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Arrow really hit the spot for us!

  1. #1
    thanka2 is offline Registered User
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    Arrow really hit the spot for us!

    I know that this domestic helper employment agency has been mentioned before on Geobaby but I'd like to share a bit of my experience here and recommend them again because I was just overwhelmingly impressed with their service this week.

    Arrow Employment Agency


    Yet once again, our life situation has changed and we felt that it was finally time for us to find a domestic helper. I've been quite resistant to hiring one up until this point (my son is coming up on 2-years-old now) for several reasons and one of those is that every time we've gone to look for a helper through an employment agency I just got a stomach-churning vibe that the situation was dodgy. Like many women, I trust my intuition on these things.

    So, where to start to find a good domestic helper--one that fits our situation and our family and requirements?

    I e mailed a Filipina friend who worked at one time as a DH in HK and asked her for some people to contact. I responded to a few posts here on Geobaby of recommendations of helpers looking for a new employer. And then we just happened to call some close friends of ours who are American and have lived in HK for over 25 years and raised three now-grown children here. The recommended Arrow Employment Agency because they are personal friends with the owner who is also an American who has been here in HK with his family for over 20 years.

    The owner came in and talked with us and we spent 2.5 hours there! In HK, time is money so for someone to spend that amount of quality tiime with you, going over in detail employee profiles and calling employees for interviews was really great. So, after doing three interviews we think we've settled on a lady who is 45-years-old, has no children and has already worked for 8 years in Hong Kong as well as a couple of years in Taiwan and a couple of years in the middle-east. Her goal for working is to buy herself and her husband a house.

    Apparently, Arrow is the only agency in Hong Kong that offers a refund of the fee for the duration of the contact. You do pay a little bit more for their service but they are personally involved with the training of the helpers.

    Other agencies in Hong Kong contract with agencies in the Philippines that send them reems of bio data forms--that have a name a date of birth and a few contacts on them (which could also be family members posing as employers etc.) so the agencies here in HK know just as much as the prospective employer (us) about the potential employee they are offering--they've never seen or met these ladies and probably can't vouch with certainty that the information on the forms is even 100% true.

    Not so with this agency--they personally go down to the Philippines every two months to partner with a local agency there to hand-pick candidates for their agency--then are personally involved with their training which takes a holistic approach--even addressing issues like emotional/family issues/baggage that the women might be bringing with them to HK.

    For every photo of the women we looked at in the book, the owner, who came to meet with us, as I said, could tell me more about that woman--including her background and her personality. During the training each woman receives marks in a report card in different areas including: humility, common sense, cooking skills, professionalism, emotional maturity etc., childcare skills, English--it's pretty detailed and so in that way it's also easier to see where a woman excels. Also, the owner was very forthcoming about the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate--there was on candidate we were considering and he said, "She is great a cooking but because of her size (she's quite overweight) and her energy level, I don't think she would be the best fit for a family with a small child." I couldn't tell from the photo that she was extremely overweight but he knew her from the training and could give us that inside information.

    Most of the women that end up on the roster to be available to come work in Hong Kong for this agency are referred to the agency by helpers in Hong Kong that are already doing well--so if a helper comes to HK with this agency and adapts well, does a good job, excels, then they are called upon to recommend others for training--it's sort of like a right of referral.

    Other agencies also are often involved in really dodgy practices like charging the ladies who come to work in HK really outrageous agency fees which send them into debt. Arrow does not charge its candidates any fees. You can read more about some of the other things that go on behind the scenes at many HK agencies here.

    Once the candidates arrive in HK Arrow does a check-up call with the employer every 7-10 days for the first month to see how things are going and to serve as a liason for working out any initial issues that may be going on between employee and helper--to help establish good communication early on in the relationship. They also check in with the employee to see how they're doing and offer counseling and a "soft place for them to land" if anything is going wrong or they're having difficulties. The staff that do this part of the check up are all from the Philippines so helpers can feel more at ease about talking with someone from their own culture.

    I just really appreciated that the staff took a great deal of time to talk to me and get to know my preferences and our family situation.

    I had a pretty specific set of requirements walking into the meeting. 1) I don't want to hire anyone who has small children at home--I understand the logic of women coming to earn money in HK to send back to their 6 (and most of them had 5-6 children--some ranging from ages 25 all the way to 1 in the same family!!!) children. I really understand that--but honestly, personally, my heart can not withstand knowing that every day that this woman is taking care of my son she could be back in her home country spending time with her own son who is the same age as my son. Different people have different opinions and reasoning when it comes to this point.2) I prefer that the helper be older--meaning, I don't want to hire someone who is in their early-20s and whom I feel I need to be a mother to. In the right situation, age wouldn't be the ultimate deciding factor, though 3) If a woman has children, I prefer that they are already grown 4) Someone who still has enough spunk left in them to handle a very active 2-year-old boy 5) Someone who is a go-getter with ambition and a clear goal in life.

