Category Archives: Franchise

How this young business woman turn around a near bankrupt business

Not many people can claim to have succeeded as a businessperson, turning over a near-bankrupt company to seeing it being acquired a few years later. Less still are those who can survive in the cut-throat Food & Beverage industry and thrive in the hyper-competitive Chinese market.

Li Kheng is one individual who can claim to have succeeded in what must be one of the hardest industry and market in the world. Li Kheng is an F&B entrepreneur who succeeded in China by turning over a near bankrupt Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf franchise from 2 branches to overseeing its fast growth across the Shanghai province to 35 branches and then later, making a successful sale of the franchise.

Li Kheng was a recent presenter at [email protected] 2013 and we had the good opportunity to spend some time interviewing her. There were many nuggets of wisdom that was imparted by Li Kheng throughout the one hour that we spent talking to her and here are some interesting advice that she has to say to young people.


On Determination

Li Kheng advises young people to not be bitter or cynical about life.  How you view challenges in life and what you do with them is the difference between yourself and everyone else. If you want something badly enough, don’t quit but be resourceful and focused.

We wanted to find out from Li Kheng how to disregard criticism from others and convince ourselves that the path that we are pursuing is the right path even though it is full of challenges. She had to say that first of all, we need to know what we truly want. Most of us simply follow what others have set up for us. She said that if we pursue our true dreams, then regardless of what we go through or what others say about us, we will still believe in ourselves. In general, Li Kheng said that whenever we are doing something that benefits others, we will generally feel satisfied and rewarded.

We pressed Li Kheng further on how to differentiate between a reckless pursuit and perseverance. Li Kheng responded by saying that knowledge is the key. Whenever you practise your knowledge, you gain experience. The key thing to differentiate between making a reckless decision and to continue in a dogged pursuit of something is to analyse the results of making the decision. If the results is not something that strikes a chord in you and, at the same time, causes harms others, then usually it is a bad decision.


On Company Culture

Li Kheng said that she believes that the key to any organisation’s success is its people. She believes that it is important for everyone to be the best of who they are, be they the person sweeping the floor, to the person tending the cashier.

She believes that transparency is a key ingredient to retaining employee. The way she does it was by being very upfront with her employees by finding out about their dreams and asking them if her company could be a platform for them to move together towards their dreams.

Li Kheng said that many of her staff had been loyal to her throughout her time in China. She boils it down mainly to having a family culture in her organisation and treating employees with respect instead of merely a number in an organisation.


Advice To Herself 10 Years Ago

We were very interested to find out was the advice that Li Kheng would have given herself 10 years ago as she was starting out. To that question, Li Kheng said that she wished she would not hesitate so much. She said it is alright to have self-doubt but you should not allow it to pull yourself down. She said having good result check is the most empowering thing to look for in determining whether you did well or not. Constructive feedback from people you trust was also very valuable.


On Spirituality

One of the things that struck us most about Li Kheng is the amount of emphasis she placed on spirituality. It usually seem that spirituality and the pursuit of money are at odds with each other and it is not common to read about an entrepreneur who places such strong emphasis on spirituality. In fact, Li Kheng attributed most of her success in China to the fact that she found peace of mind through meditation. The clarity in meditation helped her in making sound decisions beneficial to her business.

Attributing her success to her guru, Tsem Rinpoche, she said that Buddhism helped her a lot in the beginning when the journey was very volatile. Her advice to anyone young is that young people should not think that spirituality is for the retired. In fact, spirituality has the most value when you are young and facing many challenges.


On Environment

Li Kheng’s focus these days is on the environment. She expressed how she is sad that mankind is constantly chopping down trees to make way for development without thinking about the sustainability of that growth. She pointed out that being environmentally friendly is actually economically feasible yet most people are short-sighted in that respect.

After making a successful sale of the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf franchise, Li Kheng is now focused on making the environment a better place. She is focused on reforestation and also growing Kechara Forest Retreat, a Buddhist meditation retreat centre in Bentong.


* This interview with Phng Li Kheng was conducted by Choo Kok Ming and Bobby Ong


FOODPANDA.MY EXPANDS DELIVERY COVERAGE TO JOHOR now provides food delivery service to residents of Johor Bahru!

KUALA LUMPUR – The largest food delivery service provider in Malaysia just got larger. Foodpanda has just expanded its delivery service to the south most tip of Malaysia – Johor Bahru. Making this the fifth city that foodpanda has a footprint here in Malaysia.

