As demand for cleaning services continues to increase, the Government is putting place plans to help the industry adopt technology and cope with the manpower crunch.
An Industry Transformation Map (ITM) for the Environmental Services Industry was launched on Monday (Dec 11), with a series of initiatives to help companies drive innovation, train workers and improve procurement practices.
The aim is that by 2025, about 30,000 workers in the environmental services industry can benefit from higher value-added jobs, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) in a media release.
Autonomous vehicles could also be used to clean the streets of Singapore.
Minister for Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said that later this week, NEA and the Ministry of Transport will be putting out a Request for Proposal for this purpose. He did not give further details.
“In the near future, we can see autonomous cleaning equipment having the capability to ‘talk’ with one another and take the lift to other floors to perform cleaning operations more independently,” said Mr Masagos at the launch of the ITM.
She pumped in about $5,000 to kickstart the business — just enough to hire the first few employees to start providing cleaning services.
But it wasn’t even an established company per se, she asserted.
The casual business didn’t have a company name, only had a “handful of staff”, and relied heavily on word-of-mouth and flyers to market itself.
Moving From Offline To Online
Thanks to the small business capital, the company only took a year to break even, but profits reaped were consistently reinvested back into the company to grow it further.
Fast forward 10 years, the home cleaning business has since grown into a full-fledged company with 6 different business arms.
She humbly credits the success to her eldest son, a Stanford graduate, for pushing her to take her company to greater heights.
[He] advised me to use digitisation to scale the business. He had seen it as the path forward for small businesses in the US, and told me that he believed I could “borrow” some things from top tech companies and really take what I had to the next level.
“I was hesitant to believe him at first, since it all seemed quite faraway and we had just been a small outfit for so long, but I was willing to give it a try.”
She first settled on a company name for her home cleaning business, calling it Homefresh.
She then acted on the advice of her son and created a website for it in 2014, which she described as a “basic step to digitisation”.
After establishing an online presence, she turned to digital marketing on Google Adwords to ‘up’ her marketing game.
It was a massive success to say the least, as the ads produced a return of more than 8 times the money spent on the campaign.
“It got us results immediately because we were one of the first office cleaning companies in Singapore to run Google ads at the time. We started growing at a much faster pace [and] quickly realised that [the] digital marketing [approach] was a winning formula,” said Lily.
Growing To A Stable Of 6 Brands
Lily then took this strategy to expand into other adjacent verticals such as office cleaning, carpet and upholstery cleaning, aircon servicing and repairs, marble and parquet polishing, as well as pest control.
All these various brands — a mix of B2B and B2C businesses — now fall under the Luce Maintenance Group umbrella.
According to Lily, before they discovered digital marketing, their “revenue was really negligible”.
In 2015, they raked in only $200,000; but it skyrocketed to over $1 million in revenue in 2016 and they doubled that amount to over $2 million in 2017.
Now, they are on track to hitting $4 million this year — a phenomenal jump in a short span of three years.
Beyond revenue growth, their staff headcount and pool of clients also grew in tandem.