing a labour crunch for years now. Currently, for every foreign worker, the F&B sector needs to hire 6 local workers which is an impossible ratio for companies to handle. To attract more local workers, restaurants have had to raise costs without any increase in quality of service. Restaurants that were unable to do this resorted to leaving tables empty.

The Restaurant Association of Singapore proposed some solutions, including relaxing the foreign workers’ levy. While this measure is up to the government’s discretion, there are ways that restaurants can cope with the labour crunch.

Increasing Productivity through Technology

There are many front-end and back-end processes that can be streamlined by automating. In terms of adopting new technology, the restaurant industry has traditionally lagged behind the rest. However, the need to automate is clearer now than ever before. There are many examples in Singapore where restaurants have installed POS systems, set up digital menus or moved the practice of making reservations online.

Sakae Sushi in Singapore is a great example of automated processes. They have a conveyor belt that serves sushi. The belt is an island that is surrounded by tables so that customers can pick whichever dish they like. The restaurant also has iPads on every table to allow customers to order using the menu on the iPad.

McDonald’s Singapore is just catching up to the reality of increasing costs. Four out of approximately 120 outlets in Singapore have kiosks from which customers can order. 20% of their customers use kiosks. The systems reduce manpower required to take orders. It also makes the ordering process fool-proof, thereby saving time and money by preventing errors due to miscommunication between the customer and employee. In addition to reducing errors, McDonald’s employees can focus on back-end tasks and speed up service.

Balancing out costs: The result of automating is that there are shorter queues and more customers walking in through the door. The self ordering payment systems that Ananda Bhavan, a restaurant chain in Singapore uses, cost around $40,000. But in the long run, the investment pays off because of more orders and higher revenue.

To see a more tangible improvement in processes, Aptsys – a self-ordering POS system – released statistics on their website on how their product benefits restaurants. By their estimates, ordering speed increased by 70%, repeat orders increased by 30% and human errors decreased by 80%.

Tax credits: The government of Singapore has come up with incentives for companies to adopt newer technology. This includes training the staff with the new technology as well. The Productivity and Innovation Credit Scheme gives companies a 400% tax deductions or 60% cash payout as long as the improvements in technology come under the six qualifying activities.

Singaporean restaurants are increasingly seeing a fall in revenue because of empty tables and increasing labour costs. The only way for the industry to cope with falling margins is to adopt technology that can reduce manpower. We have previously suggested ways to upgrade and adopt new technology in areas of reservations, POS systems and food delivery. Over the next few years, it remains to be seen whether foreign worker quotas will be relaxed in order to release the pressure that these industries are under. Currently, the way to move forward is by using the tax credits that the government is offering to upgrade restaurant technology.

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Celebrity Interview: Nikko Huelgas

Nikko Huelgas is the captain of the Philippine National Triathlon Team, chairman of POC Athletes Commission, and a columnist for Manila Bulletin’s Sports Digest. He recently won a gold medal for the Philippines during the 28th SEA Games which was held in Singapore. We interviewed this Filipino athletic superstar to find out where he loves to eat (SPOILER: he loves pizzas while also being a super fit athlete. How awesome is that?!)nikko-huelgas-sea-games-champion-cover

What do you love about living in the Philippines?

I love the people here. They are very optimistic, accommodating and family oriented.

What are your top 5 favourite restaurants and why?

  1. Omakase Japanese restaurant
  2. Sensei Sushi restaurant
  3. Yellowcab pizza
  4. S&R Pizza
  5. The Farm Organics

More than their service, they have unique and seriously delicious food. Not to mention value for money.

You seem to travel a lot, what restaurant/s do you miss and would like to see in the Philippines?

Some hole in the wall authentic street food from all cultures especially Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

What is your favourite Philippine restaurant brand that should expand overseas?

Victorinos Restaurant

Describe your most memorable dining experience

Omakase – Everything we ordered was really good. Started from their famous Spicy Tuna Salad. Healthy and delicious. Then, my favorite, the Mt. Fuji roll. It just melts in your mouth.

If you were to open a restaurant, what kind would it be and why?

Italian. I’m in love with pizza.

For whatever reason, some days would require a little extra comfort – what is your favourite comfort food?

Pizza, burgers and cheesecake. Always.

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The World of Restaurant Technology in Singapore

The tiny red dot, as Singapore is often called, is an interesting testing ground for restaurant technology. Singapore is famous for its awesome food. From hawker stalls to gourmet dining, the restaurant scene in Singapore is vibrant and diverse.

At PayrollHero, a huge part of being ridiculously client focused is in understanding what our clients need and use on a regular basis. What do Singaporean restaurants do for point of sale systems, for reservations, for creating menus or for scheduling shifts for their employees? There are a ton of apps out there that are especially designed for this industry. We looked at some apps that piqued our interest.

