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Unusual business practice in the Philippines

Business practice in the PhilippinesAs foreigners, we’re bound to run into some of what we might call unusual business practices in the Philippines.  Banking is a lot more involved in the Philippines as I’ve written about. But so are other types of business.

Normally when I go online to find information about a company or product in the Philippines that I’m interested in, I get frustrated at the lack of information available.

Many, if not the majority, of businesses just don’t have a prescence on the web yet.

The Philippines is a country where personal relationships are highly valued. It’s often said here in America that it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know that will help you the most. That’s true everywhere, I suppose but in the Philippines, that “who you know” has been polished to an art form.

I suppose you can say that in a country where “who you know” is king, word of mouth is queen. If you want to know something, you usually have to ask someone. You want to know where to buy tile for your  floor? You need to ask someone. If they don’t know, they’ll know someone who does or at least someone else to ask. With patience and perhaps three or four shopping trips, you’ll find good tile at at a good deal, all for just asking someone.

Well, this Kano doesn’t operate that way at all. I much prefer the cold, impersonal comparisons I can do on the Internet to relying on someone’s uncle’s sister’s cousin to give me their opinion.

But like I said, it doesn’t work that way in the Philippines. Most of the time, if you can find a web site relating to a business or product, there’s a good chance it will have outdated information. Some times the site will not have been updated for YEARS. And if there is any contact information, either the contact form won’t work, or the email message you send to their address will bounce, or your inquiry will simply never been seen or replied to.

To me, these are unusual business practices. To Filipinos, hey – you need to ask someone! But it doesn’t always work out like that. Here’s a pleasant example:

If you’re considering building a house in the Philippines, you have basically one of two choices in construction materials and techniques. You will either pour solid walls of concrete or you will pour columns of concrete and fill the spaces between the columns with concrete block walls.

Safecon is a maker of concrete and concrete products with facilities in Davao. They’ve supplied ready-mix concrete (the stuff in the mixer trucks) for some of the large construction jobs in the city.

I came across their website the other day and I was really impressed by what I saw. My chief concern with concrete and concrete products is getting consistent quality. I’ve heard plenty of stories about hollow block that crumbles when you pinch it and the widely variable results you can get from mixing up batches of concrete on the ground as is done in the Philippines.

So finding a company like Safecon that has worked on a lot of big, quality jobs reassures me. But even though their website looked great, when I asked them a question via their online form, I didn’t really expect a reply.

The next day, however, I had a reply from them in my emailbox and an answer to my question!

There was an up-to-date site with good information, a contact form that worked and a human being at the other end of that form who responded quickly with a clear answer.

Now that was an unusual business practice in the Philippines! 🙂


photo credit: Instant Vantage via photopin cc


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