Secure Waterproofing: SME Excellence Business Award 2022/2023
Ceiling leakages around the world are common problems many homeowners have to face. Be it from natural elements, or a faulty pipe from worn plumbing, even in Singapore, many HDB flat owners may encounter this in older flats where age and use began to wear down bathroom caulk, gradually resulting in leaks through the ceilings.
Waterproofing is the process of preventing water from penetrating the house through leaks and cracks. Humidity is a key factor in the wearing down of materials, thus waterproofing is important to ensure the house stays dry.
Founded by Mr Nik Tan in 2017, Secure Waterproofing provides quality waterproofing services to homeowners around Singapore. Before setting up Secure Waterproofing, Mr Tan and his current colleagues were working in their individual jobs, some in waterproofing. However Mr Tan had the idea one day that it would be better for them to work together in the same company where they could create a culture that fits them instead of their previous organizations where not all of their ideas may be aligned together. Although Mr Tan was very alien to the job, he had a colleague to aid him in the early days of setting up the business with fine-tuning. As his friends were already in the waterproofing trade, starting up this venture was with its challenges, but nothing they could not overcome.
Some early difficulties Mr Tan faced were the deluge of permits they needed due to regulations of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), as well as the need for authorization to hire workers. As they started with practically nothing, the permits were an initial obstacle they had to clear, and the waiting time for the processing of documents also delayed their establishment of the company. Additionally, the challenge of securing a clientele for a fresh start-up with little to no credentials was also facing them.
Patience was key in overcoming the initial barriers of finding business, but Mr Tan’s team was made up of skilled and experienced individuals in waterproofing with their years in the industry. Showing their clients their quality of service and expertise in the job, the lack of business was soon overcome with several referrals from clients who excitedly spread the word of Secure Waterproofing’s skilled workmanship.
Mr Nik explains that the difference between Secure Waterproofing and others is the focus they place in customer service relations between customer and serviceman with a quick response time and quality service. With many competitors in the industry, Mr Nik explains that this is one of their methods, as well as using quality products with good service without cutting corners. This way by not using the cheapest products for profit but using better products like sealants for lesser recurrence of leakage, they can provide a longer warranty on their product and services compared to their competitors.
Workers in the industry Secure Waterproofing’s are usually classified under the ‘Construction’ line, but Mr Nik shares that as ‘waterproofing specialists’, the job scope of Secure Waterproofing and the general perspective of construction work is very different. This way Mr Nik explains that each of his workers is skilled and experienced workers, and he always highlights the quality of work and the company way of not cutting corners to each of them, emphasizing doing a proper job to prevent any unfinished work.
As a business owner, Mr Nik’s responsibilities involve overseeing the general state of the company and taking care of all thirty of his workers with a good wage. Knowing that there are unsavoury business practices from the news, Mr Nik also emphasizes his thirty-odd employees earning a good living and not underpaying them, apart from making a profit for the company as a whole.
Mr Nik shares that as waterproofing are still a very hands-on and layman job, the company does not utilize any advanced robots yet. Knowing that each job is unique with many different scenarios and challenges, he explains that while they upgraded their tools to ease the work process, the individual worker being able to react correctly on his judgement is better than relying on a robot to get the correct analysis of the job.
When it comes to customer retention, Secure Waterproofing’s services come with a warranty period between one to ten years depending on the scope of the job done. As waterproofing is never a permanent fixture as time and the elements go on, Mr Nik always ensures prompt and quick response to clients requiring touch-ups on a job within the warranty period.
Secure Waterproofing’s prices are considered ‘competitive’ in the current market, as each work project varies together with the price. As it is almost impossible to place set prices on the job, Mr Nik says that Secure Waterproofing’s main sale is their workmanship and products all in the pricing.
The company’s name came by when Mr Nik and his men went through it during a meeting, where they agreed that in their business they’d want their work to be ‘secure’, in their ‘waterproofing’ jobs. They also use their company website, SEOs, social media and flyers to promote the company. Content posted on their website includes the company’s strengths as well as proof and results of their work as their advertising material.
Secure Waterproofing also does on-site visits to each client’s request to observe the scale of work required. As water leaking is a very irritating issue, they try to attend to the client as soon as possible as well as describe the issue clearly. However, there was a recent issue with the recent Covid-19 pandemic, where the manpower shortage affected them hard.
Mr Nik shares that Secure Waterproofing managed to survive and not be too badly affected by the pandemic, while other companies may be less fortunate. As they have been operating for several years, he counted himself and the company very fortunate to be able to survive the past two years of lockdowns and restrictions. He estimated that 90% of companies may not have been prepared with reserves for the scale of the pandemic, and credits the government subsidies and financial aid for SMEs to support them and ensure their survival. He also expresses his gratitude to Secure Waterproofing’s workers, that right after they were allowed back to work; each of them began earnestly, allowing the company to achieve breakthroughs in the face of adversity.
He shared that they were getting stronger during the period, managed to get GST registered, and also managed to keep his workers assured of their job places and salaries. Secure Waterproofing has also acquired a subsidiary company recently, whom focused mainly on homeowners.
What motivates him to push on in this company? Mr Nik shares that while the general aim is for excellence and growth, he wants his employees to earn more in Secure Waterproofing than their previous job. He credits the good cohesion of the company and the relaxed hierarchy of working to something he and his employees can enjoy, thus motivating his team.
In the future, Mr Nik is trying to explore future materials for his company to use. As waterproofing could use many materials for works, the vision is to become a distributor of materials to other companies in Singapore, as well as solar panels for expansion of their business.