Blog Archives

Starting a Janitorial Business

(Originally published on August 28, 2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

A janitorial services business has excellent potential and needs little capital to start. There are janitorial companies that have started small and are now deploying hundreds and thousands of workers because more companies now turn to agencies to handle their  sanitation requirements. Not only do they find it cheaper, but the manpower are usually better trained.

To get into the janitorial services business, here is a list of the basic steps:

1. Undergo training. Learn how to properly conduct janitorial services. Unless you will be hiring a supervisor or manager, you will have to be the one to teach your janitors. Learn how to minimize your supplies usage as well as maintain housekeeping work standards. You also need to know the legal standards and safety measures to avoid accidents and health hazards.

2. Select a location for your office. Go for the most affordable site since office location is not important in this business. In fact, you could start first by being home-based to save on rentals.

3. Come up with a descriptive business name and register with the appropriate agencies: Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for single proprietor; and with the Securities

and Exchange Commission (SEC) for corporations or partnerships.

4. Get a barangay clearance and then proceed to the municipal or city hall to get your business permit.

5. Register with the Bureau of Internal Revenue and get your TIN, Certificate of Registration, and obtain authority to print receipts.

6. Register with the Social Security System, Philhealth, Pagibig Fund and the Department of Labor.

7. Open a bank account for your business.

8. Hire qualified manpower and train them to properly conform to you and your client’s standards. They must be well-trained before deployed to a client.

9. Develop an efficient payroll system for your personnel.

10. Purchase the appropriate equipment and supplies. Some of the pricier equipment you must have are floor polishers, vacuum cleaners, pressure washers and power scrubbing machines.

11. Pick the most appropriate marketing strategy. If you are a startup, network to gain potential clients or to scout for establishments that may need your janitorial service. You

can also post your services on free ads websites since many people now use the internet to look for janitorial services. This is cost-effective for those with limited capital. Those with more resources should advertise in newspapers and/or the yellow pages.

12. Be able to cost and price your services properly. While labor costs will be the bulk of your expenses, cleaning supplies, equipment  depreciation and office overhead must be taken into account.

The janitorial services business is not glamorous, but due to necessity, lesser competition and simplicity, it is a solid business with a reliable cash flow. For people with limited capital and who are not afraid to work hard, this is indeed a promising venture.

Want to learn more about this business? BusinessCoach, Inc., a leading business seminar provider, conducts seminars on “How to Start a Janitorial Business.” Contact (2) 727-5628/8860 or visit for details.


(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

Setting an Apartment Rental Business

(Originally published on August 21,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

For those looking for a steady source of income with minimal time to spend, an apartment rental business is hard to beat. You may have heard a lot of horror stories about problem tenants, but notice that most landlords will never sell their apartments.

The truth is a lot of retirees depend on the monthly rental payments for their everyday expenses. Despite everything, apartments normally do not go bankrupt like many small businesses. That is why they are a favorite investment for people who want minimal risk.

However, there is a downside to the safety of this business. The lesser risk comes at the price of lower returns. It will take a relatively long time to get back your investment compared to other ventures. The cash flow, while steady, is small in comparison to the size of the investment.

You must also be updated with current rental laws. The rules on how much you can increase rentals and the ejectment procedures constantly change, so you must be abreast.

Be very selective in screening tenants. Reject those who have a strong chance of not paying their obligations. Do not allow those who will likely cause too much wear and tear on your apartment, as well.

Your lease agreement must be carefully drafted. It would be best to have one drafted by an attorney with experience in making lease contracts. Buying a ready-made document from a store may not only result in an unfavorable agreement, but your tenants will have a lesser view of the agreement.

The registration requirements for an apartment rental business are simple. Assuming that you will be constructing your own, here are the basic steps:

1. Check first if the property you have or plan to acquire is zoned for the construction of a residential apartment. Know, too, about restrictions like the maximum number of floors you can build. These restrictions may possibly make your investment not feasible.

