It’s the Little Things that Bring the Most Joy…

When I started Zubuchon, one of my main objectives was to provide more job opportunities, and jobs that paid better and looked out for employee welfare. It really wasn’t intended to be just a money maker, an objective that tax authorities took us to task for after our first half year of restaurant operations. Today, we have grown to nearly 250 personnel, we have more than 80% permanent staff (that’s low since we have recently added several dozen folks in anticipation of new outlets), we do NOT have any broken shifts like 90+% of restaurants (meaning they work lunch, have a gap of several hours and work again at dinner, making for an effective 12 hour work day) and we provide all benefits mandated by law, and in addition medical insurance for some members of the staff. They have the best outings and parties, sports tournaments, training, trips and eat better than most employees in various types of companies. We spend almost double what other restaurant chains spend on staff, and that comes out of profits directly (which also means there is less to tax… :).

So when one of our own, a lechonero who is quite young, is interviewed and featured in a full-page article in the local papers, basically telling us his family’s story of woe and how he is now, at just 22 years old, effectively the main breadwinner in his family, it brings more than a bit of joy to me and everyone else at Zubuchon. Despite all the complications and headaches associated with running a business here in the Philippines, it is little snippets of reality like this one story that make it all so very worth the effort. The article doesn’t state it, but John’s grandfather was my wife’s grandmother’s trusted driver for many decades, so when his dad passed away and the family was clearly in the dumps, we were more than happy to take him under the Zubuchon wing, and now that includes his sisters and mother as well.

He must have the luck of the media with him, as John was also the one Zubuchon employee with the longest cameo role in the Daniel Padilla movie “Must Be Love” a couple of years ago, he appeared in a full page spread in an Australian cookbook called 7000 islands and he has appeared in several other magazine shoots. Needless to say, as soon as I saw this article in print this morning, I had him buy 4 more copies to give his Lolo and his cousins. He was beaming from ear to ear. And all the other employees at head office have been ribbing him no end all morning.


34 Responses

  1. John is blessed because his employer has a good heart. Marketman, you exemplify what entrepreneurship should be all about. Good job and wishing you more success.

  2. Mon and Betchay, I think if more employers just did the right thing, and more importantly, if the millions of consumers were good enough to differentiate by giving their business to companies that did the right thing, then maybe, just maybe we could effect real positive change in the Philippine employment landscape. But if we continue to patronize companies with dubious HR practices (like contractualization for most of their staff, the least possible wages and benefits, the least amount of training and development, etc.) then we perpetuate the wicked system in place. Everyone told me we wouldn’t last if we did what I wanted to do, and now nearing our 5th year of restaurant operations and 7th year since we first started selling lechons, I am happy to say to those folks, you were dead wrong… :)

  3. A million likes for what you stated MM. If there is a “Carrot Man” going viral in the last couple of days then John is the “Lechon Man” :)

  4. Worked for a company run by three friends. Co-workers were friends, too. Sadly, greed took over the management and had us employees leaving one by one. They used to have a staff of about 15 but now they’re down to just 5 or 6, I heard. And that’s including the 3 bosses. So sad.
    I salute you, MM, for doing more than what is mandated by law. May you be blessed abundantly just as you are a blessing to your employees.

  5. heart warming story on how social entrepreneurship helps lift 250 people’s boats

  6. Investing in your workforce pays itself in other ways than tax “breaks” I imagine. I would like very much to see a post about that.

    Here’s my view as an employee: whenever the company treats me as a number or as disposable, I treat the company likewise. If the company should decide to make me part of the game and have a stake on it, the rules change.

    I have worked for socialists (I will promote you give you more responsability, but no more money because you don’t need it) I made half the minimum wage at the time so NEED was a very strong word to use. I did deserve the promotion and the raise but I left, heartbroken.

    I have worked for capitalists who saw me as an resource that once outstripped of it’s functionality would be discarded. Once I understood this and saw my days numbered I started looking around for the next thing, found it and left, less heartbroken.

