|Tran Uyen Phuong, deputy CEO of Tan Hiep Phat Group |
During the social distancing in southern localities, many companies have suspended operation. How has Tan Hiep Phat been operating during the fourth wave?
First, I have to say that Tan Hiep Phat has been very fortunate. There are many challenges arising during the pandemic, however, the company’s Board of Directors has always placed top priority on the health and safety of employees so we could maintain business continuity.
We remind ourselves not to give up during this tough time. If we give up, we will lose opportunity to revive our business once the pandemic is contained.
To fulfil the "three on the spot" requirements, all levels of management have made efforts to accompany employees as well as encourage them to overcome difficulties to maintain stable production. Employees are also aware that stable business would ensure their livelihoods amid the pandemic.
Another highlight is the discipline of the whole company during the social distancing. Passing through the ordeal, we often founds things simple, but that was the result of the extraordinary discipline of thousands of members working and living on the spot.
The more difficult it became, the more creative our people got. We have come up with many innovative initiatives to ensure the continuity of production and business activities while still ensuring pandemic prevention regulations.
What has changed in the company's operating process?
We have made many changes to ease paperwork, documentation, as well as control and operation. Specifically, Tan Hiep Phat has adopted electronic signatures.
For our internal processes, the control and approval steps were simplified to shorten submission time. Previously, it was necessary to submit documents to all levels for approval. Now, we created a group chat for leaders to discuss ideas.
For production, workers were responsible for dividing products. The group has invested in forklifts to reduce cross infection among workers.
How did Tan Hiep Phat adjust business policies to adapt to the challenges?
Tan Hiep Phat does not make retail sales. Our products are sold through a system of distributors and agents. Thus, we issued flexible policies to facilitate distributors and agents during the pandemic.
For example, in the past, Tan Hiep Phat had a very tight dumping control policy. We have to ease this policy to create more favourable conditions for distributors and agents delivering our products.
Furthermore, Tan Hiep Phat did not increase prices in this period, although input material prices for bottled drinking water such as plastic and sugar have increased. Companies in the industry have all raised prices. We did not only keep our prices, we are also planning to reduce them.
This may reduce our profit, but we will be able to maintain our distribution system. During the pandemic, beverage companies face challenges from the consumer side to distribution system.
Many entrepreneurs shared that management cannot make plans for years ahead but have to constantly adjust strategy to adapt to the volatile environment. How is Tan Hiep Phat manoeuvring?
We are living in a difficult time and we do not know what the future holds. We convey to employees the message that we need to work hard every day. There is no point in making forecasts too far into the future, when we don't know we will get to live that long. In the past 90 days, Tan Hiep Phat has overcome the social distancing and maintained "three on the spot" production thanks to the spirit of our employees.
Through the fourth wave of COVID-19, no one knows what will happen in 2022. Everyone wants the fourth epidemic to be the last. However, the future is uncertain as no one can promise anything for sure. Thus, we need to prepare plans to cope with future shocks.
However, our overall strategy is still to focus on the food and beverage industry with the goal of becoming a leading company in Southeast Asia.
In Vietnam, Tan Hiep Phat is among the few domestic enterprises that can compete equally with multinational corporations with hundreds of years of history. Looking back on the past 27 years, as a leader and daughter of the founder, which of the group's achievements makes you the most proud?
The success of Tan Hiep Phat is the growth of our products and the trust the consumers have in the company. To promote healthy beverages, Tan Hiep Phat focuses on producing non-carbonated drinks. The group has become the market leader in this segment.
Tan Hiep Phat ranks second in the market in the number of drinking water products. It has been a great effort for us as a domestic company to hold this position since 2000. In those 21 years, Tan Hiep Phat has evolved from humble beginnings into a major local business in the market. Tan Hiep Phat asserted its position in the market after only six years and continued to maintain its ranking for a long time.
What factors have been fuelling Tan Hiep Phat’s growth and success?
We focus on fulfilling our commitments to customers as well as staying consistent with the goals we set out. Indeed, many people may only remember Tan Hiep Phat’s crisis. However, Tan Hiep Phat came out of each crisis bigger and stronger. We saw what needed to improve, besides the things we did well. We have seven core values such as loyalty to our mission; speaking and acting the right way; not doing too much or too little; always be better than yesterday, be ready to improve, and set truly challenging goals; and get out of your comfort zone to go further. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Tan Hiep Phat refused to take the easy way out and suspend operations or abandon employees to fend for themselves.
After two weeks of "three on the spot" production, many businesses in the social distancing localities had to shut down because of the rising burden of costs and other difficulties. But every person at Tan Hiep Phat realised that we need to accept risks and make efforts every day.
After 90 days, it looks simple. However, all activities are disrupted and everything is limited under the current operation model. However, we are still looking to ensure normal operations by organising training programmes, skills competitions, or THP's Got Talent cultural contest to celebrate our 27th anniversary.
The staff is very creative in recording and making videos. Some groups create drums from the materials on hand as they cannot go out to rent one. We ensure that every participant complies with 5K regulations during the competition. There are 36 entries registered for the competition.
What does Tan Hiep Phat need to continue its journey?
Our success lies in our creativity, daring to think, and daring to do. 27 years is not too long but not too short. The mindset of Tan Hiep Phat people has become more flexible every year. We have to be younger to reach consumers and keep up with technology, thereby we can continue to develop.
We can see the pitfalls of big businesses that are too afraid to change. The more afraid you are to change, the more difficult it is to embrace new ideas. When I stop thinking up new ideas, I can no longer be better than I was yesterday. The saying: "Today is better than yesterday but not as good as tomorrow" sounds very simple but is a very challenging thing.
What have you learnt through this period that many entrepreneurs still call an "unprecedented difficulty"?
At first I thought it was unimaginable for "three on the spot" production to last for 90 days. Today, we have reached 100 days.
The biggest lesson I learned was adaptability. The ability to evaluate and analyse industry knowledge. Besides, I understand that when we think less about ourselves, we will have more time to do bigger things for those around us.