2. Register with the Department of Trade if you will be the sole owner of the property or with the Securities and Exchange Commission if you plan to be a corporation. Have your accountant or lawyer prepare the needed papers.

3. Get a Barangay Clearance.

4. Obtain a Building Permit and Occupation Permit from the municipal or city hall. You must also secure your Fire Safety Permit there.

5.Register with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). Get your certificate of registration. This will contain the schedule of your tax obligations with the national government. If you still do not have a Tax Identification Number, obtain it at the BIR along with your authority to print official receipts.

6. Have your receipts printed. Starting an apartment is a sound investment, but you must know what you are doing to avoid mistakes. Since apartments require a substantial capital, and laws and trends change fast, it would be prudent to know more about this venture before proceeding.


BusinessCoach, Inc., a leading business seminar provider, conducts seminars on starting an Apartment or Commercial Stall Rentals Business. Contact them at (2) 727-5628/8860 or e-mail for details.


(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

Business Coach: Insights on Retail Location Hunting

(Originally published on July 31, 2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Ruben Anlacan Jr.

I recently wrote an article (archived at on how to look for a good retail location, but due to space constraints there were many vital considerations that were not discussed.

For the benefit of those who want to know more about choosing a retail location, we will go deeper into the other factors:

• Know what type of goods you are selling. While location is a vital element in any retail establishment, its degree of importance depends on the type of goods sold. Convenience items like groceries need to be very accessible since buyers are unlikely to travel far to buy these type of goods. On the other hand, “shopping” type of goods like clothing and furniture are usually canvassed and compared so people may spend more time and effort looking for the items.

• Pick the far corner lot. We all know that a corner lot is more desirable than an inside lot because it is more visible and has more frontage, but since there are four corners in an intersection you must know which corner is the most desirable. Generally, it is the corner to the right after crossing the intersection that is more attractive. This concept is crucial to apply if your store is relying on vehicular traffic for a significant portion of your sales.

• Know what the past tenant was paying. Even if you know the going rental rate for a location, it is a good idea to find out what the former tenant was paying. If it turns out that the last tenant was paying far below the going rate, you could use that fact in negotiating for your rental. It would not hurt your bargaining position and you may get lucky especially if the landlord is in a hurry to have the place rented.

• Know if the franchisor wants to get the site for himself/herself. If after submitting your proposed site to a franchisor you receive rejection in a couple of days, then you must worry if the franchisor is after your site. It is highly unlikely that the franchisor had already properly assessed your site in the span of two days.

• The role of frontage. All retails stores will benefit from a larger frontage, but a counter type operation will need a bigger frontage than a self-service operation. In a counter type retail store, it is more advantageous to double the frontage than to double the store area.

• Store size in itself is a traffic magnet. Consumers believe that the larger the store the better assortment it has and the more reliable it is. We learned this the hard way when we drastically reduced the floor area of a drugstore branch to save on rental. However, after one year, while we did not reduce our inventory, sales fell by almost half.

• Study census data. This information can be gathered from the National Statistics Office (NSO). Find out the population, income and other data in your location that may help you have a better idea of your market.

• Use Google Maps. This is a website by Google wherein you can get an actual satellite view of your site. Previously, only large companies could get an aerial view by hiring a helicopter or plane. Much of what they obtained at a prohibitive cost then you can now get for free. There are so many things you can learn from studying your potential location in Google maps. You can see both customer generators, obstacles and other useful data that you may miss on foot.

• Check if there are zoning problems. Do not be complacent just because the previous tenant or owner of the site was able to operate the same business, they may have clout with the local authorities or their operation was tolerated because it has been there for a long time.

• Factor in the cost of renovation. Often you will find a location that seems amazingly cheap, but it is just an unfinished shell. The cost of fixing and furnishing the place may greatly exceed the savings from the lower rent. Furthermore, there may be some specifications (like the need to use tempered glass) that you must comply with that will jack up your projected budget.

