Living in the Philippines – Best "Passive" Businesses to Start

For those OFW’s and foreigners wishing to start a business, but not wishing to involve themselves with the stress of a business involving day-to-day operations, employees, landlords, inventory, and so forth, there are several available opportunities for foreigners living in the Philippines. Buy fixer upper properties, improve them, then rent or sell them.

1. Buy Fixer Upper Properties, Improve Them, Then Rent or Sell Them. This is a great business for those of you who have experience in your home country in buying, fixing up and renting or selling properties. Over the past 10 years, a lot of people got involved in this kind of business in their homeland.

With the overall economic problems in the world the past couple of years, the Philippines has not been immune, and there are a lot of properties in a state of disrepair, as well as lot of distressed and foreclosed properties.

2. Build An Apartelle. An Apartelle is an apartment building where all but one of the units are rented out long term, and you are left to operate on a nightly or weekly basis, like a hotel – hence the combined name of apartelle. These are common in the Philippines.

This business will require a heavier capital investment, yet with the right property and by focusing in the more rural areas or smaller cities, you can construct a small 4 unit apartment building for Peso 3,000,000 – not counting cost of the land.

You would want to rent out 3 units on a long term rental basis, and keep one for short term rentals – for the many traveling salesmen that frequent the countryside. They like booking into such short term apartelle units rather than the much more expensive hotels in the area.

3. Condotels. I have not given this business my “thumbs up” in all instances. Condotels have been heavily touted and promoted the past several years and there have been many, many new condominiums built in Manila, and now even in Cebu and starting in Davao.

The problem is that although the developers offer great down payment terms (usually around 30% down financed over 3 years) and in some cases carry back the mortgage and finance for perhaps 10 years, the interest rates are incredibly high, and the split of rentals with the management team runs around 50%/50%. There is also always a nominal monthly maintenance fee.

What looks like “cheap” entry point and cash flow out each month, in many cases simply becomes a bet on long term property appreciation – finding someone willing to pay you more for it than you paid for it.

This is because with all the inventory on hand, there is a surplus of condos which have been into hotel type rental pools, but not enough visitors to rent them all.

Consequently, what an investor thought would be a good positive cash cow, turns out to be a continuous negative cash flow – not what a new retiree to the Philippines is looking for to supplement his pension or annuity! This type investment will only drain you pension.

However, having written all this, I HAVE FOUND the past several month two exceptional condotel investments which DO meet my criteria of creating good ongoing rental income.

4. Farming. The likely cessation of the Agrarian Land Reform Program (CARP) will give the rural sector renewed confidence to invest in agricultural production capacity. CARP has held back investment in both production capacity as well as farm acquisition. An end to CARP will mean higher land prices since land will be valued for its higher income producing potential.

However, higher land prices are simply a “serendipity”, an added value, to the type of farming business I am writing about. I have found an extremely unique business opportunity, which will generate a great ROI (return on investment) and is completely passive. It has been structured by the developers (all foreigners) to be a one turnkey investment price. The price includes cost of the land, plus all

Clearing, planting, cultivation and harvesting for the first 5 years.

The business has been priced to fit the capital investment budget of the average foreigner retiree, and all landowners will be members of a cooperative which will share the farming equipment (tractors, equipment shed, and others). The farm will be “farmed” by the developer’s management team

The hottest trend now is in organic farming, and yet it is only in its infancy stage in the Philippines. There is one export product in particular which has caught my attention – the pili nut. The Philippines is the ONLY country with which produces and processes this nut in commercial quantity.

The current status of the pili is equivalent to that of the macadamia some 30 years ago. It has huge potential to develop into a major industry. They are in demand not only in Hong Kong and Taiwan but also in Singapore, Korea and Austria.

Services Marketing

Services marketing has incurred an explosive amount of scholarly research in the last 20 years, however since 1986 there has been no debate concerning the notion that services are distinct from products, and thus deserve a special approach, a set of concepts and a body of knowledge (Brown, Fisk, & Bitner, 1994). This essay will explain the distinguishing features of services marketing, giving examples where possible. It will begin by defining services marketing and giving some background knowledge on its divergence from product marketing. It will then examine the four characteristics of services, and then finish with an explanation of the extra P’s found in the services marketing mix.

In the last century there has been a large shift in marketing thought; evolving from a goods-dominated view, in which tangible output and discrete transactions were the focus, to a service-dominant view, in which intangibility, exchange processes, and relationships are central (Vargo & Lusch, 2004). Vargo and Lusch define services as the application of specialized competences (knowledge and skills) through deeds, processes, and performances for the benefit of another entity or the entity itself. Four idiosyncratic features of services will now be given, highlighting why services marketing is different from basic product marketing.