Reserving Tables: Chope

Asia’s answer to OpenTable and SeatMe: Chope helps diners reserve tables at restaurants in Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing, Bangkok and Hong Kong, free of cost. Restaurants can manage reservations through Chope. The company is expanding and adding new restaurants to its list every week.

Point of Sales Systems: PCS

Prima Computer Systems tackles the problem of inefficient POS systems. The cloud based solution makes it easier for a multi-location restaurant franchises to integrate POS systems. The app allows you to create and change menus in iPads, therefore reducing manpower costs. Considering the labour crunch in the F&B industry in Singapore, this helps restaurants focus their employees towards providing better service.

Digital Wallets

Singapore was one of the first countries in Southeast Asia to adopt digital wallets, back in 2012. Many restaurants have adopted mobile payment options. In terms of consumer readiness, Singapore comes second only to the Philippines at 17%. It beats all other countries for electronic payments at 42%. Local and international banks are a part of this movement towards mobile payments. OCBC’s Pay Anyone, DBS’s PayLah! and Standard Chartered Bank’s Dash are all useful options that restaurateurs should look at to integrate their POS systems with.

An interesting thing to note for restaurants and for businesses that are building easier payment methods is that the demographics on who is using mobile payments is revealing of whom the target market should be. Unsurprisingly, millennials lead the move towards mobile payments. More importantly, data shows that men are twice as likely to adopt the new technology compared to women. CEO of Harbourtouch (company that did the survey on the demographics of mobile and electronic payments), Jared Isaacman, said that there is a void when it comes to mobile payment in restaurants. Retail stores use this technology far more frequently, which indicates a potential opportunity in the F&B industry.

Loyalty Apps: Perx

Perx says that customers spend 7 times more using Perx than without. Loyalty apps remove the hassle of printing loyalty cards and trying to measure how effective the cards are. Perx offers a CRM solutions and a platform for businesses. Restaurant owners have access to how effective the loyalty app is in increasing revenue.

Inventory Management: TradeGecko

TradeGecko is racing through Asia. The Enterprise Resource Planning software is integrated with Xero, Quickbooks and Shopify among other companies. It offers analytics reports on inventory and stock. From the perspective of the F&B industry, TradeGecko helps a chef or a restaurant keep tabs on supplies. All this is done using the cloud, which simplifies the entire process for a restaurant chain.

There are two similarities that link all these apps together:

  • They are all cloud based
  • They all complement scalability.

Our research into Southeast Asia led us to an interesting observation. A single restaurant franchise owner may operate across multiple countries. Apps like these are useful for the kind of owner that needs to keep tabs on all his outlets, across different countries. It helps the restaurant owner that currently owns one café and is looking for a way to open 25 more within two years.

We also noticed that in Southeast Asia, consumption trends suggest that fast food chains are going to excel in the next five years. For example, the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) for fast food chains in the Philippines is 8.1% between 2013 and 2017. The potential that this poses for cloud based solutions is both exciting and massive.

Over the last few weeks, we have been looking deeply into the F&B industry. We focused on the Philippines and Singapore, with the idea of comparing and contrasting a nascent economy versus a mature one to figure out the potential that this region poses. We also compared what kind of employee compensation and benefits are provided by these countries with the perspective of figuring out what our client – a restaurant owner – is most concerned about.

While the data supported some assumptions or destroyed preconceived notions, we found out that there was more to this research than just raw data. We spoke to restaurant owners on the ground to listen to their stories and build a clearer picture.

Finally, we compiled all of it into a nice little package that we call the PayrollHero Knowledge Kit. It provides snippets into our research with statistics on the F&B industry in Singapore and the Philippines. We are super excited about sharing it with you because we want to know how it helps startups that are catering to the F&B industry. We also want to hear about the insight that you have gained from working in this part of the world.

The pictures below link you to the PH and SG Knowledge Kits. Open it, browse through it and shoot us with questions. We want to know what you think.

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New Feature on the PayrollHero App!

We have a new feature on the PayrollHero app!

Our Devs (developers) are constantly working towards improving functionality of the app. To that end, we have a new feature to enhance a human resource manager’s tools. It’s a simple addition to the app that allows the HR manager or payroll administrator to:

  1. check the GPS coordinates of employees who are clocking in.
  2. record which device they are clocking in from

The feature sits in the Employees tab and under the Rollcall Days section. You can see the list of days that the employee has clocked in, their IP address, GPS coordinates linking to Google maps and the device that they used: TeamClock or #MyClock. If there are any issues with clocking in with a particular device, the HR admin can point out what specific device the problem arose from. This information can also be used as Business Intelligence to make decision on staffing and installing the best devices in your outlets.