• Walk around the property in all the different locations. Allocate several days to walking around your prospective site. This will allow you to have a better feel for the place and you will learn many things that will not show up in a market research report.

• Ask people that may be in position to know about the site. Be resourceful and interview suppliers of the past tenant. Strike a conversation with people who see the place everyday, like the sales clerks in the adjoining store, and ask about the number of people patronizing the place. One very successful food entrepreneur even interviewed a garbage collector of a restaurant to gauge how strong their sales were!

• Make sure you are signing up with the owner of the site or his/her authorized representative. Ask around the neighborhood to verify ownership. You can even check with the register of deeds in city hall to confirm that you are dealing with the right party.

Do not be too shy to ask for the proper identification since you will be giving out a substantial amount of money.

Location is the most important decision in most retails stores because reversing a mistake is extremely costly or impossible. Spending more time and effort to choose the best location must not be considered an expense, but instead view it as an investment with a very high rate of return.


Business and management consultant Ruben Anlacan, Jr. is the president of BusinessCoach, Inc. and a resource speaker for various business topics. He discusses overviews and tips for business from the point of view of a small or medium-scale entrepreneur who has started several successful enterprises. Those who wish to ask questions or to make comments may visit or e-mail

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

Starting Your Own Pet Shop

(Originally published on July 17,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

Animal lovers will find a pet shop not only fulfilling to handle but surprisingly lucrative—if you know how to do it right. For those already involved in breeding pets, setting up a pet shop promises a profitable extension of their business.

The following are the steps and tips to get you started on this fascinating business:

1. Register your business with all the proper government agencies. Before you start, get a business name from the Department of Trade (DTI) if your business will be a sole proprietorship, or from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) if you plan it to be a corporation or partnership. Obtain a barangay clearance before you proceed to get a business permit from the mayor’s office, and then acquire a certificate of registration and authority to print receipts from the BIR. Other entities you have to comply with are the SSS, Pag-ibig, Philhealth, DOLE, Bureau of Animal Industry, and the Department of Agriculture.

2. Know the laws that govern the sourcing, handling and selling of animals. There are endangered species that cannot be sold legally. You may also be liable for cruelty to animals if you fail to implement the proper care of the pets, which includes proper feeding, facilities and handling.

3. Choose a location where there are other pet shops or a mall. People buying pets tend to shop around before they buy. They want to check a wide variety so buyers tend to flock to places where there are many pet shops in the same area. You can observe this in Arranque, Cartimar and other places where plenty of pet animals are sold. However, a pet shop may also be successful alone if it is located inside a large mall. Here the advantage of convenience and high foot traffic can give good sales to pet shops.

4. Invest in good displays. Make sure the containment structures are of the right size for the animals. There must be enough room for the pets to move around and maintain their health. Remember that some animals quickly outgrow their space.

5. Source from reputable dealers. Get only from sources that can provide the legal papers. Never get from illegal sources, not only to avoid future legal problems but there is also that strong possibility of getting a disease-carrier.

6. Know what animals can be kept together. Due to space constraints, it is impractical to keep every animal in its own cage. However, make it a point to find out which animals are antagonistic toward each other. Note that there are members of the same species that cannot be put in the same cage or aquarium.

7. Have a veterinarian on retainer. Your pets will need medical care, from vaccines to antibiotics and vitamins. These are the things that only qualified veterinarians know. They can also provide you valuable advice on how to best take care of the pets.

8. Carry a line of pet supplies and accessories as well. These will help you have a more even cash flow. You may even earn more from the supplies and accessories because they are purchased regularly. People will also want to have all they will need for their pet available in one place. Every time they go back to your store, there is also a chance that you can sell them more pets.