With a soft launch last Friday, Foodpanda has already received some very encouraging feedback from residents of JB. “This app really has some potential in making life easy for certain groups of people, like working people and students” says Shalin Tan, a local JB resident and new foodpanda customer.

“I am the poster child for your customers – I would use it multiple times a week probably. I have been encouraging people in JB to provide delivery“ says John Hunter, an expat living in JB. Hunter adds “There is a need for decent delivery food in JB. I have told several people I thought it would be a good business to get into and I want to see entrepreneurial efforts, like this, succeed in JB.“

“We are very happy to add Johor Bahru to our list of cities that we provide delivery for” says Claudio Abitante, MD “We believe that JB is an underserved market with lots of potential. Already we are seeing very encouraging feedback from both restaurants and customers. We intend to bring our experience in food delivery and strong partner restaurants to the residents of JB” he adds.

From Left – Claudio Abitante (MD Foodpanda, Malaysia), Din (Foodpanda Johor’s First Delivery Rider) & Marco Pezzi (City Manager, Johor)

Starting with big names such as Chatime, Kenny Rogers Roasters, Vivo Pizza as well as local favorites like Season’s Café and Chakra Restaurant. Residents of Johor Bahru can expect to see other heavyweight foodpanda partner such as Chicken Rice Shop, Old Town White Coffee and other great restaurants in the next few weeks. Currently orders are taken via their website and mobile application on iOS and Google Play. currently operates in the Klang Valley, Penang, Ipoh, Melaka and Johor. Foodpanda plans to make food delivery more accessible and convenient to as many busy Malaysians. They are looking to accomplish this within the next few months by further expanding in the Klang Valley and other major cities in Malaysia.

The story of how “Burger Bakar Abang Burn restaurant” became one of the Malaysia’s Fastest Growing Food Chain Business!

“We are in the business of selling happiness” that is one of the mantra of the Abang Burn team. Creating a tasty meat product is their forte but to sell it is successfully to the consumers is the most challenging. In short, it’s about how to ensure your consumers love your brand in the long run. Burger Bakar Abang Burn (BBAB), one of the Malaysia’s fastest growing food chain, had always strive towards this goal. Starting with only three employees, the brand today have successfully generated 200++ jobs in just a single year.

Everyone knows that Labour Day is a public holiday but not for Abang Burn’s team as that was the day the team pulled together their might to start the business.

In this interview, at Taman Melawati Kuala Lumpur, Nurul Izwanie Hashim, PR Executive for “ Burger Bakar Abang Burn ” (BBAB) shared the experience gained from the very beginning and how the idea of licensing / franchising started.

Abang Burn

How did Abang Burn’s became one of the Malaysia’s fastest growing food chain?

Michael Teoh: How did Abang Burn begin?

Nurul Izwanie : Abang Burn learnt the art of creating burgers from Australia. During his time in Australia, he got to be familiar with many kinds of meat processing techniques and butchery. Abang Burn created a meat shop in Malaysia but it was unsuccessful and eventually closed its doors. Meat shop was not successful as many ordinary Malaysians at that time preferred to purchase meat at the wet market and hypermarkets. He later applied his knowledge in the Burger Bakar industry and the brand gained prominence.


Michael Teoh: Where is the first outlet of Abang Burn situated and how Abang Burn find this place attractive?

Nurul Izwanie : Abang Burn’s first outlet is at Dagang Avenue Food court, Ampang. Why foodcourt? A food court has a stable amount of visitors. For a new brand like Abang Burn, this is actually an excellent market positioning to attract existing food court visitors to try the burgers. At this time we do not have a high marketing budget and we had to rely on existing market to achieve positive cashflow. And why Abang does not start with a restaurant? The reason is that majority Malaysians would most likely purchase a grilled burger from a kiosk because it is deemed unique to our youth market segment. You can get grilled burgers at TGI Fridays, Tony Romas, etc.

 burn crew

Michael Teoh: What are the core factors that help Abang Burn to have 14 outlets in a year?

