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Expanding into new markets: Servcorp helps SANPOFOODS Co. Ltd. gain a foothold in the booming Tokyo market

Serviced Office client at Shiodome Shibarikyu Building

sales food market expansion

Since the announcement that Tokyo would host the 2020 Olympic Games back in 2013, the economy has shown promising signs of growth, with some forecasters predicting Japan could match the postwar record of 73 months of consecutive growth by December this year. The lasting economic effect of hosting the Games is estimated to be worth over 32 trillion yen (roughly 300 billion USD) making the idea of conducting business in the capital over the next decade an attractive proposition.

SANPOFOODS, an instant ramen company based out of Kyushu in south-west Japan, is one such company that has made the move to expand into the eastern capital in time for the Games. In order to avoid the exorbitant costs of renting a traditional office space, last year the company decided to utilize a serviced office at Servcorp’s Hamamatsucho location in the Shiodome Shibarikyu Building. Servcorp sat down with SANPOFOODS Sales Manager, Kayoko Iwashita to ask how the expansion was going.

“Being able to meet with our clients in person makes it easier to communicate and share our passion which has opened many doors for us and lead to a lot more business opportunities. Already I can really feel the benefit of our office in Tokyo.”

Kayoko Iwashita, Sales Manager 
SANPOFOODS Co. Ltd.
Shiodome Shibarikyu Building
Serviced Office client

Entering the Tokyo market to expand sales opportunities...

Tell us about your company…

Our company was founded in Saga Prefecture in Kyushu. We specialize in the production of instant noodles including cup noodles, Chinese noodles, and the production of wholesale dried noodles. Remarkably, this year marks our company’s 97th anniversary. We are well known in Kyushu – our longest-selling product, Yaki-buta Ramen (grilled-pork ramen) has been a best seller for over 40 years and it’s safe to say that anyone who has lived in Kyushu has eaten it at least once.

Why did you decide to open a branch in Tokyo?

Instead of just remaining a local Kyushu company, our aim is to expand sales across the country and eventually break into the global market as well. This country is struggling with an aging population and because of this, growth over the coming decades would have been difficult if we had kept on with business as usual.

How has opening a branch in Tokyo helped / hindered your business?

It’s only been 6 months, but we feel well and truly established now in this city. Our clients often come to the office for meetings. Being able to meet our clients in person makes it easier to communicate and share our passion which has opened many doors for us. We’re already seeing the benefit.

What exactly do you do in the Tokyo office?

Currently there are two of us working here. On weekdays I stay at a hotel and go back home to Kyushu on weekends. Our current focus is on expanding our presence in Tokyo and creating more distribution channels. To accomplish this we do a lot of PR activity targeted towards potential clients, as well as conducting sales pitches to supermarkets, discount stores, and other businesses that sell food.

We have also been working with other companies in Tokyo to formulate and implement new sales strategies. For example, we recently started working with stores that have sold our products for a limited time in the past, during events like “Kyushu Fair”, to start selling our products in their stores regularly. Since starting this we have noticed an increase in customers posting images of our products like the “Yaki-buta Ramen” to social media commenting on how it reminds them of home. It’s really nice to see all of our hard work here is bringing such happiness to our customers and providing them with a chance to get a taste of Kyushu even in Tokyo.

Servcorp staff support our business as if it was their own…

Why did you choose Servcorp’s Shiodome location for your Tokyo branch?

Since we have business partners across Tokyo we chose Shiodome, because it has easy access to practically anywhere in Tokyo. On top of that it is close to Haneda Airport so travel to and from our headquarters is easy. Also the Servcorp staff are just amazing! They always do a wonderful job helping us and they are always so happy and friendly.

"We wanted an office that could help us achieve maximum productivity while cutting down on personnel expenses.”

When I’ve had a long day out in the field and am a little tired, as soon as I step into the office I’m greeted with a warm “Welcome back!” It always cheers me up and gives me the boost I need. Also the phone handling is extremely professional. I often receive comments from clients saying, “Whoever handles your phones is amazing!” which helps a lot. Actually, the fact that right from the start the staff would act on behalf of our company was one of the main reasons we chose Servcorp.

What were the main factors you considered while looking for an office in Tokyo?

We only have a few employees at the Tokyo office, so we wanted to avoid things that would add to our workload. Since one part of our job is to send samples of our products to our clients, it is preferable for us to have staff who can handle tasks like these when we can’t. Therefore, we started by searching for offices which offer such services. We wanted an office that could help us achieve maximum productivity while cutting down on personnel expenses.

Leasing a traditional office space comes with a lot of overhead costs so we didn’t even consider that and instead focused our search on serviced offices. Unlike other providers, with Servcorp we only pay for what we use, so it’s easy to see all of our expenses and explain them to our head office.

How do you use your Servcorp office?

We use it not only for business meetings and sales negotiations but also for storing all of the product samples that we use in those meetings. We produce over 20 different kinds of cup ramen, 10 kinds of instant noodles, and a variety of other products which are sold under supermarket and other private brands, so we have a lot of samples we need to store.

Our industry is extremely competitive with an estimated 10,000 different products being developed each year. Therefore, we have to continue to create new products so as not to get left behind. By having an office in Tokyo, Japan’s economic center, we can continue to grow our business and create products that match consumer’s needs. Our development team will often come to Tokyo and visit 6 Ramen shops in 1 day for market research.

Servcorp’s staff services separate it from the competition…

How did you find out about Servcorp?

In the spring of 2017 our CEO said he wanted to expand into Tokyo. In order to do that we needed a location in Tokyo with an address our clients can trust. After that decision was made one of my coworkers and I spent the next several days looking for offices. One day we stumbled upon Servcorp’s website and ended up arranging a visit around the end May. After viewing the office we knew we had found what we were looking for, and by the end of July we were all moved in.

What was the main factor in your decision to choose Servcorp?

We visited 5 or 6 rental offices in Tokyo, but with Servcorp the staff provided us with incredibly quick and thorough service from the moment we walked in. In that moment I knew in my heart that this was the right place. It wasn’t just the person giving us the tour but all the other staff were polite and cheerful as well. I was particularly impressed by how they would offer extra information like “We can also provide this!” or kindly ask “Is there anything we can assist you with?” I was so impressed by their passion and politeness that I immediately called my boss and we finalized the decision.

What Servcorp services do you use?

We regularly take advantage of the call handling and message service. On top of that we request some simple secretarial work, such as mailing out samples and greeting / serving drinks to our clients. They always do such a great job that I’m considering using some of their other services as well.

 

“They’re incredibly professional in everything they do and they really connect with their clients. [. . .] We can tell that they truly care about us and our business and treat us as though we are all on the same team.”

For example, whenever we receive a shipment order there is a registration processes, so we have to create the registration form. This is very detailed work, so it’s not something that we can do while we’re out of the office. Therefore, I’m considering asking our Servcorp secretary to handle that from now on. I think if we took more advantage of the secretarial services and have the Servcorp staff help with some of our in-house work, we can really expand our sales activities.

What kinds of companies would you recommend Servcorp to?

I strongly recommend Servcorp for businesses like ours which conduct sales and are looking to expand their sales channels. I believe it’s very important, especially for sales staff, to have an environment which boosts morale like we get here. Also Servcorp is perfect for companies looking to create a Tokyo branch and increase their sales channels. With Servcorp you can begin working the same day you move in, and you only pay for what you use. This makes it easy to track costs and balance your budget. Plus with Servcorp you have exceptionally trained staff on hand who you can confidently trust to handle any task.

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