NOT coming from a business-oriented lineage, Nonito and Kenneth del Rosario, at their young ages of 31 and 28, respectively, have gone into the Bayad Center business model of the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) to have something to sustain their family for the long haul.
This is because they know fully well that their seaman-father can only hold on to that job for a few more years, and then they take over the role of providing for the family needs.
Though Kenneth is gainfully employed in Manila and his brother, Nonito, a nursing graduate who has his own family, the two kept toying with the idea of going into business as early as January this year.
The two agreed that the business they will put up is something that people will return to each month and is not perishable like food. Surely, Bayad Center neatly fits in as people need to pay their Meralco and other bills every month.
Their father convinced them to go into Bayad Center as his colleague had done earlier in a province, he asked the siblings to look at the business model and see if it is good enough for them.
They next scouted for a land to put up the Bayad Center, which they did after a family outing in Bicol one day, when they saw an ad along the highway for a 680-square meter property that was being sold. They took a photo of the contact details, called the owner of the property, and negotiated until they bought it. The land is along the main provincial highway of Barangay Lusacan, Tiaong, Quezon province. They paid the taxes and business permits.
Starting it up
Then they personally hired a cashier and all three of them diligently attended the two-months seminar held by Meralco for franchisees of Bayad Center. They paid Meralco for the franchise package and opened in early October.
The bills payment business involves a minimal fee of P5 paid to the franchisee per transaction. On their first month, they had a total of 2,200 transactions—a far cry from their goal of 8,000 transactions per month to achieve breakeven but which Meralco said is very good for starters. Nonito said that their feasibility study showed 12,000 per month transaction is achievable.
The bills payment business involves building up trust from as many consumers who still regard paying bills at Meralco or the banks more trustworthy. “But slowly, we are doing just that,” Nonito said.
He said that setting up the Bayad Center in the province, the first in Tiaong, entailed a lot of information and education campaign, and marketing effort as people there don’t even know the concept. Nonito added that Meralco helped in the production of marketing collaterals (fliers and tarpaulins) and advertising.
On the first few days since opening, Nonito was crossing the highway and spotted a 65-year-old lady waiting for a jeepney to go to Meralco in San Pablo City in Laguna, several kilometers away, to pay her bill. So he escorted to the Bayad Center and the delighted old lady vowed to keep paying her bills there. There are so many repeat customers but there are still new ones trying out the system.
He said that people in the province are delayed in paying Meralco bills because they find the office too far and chances are they have already used the money intended to pay the electricity bills. Nonito said that he was surprised that bills as low as P100 even don’t get paid two months after the disconnection notice. But their outlet now has big accounts like hotels, gas stations, and commercial establishments, which pay bills in checks.
Barely on their first month and even when they have not posted a “for rent” notice, a franchisee of Mini Stop convenience store approached them asking for a long-term lease. They agreed and so Mini Stop is launching on December 15, Crafty Corner, which sells books and school/office supplies. He explained that within 2- kilometer radius from their Bayad Center are two national high schools and several other private schools.
The peak period in payment is as early as 8 a.m. (when long queues occur) until shortly after lunch every first and last week of the month, Nonito explained.
Tiaong is in between San Pablo City and Candelaria also in Quezon province, and the Bayad Center is located next to a bus terminal, which makes it ideal for those just passing through and wanting to pay their bills.
Nonito said that he is still looking at other businesses to put up in the vacant spaces of their lot to take advantage of the foot traffic of 2,200 people now, and this will continue to increase in the coming months. He said they are looking at either a pharmacy or barbershop.