9. Learn as much as you can about the pets you are selling. Customers will patronize pet shops that can give them reliable information. You will also minimize losses due to pets dying of faulty care. Healthy pets also look nicer; hence, they are easier to sell. Knowing about the animals you are selling also ensures you can be in better compliance with the regulatory agencies.

10. Set the proper prices. To price profitably, you must always be aware of the prevailing market prices by canvassing your competitors. This will enable you to set your prices at a level that will sell and still have a good margin. Nevertheless, there are some rules of thumb that are useful to know. Life animals usually go for at least double the cost of the pet including transportation.

11. Market your pet shop. It is not sufficient to just wait for customers to walk in; you must also be continuously promoting your store. Come up with flyers with special offers and learn internet marketing. It is also cost effective to place advertisements in local publications in the area where your store is located.

Pet shops consist of a delightful business to operate but because your inventory are living things, extra special effort must be exerted to ensure their well-being.

If you want to learn more about BusinessCoach Inc., call (2) 727-5628 or 727-8860 for details or e-mail You can also visit their website at to see more business opportunities.

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

Yupp and Hip: Professionalism in the Workplace

(Originally published on Wednesday, July 14, 2010)


As Reliable as ABC

Johnny, be good. And he is. He’s the janitor, and though not a lawyer or doctor, he comes to work on time and cleans the floor as told and leaves no stone unturned.

He’s professional. And he’ll keep the Philippine workers’ reputation a formidable force to reckon with (and we don’t have to fear business leaving our shore for others).

Let’s focus then on these twins: skill or competence and character. This is what professionalism involves. One is science, the other psychology. One is reliability, and the other as basic as ABC.

Now, on with the first…

Reliability: begins with skills and competence.

First: Excel in your expertise as expected. That’s how your skills and competence will show and be admired and respected. Know your P’s and Q’s.

You have to be good at something. Work on your IT skills if that’s your field.  Master your debit and credit if you’re an accountant (debit didn’t kill Goliath). As a marketer, manage your brand to make it number one.

Don’t leave anything to chance or luck. If you’re a telephone operator, work hard at pronouncing your words well, modulating your tone, and making a telephone conversation an ecstatic experience.

When your customer asks you anything, provide information that is clear, correct, and complete. Anticipate his/her needs and wants. When they ask for coffee, ask them if they want sugar and cream with it.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a CEO or a janitor. Just be the best CEO or the best janitor you can be.

Second: Deliver services with quality. Conform to standards and pay attention to detail. That’s quality. You arrive at it through the work habits you develop. There’s discipline, initiative, resourcefulness.

The greatest secret, to greatest salesman Og Mandino, is to be a small, measurable amount better than mediocrity, and you’ve got it made.

You fixed your client’s car. Your tools are all over. The metallic clutter stares at you while you’re about to leave. Clean up your mess.

And then there’s time, the scarcest resource. Tardiness cannot be justified.  Laziness will take you to hell. Sluggishness shows ill health.

Once, a new employee arrived late. His boss asked him, “How come you arrived only now? It’s already 10 a.m. You were supposed to be here at 8!” And he said, “Why, sir, what happened?”

Deliver your goods on time. You say you’ll call me back at 8 p.m., then do so. Or text if you cannot. And apologize if you don’t.

Don’t settle for better late than later. Go for better never late (I’m quoting quality service guru Prof. Rene Domingo of AIM).

Third: Be there 101%. If your mind is not in what you’re doing, any virus can penetrate the weak borders of your blurred or bleary brain.

Take the typical case of the teller who’s supposed to be counting your money and then sidetracks to a friend just to ask if she’s had her merienda.

Be present for the customer: i.e. not just one who buys from you, but anyone you deal with. Even your boss or your assistant is your customer.

LL Bean, owner of the hunting shoe company from Maine and often quoted in customer service circles, takes us further. He says: “A customer is the most important person ever in the office, in person, or by mail. He is not an interruption of our work; he is the purpose of it.”

It’s all as basic as your…

ABC (as simple as your character: Adapt, Balance, Care).