Arguably the most distinguishing feature about services is their intangibility. Services are defined in (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2006) as “deeds, processes, and performances”. None of these are physical objects in which a customer can take ownership of, even though during a service physical evidence will be apparent in the form of things like medicine the doctors prescribes to you, the photo taken of you riding the rollercoaster, or the food on your plate in a restaurant. This invisibility creates a number of issues for marketers. Firstly there is no stock, making it hard to manage supply and demand. Secondly services cannot be shown or displayed to customers, making it hard for marketers to advertise the quality of the service. And finally, because services don’t physically exist, there is difficulty in patenting them, making it easy for other firms to copy your service.

Another notable aspect about products is that on average they stay the same. If you buy a Ford Focus here in Australia, and then go and buy the same model in America, chances are they will both be exactly the same. Services are different in that they are heterogeneous, meaning they differ with each use. For example a wildlife tour will never be the same twice, not only because of the random and unpredictable nature of the animals, but the guide may be in a different mood, the weather will have changed, and there will be different customers each time. These factors make it harder to consistently give quality service, which is important to marketers because customers will have a particular set of expectations in mind, based primarily on what was promoted in the service and previous experiences in the particular industry.

Another distinguishable feature about services is the fact that it’s both produced and consumed at the same time, as opposed to products where customers do not see how the product is manufactured. A good metaphor for this is being at the theatre. Consumers can be compared to an audience, where they watch actors (employees) perform on stage (physical location like a business store) amongst props (physical objects like chairs, tables, pot plants etc). The actors are ‘live’ and performing (producing) at the same time as the audience are watching (consuming). This brings us to the concept of interactive marketing. In a service, operational staff carries out much of the marketing function (Klassen, Russel, & Chrisman, 1998), and marketers are left to the advertising and promotion.

The final distinction that differentiates services from products is their perishability. While some products perish very quickly (like water balloons), services simply cannot be stored, saved, resold or returned at all. Marketers main concern would be the procedure for when things do not go as planned. Customers cannot simply return the service and ask for another one; it is up to the service provider to offer the customer some kind of compensation. If passengers are forced to wait a long time for their flight, employees could provide free coffee and refreshments while they wait, in an attempt to make up for their failing service.

With product marketing the marketing mix includes the four P’s; product, price, place and promotion. Services use the same elements plus three more to help account for their unique nature.

Firstly there is people, which comprise of everyone that influences the buyer’s perceptions, including the buyer themselves. Customers have an active role in the production, and thus can influence the outcome of their own service or the service of others. For example a large family with screaming children interrupting a young couples romantic dinner at a restaurant.

Every person is important to the marketer, no matter how small their role may be. Consider an IT professional who installs computers in people’s homes. During that installation the buyer may form an opinion of the service provider as a whole based purely on that IT professionals performance. Sometimes a person is the sole service provider, for example a dentist or lawyer, making their performance and appearance critical to gaining a high perceived quality of service.

The sixth ‘P’ is physical evidence, which is the environment in which the service is delivered and where the firm and customer interact (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2006). It also includes any physical objects that assist in the delivery of the service. (Lehtinen & Lehtinen, 1991) define it as the environment and its instruments. With some services customers may find it hard to judge the quality of the service, especially with credence service’s like financial advisors or legal advice. It is crucial that marketing managers address consumer fears regarding risk that results before, during, and after consumption of credence services (Keh & Sun, 2008). Since the customer does not have the knowledge or experience to judge the actual service, they instead turn their attention to other things, including the physical evidence of service quality. This would usually come in the form of a professional looking workspace, however would change with each service provider. For example in a doctors surgery cleanliness would be expected.

Finally there is the service process, including the procedures, mechanisms and flow of activities by which the service is delivered (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2006). When purchasing a service, customers often have a set of expectations of the process of the service, and when these are not met, the perceived quality of service drops. For example in white water rafting a customer might be dissatisfied if, when they arrived, they were told they had to carry the raft to the top of the river first. The process is important because people participate in it, unlike products, where the process is behind doors.

Services represent at least 70% of the nation’s total GDP for at least 5 countries, including the United Kingdom and Australia, making it a hot topic for not only marketers, but anyone competing in the business world. Services are distinguished from products by four characteristics; intangibility, they are heterogeneous, there is simultaneous production and consumption, and their perishability. Services marketing differs from product marketing from the fact that three extra P’s are added to the original marketing mix; people, physical evidence and process.

What Is A Marketing Initiative?

Marketing is not as simple as many may lead you to believe. In order for your business to be effective, you need to understand what is involved in promoting what you are offering in terms of products and services. That is where a good marketing initiative comes in to play. A marketing initiative is essentially anything that is clearly defined as a marketing effort. Simple, isn’t it? It is basically anything specific in your marketing plan. So what types of things are considered marketing initiatives? Here are a few examples that may help you.