Nurul Izwanie: “Cepat, Sedap & Servis Terbaik”. That is our operational core principles for our frontliners in our kiosks and restaurants. All our methods are integrated to achieve speed. We calculated every single second along our assembly lines and segregated into 3 main tasks; “just do, think and do, analyze, think and do”. If our crew could only “just do” without thinking and analyzing then our burgers would be processed faster by the crew. We also believe in crew ownership and “efficiency wage” advocated by Henry Ford. Our crew is given cash incentive for teamwork performed based on daily sales. If the kiosk manages to earn RM 5,000 sales a day, the staff would get RM 20 each. Calculate this into 26 working days and they would earn an extra RM 520 not including overtime and meals. Our crew in a performing outlet could earn as much as RM 2k and our supervisors could earn as much as RM 3k.

In terms of the management system, we are proudly built by cloud computing. We utilize cloud computing applications for our accounting, Enterprise Resource Planning, project management, quality control forms email and document management system. For example, we are able to cut down the processing time for quality audit at our kiosks from 2 days to instant report with the help of cloud computing. It has greatly accelerated our decision making and hence our infrastructure in terms of outlet expansion.

We are also strict on our licensees. We have received tremendous amount of application for license or franchise. However, we only select based on a licensee’s character, leadership abilities, multi-tasking skills and commitment to engage in the business on a full time basis. We have managed to assist 5 of our licensees to achieve full return on investment after a period of only 3-6 months. While all businesses need at least 3 years for return on investment, we are proud of our achievement but it always goes back to the character of our licensee and their attitude in terms of our Standard Operating Procedure compliance. Our products requisition is also performed centrally at Shah Alam and this ensures consistency for all the burgers sold at our outlets.

Abang Burn

Michael Teoh: What inspires Abang Burn to be better than other food franchising business?

Nurul Izwanie: We always put blessings in our mind and it will be adapted to all business dealings. Despite the licensees sharing the risk by allocating their capital to run the business, we always believe that it is our main responsibility as a licensor to ensure that all our licensees achieve the Return On Investment (ROI). No one would be happy when a business is not profitable and that is the reason why we are extremely strict on who is our licensee. People measure profit in its entirely, we measure happiness as our blessings for our both of customers and licensees / franchisees.


Michael Teoh: What are some goals that Abang Burn still trying to accomplish?

Nurul Izwanie: We want to be a brand loved by Malaysians. It’s not about Burger Bakar but about selling happiness through abang burn. So, in order to accomplish this goal, we have to always bear in mind that we must be aware with the customers’happiness. We believe our work is an ibadah. There is a saying that a smile is considered sadaqa and for ourselves we consider giving happiness to customers as more than sadaqa. We are always in constant pursuit of blessings for our afterlife. We do are not looking for profit maximization, we are looking to accomplish blessings maximization.

The article is contributed by Nurul Izwanie, the representative from Abang Burn Marketing Department. 

Franchise Business Opportunities for Entrepreneurs in Malaysia

Franchise Business Opportunities or Franchising can be an attractive entrepreneurial platform for entrepreneurs to start their ventures in Malaysia. Owning a franchise would mean that the entrepreneur just needs to follow a set of systems set by the franchisors and would not need to invest substantial resources to build their brand or market presence. It can be a cash-cow if done right! Continue reading Franchise Business Opportunities for Entrepreneurs in Malaysia

Start Up Entrepreneur or Franchise Business in Asia

To be a Start Up entrepreneur seems to be a trend nowadays especially with many aspiring young entrepreneurs. With the success stories of Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook or the recently successful, Groupon, it is no wonder that the obvious choice for all entrepreneurs would be to found multi-billion dollar enterprise from ground up. However, we cannot rule out how franchises like McDonalds, Subway or even Asian brands like Cha-Time (Taiwan Bubble tea franchise) and Old Town Kopitiam (Malaysian Ipoh coffee) have managed to spur another round of success across Asia through franchises.
Continue reading Start Up Entrepreneur or Franchise Business in Asia

3 Reasons Why Buying A Franchise May Be Wrong For You

Old Town, Papa Rich, McDonalds. There are are some of the familiar names that have grown because of franchising. They have created a system which can be replicated for wanna be business owners. Potential business owners may tap on the system, usage plus the visibility of the brand and also the know how of the company itself to create a lower risk business. Despite being one of the growth engine of the roaring 80s, it is very much still relevant in the 21st century. However before you rush out to be a franchisee of the next big thing. Here are 3 things you need to consider if buying a franchise may be a wrong move for you.
Continue reading 3 Reasons Why Buying A Franchise May Be Wrong For You