Fourth: Adapt to your customers and your workplace. If you’re handling anyone who wants full attention, then give full attention. If a client wants to tell you stories, then hospitably listen.

Adapting means being alert to business culture. I recall my advertising days: I noticed that the copy department was the most vibrant. The president would walk along the corridors and stumble over copywriters lying on the floor. And that was ok with the big boss. As long as they produced their copy requirements on time.

Work in a bank and it’s different. You have to be in shirt and tie and be well-behaved and observe your etiquette.

Fifth: Observe moderation. Balance two ends of opposite extremes. On one hand, you want to show you’re reliable, but on the other hand, you want them to know you’re not a stiff corpse of a nerd.

Don’t joke around when there’s no need. You can have fun without being childish. Care for their needs but don’t be cloying. Be serious but smile when you have to.

Maintain your distance as one serving bosses or clients, even as they go palsy-walsy with you. Still call them sir or ma’am, and say excuse me with eye contact and a smile.

Sixth: Care for people with ethics and integrity. Focus on the key words.  Care means value: your co-worker and customer are people with feelings who need acceptance and fear rejection. Ethics means not knowingly doing harm: don’t mix harmful ingredients in the cake you’re baking for the customer. Integrity means intact: don’t tell your customer that the item was made in the U.S. if it was made in Nicaragua.

Two local words capture these six guides: maaasahan and malasakit. Can you be depended upon?  Do you care for the people you serve?

This is what quality customer service is all about: Reliability and Character (Adapt, Balance, Care).

And so, as a new era in Philippine politics is ushered in, make a vow to be as professional as you can be (we’re known that way worldwide).

Let the spirit of a new beginning flow from the top leadership to every worker in the field. Let the word Filipino be synonymous to world-class: Charice Pempengco, Manny Pacquiao, Efren Penaflorida, and then there could be—or is—you…or Johnny the janitor.

Your macro reflects your micro. Your professionalism at work, more than your skills or competence, in short, is your character.

Long live the professional Filipino!

About the Author: Dr. Dups—international speaker, executive and personal coach, and author—is the managing director of his own consultancy firm, RAdelosReyes Management Consultancy. He does training programs here and abroad (from Bangkok to Guam, USA) to top local and multinational firms, and has written ten books so far (on English usage, business writing, public speaking, and salesmanship). His latest is the trailblazing leadership guide Coach with EQ—and the more-than-just-jokes joke book Laugh and Last (check out National and Power Books), both recently launched. Email him at drdups AT (replace the AT with @) or look for his contact numbers in his books.

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin and Dr. Dups delos Reyes. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

Yupp and Hipp: One Moment, Please, for Solutions and Good Feelings

(Originally published on Sunday, June 27, 2010)


A popular Philippine innovation is the phrase “for a while,” often heard on the phone. And I’m not proud of that as a Filipino. The PCOS-machine-backed national elections, yes, but rampant destruction of standard native English?  If you’re used to world-class English, or if you know that business is as global as can be, then “for a moment” jars your cochlea, and you either swear or…well, write an article like this.

Let’s expand this to a broader perspective like customer service, where the above questionable phrases are used in this age of call centers.

I shall zero in then on my two commandments: customers want their problems solved, and they want to feel good.

As service providers—which we all are even if we sell tangible products, or even if you don’t sell—we should focus on those two reasons why people buy… and buy again.  Provide solutions and good feelings.

So where does English come in here?

First, you can’t solve problems well if you use a word that means something else or if you pronounce a word so differently it means something else.

Second, you can’t make your customer feel good if you murder English.

The first reason people buy is that they need solutions to their problems. I must assume that you have meticulously mastered your technical product details.

Add to this your English communication skills on the phone.

Let’s start with language adaptation. My golden rule is to speak your customer’s  language. If s/he speaks English, then you must speak English. It does pay to learn the language of the customer and be consistent in your language use. Instead of “Yes po,” say “Yes sir.” Or instead of “The lines are so long, sir, as in so long,” say “The lines are extremely long; it might take one more day.”

