Concierge services see more demand from Singaporeans

Butler In Suits founder Poon Da Qian doing a cleanliness check. The firm has over 200 clients, of whom15 per cent are local.
Butler In Suits founder Poon Da Qian doing a cleanliness check. The firm has over 200 clients, of whom15 per cent are local.ST PHOTO: MOHD KHALID BABA

An increasing number of busy Singaporeans are paying for concierge services that can help them with an assortment of tasks.

These range from repairs and gardening, to online shopping and even surprising partners with a birthday cake when they are out of the country and unable to do so themselves.

About 15 firms in Singapore offer such services. Most of the industry players The Straits Times spoke to said their clients tend to be in their 30s and 40s. While most firms said the bulk of their business comes from expatriates, there are some with a 50-50 mix.

Personal Concierge & Property Management, which has been around for seven years, has seen a 15 per cent rise in business since January. The proportion of Singaporeans making use of its services has risen from 2 per cent two years ago to 20 per cent as of the end of last year.

Founder Erieanna Tan, 35, said most of her clients are upper-middle or high-income professionals, including Singaporeans based overseas who want to check in on friends and family here. One man asked her to deliver a watch, necklace and "piping hot" bird's nest soup with no sugar to his elderly parents. A woman in her 30s wanted cake, donuts and a personal message delivered to her boyfriend when she was abroad. Each errand cost over $100.

Clients in Singapore generally ask for help with running errands. Health business owner Mindy Yong, 39, has been getting Ms Tan to take her designer bags to shops for cleaning and repairs. This sets Ms Yong back about $100 each time, excluding the servicing cost of the bags.

Mr Melvin Lee, 29, co-founder of A Winsome Life which has been offering errands-running services since 2013, said his 35 customers this year ranged from Singaporeans in their 20s studying abroad, to middle-aged busy professionals.

Acknowledging that the industry is "new" and "isn't that mature yet" in Singapore, he said one of the draws of his service is that much of it is ad hoc. Surprising a girlfriend with flowers would set someone back about $70. "Customers don't have a commitment to say, 'I need to employ you regularly'," said Mr Lee.

Another firm, Butler In Suits, has been offering apartment residents a personalised "housekeeping and home management service" since September last year. It offers round-the-clock concierge services for home repairs and maintenance, as part of a housekeeping package.

Its founder and chief executive Poon Da Qian, 24, said a team of housekeeping staff clean homes to a "hotel" standard. They also offer a laundry service for an extra fee.

Butler In Suits has over 200 clients, of whom 15 per cent are local. For daily housekeeping services, they pay a subscription fee of $330 a month for studio to two-room apartments and $440 a month for three-to four-room apartments.

Associate Professor Sharon Ng, from Nanyang Technological University's Marketing and International Business Division, said: "Young Singaporeans nowadays are time-starved. As they try to balance time for work and other lifestyle pursuits, outsourcing errands or getting people to help with planning an event is one way they can manage the varying demands of life."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 11, 2017, with the headline 'Concierge services see more demand from Singaporeans'. Print Edition | Subscribe