Creativity focused SMEs often find customer outreach difficult, since they focus on making beautiful designs and have few resources to devote to customer relationship management (CRM).
Noting this problem, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) set up the Transformation Sandbox (T-box) programme specifically to help SMEs carry out essential tasks, like CRM and IT functions.
One enthusiastic adopter of T-box is Brilliant Design & Build Limited, which offers services to make homes and workplaces attractive and liveable. The firm was eager to expand business and serve more clients, but with its limited CRM resources, turned to T-box.
Brilliant joined T-box in November 2022, attending the T-box x Microsoft Workshop to boost IT capabilities.
Brilliant went on to seek T-box consulting services. Noting that the firm, established in 2008, had up that point relied on referrals from previous clients and social-media contacts to grow its customer base, the T-box team suggested Brilliant Design set up a website.
“T-box provided government funding information to us and we eventually obtained Technology Voucher Programme (TVP) funding to build the website,” Brilliant Design Internal Design Director Cathy Choi said.
“With a website, we have our own platform to demonstrate our work and projects in a professional manner, so as to build brand awareness.”
Brilliant Design also received TVP funding to build a VIP system, an IT management solution that the firm conceived of from scratch.
The system stores records of site inspections of client sites, allowing early problem detection and avoiding problems with existing installations, such as electronic circuitry and partitions.
The system, which Brilliant Design is busy installing, also allows easy hand-off, when staff members leave a firm.
In its Climate Action Plan 2050, the Hong Kong SAR Government notes that buildings account for 60% of the city’s carbon dioxide emissions, making them a key target for energy savings plans. Firms involved in building, construction, design and management are encouraged to address ESG issues.
Ms Choi realised this and Brilliant Design attended T-box x ESG Stream Workshops to learn more about ESG as well as trends and compliance requirements.
Having found out more about the field, she felt inspired and joined an online self-learning course from UDA on sustainable interiors.
T-box member benefits included a chance to gain a complimentary Dun & Bradstreet certification, the D&B ESG Registered TM badge which is widely recognised by clients. This recognition, as well as the knowledge gained through T-box workshops, eventually empowered Brilliant Design to secure a committee member position at the Hong Kong Institute of Environmentalists.
Brilliant Design has also joined several T-box webinars to keep up to date on a broad range of issues, including an HKTDC webinar on digitalisation Delivering Digitalisation Strategies for SME Success in the ChatGPT Era in June last year.
Resolving and preventing commercial disputes is essential for any contractor, leading Brilliant Design to also attend the T-box workshop – Drafting Dispute Resolution Clauses for SMEs – in November last year to share insights on drafting an agreement.
The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) brings together the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions and the nine adjacent mainland cities. Each centre has its own strengths, complementary to its peers.
Hong Kong’s strengths include services, among them building services, which the city can use to boost development of the other 10 centres in the region.
Ms Choi acknowledged that Hong Kong is an outstanding city with a unique set of skills, which it could deploy widely, but as a relatively small firm, Brilliant Design needed to proceed carefully.