If you end with that thought, you leave the customer hanging. Provide a remedy or an alternative. Say instead: “It might take one more day. I suggest however that you…”

One of the best examples is the Mandarin Oriental Hotel staff. Initiating my feeling of customer delight is the phone operator. No English errors. Excellent modulation.  You ask for the front desk, or any person, and she acknowledges first with “I’ll connect you now,” unlike other call center operators who simply connect you without your knowing if they heard you.

A few days ago I spoke on the phone with a cake shop staffer, wanting to know if I could order fruitcakes (that’s like buying thick jackets in summer!). The staffer politely said that she would have to confirm with the chef and asked for my contact number for her to return my call (certainly lots better than being made to wait). A few hours after (this is the wonder—the Mandarin staff’s coordination is seamless) someone else called to say yes. And the friend to whom I owed one is now enjoying his fruit cakes, ecstatic with his “Yehey, it’s Christmas!”

Then there’s directness to the point. Have you ever asked for something and the answer is for something else? I ask, “May I know what amount is available for me to spend?” and the credit card operator says, “As of May xx, your overdue amount is xx.”

So I butt in and say, “Please answer my question, I’m just asking how much can I still spend,” and he says, “I’m getting there sir.” So now I say, “Cut it out…I don’t care for the background, just tell me how much,” and I don’t even hear an “I’m sorry.”

And I don’t feel good.

Which leads us to the second reason people buy…and buy again. The first turn off is, I am made to wait without any proviso before the waiting time. Like you’re left hanging all of a sudden.

Or there’s no tact at all.  When I’m told, “You did not provide the details in the form,” I feel like I’m being accused.

Enter the passive voice, about which I have written an article, plus of course the alert sense of remedy. Say instead, “Although we don’t have the details, sir, we would be happy to encode them so that we can serve you right away.

And then of course—finally—there’s basic English.

When the person who takes my call has to check if the person I’m looking for is around, you hear not just nonstandard but atrocious English. The most notorious—nay, shameful—phrase from this side of the world is, “For a while, or “A moment.” And I swear I cannot stomach either.

“For a while” is standard when it usually ends a sentence, but not as a single stand-alone phrase.  You can say “I was in the office for a while,” or “He spoke with me only for a moment,” or “A moment is precious so don’t waste time.”

Use instead: “just a while, please” or “just a moment, please,” or “one moment, please,” or “please hold on.”

As long as you don’t say, “He’s out of the country for a few days…would you like to wait?”

How about prepositions? Do you say “speak with” or “speak to”?  You hear “speak to” from the British more often, and “speak with” from Americans. I prefer using “speak with”; it sounds polite (“speak to” sounds condescending). Your choice. Just be consistent.

And then there’s pronunciation. Above all, say “please” with a “pleeeez” sound, technically, the long “e” sound. Not “pliz hold on.” And it’s a long “o” sound for “hold,” as in “howld on.” And not “hold on” as in “called on.”

A final suggestion for world-class English. Instead of responding with “Speaking” or “Yes,” try the most standard there is: “This is she.” Or if you’re a guy, make sure you’re careful with your articulation and pause between “is” and “he.” “This is…he.” Otherwise you could sound saying “this-is-she.”

Customer service is gender-free and gender sensitive. Male or female—oops, I should have said female or male (chivalry isn’t dead yet)—stick to standard native English if you must use English on the phone.

“One moment, please,” or “Just a while, please.” Provide solutions and good feelings… “pleeeez”!

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin and Dr. Dups delos Reyes. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

Creating Opportunities in Adversity

(Originally published on Sunday, June 20, 2010)


Make your own good news by adapting your job search

If you’ve kept an eye on the news, the April 2010 Labor Force Survey (LFS) recently released by the National Statistics Office tells us that the unemployment rate has increased (see charts included with this article). But remember that there is always a way to turn things to your advantage.