    We found someone who fits this bill almost to-the-t. So, we will be meeting her in September when she comes to work for us. My husband and I both feel extreme peace about our decision. And if for some reason this candidate is not ideal (God forbid), we know the agency will work hard to make it a winning situation on all sides.

    I will follow-up on this post and let you all know how things play out when the helper arrives but honestly, I have been to scores of domestic helper agencies and none come even close to the level of heart, detail and sincerity this agency handles both its HK clients and the domestic helpers it serves. If you need a good agency, I'd make Arrow your first stop. They totally renewed my faith in agencies in HK.

  2. #2
    Nashua852's Avatar
    Nashua852 is offline Registered User
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    Thanks for taking the time to write this -- we're going down this route soon as we are expecting number 2 and this has been incredibly helpful. Will be sure to check them out.
    Proud Mama to Kian Danyaal 08.12.2007 & Adara Michelle 10.10.2009

  3. #3
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    0ze_Kid is offline Registered User
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    Thanks for sharing. Look forward to hearing how it all goes.

  4. #4
    Gingerlyn is offline Registered User
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    Thanks for sharing. Hope to hear how the situation will unfold, all the best.

  5. #5
    curiousmummy is offline Registered User
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    Thanka2 juz wondering. The agency sounds too good to be true. Is it real? Sorry just had 2 bad experiences with agencies

  6. #6
    wenyihsu is offline Registered User
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    Please keep us updated. I'm in the process of looking for a 2nd helper as we are expecting again. Interviewed at least 20 different people from Asiaexpat and was about to sign with 2 of them and they both flaked last minute so considering going the agency route now especially after reading your posting!

  7. #7
    thanka2 is offline Registered User
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    Of course, nothing is perfect...

    Quote Originally Posted by curiousmummy View Post
    Thanka2 juz wondering. The agency sounds too good to be true. Is it real? Sorry just had 2 bad experiences with agencies
    Well, this agency is probably really different than any other agency out there. First, they are run as part-business, part-ministry. This means they actually exist to help and aid Phillipinas with a different route than the abusive and often corrupt agency system in their own country as well as HK. They also exist to fill the gap and provide potential employers with another option. In addition, our close friends, who are Americans in their late 60s--who came to HK to do volunteer work and ended up staying and raising their 3 grown children here--they are the ones who recommended this agency to us because they are personal friends with the owner, another American who has been here for 20+ years. So, for us, we had a close friend who has had personal experience with the owner and the agency over an extended period of time give us the recommendation.

    Of course, this is not guarantee that the lady we hired is going to work for us--no one can guarantee that. Even the owner himself told me that there is no guarantee that a certain helper will be a perfect fit with your family. Also, whenever you're dealing with human beings you have to take into account that there are feelings and situations that change and well, that means that there are no guarantees with humans. That's what the owner told me when I talked with him.

    But, I must say, they made a huge impression on me with their initial customer service. There is no other agency I've ever gone to that didn't give me a fast, hard, pressure-filled sell. The most any agent ever spent with us was maybe 20 minutes and usually it was a lot lower than that. They were very anxious to get us to decide on someone and book her right then and there. The atmosphere with this agency, Arrow, was the complete opposite--it was so laid-back. We could have spent 2 hours there and walked out and never hired a maid (in fact, we did walk out without signing anything and went home and thought it over and then called later) and there would have been no hard feelings or sense of disappointment from them.

    So, our helper will likely come meet us in September or early October. After she's been here 2-4 weeks, I'll give a summary of my experience, how does that sound?

    All I can say, is that you're not wasting your time by checking into this agency. Go check it out, sit down with them and see what your gut feeling is and that will tell you a lot, I think.

    Here's to better experiences with domestic helpers in HK! Cheers!

  8. #8
    thanka2 is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by wenyihsu View Post
    Please keep us updated. I'm in the process of looking for a 2nd helper as we are expecting again. Interviewed at least 20 different people from Asiaexpat and was about to sign with 2 of them and they both flaked last minute so considering going the agency route now especially after reading your posting!
    No problem. Like I said, I'll just give an update when the time comes and we've been working with the helper for 2-4 weeks--that should give me time to really assess the situation and see if the agency truly does follow through with their promises.

    I read another post on this forum about a lady who couldn't get off of work to take her helper to immigration to pick up her ID card and the agency refused to help out. Actually, in their promotional brochure this agency offers to pick up your helper and take her to immigration to pick up documents if you're not available to. They also do all of the pick up at the airport, a 1-night orientation in HK, application for HK ID card and then bring the helper to your home with her belongings.

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