If you’ve been invited to a glamorous party at a glittering luxurious residential on the Mid-Levels, or passed a sumptuous condo and peeked into the stylish interior on the premium Oxford Road, chances are you’ve stumbled across one of Zchron’s works in Hong Kong. Founded in 2010 by interior design veteran Nison Chan, Zchron is no stranger to bigwig clients, having established a reputation in the affluent society after designing for a cache of business leaders and tycoons alike, with a concentration on luxury residential projects ranging from HK$1m to HK$10m.
Behind Chan’s frantic schedule — handling up to 15 large-scale renovation projects at the same time — is a fairly small but dynamic office housing about 20 people to make sure everything goes without a hitch. Small in size, but big in ambition, Zchron has sought to present itself as the leading company in the luxury residential sector in town with three key principles — integrity, punctuality, and quality — which makes the firm stand out from the interior design pack and saw it snatch the coveted interior design award for the 11th year in a row.
Honouring the spirit of a contract
One key focus Chan keeps underlining is the importance of maintaining professional integrity, and honouring the spirit of a contract. “Clients’ satisfaction is our first priority,” Chan says. “We take pride in the quality of our projects and we honour the commitment to our clients on the contract. We’ve developed a solid base of repeat clients due in large part to our pledge to deliver on our commitments on the contract, mainly including the estimated project costs and completed times.
“Also, we strictly follow the 3D renderings during the construction to make sure the end results are identical to the renderings. Some clients express their gratitude to us when projects are completed on time simply because this is rare in the industry.” All these combined, Chan says, is the winning strategy to building a trusted brand identity and forging long-term client relationships.
The robust referral business
In this era of online search engines and user reviews, it is easy for companies to forget or to underestimate the power of customer referrals. Whilst people are constantly bombarded by loud advertising from laptops to smartphones, print to outdoor billboards, what they really trust is word-of-mouth recommendations from people who can vouch for the service themselves.
Although beefing up its advertising spending this year, Zchron’s business relies heavily on referral business, with former Gucci CEO Mimi Tang, S.A.S. group chairman Stanley Yim, and Sa Sa vice-chairman Eleanor Kwok, amongst its clients from referrals. “Being able to deliver on our promises to clients is what keeps clients coming back and referring more clients to us. To make sure projects are on time, we follow up the schedule every day for all clients, regardless of size.”
Chan cites a project for a standalone house at Stanley about three to four years ago to which the owner later referred the company to his daughter who owns an apartment at The Harbourside at Tsim Sha Tsui, whom then referred the company to a friend living at Grand Austin. “Being honest and keeping our promises are the keys to forging long-lasting relationships with clients.” With a well-established network in an affluent circle, Zchron will stay focussed on luxury residential projects, which takes up some 70% of its business. “The interior design market is cluttered. Whilst every sector is dominated by certain market leaders, joining the fray means you’ll be expecting a price war. But cutting prices always compromises on quality, and that’s not the direction we are heading.”
A firm stand on quality
The unregulated renovation industry in Hong Kong is notorious for scams such as overcharging for materials, asking for a large sum of the deposit upfront, underperforming frontline workers, and questionable craftsmanship.And when customers refuse to pay, the project often ends up shoddy or, worse, abandoned.
“Addressing these bad practices, at Zchron we make sure all basic home supplies, including water mains and electrical tubing, meet international standards, plywood boards meet European Formaldehyde Class E1, and wall paint meets green standards.
“Materials for construction are mainly imported from Europe, and pricing is transparent to clients so they can make decisions depending on their financial capacity.” Most contracts guarantee a year of maintenance, but Zchron tends to offer three to five years of maintenance for free. “We treat our clients like friends. When most businesses are competing with price, we compete with quality.” With a predominant focus on luxury residential properties, a career background in residential design is required for being a designer at Zchron. The company is now looking to expand the seven-people design team to cater to new business.
The extensive experience of Chan and his energetic team have done a good job in maintaining a competitive edge for the company to grab a sizeable share of the fierce residential design market, with a handful of commercial projects under its belt, including Carlsberg, DKNY, Dr. Reborn, Escada, Fortress, Poly Property Group Company, and Sa Sa International.
“Looking down the road, we’ll continue to step up efforts to brand the company as a leading name in the luxury residential sector with integrity, punctuality, and quality in mind. This is the one and only strategy to stand the test of time in the rapidly changing design landscape, and there’s no trick to it.”
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