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The feature is already live for all PayrollHero users!

PayrollHero’s First Twitter Contest!

As you know, we have been creating some handy guides for opening restaurants in Singapore and the Philippines. We call them the PayrollHero Knowledge Kits.

Since we’re so excited about them and want to share them with the world, we’re hosting our first ever Twitter contest! From now until July 17th (Hari Raya Puasa), all you need to do, is retweet the link below to as many people as you can on your network.

If you can reach out to the most number of restaurants, businesses or people, we will feature you on our own blog! 

Why is this a good idea for you? Well, we have been featuring famous actors and basketball players on our blog: celebrities like Rocco Nacino, Shawn Weinstein and Sean Anthony have shared their favorite restaurants with us. How awesome would it be to get in on the action! You know you’re thinking to yourself, “this would be a great PR opportunity…”

Make sure you’re following @PayrollHero so you’re in the loop because in the coming weeks, we will be coming up with some great opportunities like this for you.

So what are you waiting for? Get tweeting! Your 15 minutes of PayrollHero fame awaits.

Below, you can see an example of a Twitter post that retweets the Knowledge Kits:

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How do I open a restaurant in Singapore? Presenting the PayrollHero Knowledge Kit!

The PayrollHero blog aims to be the knowledge repository for any restaurant owner or retailer in Southeast Asia. We have built our database with things you need to know while doing business in Singapore.

With that in mind, we have been working on a little project. Presenting the PayrollHero Knowledge Kit!

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Download now… Free!
This starter kit was put together to give you high level information about Singapore, share some thoughts from restaurant owners, and present relevant statistics from our market research.

The information here includes research that will help you open a restaurant in Singapore or expand into the country.

  • We talk about what CPF contributions are with information about the different Ethnic Funds that require contributions.The pages are linked to relevant tax forms and websites that offer more detailed information if you want it.
  • There is an industry overview and analysis on the latest consumption trends in the country. We give you a salary table to refer to for your Human Resources (HR) team in Singapore.
  • We also give you practical write-ups on how to get an import license, food hygiene requirements and the best internet service provider for your restaurants.

But we don’t want to give you simple hard facts that you could just Google anyway. The Knowledge Kit has a wealth of information in the form of personal stories and experiences in these countries. We interviewed the president of SaladStop!, Mr. Adrien Desbaillets. He gave advice on how he chooses locations in Singapore among other practical nuggets of information. We see it as a way to help the community because there is no better way to learn than from people who have gone through the same roadblocks as your are facing right now.

We hope this information is useful to you. We would love to hear back from you with what you think about the Knowledge Kit, how we can make things better and how you use this Kit for your own research into the restaurant industry.

Lastly, we are releasing more of these for the retail industry. Watch out for more information about these industries and countries. We have also created a Knowledge Kit for the Philippines.

So go ahead and click on the image above to access the Knowledge Kit. Let us know what you think. And good luck with your new business!

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How do I open a restaurant in the Philippines? Presenting the PayrollHero Knowledge Kit!

The PayrollHero blog aims to be the knowledge repository for any restaurant owner or retailer in Southeast Asia. We have built our database with things you need to know while doing business in the Philippines.

With that in mind, we have been working on a little project. Presenting the PayrollHero Knowledge Kit for opening a restaurant in the Philippines!

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Download it now – free! 
This starter kit was put together to give you high level information about the Philippines, share some thoughts from restaurant owners, and present relevant statistics from our market research.

The information here includes research that will help you open a restaurant in the Philippines or expand into the country.

  • We talk about what BIR, SSS, PhilHealth and Pag-IBIG are all about.The pages are linked to relevant tax forms and websites that offer more detailed information if you want it.
  • There is an industry overview and analysis on the latest consumption trends in the country. For example, did you know that the Home delivery and takeaway sector grew at a staggering 10.3%. It’s closest competitor was the fast food industry at 8.1%.

But we don’t want to give you simple hard facts that you could just Google anyway. The Knowledge Kit has a wealth of information in the form of personal stories and experiences in these countries. We interviewed the owner of the Advent Manila Hospitality Group, Mr. Andrew Masigan, and asked him about how he runs his business in this part of the world. We see it as a way to help the community because there is no better way to learn than from people who have gone through the same roadblocks as your are facing right now.

We hope this information is useful to you. We would love to hear back from you with what you think about the Knowledge Kit, how we can make things better and how you use this Kit for your own research into the restaurant industry.

Lastly, we are releasing more of these for the retail and BPO industry. Watch out for more information about these industries and countries.

So go ahead and click on the image above to access the Knowledge Kit. Let us know what you think. And good luck with your new business!

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