Banoks — short for barbecue manok — is a fast-growing restaurant chain based in Davao known for serving food native to the province.
Manuel Paul “Bong” Villanueva, the young and driven owner of Banoks, did not accomplish his feat overnight.
He initially put up Burger Bar, based on the Burger Machine concept, then Cafe Eliza, a small diner-type establishment. He also dabbled in banana trading for a time.
All these businesses thrived in their own way. But the most successful is Banoks. It was based on Bong and wife Mariel’s version of chicken inasal that is somewhat sweeter than the traditional dish but without achuete coloring. It became so popular that it began to franchise in a few years. At latest count, there are more than 15 Banoks outlets spread all over Davao.
Bong considers Banoks the ultimate venture of his life.
How does he stave off competitors?
It sometimes seems to Bong that rivals are constantly lying in wait for him to open a new venture. Almost as soon as he puts up a new business, a competing one would materialize right beside his. Banoks’ success opened the floodgates of chicken and pork barbecue businesses.
His marketing strategy revolves around three factors: choice of location, product quality and acceptance, and reasonable pricing.
Location should be accessible, safe and attractive. With his franchisors, Bong has insisted on a say in choice of location, aside from thoroughly screening applicants to make sure they are easy to deal with, are open to new ideas, and manifest a potential to grow with the company.
As to product quality, creativity is key. The menu is predominantly sinugba (barbecued or grilled meats, bangus belly and other seafood), tinola or tinowa (soup) and kinilaw (raw fish salad). He has sutukil (a combination platter of sugbang panga, tinola and knilaw with unlimited rice, which is a persistent crowd drawer. He has budget meals consisting of a piece of chicken, a cup of soup, achara, and unlimited rice. Lately, he has added ice cream, pastries, and other desserts. The menu is meant to be flexible: Bong will always be on the lookout for new items to spruce up the menu and thus sustain the interest of customers.
His pricing strategy: to make it worthwhile for customers to eat at Banok’s rather than cook at home.
“Food in Davao is cheap. Traffic here is light. Generally, it takes about 10 minutes for a person to reach home. This means that people can reach home fast and have time to whip up a meal.” Banoks gives diners the option of enjoying good quality home-style meals minus the stress of preparation. “Thus we see to it that our prices are competitive with home-made meals.”
The strategy has worked for Banoks, Bong thinks.
A fourth strategy is franchising. He went into franchising to keep competition at bay, allow expansion, and provide exposure at very minimal costs.