    Finding a place to work where the culture is one of retention of talent and of cultivating the talent in house is very hard. From where I stand, I can see benefits for the employers but the employers I have had clearly don’t. In the end this is my question to you, what are the benefits, for the business?

  7. You are one proof that employers with a heart do exist, MM, and may others follow your lead!!!

  8. A lot of talk about unintended consequences nowadays, usually negatives ones but hereabouts, one does not have to look far for felicitous unintended consequences. Yet one more reason for following this blog.

    À propos is Mahatma Gandhi’s oft cited quote: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

  9. You make us all so proud and happy for your BIG heart, MM. (Your mom would have said the very same) There goes a good man !!

    I especially applaud your business practice of NOT having BROKEN shifts (which I learned conversing with a young waitstaff, (in Cebu of all places many years ago) of how she had no place else to go between the lunch and evening service,” kasi mahal po ang pamasaje kong uuwi, doble ang gastos.”

    Bravo and salamat, MM…

  10. Take care of your employees and they will take care of your customers :-) Mabuhay ka, Joel! And congratulations, John!

  11. Nice job sir MM! I commend owners of food establishments/ restaurants that care for their employees. Totally I admire bosses that take care of their employees. Not everyone does that. For me you take care of your customers and of course your employees. Good job sir.

  12. May God give you more strength and passion to carry on with your work, Mr. MM. You are such an inspiration!

  13. Congratulations, MM and John! May all businesses have the same ideals as yours! More power to Zubuchon! And more Kapamilya/Kapuso cameos for your employees!!!

    On a completely different note, I just read your link to Caroline Kennedy’s blog. OMG, please have that picked up by mainstream media! Millennials can relate to that (if not to the human rights abuses)–Sorry for being so ADHD

  14. Congratulations, John… and daghang salamat, MM! Those naysayers were indeed dead wrong! It also makes a difference that profit was not one of your bigger motivations; many businesses (food or otherwise) overlook and perpetuate atrocities all in the name of the almighty bottomline.

    Maricel: Lechon-man for the win! :)

    On a sidenote, my Bisaya-reading skills got a huge wake-up call reading the article. My officemates were asking me to translate, and I had to take long pauses to comply. Wahahaha!

  15. Kasseopeia, it was pretty deep, it took me a while and a lot of help from work colleagues in Cebu to get the whole thing… :(

  16. I googled translate it, surprised it was translated but not fully… but at least I get the gist of it. Seriously, the country needs somebody like you MM, how about taking seriously running for a seat in the government? President?

  17. Since the business was put up with good intentions, it’s bound to succeed. Good karma kumbaga.

  18. Nice, may God, Allah, Buddha, Yahweh, etc., etc. shower you with infinite blessings. Just a question, what do you do with the excess food not sold for the day? I know some stores, groceries, restaurants just throw them away, which I think is such a waste. Hope yours is given away or composted.

  19. Mike, we don’t have that much “excess food” at the end of day, as most orders are cooked to order and portioned as such. For lechon, we have leftovers that go into other dishes such as sisig, paksiw, broths, etc. For roasted chickens left over, they go into slow-cooked broths for our chicken sotanghon. For food scraps from diner’s plates, they are set aside and sold as “lamao” and some folks pick this up and if I am not mistaken, feed it to their pigs. We do have some situations were portioned items reach a very short expiry date, and these are returned to head office, often to be included in staff meals, not thrown out. We intentionally place short expiry dates, but that doesn’t mean the food is no longer fit for consumption… Cans of soda with dents are also removed from showcases and sent back to office, and staff buy them at cost if they want.

  20. Well done MM! It’s not suprising why you are so blessed… you epitomize the principle of the More you give, the More you will receive. You are an inspiration to us followers of this blog site.

  21. Much love ..Kudos,Wishing more business establishment treat employees like you do.

  22. Marketman I applaud your fair and generous business practices. Morale must be very high among employees at all your various businesses, and in turn you you probably keep loyal and conscientious workers.
    Credit to young John too, for helping his family and looking out for his siblings in the future.

  23. that’s why i always make it a point to eat at your restos every time i get the chance to go home.



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