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Monday, March 07, 2005

small business franchise infomercials

It's been a long time since I've paid attention to the infomercial kind of articles which often appear in newspapers (or at least in the online versions), presenting successful cases of small businesses. More often than not, the cases belong to a franchise, which gets some good visibility. And the photographs accompanying the article almost without exception show the proprietor holding a piece of her or his product in hands. And taking a look at the homepage of the franchise, the article that's mentioned the company is given good visibility. (Which reminds me of a banner of a restaurant that was shown in an Ohmynews article long time ago: This restaurant has not appeared in television and will not do so, or something.)

This one is in Chosun Ilbo, which prints these quite often.

Mr Kim opened a possam restaurant after resignation from his salaryman post in a Japanese trading company in 1998. (The timing makes one inevitably think that his resignation had a lot to do with the economic crisis of the time.) He opened a PC room with his wife, but operating it 24 hours a day was a bit of a burden, so after 1.5 years they decided to change to another kind of business.
Mr Kim decided to open a restaurant. "I did not have professional skills (chônmun chisik) on food, but I trusted my managerial skills after 22 years in a foreign conglomerate." "Finally I settled for a franchise because that guarantees a unform taste of food, and after that the rest was up to me."
The next question was the type of business. The Kims went to more than 30 business opening lectures, and used 2-3 weeks to do market research for the 7 or 8 sites they were introduced by the franchise company. They surveyed the number of people moving aorund in the area (yudong in'gu), and estimated the economic level of the neighborhood by observing the clothing of the people in the streets.
Mr Kim's possam restaurant is not a small one: he's got 13 employees even though he opened the place as late as in 2003, and monthly sales are close to 100 million [75000€]. This means that he was able to invest quite a nice chunk of money in this place.

The other success story is a chicken (tak) place; originally it was a Japanese restaurant, which only was driving the proprietor into bankruptcy. The keeper, Mr Han, decided to "remodel" (the Korean term) his restaurant into a "fire chicken" (pultak) place, which has proved to be a viable business, giving him at the moment monthly sales of 70 mil W [53000€], of which 16-18 million is net profit (suniik).
He decided for a "fire chicken" place which was gaining in popularity at the time. In remodeling he paid attention to making a difference with the interior. The location is a small provincial town, and people often gather among schoolmates and workmates, so he made partitionings between tables, and has sofas as seats which would have the customers stay longer.

I'm not really sure what service this kind of infomercial articles serve except for the publicity for the companies introduced and for some pieces of info on business opening cases. Late last year Donga Ilbo wrote a serial about the current plight of small businesses, in which one discussed problem were the exaggerated expectations and unpreparedness of franchising businesses. Chosun Ilbo, which usually seems to get quite positive responses to its articles form its readers in the "100 character response" (100chap'yông), but this time the response was freezing, like this one:
이 기사보고 창업하겠다고 나서는 사람이야말로 어리버리한 사람이다.기자 역시 월급쟁인데 장사에 대해 알면 얼마나 알겠나? 기사 쓰겠다고 체인점 본사에 가서 물어보면 그중 장사 제일 잘되는 체인점의 일방적인 이야기만 듣고 기사 쓰는것 아니겠소. 또 '놀부보쌈과 불짱 본사에서 기자에게 점심값이라도 하라고 얼마간 "거마비"라도 먹인 냄새가 철철나는 기사다.(03/07/2005 02:40:34)

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