Interview with Yeen Teck, CEO of Helpling Singapore

Yeen Teck Helpling Singapore

1) You started off with Spickify before it was acquired by Helpling (very quickly, if I may add). What have been the benefits of this acquisition for the company you founded and its future?

I co-founded Spickify with my partners with a clear objective – we saw that hiring reliable cleaning help was very difficult, and we felt that there were many people able to offer such services without a good way to locate these customers. The deal with Helpling has allowed us to achieve this objective and much more quickly than with Spickify alone. Helpling is active in over 200 cities in 14 countries around the world. That kind of scale has provided us with a lot of support in Singapore, both in terms of funding as well as technical and marketing support. We are the clear leader for this market segment in Singapore, and are in a position to provide even better value to our independent cleaners and their customers.

2) I’ve read that Helpling SG has its roots in a community project to help low-income Singapore residents obtain flexible part-time cleaning jobs. Why is giving back to the community important to you?

I was previously in the civil service and spent several years at the Ministry of Manpower. One of my portfolios was to find ways to make sure that lower-income workers weren’t being left behind.

There are many things that the Singapore government has been doing to help such workers, but at the same time there are certain things that it cannot and should not do. For instance, providing them with the actual jobs and work, which has to be done by the business community. This was initially a community project in my neighborhood helping residents from lower-income households find part-time domestic cleaning work. As it grew bigger, my partners and I needed to turn it into a proper business. This eventually became Spickify, and later Helpling. The values behind the community project remain a big part of what we do at Helpling. Many of our cleaning partners come from low-income households, or are unable to pursue full time work because of childcare needs or elderly care responsibilities.

3) What percentage of the cleaning fees paid goes to the cleaners?

Helpling takes 20 percent of the cleaning service fee, which goes into insurance (which the cleaners cannot obtain on their own) as well as overheads such as dedicated 7-day customer service support for both the cleaners and their customers. Our cleaning partners take home at least $16/hr for every job they take through our platform, which is more than triple what they would make in, say, a fast-food restaurant.

4) Is it true that all cleaners from Helpling SG are interviewed by your staff before they can take on cleaning jobs? What do you look out for during these interviews?

Yes, each of our cleaning partners goes through a thorough screening process before they can accept any jobs on Helpling’s platform. This includes: a personal interview; an aptitude test to ensure their knowledge of home cleaning meets the high standards expected by their customers; as well as police background checks. Trust, reliability, and cleaning experience are key attributes we look for in every cleaning partner.

5) Each cleaning session is backed by $1 million liability insurance – any claims made thus far? 

While we have had to manage some disputes between cleaners and their customers, we have not had to make any claims so far. The fact that we are the only service in Singapore with such insurance underscores the trust that people place in our platform.

6) How important is cleanliness to you? Are you a cleanliness freak? 😀

I wouldn’t say I’m a cleanliness freak! But it is important that my home is neat and tidy. When I first set up Spickify, we needed to make sure we understood what our cleaning partners would go through, and what their customers would expect. So my team and I went out and cleaned customers’ homes ourselves. Over time, we have picked up a number of tips for tackling various cleaning tasks. It has been a busy time at Helpling now, but we still want to keep that “ground feel” with us. Recently, we teamed up with some grassroots volunteers in Boon Lay on their Project Facelift. We brought together our staff, some of our cleaning partners, as well as other volunteers to clean the homes of underprivileged residents in Boon Lay.

It was great to go out and get involved in the practical side of the business again, especially for such a good cause! You can see the video here.

7) Will cleaning fees go up during peak seasons, e.g. before Lunar New Year?

No, our fee of $18 for regular bookings and $20 for one-off bookings applies whenever you make a booking. Supply and demand of our cleaning partners will of course differ at certain times of the year, and consequently there might not be as many available cleaners on public holidays. We encourage our customers to make bookings early. But the price remains the same whenever you book. Our transparent pricing model is one of the major benefits of our service. Our customers know exactly how much their home cleaning will cost in advance, so there’s no unwelcome surprises at the end!

Let Helpling assist you in booking cleaning services in Singapore. Hire a legal and vetted part-time Helpling cleaner from just $18 per hour.