A Breath of Fresh Air
What started out as a part-time commitment eventually became a lifelong ambition. Read about how air-conditioning business, Good Air, managed to keep up with the times by embarking on a journey of digital transformation.
“Most people don’t have a good impression of the air-conditioning industry, they think that the work isn’t glamourous, doesn’t pay well or both. Yet, somehow my father managed to make enough to send me overseas for my studies,” Shawn Pang stated proudly. “That is why I see it as my responsibility to build on my father’s legacy by transforming and bringing the company to greater heights.”
A two-man setup established in 1976, Good Air Pte Ltd initially focused on providing residential air-conditioning services including sales, installation and maintenance. Since young, Shawn would often find himself tagging along with his father and uncle to help out whenever an opportunity arises. This allowed him to gain valuable practical experience and learn the ins and outs of the industry first-hand.
Although he took up a job in banking after returning from his studies overseas, Shawn was never far from the family business. “I actually traded my car for a van and bought all the tools just so I could continue servicing air-conditioners on the weekends,” Shawn shared with a chuckle. In 2011, after a decade in banking, Shawn finally decided to make the leap and take over Good Air from his father.
With his fresh ideas and perspectives, Shawn steadily grew Good Air’s headcount from two to 50 over a five-year period. One of the key enablers of this expansion is his decision to shift Good Air’s focus from residential to commercial and industrial air conditioning.
However, a new set of challenges awaited Shawn and Finance Manager, Mabel Wan. “Our backend processes were all manual. It actually worked pretty well in the beginning since we only had a handful of staff. But as the business grew, it quickly became an administrative nightmare that could only be solved by hiring even more staff,” Mabel shared.
The amount of work that was required to upkeep our manual processes also meant that we had to miss out on many business opportunities, which really shouldn’t be the case.
Shawn and Mabel realised that this was unsustainable and began exploring different ways of streamlining their business operations.
“We identified a number of software that could potentially help us but we weren’t sure of their commitment and credibility as most of them are based overseas. As a product of UOB, UOB BizSmart* really gave us the assurance we needed to make this transformation happen,” replied Mabel candidly.
With such a big overhaul planned, Shawn and Mabel knew the transition would be difficult to navigate. “You can have the best software but at the end of the day, it’s about how this tool is being used. We needed to convince our staff to join us on this journey so we put in extra effort during the planning stage to ensure implementation would be smooth,” Shawn explained.
We’re really grateful to the UOB team because they were right there with us, helping us to solve any issues that we encountered along the way. They made the entire process so much less intimidating.
Before long, the staff at Good Air adopted the new workflow because they could see many of their usual pain points being addressed. “From time to time, some of the staff would come up to us and ask whether this or that part can be customised. That’s how we know that they are really using the new system.”
Invoicing and Accounting
As compared to the past where quotations, service reports and invoices had to be manually printed and sent to each client, the entire accounting process after the creation of a quotation is now automated. On top of eliminating unnecessary paper usage, Shawn and Mabel don’t have to worry about missing out on sending an invoice again.
Payroll and HR Management
Mabel estimated time savings of up to 50% on the human resources side of the business since tasks such as payslip generation are also automated. She explained, “Before UOB BizSmart*, I was sending out payslips individually to each staff. I had to make sure I get their name and payment details right, attach their payslip and send them an email. Now, I spend my time doing things that are much more productive.”
Customer Relationship Management
On the other hand, Shawn was appreciative of the ability to analyze past data from their customer, understand trends and predict which customers are likely to be receptive to which kind of services. “This is really important to me as a business owner because it guides my decision-making and ensures that I am taking my company in the right direction.”
After successfully overcoming two of its most immediate internal challenges in accounting and human resources, Shawn and Mabel are now exploring other UOB BizSmart* solutions to tackle issues in other business functions. “We do have a couple of exciting ideas in the pipeline such as aligning payments with invoices through the PayNow QR Code function, converting service reports from physical to electronic format and eventually, building an ecommerce platform. We are already in preliminary discussions with UOB so let’s see where that takes us,” Shawn shared.
The implementation of UOB BizSmart* solutions has enabled Shawn to transform his business and take concrete steps towards his ultimate goal of changing the general impression of the industry. He concluded, “My next challenge will be to think of new ways of using technology to drive sales. If I want to break away from the negative stereotype of this industry being unglamorous and low-paying and change the prevailing mindset, then this is definitely the way to go.”
* UOB BizSmart in UOB Singapore refers to the equivalent of UOB SmartBusiness in Malaysia.