For larger companies, a marketing initiative can be a theme. For instance, a set of commercials that use a specific character or funny situation over and over may be considered a marketing initiative. This, though, would certainly be more common with large businesses. An example of this is the Geiko commercials that feature the cute talking gekko. The initiative is to associate their car insurance services and products with a character that sticks in your head. Being cute is an added advantage. This is why many commercials use cute, cuddly characters such as babies and puppies etc.

Another example of a marketing initiative is undertaking a certain method relentlessly. Sometimes you may wish to focus your efforts solely on one method of marketing. If, for instance, you decide to implement email marketing with great fervor, then you can call that your email marketing initiative. You will outline a plan very specific to that initiative. And you will carry it out. Focusing your efforts into a sole initiative demands that you understand it intimately. You better know what you are doing if that’s the ONLY initiative you’ve got. In addition you also need to have a backup plan in case your initiative does not come through for you as you hoped. Often, when you put all your eggs in one basket, you better have more eggs!

Another type of marketing initiative you may invoke is a large scale shift in what you are doing. If you are going away from traditional marketing to exclusively use the internet that is a whole new marketing initiative you are putting in place. Though not as specific as other examples, it is certainly something that directly affects the marketing of your company. These types of initiatives are usually done parallelly with your existing marketing initiatives. The old initiatives are slowly phased out as the new one takes over.

A marketing initiative can also be as simple as a shift in an idea. You can have a new marketing initiative that simply changes the way you promote your company, or more specifically what about the company you are trying to promote. A shift in positioning is a good example.

Marketing initiative is a broad term that is used often. However, if you understand what it is you will be more able to effectively put an initiative in place if you need to. Changing or implementing an initiative is a big part of the promotion of your business. So it’s important that you understand what it means in the first place.

Online Forums – How to Use an Online Forum

Online forums (also known as online discussion sites, message boards, newsgroups and internet forums) are powerful tools for sharing information. Their use has become omnipresent and wide reaching. Many people use discussion sites on a daily basis, whether it’s to gain knowledge, share ideas or simply to feel as part of a community.

Why use Online Forums?

* communicate with other like-minded people who have the same or similar interests

* exchange intellectual ideas and thoughts

* offer your opinion or advice

* submit materials for others to consider and provide feedback on such as your website, business ideas or questions

* find out new opinions and ideas

* be up to date with latest news and trends

* meet new friends and leads

Participating in forums is another way to stay in contact with persons belonging to the same community and to keep abreast of recent events. It’s a place to voice your opinions, be heard and discover other’s thoughts.

This social media outlet can become addictive. For some, Online Forums provide a haven; a place to escape the daily grind and indulge in the community aura. Forum usage is certainly a concern for employers, due to reduced productivity and procrastination on behalf of the users involved. However, most of us are thankful for their existence.

How to Use Online Forums:

The appearance of an online forum may seem daunting at first. There’s information, posts and threads flowing all over the home page in what appears to be an ad hoc manner. Occasionally, the initial reaction of first time users is to put discussion sites in the too hard basket. Here’s an easy step by step guide to using Online Discussions:

* Registration. Most discussion boards require you to become a member by registering or signing up in order to post. Invariably, you will need to provide a Username (your alias), password and an email address. The forum will also require your agreement to its terms and conditions.

* Validation. After registering to an internet forum, you will need to validate your email by following the validation link emailed to you by the site.

* Rules. Familiarize yourself with the rules and netiquette required by the forum. Generally, spamming, double posting and registering multiple user accounts is prohibited. Try to adhere in order to avoid being called a troll for unintentionally breaking the rules.

* Posting. A forum has predefined topics (called threads). Members may submit messages or comments (called posts) within these topics. The message will be enclosed in a box with the username, time and date notified either on the left hand side or appearing at the top of the post. Usually members are allowed to edit or delete their own posts. Many online forums limit posts to a certain number of characters.

* Threads. A thread (topic) is started by a post. Other members may then follow in the conversation started by the original post (sometimes called the thread starter). At times the responses and comments can become derailed. The tread generally displays posts in opposite chronological order (from first to current). The abbreviation OP often refers to the original poster. Some message boards enable you to customize the view to commence with the starting post. They may also have a thread view which shows the branching of replies in priority to chronological order.

* Moderating. Moderators monitor and enforce the message board rules. They may have access to all posts and threads or just those within their area of responsibility. Mods have the power to delete a post and to ban and suspend members who violate the discussion site’s policy. The moderator is usually the site owner’s friend. Among other responsibilities, they also help members in need and respond to complaints.

If you’re a first timer to online forums, try some smaller message boards to start with. Smaller sites still have that community feel and are more than happy to accommodate beginners. Once you become accustomed to the way discussion websites work, you can then join some larger expert message boards if you wish. Above all, don’t be shy to voice your opinion; that’s what forums are for.