By SMU School of Accountancy Social Media Team
In mind’s eye, when you picture a janitor or cleaner, what would you see? Much as we hate to admit it, the majority of us would imagine someone who is above 50, quietly working in the background unnoticed and likely still on a 2G/3G mobile phone.
According to SMU Accountancy graduate Peter Peng Bojie, that stereotype is not entirely baseless but he is determined to reverse it. He envisions a day where his cleaning services team is efficient, proficient in the use of digital technology in their work, and skilled in customer relations, regardless of their age.
About a year ago, Peter and his business partner started Office Cleaning Singapore—a professional cleaning services provider. At about 30 years of age, Peter already debunks the above stereotype of a cleaning professional. Make no mistake, Peter might be the founder of Office Cleaning Singapore, but he is not one to run his business without getting his hands dirty (pun entirely intended!)
Q. We understand that you embarked on a new venture about a year ago. Can you tell us more about your new startup?
Peter: My new startup, Office Cleaning Singapore, aims to provide professional cleaning services in Singapore at affordable rates. I started this venture with my business partner Ken who has a wealth of experience in operations.
We came together with the vision to modernize the cleaning industry with greater efficiency and leading technologies. We also wanted to reduce the operating cost and pay cleaners better than the market rate. As our company started to grow, we expanded into adjacent verticals such as carpet cleaning, stone care, pest control, air-con maintenance and disinfection services.
Peter (pictured centre of back row) with employees of Office Cleaning Singapore
Q. It is quite unusual for young entrepreneurs to enter the cleaning services industry. Can you share with us how your startup came about and what drove you to enter this business?
Peter: I first started in the cleaning services industry by providing the supplies and logistics for various cleaning companies. I got to understand the industry and its nuances better over time. This led me to discover a gap in the market in terms of providing transparent pricing and innovation to make operations more efficient and scalable. Also, I realised the industry does not really pay cleaners well and some do not even receive CPF contributions.
Q. We understand that digitalisation has been at the core of your business model to enable cost savings and increase efficiency. Can you tell us how your education in SMU School of Accountancy has helped in your business today?
Peter: My accounting degree has provided me with strong business fundamentals and also enabled me to apply my accounting knowledge to perform financial forecasts such as monthly revenue and expenses, and also pro forma statements. This also helped me to analyse and evaluate financial risks to steer the business in a sustainable manner. With effective business analytics and creative skills, I learnt to make use of technologies and software to manage and grow my business.
Q. Digitalisation such as instant communication methods with the cleaning crew onsite would definitely improve efficiency but how does your company encourage them to come onboard in a traditionally more labour-intensive industry?
Peter: In order to ease their work, we started implementing digital systems to help our cleaners to communicate well, bridging the gap between client, cleaners and their supervisors with instantaneous communication. In addition, my company issues smartphones with NFC chips enabled to our cleaners so that depending on the location they are at, a digital checklist will immediately pop up for them to go through and cross out. This allows our cleaners to be more operationally-ready and have less operational downtime. Our company also conducts internal trainings to teach cleaners topics such as customer relationship management on top of the mandatory cleaning courses offered by Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ).
With a strong focus on training, Peter hopes to build a multi-skilled cleaning services team
Q. What is your most significant achievement since starting this company and what do you hope to achieve next?
Peter: The most significant achievement would be achieving close to 100% client satisfaction since we started our cleaning business. This includes significant before and after results of our client’s offices/homes versus previous cleaning contractors. We have also received many referrals from our clients and cleaners recommending their friends for job opportunities with us. We have improved our ecosystem and believe that happy and satisfied cleaners will also, in turn, lead to happy and pleased clients. We have reputable clients such as the Singapore Cancer Society, SGX, UEM and Euromonitor under our portfolio.
In the near future, I hope to empower cleaners to take up more value-adding roles in our company, resulting in multi-skilled cleaners who can become supervisors and train other cleaners, and have a better career progression.