A Yorkshire boxing champion-turned-businessman is planning to beat others to the punch with his latest venture, targeting the UK’s booming home renovation sector.
Inside the ring, China Clarke was crowned English Cruiserweight champion in a 16-bout professional career that saw him fight at both Wembley and Leeds arenas, and spar with the likes of multiple heavyweight title-holder Derek Chisora.
Outside the ring, he is now planning to deliver a knockout blow to rogue traders operating in property development and renovation – while supporting and showcasing the very best skills and services that the sector has to offer.
After five years in development, he has launched a new business called Track My Renovation, which has been designed and funded by China himself to challenge and disrupt the existing tradespeople directories. It is going live in Yorkshire ahead of a phased national roll-out.
“The UK has become a renovation nation during lockdown, with homeowners spending an average of £4,000 creating their perfect property since the pandemic struck,” said China, who is from North Leeds.
“Whether it’s home offices, home gyms or even home pubs, it’s a trend that’s likely to continue even after restrictions are lifted.
“Track My Renovation is an online platform that breaks new ground in the way it embraces technology to separate the good, honest and ethical tradespeople from the bad and sheer ugly.
“It aims to fill a long-standing gap in the marketplace, and finally spell the end of the days when a tradesperson could elevate their credentials simply by uploading a review from their Auntie Doris.”
For the first time, tradespeople will be able to upload their own personal portfolio of work; chart the steps taken from start through to completion; and share before-and-after photographs in real time.
Their rating can be strengthened by meeting other criteria, such as a driving licence check via the gov.uk website to prove their identity; a copy of their public liability insurance document, which demonstrates their professionalism; and the uploading of their trade qualification certificates.
“Tracking a job in such an evidenced-powered way ensures the customer has an unrivalled peace of mind with the tradesperson they find,” added China. “The tradesperson has some recourse from customers who refuse to pay after a satisfactory job is completed on time and on budget, or if the customer is throwing up obstacles once the job has started.”
China, who graduated with a degree in business and law, first pursued a career in the legal, financial and entertainments sectors as he combined work with pounding the punch bags.
For the past five years he has specialised in property, renovating over a hundred bathrooms and kitchens and completing house extensions, loft and basement conversions, while also managing the maintenance of a Leeds letting agent’s entire rental portfolio.
“That was when the lightbulb moment happened, and inspired me to try and change the home renovations sector forever,” he said.
“It’s fair to say I underestimated how tough working in the trades industry would be. With little-to-no experience, I was unable to assess the tasks which I was asking my tradespeople to do – in terms of expertise required, if the correct methods were being used to carry out the work, and in assessing their overall productivity. Basically, how quick and efficient they were.
“This is the problem homeowners have, and will always have, unless they themselves are in the trade.
“Yes, you can find tradespeople from the many directory websites already out there. Yet although technology has evolved, nobody had yet come up with the idea for tradespeople to have an online website communityholding their personal portfolio of work.
“From early feedback on various trials, Track My Renovation is bringing a new dimension and I’m confident it will create a positive impact for the industry and customers alike in a way that nothing else has yet achieved.”
The website, www.trackmyrenovation.com is free to use for everyone for the first six months and there is no opt-out, meaning the user will not be automatically switched onto a subscription account. If tradespeople do not want to build a portfolio via the website, the service is free to use.