LEARNING CURVE | Family business making strides since 1972

Peter Chantson, owner of Bamboo Snacks
HANDS-ON: Peter Chantson, owner of Bamboo Snacks
Image: ANNELISA SWANA

A family business established in 1972, Bamboo Snacks is committed to making sure it offers good value for money.

 Owner Peter Chantson, 48, says he believes being present at his business is imperative for success.

Please share some background on yourself and how the business was started?     

Bamboo Snacks is a family-owned and run business. My mom started it in 1972 and it’s been in our family ever since then. We are of Chinese origin but we were born in SA.

What is your core service?

Our core business is takeaway foods, specialising in Chinese-style cooking.

What makes your business unique?

Our industry is a niche one, and the fact that we are a family-run, well-established business makes us unique.

If someone wanted to copy your business model, how would they start?

If someone wants to open a business in the food industry, they must have an excellent knowledge of the products they want to serve. They also need to know how to make any product they are selling. For me this is the most essential ingredient for a business to survive. Having a working knowledge of every facet of your business is of paramount importance.

Do you have any tips for budding entrepreneurs or new business owners?

Anyone who wants to start a small enterprise in the food industry should have the necessary knowledge and skills. Start out small, don’t rush to expand. Make sure that what you are doing, you are doing well — expansion can always come later. In this economic climate make sure you offer good value for money. Another important tip is to try to be present at your business at all times — it’s not always possible but it really helps.

What are some of your biggest challenges in day-to-day business operations and your particular industry?

Some of the biggest challenges that we face today are economic ones — consumers don’t always have extra money to spend on takeouts. This, coupled with the fact that there are so many options for the consumer to choose from, makes it difficult. Trying to keep a balance between profitability and value for money is also a major challenge.

What is the best advice anyone gave you on success?

The best advice I’ve been given is that I shouldn’t let success go to my head, and not to make rash decisions as it can all be taken away in the blink of an eye.

How do you measure or define success in your business?

In today’s economic climate, being able to stay open, pay your bills and pay staff can be considered to be a success.

What kind of advertising do you do?

We haven’t used any form of advertising on a regular basis. We have always relied on word of mouth, but we are moving into social media, specifically Facebook, to create awareness.

What is your company’s vision?

Our company vision is to stay afloat, and keep giving our customers good value for money. Hopefully expansion will come in the near future.

What have some of your highlights been in running your business?

Receiving recognition and praise is always a highlight in our industry, and at this time in our country being able to pay bills and staff is also a huge bonus for me.

How important are social media and an online presence for your business?

Social media was never a platform that we wanted to use to advertise, but due to the Covid-19 situation we found that it was a fantastic way to inform our customers when we are open and what we are serving.

How many people do you employ?

At the moment we employ five staff members and three rotating casuals.

Do you have any plans for expanding the business, and how would you go about this?

There are no plans for expansion at the moment. We are consolidating our business in the light of the pandemic.

How did you acquire funding for the business?

As it was a family-run and owned business, I inherited it at a good price, so no finance was needed from any institution.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from your business journey so far?

One of the best lessons I’ve learnt while being in business is that I had to gain a complete knowledge of everything. I also learnt that being present at my business was imperative for success.

What have been the greatest challenges and advantages of running your business in a city like PE?

Comparatively speaking, PE is not as affluent as other major cities, so the spending power of the consumer is slightly less. There is so much competition that your slice of the “pie” gets smaller and smaller every time something new comes along. Having said that, PE being a friendly, smaller city makes it easier for your name to get around.

What do you say are the three key traits of a successful entrepreneur?

Wisdom (knowledge of your business).

Discipline.

Patience.

What do you say are the key traits of a successful employer?

To be a successful employer you will need patience, understanding, compassion and you need to be authoritative.

What do you wish people knew about your industry?

I would love it if people were aware of the amount of preparation that goes into producing good food. The food industry is very labour intensive. In our case, everything we sell, we produce ourselves, so we have to put a lot of time and effort into preparation.

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