Whenever I go to the local market with the Asawa, I love to wander around the meat and fish section. I love the squalor and the flies and the noise and total lack of any lip service being paid to basic hygiene regulations. It is so Filipino! I have my Suki for meat and another for chicken and one I go to for fish and seafoods. The Asawa has her own for vegetables, fruit and dry goods, spread around the market. A suki, for the uninitiated, is a regular provider of whatever it is you are buying. I think to be technically correct, you as the customer are actually the suki, but in typically Filipino fashion the word is used in either direction and you call the store you go to regularly your suki! We have a suki for bottled water. Our first suki would always deliver in the morning when we were out, despite having been told numerous times we wouldn’t be there to take the gallons (those large bottles of water usually seen in the office back home but commonplace in every home here) until after noon.
Their insistence we change our routine to match theirs plus the fact it took six weeks to get them to sell us a table top stand for the bottles meant I spat the dummy one day and found a new suki! They realized the error of their ways and tried to regain the business but the damage had been done! Changing your suki is not something you undertake lightly. The very fabric of commercial society here is built upon the relationship between buyer and seller. When you look at any row of Filipino market stalls or shops, you may notice how everybody in a row is selling exactly the same thing. The plastic bucket shops are all over there. The hardware stalls are all over there, the next row is all cloth and old clothes. Not only are all the stalls for one line of merchandise in a row, they all look identical. Every stall has the same goods displayed exactly the same way. As if there is a pattern laid down by law as to how to display those goods! Woe betide you if you do it any other way or set up amongst the wrong stalls.
The prevailing wisdom appears to be that you increase your chances of making some money if you are where people will go to look for the range of goods you offer. If the hardware stores were to spread themselves around the town then maybe one of them would wither on the vine as few people might find them. By having all of the hardware stores in the one spot, then it is guaranteed that anyone who needs hardware MUST gothere. Brilliant! So why would they shop at this store instead of that one if they all offer the same goods in the same location? The only answer I have ever received for that question has always been the same; because you know the store owner, or are a friend or, they are your SUKI! Personal relationships are very important to Filipinos and without them your business is pretty well doomed to fail. Once you start buying regularly from one store and they take on Suki status then the suki will lose face if you are seen purchasing elsewhere in the same market.
Other store owners will know your suki is someone else and they will usually refrain from hassling you. Poaching customers has been known to lead to arguments, fights and even stabbings! You should be able to expect a discount (walay hang yoo) from your suki. Of course over time the actual discount might decrease as both parties become comfortable with the relationship and outright price is no longer as important as the trust displayed and enjoyed between parties. This is a factor of Filipino business that many foreigners never grasp. They expect a good deal right from the beginning, yet what have they done to deserve that favouritism? Anywhere in Asia there is a similar attitude to time. Time being invested to really get to know each other and develop trust and a rapport that will span generations.
It is a long term view that we foreigners are coming up against way down the path the other parties involved have been traveling for perhaps centuries! The term interloper comes to mind and that is what we are in many ways. Break that down to the local food market level of commerce and the relationship may take less time to build but the concept remains the same. If you apply the same mindset to more expensive business ventures here then it is easy to develop guidelines. Firstly, don’t expect the best terms right off the bat, give the other guy time to get to know you and like you. Secondly, never show your anger or emotion, it shames you and the other party and achieves nothing worthwhile. Thirdly, if you are being ripped off, don’t be in too much of a hurry to take your business elsewhere. This goes for the meat suki too. I had one who was putting the old thumb on the scales when weighing my beef tenderloin every Thursday.
I knew I was being short changed somehow, yet the challenge was how to turn this around to my advantage as I loved my beef and there was only one other stall that sold it. My solution was to negotiate an extra piece thrown in after the kilo or two was weighed and agreed upon. This let the suki think they were doing me a favour and building rapport while I was actually getting what I was paying for. The end result was they finally caught on and stopped thumbing the scales and I eventually stopped insisting on my extra chunk. They got the message that I knew they were ripping me off, yet nobody lost face and business carried on as usual.
In some ways, dealing with your suki is good training for dealing with so much that you will confront in this country. Going head to head will only have you losing time after time. You may think you won, you made your point, you showed them but the reality is Filipinos, like most Asians, take the long term view in many things. There is the short term immediate gratification often exploited by the lesser educated and those who figure they will never have to deal with you again but on the whole the opposite is more often the case. Choose your suki wisely, and then stick with them. Work out your differences in ways other than the typical western yelling and posturing and you are sure to come out a winner in the long term.
In the commercial context, suki relationships (market- exchange partnerships) may develop between two people who agree to become regular customer and supplier. In the marketplace, Filipinos will regularly buy from certain specific suppliers who will give them, in return, reduced prices, good quality, and, often, credit. Suki relationships often apply in other contexts as well. For example, regular patrons of restaurants and small neighborhood retail shops and tailoring shops often receive special treatment in return for their patronage. Suki does more than help develop economic exchange relationships. Because trust is such a vital aspect, it creates a platform for personal relationships that can blossom into genuine friendship between individuals. Patron-client bonds also are very much a part of prescribed patterns of appropriate behavior.
These may be formed between tenant farmers and their landlords or between any patron who provides resources and influence in return for the client’s personal services and general support. The reciprocal arrangement typically involves the patron giving a means of earning a living or of help, protection, and influence and the client giving labor and personal favors, ranging from household tasks to political support. These relationships often evolve into ritual kinship ties, as the tenant or worker may ask the landlord to be a child’s godparent. Similarly, when favors are extended, they tend to bind patron and client together in a network of mutual obligation or a long-term interdependency.
The word suki is a Filipino term which means “loyal customer.” This so-called “market-exchange partnership” can be developed into an agreement where one can be a regular customer and supplier. Contents [hide] * 1 Suki system * 2 Customer satisfaction * 3 Returning favors * 4 Reference * 5 Citation| ————————————————-
The suki system is a system of patronage in which a customer regularly buys their merchandise from a certain client. In the merchandising business, Filipinos often buy from specific suppliers who will provide their customers reduced prices, good quality and credit as well. These factors are the usual components of becoming a “suki.” The presence of trust and the development of friendship between the two parties is a vital aspect in the establishment of an economic exchange relationship. In some instances, regular patrons of restaurants, small neighborhood retail shops and tailoring shops receive special treatment in return for their patronage.
Customer satisfaction is essential to the survival of any business, small-scale or large-scale; and retailers know that satisfied customers are loyal customers. Consequently, retailers develop strategies to build relationships that result in customers returning to make more purchases. By responding to customer needs, business owners endeavor to meet or exceed customer expectations for their product or service. This increases the likelihood of gaining sukis. The quality of after-sales service can also be a crucial factor in influencing any purchasing decision. In the current economic environment, businesses continuously strive not only for customer satisfaction, but for customer delight — that extra bit of added value that may lead to increased customer loyalty. Any extra added value, however, will need to be carefully costed.
Usually, favors are returned or extended to both patron and clients. For example, this reciprocal arrangement typically involves the patron providing a means of earning a living or help, protection, and influence. The client in turn provides labor and personal favors, ranging from household tasks to political support. These relationships often evolve into ritual kinship ties, as the tenant or worker may ask the landlord to be a child’s godparent. Similarly, when favors are extended, they tend to bind patron and client together in a network of mutual obligation or a long-term interdependency.