Take the LFS results. If you read carefully, you’ll see that the jobs are in the services sector (making a culture of good customer of vital importance—something we’ll tackle). They will tell you that you have a better chance of being employed as a full-time laborer or unskilled worker at a private company, and if you’re a woman and/or you have a college degree.

So how can you increase your chances of getting a good job? Over the two years the Classifieds have been around, here are the best tips that have appeared on these pages:

1. Finish your education. Though over 40% of those unemployed have college degrees, remember that the survey includes fresh graduates. The jobs with higher starting salaries and greater room for promotions are most often open to those with college degrees.

2. Approach your job search differently and learn to be both flexible and creative. Be prepared to have to do more to find a job, and be willing to take a long hard look at your options. Remember, if you aren’t flexible and creative, there’s always someone else out there who is willing to be, and who will land the job ahead of you.

3. Now is the time to network. Why not let your Facebook, Multiply, and/or Friendster connections know you’re searching for a job? (Just be sure your account isn’t filled with photos and/or comments that make you look silly, unprofessional, or cast you in a bad light.) Don’t forget alumni associations for your school, past bosses and colleagues, even the people you interned for in your last year of college. Just two things to remember: Make a personal connection; be prepared to help the other person in turn, and be sincere.

4. Be armed. Improve your resume by updating it with job-oriented achievements instead of a mere list of work experiences, and reformatting it, if necessary. Ask for letters of reference now, and inform other references that you have listed them as such. Tailor your cover letter to specific companies you’re applying for, the better to show your suitability for a particular job. And why not get your employment requirements now? (See list of pre-employment requirements below.)

5. Be willing to work outside your comfort zone and to train in new skills. The good news is that new jobs in different growing fields, particularly in the BPO sector and in IT, are opening up to those who are willing to work outside their comfort zone and learn new things. Richard Nelson Bolles, author of “What Color Is Your Parachute?’’ He advises jobseekers to be receptive to the idea that in the future they may be working “in the service of new technologies,’’ he said. To prepare for this, why not take advantage of free training offered by institutions like the Philippine Trade Training Center or PTTC hold free training sessions (the last Friday of the month, and it’s listed in the Classified Calendar) to upgrade your skills?

5. Keep an open mind and a positive attitude. Consider jobs you weren’t sure you wanted to apply for. Take a few risks. Bernadette Kenny, chief career officer for Adecco, a staffing company, suggests that jobseekers make a list of what you need to do each day (see the sample list on this page), and “try to keep your emotions separate from the tasks of the day… This is not the time to say, ‘Well, there aren’t any jobs out there, so I won’t look,’ ” she says. Bolles adds that with the right attitude, job seekers “can often turn this crisis into a real advantage for themselves” by moving their life in a new and more fulfilling direction” so that they can look back and realize that “this is the best thing that ever happened to me.’’

6. Be willing to go outside your comfort zone. Don’t just look for the same job over and over. Bernadette Kenny, chief career officer for Adecco, a staffing company, advises jobseekers It is time to think harder about transferring the skills you have or acquiring new ones to move into a new type of job or industry.

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin and C. F. Bobis. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of copyright holders.)

Classifieds Service: What you can learn from the teachers who served during the elections

(Originally published Sunday, May 23, 2010)

What isn’t there to admire about the teachers who served during the last elections?

I arrived early to vote, but there was confusion and a lot of pushy people in my precinct. The teachers were taking charge, herding some to the holding rooms and instructing the others on how to shade their ballots. They never lost their patience, not even when there were complete idiots insisting on jumping the line or on the teachers locating their precincts for them. I decided to return in the afternoon, and voila! The lines were gone, and calm had been restored. The teachers calmly processed me: verified my identity, gave me my ballot, instructed me on how to shade the ovals, checked if I had any questions, and generally gave the public service fit for expensive establishments.

