By Aileen Carreon
As Rose Tanalgo-Meim of Bacolod Chicken Inasal (BCI) has realized, combining a career with motherhood is not an easy task but a juggling act that takes time to master. By making the necessary adjustments and designing effective systems, Rose has gotten better at performing the dual tasks of taking care of her brood of five and handling the marketing, communication, and customer care requirements of their family food business.
Bacolod Chicken Inasal, which Rose manages together with younger siblings JM and Bing, started as a take-out counter in EDSA Central in 1993. The initial eight-seater, open-air counter was eventually replaced with an air-conditioned restaurant upon the prodding of a growing clientele. In 1998, the siblings opened a second restaurant along Jupiter Street in Makati, which was soon followed by a string of new branches in Metro Manila, mostly located in major malls. In the early 2000s, a commissary was put up and systems were put in place as their operations continued to grow.
It was during this time that Rose got married to Paul and soon after became pregnant. “We were heavy on the Ysabella’s Chicken (a tie-up with TV network ABS-CBN) and opening several branches,” recalls Rose. Being young, energetic, and healthy, she didn’t take time out from work even as her family grew.
“When I had my first baby, I would bring her to the office. I even tried to breastfeed and bring the pump to work. But you don’t want babies to be in the car all the time or be in a building. So I studied how I could best manage.”
Rose concedes she was not good at it in the beginning. “I was still a workaholic. I wanted to cover so much and would lose track of time. You go home tired. My kids remember mom trying to read them a story then in the middle of it, falling asleep.”
As her kids got older, Rose made a conscious effort to change her work habits. “I can’t have late nights and come home after dinner or spend the whole day out. I can’t afford to just see my children in the morning before they leave for school.”
Establishing a Home Office
She now maintains a work station at home. “I target three times a week of physically being in the office. But there are times it’s less, and other times it’s more. It all depends on the schedule of the kids and the requirements at work.”
Technology has made it easier to manage the business from home, like dealing with suppliers for marketing and communication materials. Discussions and brainstorming are done through messenger.
On the days she reports to the office, Rose makes sure to be home by dinnertime at the latest. The same goes for her husband. In the morning, she wakes up early to get the kids ready for class and have breakfast together as a family. She then sends the kids off to school with words of encouragement.
Rose is also a committed parent volunteer in school, for which she gets to spend additional time with her children, four of whom are in grades six, five, four, and two, while the youngest is in kindergarten.
Setting Up Effective Systems
To keep track of the needs of her two daughters and three sons, Rose uses a white board system at home. She has a small board for plotting the activities of the kids for the whole month, like field trips, exams, and varsity practices, and scheduling in major family events like birthdays. A bigger one is used as a weekly calendar that details the daily activities of her kids each week.
“The ultimate goal is for each of them to be responsible for their own work. But at their ages you still have to remind them. If there’s a quiz scheduled for the week, we can remind them to review earlier. By knowing the kids’ activities, like violin lessons, varsity practice, or competition, we’re also guided as to the time they should be picked up from school,” shares Rose.
She has also implemented what she calls the four o’clock system. Each school day, at four in the afternoon, Rose checks her kids’ assignment notebooks, no matter where she is. “When I’m out, the yaya would take pictures of the assignment notebooks and send me via Viber. So I’m always informed.”
“I take a look at what needs to be done and gauge if they would need tutorial assistance, because I know my kids’ capabilities and weaknesses,” she adds. “That’s my system, to first check what is needed so I can support it. If they need to bring stuff to school, I can pick it up on my way home or give the necessary instructions to our help.”
Rose acknowledges the importance of a good team of helpers and reveals that she hires based on attitude rather than skills, which can be learned anyway. “You need a team that you can trust and that have values aligned with yours because they’re part of the family.”
At work, her dependable BCI staff makes things easier. “We have a very organic corporation. We have employees who are from Bacolod and who have been with us since the start. They are trustworthy and dependable. Each one has a specialization so we know whom to tap for specific requirements. It’s good to have a team to back you up.”
Importance of Family Support
The support of her family is also invaluable. “I’m on top of things, so much so that I know every detail in the menu, the posters. If you move the logo, I’ll know it,” she says. “I’m so thankful that in our family corporation, it’s OK to not be present in the office for as long as you are delivering your work.”
In two years’ time, Bacolod Chicken Inasal will be celebrating 25 years of operation. That’s quite an achievement for three siblings who were fresh out of college when they put up a food business that introduced to Metro Manila residents the chicken inasal and other dishes they loved while growing up in Bacolod.
“We are very blessed to have been able to maintain the business this long and to still be poised for future growth. I’m lucky to be in a family business because my work becomes an extension of my relationship with my family,” says Rose.
While her top priority is her family, she also highly values her work and thinks that no business will thrive if the owners are not involved. Besides, she believes that managing the business well today is ensuring that the next generation inherits a thriving family enterprise years from now.
Photo: Ramon FVelasquez