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Customers Come Back







Arie Artzy (l), Josée LeCavalier and David Shriar in front of the fully operative Ady Renovation showroom.

Forty years ago, at a time when almost all home improvements were sold by door-to-door salesmen, Ady Renovation, located on the West Island of Montreal opened its doors - and it has since then followed its own path in the changing market.
In the late '60s, siding, windows and doors were a brisk new business that did not have a very good reputation. They were largely sold for high prices by fly-by-night operators who worked from a tiny second-floor office and had salespeople roaming the province for easy prey customers. Service was non-existent and operators changed their names often, after selling their financed contracts to a third party.

"Entering the business back then, we had a different vision," says general manager Arie Artzy. The company was the first in the Montreal area to have a fully operative showroom from which it was selling products directly, without any commissioned salespeople. "We established fair fixed prices and concentrated on offering excellent service all year round. The marketing premise was that, by offering fair prices and good reliable service, customers will come back. And they sure did."
Today, 75 per cent of Ady Renovation's sales come from repeat customers and recommendation to others by existing customers. Repeat customers alone account for almost 50% of the company sales. "Over the years, we managed to serve more than 25,000 satisfied customers, who keep the company growing," says production manager David Shriar. While the company concentrates on the West Island, an affluent area with about 75,000 residential homes, its reputation over the years has extended to other areas of Montreal. Ady Renovation now has many clients in high-income residential areas such as Westmount, Hampstead, Cote St. Luc, Montreal West, and Town of Mount Royal.
The company, which now has annual sales in the four-million-dollar range, expanded to full-fledged renovations about 20 years ago and now operates from its own modern building with a spacious showroom featuring a large variety of exterior products such as windows and doors, as well as several full-size kitchens, bathrooms and other renovation products.

"Most sales are done in the showroom," says Shriar, "and then supported and processed by our staff of 10, and installed by about 15 specialized installation crews who work exclusively for us."
Artzy says his company is not concerned about competition from similar sized companies or small renovators, adding: "As for the small operators, the products, service and customer support we offer is much more superior." Shriar further explains: "Educated customers know that renovation is not an easy process. You need to know a lot about the products, the processes and compatibility. This is when the client's trust for the contractor becomes so important."
"We don't sell on price," says Artzy, "rather on our expertise, installation experience and the trust we develop with our clients. In most cases, our clients will not even check prices; they are more interested in a company that will take care of the whole renovation process for them. They know, from friends and the media, the potential pitfalls that can cost them more and, in some cases, turn into a nightmare. That's what they want to avoid when they come to see us."
Relying on its reputation, Ady Renovation does a mass mailing of an elaborate brochure, twice a year, to the entire "postal walk" list of the area, also using its customer base as reference for new customers. In most cases, they can refer client to several jobs done on his own street, or very near by.

Josée LeCavalier, a customer sales representative, has been with the company for 12 years, who has been explains how a typical renovation jobs is sold. "When customers first call or walk into the showroom, we set an appointment to visit the home. I listen very carefully to what they want and what they need, take measurements, and establish clear goals and a budget. Since there are hours of work in preparing a proposal, I try to qualify the clients at the same meeting. Once my proposal is researched and prepared, the clients come into the showroom and we review it carefully, spending time on products and style selection. We use the 20/20 design program that offers 3D simulations and incorporate many manufacturers' product catalogues. We can 'walk' them through the project and help them visualize the final results. Hopefully all this will result in a successful close - an order."
LeCavalier feels strongly about the effectiveness of this approach and adds: "What we offer to the clients is a team approach with many qualified links. The customers appreciate this and it gives them a confidence boost when dealing with us. It's not just one person showing up at the door who has never seen the customer's home. It's not just one person doing 'everything'. We have a line-up of specialized trades who are a part of the company."
According to LeCavalier, current trends are toward extremely dark colours - rich browns that are almost black - and minimalism in design with simple doors and clean lines. There is also an increase in the use of natural stones, granite and quartz, and added design in applying ceramic tiles. Other trends she sees are for larger showers and using cabinets as furniture to increase storage space.
Ady Renovation sells many kitchen and bathroom renovations. Basic kitchens range from $15,000 to $25,000 and then there's the $50,000+ luxury category. In bathrooms, it's $10,000 to $15,000 for basic and $30,000+ for luxury.
Both Artzy and Shriar had strong words to say about the construction unions and the Régie in Quebec. While the company has all the required licenses, and a long track record of excellent service, some of its installers, who are contract workers, don't. Apparently, the testing to get a license has three aspects: technical, administration and accounting, and safety and security. Some workers, who have been installing products for over 30 years and are excellent at doing the job, have trouble with the administrative and accounting aspect - one they don't use and don't need - and fail this exam portion. This creates a problem for the company and the workers and subjects them to potential fines and harassment.
It's been a long road for Ady Renovation and prospects look steady. Its strength is also its weakness… offering good, reliable installation is a tedious process and good workers are hard to find. Most of the installations crews are older, and experience in this field does not come fast. The challenge for growth is not in sales, but in having the labour to install the jobs.

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