From Our Founder – Phil: The Concept of Home Improvement
In my very first concept paper written about starting a Home Improvement business, I wrote – “…there’s a significant cultural and philosophical divide between the East and the West, where “home is mere shingles above one’s heads” (translation) for the East; and “home is a man’s castle” for the West.
The age-old adages dispensed by their respective forefathers, metaphorical in nature, perhaps, do shape the intimate lifestyle Asians or Europeans live in different continents irrespective of time. We often say: culture and history is a mighty unique animal. Things that are passed down from generation to generation are so ingrained into a specific culture that they’d be so difficult to change or erase. Say for example culinary utensils – chopsticks versus knives and forks. These essential items were invented and started by folks from time immemorial, got passed down to becoming a permanent dinner table fixture thousands of years today… There’s another way to look at cultural differences between the East and the West on the subject of Home Improvement, this, however, is a more recent scenario from history’s perspective – DIY.
Home Improvement in Hong Kong
Do It Yourself or “DIY” is a byword in the West. Almost every family in North America or European countries would have a fairly sophisticated/complete set of work tools for simple household repairs and maintenance, some would go whole hog to transform a workspace or basement, turning it into a mini factory. On the other hand, I’d not be surprised to walk into any home in Hong Kong, Beijing, Jakarta or Taipei not to find a pair of pliers or electric drill…
There’s yet another way to understand the so-called cultural or philosophical divide between the East and the West – economics. In money-mad Hong Kong, by and large, real-estate investment and the stock market occupy people’s free time. Folks here have little desire to get their hands dirty to fix a leaky faucet or some faulty lighting fixtures. As time goes by after a remodel, usually done by a mom-and-pop retail reno outfit down the street, furniture starts to lose luster, gets chipped in the corner…toilets don’t flush, or water leaking out of the kitchen tap…etc. You get the picture…
Home Improvement in Hong Kong hence presents a remarkably buoyant, ever infinite, forever lucrative trade one can dream of. This is the buy side. The sell side dovetails beautifully with Home Improvement Hong Kong in a way unmatched or unlike any other market segment in the renovation/construction business. Through research we find that there are significant time voids being ‘wasted’ in the renovation trade and sub-trades arising out of hierarchical irregularities that are out of control by general contractors all the way to the handymen down below. Time voids can be found during an 8-hour shift, between shifts, and between projects. This is where we shine brightly, because the HelloJack! business model is built upon filling the otherwise unproductive time voids, enhancing the efficiency within the industry, as well as for the projects we carry out for our customers.
In short, Home Improvement is a phrase not familiar to most people in money mad Hong Kong. Armed with knowledge, passion, and integrity, HelloJack! has approached this unknown, virgin market segment with vigour and professionalism. Our motto: beautifying homes and offices has never been easier, yet it doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg if you know what you are doing!
DIY has no place in ‘Hong Kong’
Home Improvement is perhaps the weakest link in the renovation trade and sub-trades in ‘Hong Kong’. In a city where flipping properties or playing the stock market reigns supreme, ‘Hong Kong’ folks have little time to make their homes beautiful, hence Home Improvement is perhaps a phrase homeowners have not heard of, or understand.
Through talking to many middle-income families, young couples, older couples, or individuals, we understand the average length of a home that hasn’t gone through any kind of tuck and nip, or complete remodelling, is 20 to 25 years. Say Mrs. Chan finally picks up the slack to do something about the living or dining room, the next time these areas receive attention would be 25 years later. Everything from the ceiling, wall, wine cabinet, flooring, baseboard, dining table or chairs, so to speak, will deteriorate to a point of no return, then the time cycle starts again…
Home owners see no point in updating furniture pieces, wall arts, etc. to improve the physical or visual quality of, in this case, the living or dining room which is considered the centerpiece of a home. Constant updating or improving condition of a home, ie. Home Improvement, takes a backseat in most families we have visited. We could therefore extrapolate these loose data projecting them into a pattern to suggest that Hong Kong simply does not have a DIY culture, and definitely not one for Home Improvement.
HelloJack! recently staged a ‘Home Improvement’ promotion to stick its baby toes in the water putting the theory to test. The ‘Home Improvement’ promotion theme is like this: for $25,000 to $30,000 HelloJack! will give you a gleaming bathroom or kitchen where you will feel proud to invite friends over for Sunday afternoon tea! We ran the ‘Home Improvement’ ad on Facebook for three weeks without a single prospective client coming to us to express interest. To most, they will stick to the 20–25-year home reno cycle, that when things run out of life, then that’s the time something must be done. Functionality, or fixing something that has gone awry is key, but not routine checks in a ‘Home’ to ‘Improve’ its physical attributes on regular intervals.
HelloJack! does not approve this kind of thinking, and we are adamant about building a robust ‘Home Improvement’ climate, in advocating a ‘Home Improvement’ culture for the people of ‘Hong Kong’.