Renologist: Top Business Service and Quality Award 2021/2022
“If You Want To Go Fast, Go Alone. If You Want To Go Far, Go Together.”
Renologist is the leading interior design firm in Singapore that aims to provide excellent service and a seamless renovation experience for its clients. With years of expertise in both residential and commercial projects, Renologist is known not only for its innovative design and quality workmanship, but also its high level of customer’s satisfaction across multiple digital platforms. Set up by two friends Wayne and Gabriel in 2018, Renologist stands out among its competitors because it stays true to the founders’ vision from the start, which is to be the expert in the field and to always operate with an unmatched level of professionalism, precision, and integrity.
Fast forward a few years later, what started out as a lean team of a few has now grown into a blooming business with 20 employees. “One of the reasons why I wanted to be an entrepreneur and start my own business is because it would allow me to set the corporate culture that I want to see,” says Wayne, Founder and Director of Renologist, who oversees finance and business management. His co-founder, Gabriel, has over a decade of experience in the ID industry and is in charge of operations and creative direction. “As the business continues to grow, we find the team constantly expanding, and therefore it is crucial to pick the right person for the job,” adds Gabriel.
When asked what constitutes a right addition to the team, the two agree that the desired candidate should ideally be someone who is driven and hardworking. “This job can be quite demanding at times, as we often work beyond your regular 9-to-5, and have to troubleshoot issues as they arise. It requires someone who is dedicated to the job and is willing to go the extra mile when required,” says Wayne. The ideal candidate should also possess good communication skills and is customer-centric. Having prior experience or a form of education in the field is a plus, but not all that matters. “As long as the person has the right attitude and aptitude to learn, we would be happy to train them from scratch,” shares Gabriel.
To better support and guide new hires, they have put in place a centralized training program. “ This training program lasts for about four weeks, whereby the new hire gets to shadow either myself or Gabriel directly. We believe that this will allow them to learn through observation all the processes that we go through on a daily basis, including the ability to problem solve and think out of the box, as that is an essential part of the job. The new hire also gets to tag along with their seniors, so they will definitely receive ample guidance before they are expected to work independently,” Wayne elaborates. “This is especially important at the beginning. Our client’s first impression towards us really matters, so we do not let inexperienced staff handle clients directly without supervision.”
Unlike most companies where performance reviews are typically conducted once a year, Renologist implements a quarterly performance appraisal system. Employees can expect to receive ongoing feedback throughout the year, be it from their team leaders or even Wayne and Gabriel themselves. “We believe in having frequent check-ins with our employees to discuss their performance at work, because it allows them plenty of time to reflect and adjust should they need to. This works better than having the employees receive feedback only once a year and then be taken aback by the reviews. By then, it would have been too late to make any necessary adjustment,” says Gabriel.
Employees = Greatest Assets
To keep staff motivated, there is an incentive system in place to reward high achievers and recognise their contributions. What is worth mentioning is also the yearly grooming benefit given out to every employee so as staff remains presentable for client facing. This is on top of the annual and semi-annual events that the company conducts for staff bonding. “We have regular team dinners and celebrations during the festive seasons, such as Chinese New Year, Christmas, etc. We also had planned to go for GoKart and yacht retreat, but unfortunately those had to be postponed due to the ongoing pandemic restrictions. But otherwise, we do a lot of activities together that promotes team bonding and strengthens our working relationships,” says Wayne. He adds that most of the time, the kind of activity that they end up doing is chosen via voting so that it represents what the majority of the employees want. “ Honestly, after working hours, there is no such thing as a hierarchy here. We treat everyone like a family and we want our staff to have a positive and enjoyable work environment,” Gabriel adds. On top of that, they also have regular team meetings every two weeks, where staff can share the challenges that they are facing individually, and how the team can resolve those issues together.
The same treatment is also extended to their sub-contractors. “Managing sub-contractors is another important aspect of this business,” says Wayne. “At Renologist, we see ourselves as the bridge between homeowners and the contractors. We have to be efficient in our communication with both parties to make sure we deliver as per the client’s brief. This requires mutual respect between us and the contractors. We always try to communicate clearly and have logical connections with our contractors. Over time, what started out as a working relationship usually transform into a friendship when we treat our contractors fairly. This has in turn helped us on many occasions when we needed their help as well. Thankfully, most of our contractors have actually been with us since day one and they have been really supportive.” He further adds that making fair and timely payment is also crucial to maintain a good working relationship with the subcontractors.
Silencing Voices of Doubt
There is no doubt that running an ID business is no easy feat. The working hours can often be long and the job itself can be really demanding. A mark of a true leader is also how one deals with stressful situations. Likewise, Gabriel and Wayne have also faced their fair share of challenges along the way, and each share some of the things that keep them motivated throughout the years. “ I think being surrounded by a team of people who share the same passion and truly have fun working together really helps to keep me going,” says Gabriel. “ Thanks to my years of experience in the field, I can act as a mentor to them and I find great joy in helping them grow. Of course, seeing how our revenue continues to grow steadily over the years also motivates me to keep aiming for greater heights.”
“ Some days are definitely tougher than others. During those moments, I remember the joy on our clients’ faces when we deliver their dream homes to them, and that certainly keeps me going,” share Wayne. “ When we first started the company, we knew that it was not going to be all about us and our success alone. As leaders, we feel a great sense of responsibility to groom the people below us, to equip them for bigger roles, and to impart to them any skills and expertise that we may have, so that everyone can pull their weight and carry the company to the next level. We want to see everyone succeed.” He adds that both he and Gabriel are also open to potentially engaging their employees as partners, similar to how a law firm operates.
The two founders of Renologist also share a few nuggets of wisdom in regards to starting an entrepreneurial journey. “ There is a common thing among many successful entrepreneurs, and that is determination,” Wayne says. “ If you believe in something, you must see to it until the end. Expect to face objections and criticism along the way, because not everyone can see what you see. For example, I used to earn steady income from my previous banking job. When I wanted to make the switch to starting my own company, there were doubts from some family members. The first year was tough and we were eating into our savings, but luckily we managed to turn around quickly in the following years. That also taught us about the importance of being financially prudent and to have a solid reserve to build trust with clients and the contractors.” He adds that one should not be discouraged by failures, but treat them as part and parcel of the journey. It is only through strong determination to brave through the failures, that the fruit of the victory will be sweet.
Gabriel could not agree more. “ To young aspiring entrepreneurs out there, pick a trade that you are truly passionate about and become good at it. Do as much research as you can about the industry. Do not hesitate to seek mentorship and start by working for others, just to get your foot at the door and learn the ins-and-outs of the business. Also, know that at the end of the day, money is important but it is not everything. More than money, value the relationship that you have with the people that you work with,” shares Gabriel. He also shares some insights in regards to choosing the right business partner. “ Do not be blindsided by the person’s outward financial appearance, but take the time to learn about their character. Build a genuine relationship in the first place. Partner up with someone who contributes equally and is not calculative. Lastly, look for a doer rather than a visionary, because what keeps a business going is someone who is willing to put in all the hard and dirty work.”