It’s such a shame that these teachers allegedly have not yet been paid for their services. Considering the stress they faced on that day, I am appalled at the behavior of many in the Philippine service industry. The National Statistics Office (NSO)’s January report estimates that 52.4% of the approximately 36 million employed Filipinos work in the services sector. Something is wrong when a majority of Filipinos who enter service-oriented establishments such as fast food restaurants, salon chains, and the like do not expect good service.

If you look through the Classifieds, you’ll see that a majority of the openings are for service-oriented jobs, whether at a BPO or at a large company. And yet who doesn’t have a horror story of bad service from, say, a customer service representative who, on the phone, treated you like an idiot, or a cashier who cursed and pouted when you didn’t have the exact change?

Professionalism is lacking in the service industry of the Philippines, and too many Filipinos employed in this industry have two fatal flaws: a sense of entitlement and no pride in their job. The lack of professionalism is manifested in how, say, a salesgirl will think she has the right to text friends and take photos of herself and her friends during working hours—even when customers are present. A sense of entitlement can be seen in how a hairdresser will hover around you after a botched haircut, waiting for a tip he doesn’t deserve. And the lack of pride in one’s job can be seen in behavior such as stealing office supplies and spending the entire day on Facebook while at work.

The Business Dictionary defines professionalism as “meticulous adherence to undeviating courtesy, honesty, and responsibility in one’s dealings with customers and associates, plus a level of excellence that goes over and above the commercial considerations and legal requirements.”

And these are what many of the teachers who served during the elections displayed. Let’s go over them one by one.

  • Undeviating courtesy. Yes, there are stupid customers who make unreasonable requests and are rude—but they are in the minority, and remember, customers respond to your attitude. Yes, you can get stressed out by your job. But remember: this is your job, and you owe the customer a high degree of courtesy because without them you would have no job. Remember that these teachers are basically required to do this job, whether they like it or not, and you chose to be in your service job. If they can be courteous despite doing something they have no choice about, then so can you. You, at least, are paid regularly and on time—and you have labor boards to resort to if you’re not.
  • Honesty. How often do you hang around the bundy clock waiting for 5 pm? How often have you filed overtime when in truth you merely waited for your download of a popular TV show to finish? Many teachers at the polls had nothing to hide, and were not ashamed to tell people when something had gone wrong with a PCOS machine or when people had to wait for their turn to vote due to the sheer volume of people
  • Responsibility. How often has this happened to you in a busy restaurant: the waiters avoid your eye and do ‘make work’ such as pretending to fix napkins or condiments? A responsible person is there to work, and will be sensitive to the needs of customers who need his or her attention. The teachers stayed at their posts despite temperatures of up to 36 degrees, assorted pests (of the insect and human variety), and people throwing their weight around. That’s because they kept their eye on their objective: to ensure that the election process flowed smoothly and voters were able to vote. This is responsibility at its highest form: the ability to take responsibility for the needs of others.
  • A high level of excellence beyond what is required. Certainly the teachers who served during the elections could have been rude and surly. They, after all, had to serve thousands of people, very few of whom, mind, said “Thank you” after they voted. And yet they helped ensure that the polls ran much more smoothly than in the past. Their quick absorption of the training given them about the new technology of the PCOS machines was shared with voters who needed help. In Japan, you will insult service persons if you leave a tip, because they believe that good work is its own reward. If you adapt that philosophy—just as many of those teachers did—you’ll realize that work becomes a little easier to bear.

This once a month column will tackle issues about the service industry and serve as a forum for tips from readers to those in the service industry, and for advice from service industry experts to share their wisdom with those in the same field. In June, we’d like to hear from you about the other side of the fence: How do you deal with an angry customer? Email your responses to, and the best answers will be published here and get a chance to win a gift certificate from Businessmaker Academy for their sought-after courses. (C. F. Bobis)

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