SME Spotlight

Helping small companies stay lean with Elitez services

Mr Teo (centre) with his staff in their office. He says that from the start, Elitez's proposition was that it would not be the cheapest agency in the market but would focus a lot on client satisfaction and value creation.
Mr Teo (centre) with his staff in their office. He says that from the start, Elitez's proposition was that it would not be the cheapest agency in the market but would focus a lot on client satisfaction and value creation.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

The push to raise productivity has taken on added impetus in the face of sluggish economic growth. Human resource firm Elitez has come up with an innovative way to help firms meet their manpower needs. In the third of a four-part series about SMEs that help other firms achieve greater productivity,Yasmine Yahya speaks to Elitez CEO Derrick Teo, 31.

Q How did Elitez get started?

A Our company was founded in mid-2010 by myself and co-founder Wayne Chen, who is 33. Someone told us about the opportunities in this space - how supermarket promoters are not actually engaged by the brands directly but by agencies. It sounded like something we could do, so we decided to try it out.

We knocked on the doors of a few multinational consumer goods companies and, fortunately, our first client gave us a contract. From there, we started to manage some promoters in supermarkets.

We felt very strongly about helping housewives re-enter the workforce, so that is the group we focused on when we built up our promoter pool. We got a lot of housewives to join our business.

Q How did you stand out from the competition?

A From the very beginning, our proposition was that we would not be the cheapest agency in the market but would focus a lot on client satisfaction and value creation. We provide value-added services such as training the promoters and generating reports for our clients to help them make better decisions.

When we started our business, there were many firms that had been around for 10, 15 years. But our clients placed a lot of trust in us and contracts came one after another. By 2013, we had become the market leader in the industry, with about 40 per cent of the supermarket promoters across Singapore. That's when we asked ourselves what was next, and we decided to become an end-to-end human resource firm.

Q What did that entail?

A We started Adept Academy, a training centre that has been approved by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency, so the courses are 90 per cent funded by the Government. We mainly conduct courses focused on retail services. We also invested in a recruitment firm called Dynamic Human Capital, which focuses on the consumer goods and healthcare sectors. It provides candidates ranging from rank-and-file staff to senior managers for those industries.

And we co-founded a company called Jobs Today, through which we launched a mobile app called Joie.

Q What is Joie?

A It's a mobile platform to connect young people, aged 16 to 23, to employers, usually food and beverage establishments, banquets and event management firms. These firms tend to need a lot of youngsters to fill part-time slots. When a young person logs on to the app, he can see a list of job postings, with details on the job scope, location and time slot. Then he can indicate his interest. We route that to the client, who then contacts the worker.

The job postings are all ad hoc - they're for jobs available today, tomorrow or up to a month from now. This was a gap in the market.

Young people often have pockets of free time that may be unplanned and that they may want to use to earn some income.

We have about 8,000 young people on the Joie database and about 20 companies using the platform, including a few hotel chains.

Q How do your services help other small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) become more productive?

A Some SME clients are very lean and don't have a full suite of functions to manage their own manpower, so they use our services.

We manage their staff - make sure they start and end work on time, ensure they are certified with the correct qualifications before they are deployed on site and brief them on what to do. We also provide an on-site supervisor to ensure the staff are performing their duties. So the client doesn't need to incur all these fixed labour costs. We just charge them a project-management fee. It allows them to stay lean.

Most of the workers we provide are brand promoters or F&B staff like assistant chefs, washers and waiters. For event companies, we offer workers for roles such as ushers and on-site coordinators.

We recently helped a client that was organising a sports, beach and music festival. It was a one-off event but it needed 30 staff to be deployed within two weeks. We conducted interviews for the client and in four days we managed to get about 60 candidates. So our platform enables us to generate a quick turnaround.

Q What's next for your firm?

A The next step for us is to go regional. We have identified Malaysia, Myanmar and Indonesia as our key markets. The easiest business for us to launch overseas is training and recruitment. Our courses have already been vetted and would be held with a certain level of regard abroad.

We are also bringing expertise on recruitment in consumer goods and healthcare into those markets.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2016, with the headline 'Helping small companies stay lean with Elitez services'. Print Edition | Subscribe