Business lessons from Mariano Manas, founder of Hen Lin
Hen Lin is a popular stall for those who want to enjoy authentic Chinese take-out food such as dim sum favorites like siomai and mami. But did you know that this company was started by its founder Mariano Manas when he was already 46 years old?
Manas came up with the idea of selling popular dimsum products at the start of the “malling” phenomenon in the 1980s. He opened his first stand in an SM mall, naming it “Hen Lin” after his children Henry and Lyn. The company was so successful that it opened a second stand in another shopping center.
Today, Hen Lin has nearly 300 points of sale across the Philippines! Here are some business lessons from Manas.
Know your market
No matter how good your product is, if you don’t target the right market, your business will flop.
Manas loves to eat siomai and mami but be aware that these items are so expensive in Chinese restaurants and 5 star hotels. So he thought of selling affordable dim sum favorites, targeting those on a budget.
He said it was a personal gratification for him to let ordinary people enjoy real siomai at affordable prices. Although he earns less per order, selling more items could earn him more money.
“I imagine if I make one peso per siopao at that time, I can make P30 if I sell 30 coins. I can earn 300 pesos up to 7,000 pesos. This is what motivates you. So I started selling to supermarkets, schools and then to SMs where they continued to open new points of sale.Manas explained.
Make your product stand out
Unless you are selling a unique or rare item, you will likely have a lot of competition in the market. The challenge is to make your product stand out from the crowd in order to attract customers to your store.
Learn to innovate
Don’t settle for your products, just because they are more and more popular in the market. Instead, learn to innovate and create new products. This way your customers will appreciate something new and you can also attract new customers who are looking for such items.
Valuable partners and clients
Manas understands that no man is an island when doing business. This is why it takes care to promote its partners as well as their customers. He claims that in his 40 years in business, he has never taken advantage of anyone.
Save and invest in the future
Manas prefers to buy on an installment basis, so he still has money to save in the bank. But he also thinks about every investment he makes and always makes a goal of investing for the future.
“You can buy anything on raw land, commercial land, or an installment condominium. When you pay in installments, you have to save. Don’t spend more than what you earn. Sometimes it takes discipline to do this,” he added.