The Eny Engriyani Story (Part 2 of 4) The One Billion Rupiah Advantage

When Eny was first appointed as School Manager of TBI Fatmawati in the wake of Chris Needham’s spectacular failure at the school, TBI Head Office pumped almost one billion rupiah (Rp 1.000.000.000) in advertising and promotion funds into the school. This was an unheard of amount for TBI to invest in marketing. For most of the time Cameron was at Sudirman and Kuningan he had to scrape around to get 3 million rupiah to open booths at education fairs or to run off flyers. And here they were pumping 1000 million rupiah (ie. 1 billion rupiah or $100,000) into a single school. Where on Earth did it go?

They put a huge billboard on the roof the premises. Including the government permits, it cost them $10,000 to put it there. They also got another billboard on the freeway (which is just unheard of for other TBI schools.) They have always been adverse to spending serious money in every other school. They also commissioned market research into the Fatmawati area, with a team of analysts paid to find out how well the TBI ‘brand’ was known. (TBI who? was the general response.) So Eny’s school was receiving perhaps Rp 100.000.000 a month in an all out marketing blitz while Sudirman and Kuningan were getting a piddling R.3.000.000 a month and Cameron would have to fight for it. In short, Eny’s marketing budget at Fatmawati in this period was some 30 to 40 times greater than the other Jakarta group school managers. She was getting 3000% to 4000% more to market her school than anyone else.

So why then was Eny receiving 30 times more help than anyone else? That has required a bit of connecting the dots to work out, but if you ready the background contained in Part 1., you should be able to piece it together. The TBI Mafia, centered around Mariam and Ashley, had hatched a plan to get rid of all expat managers and replace them with Indonesians. As we have shown in detail, in 2007 every TBI school was managed by an expat and now only 1 out of 16 is- and that exception is Luke Preece’s degreeless buddy, Scott Martin.  But by 2010 the franchise owners were questioning the new direction because of a run of bad local managers, one of whom had embezzled money from 2 schools. There was even pressure from the franchise owners to replace Mariam herself, who they rightly blamed for many of TBI’s disasters. Mariam, Luke and Ashley- the wicked triumvirate- needed an Indonesian manager success story to reverse the flood of bad publicity about the ‘Indonesianization of TBI’ policy. So they set about doing what they do best- creating an uneven playing field and rigging the game to a laughable extent.

We said last night that Eny was given a super weapon with which to become a success. And TBI Fatmawati did indeed boom. In the sorry old days of Needham, it had barely 100 students enrolled and was a financial black hole. Within a year it had allegedly reached 350 students and it even climbed to 500 students at one point the following year, according to Mariam. (The nice round figure made me a bit suspicious. In my experience, true data rarely rounds itself off so conveniently.) 

So how did Mariam and Luke respond to her growth in student numbers? Well I heard them mention it at least half a dozen times each and I rarely even met Mariam. She made sure she let everyone know how well Eny was doing- and she also trumpeted this loud and clear to the franchise owners you can be sure. Never once did Cameron and I hear them mention the fact that a billion rupiah had been spent achieving this growth in student numbers. She said they had done “targeted marketing” but neglected to mention the cost every time. We only heard the sum indirectly from Needham, who handled the transition to Eny. So why were TBI Head Office broadcasting her success to all and sundry but hiding the massive amount of money spent to achieve it? 

The answer is easy. Mariam and Ashley’s Indonesianization of management policy was getting a bad rep and the franchise owners were demanding to see a local manager success story. None of their recruits had done well by themselves, and more than a few had failed badly. So Eny was given a massive marketing budget which dwarfed that of all the other schools, and this hidden advantage was then hushed up. Luke Preece even went around claiming that Fatmawati’s soaring student numbers was due to his skillful coaching! (Neglecting to mention the billion rupiah advantage). And Mariam went around telling everyone that expat managers were redundant- just look at that fabulous Eny! Born crooks and swindlers, they cheat every game they play.

 

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