Ottawa is seeing some construction growth with the influx of a new population seeking employment in this growing industrial area, particularly in electronics and communication services. Houses are going up or are being remodeled. You can still get bargains in pre-gentrified regions however. There are undiscovered oases of residential possibility.
Just because I happen to need one, I was searching the other day for a good faucet. It made me think about what it takes to start a business these days in Ottawa and how to take a simple product and make it grow as economic conditions change. If I had to write a business plan as an exercise, this is what I would offer.
The mission of the company is to supply commercial and residential real estate with an affordable selection of basic faucets for the kitchen and bathroom. Everything from retro to modern is provided to suit the décor of your home or business. Finishes range from chrome to gold-plated, with oil-rubbed bronze and nickel in between. Every taste and every style is accommodated.
FinestFaucets.com will start with a manager and two employees, plus a clerical bookkeeper who does double duty tracking, billing, and ordering inventory. A rented space of 2,000 feet in a suburb within a few miles of the city center will house an ample display of the most popular options. Catalogues will supplement visual exhibits so that patrons may also order custom or limited-supply styles. The showroom area will be modern and clean with each faucet set mounted at eye level with information and pricing below.
Private retail customers will share this facility with wholesale buyers such as builders working on multiple housing projects, apartments, or condos. Office buildings use less equipment since bathrooms occupy less space, but will also be a focus of sales. All types of clientele will feel at home choosing and ordering either on their own or with a personal consultant.
Over five years, the owner will purchase the building and expand the inventory accordingly. Growth will come from PR, advertising, and local testimonials on TV, radio, and in print. Word of mouth will follow from the excellent service provided and the quality and wide range of the products. Discounts and specials will keep bulk purchasers coming back.
From inception, Finest Faucets will purchaser marketing space, first at lower prices for remnant advertising and later at a more premium cost in glossy print decorating magazines, for example. A combination of radio, print, TV and Internet will be tested, with the winning tactics taking a front seat in future budgets.
The company will excel at marketing and sales externally and internally. Good customer relations are primary. No one should wait long for assistance. Repeat customers should be recognized and greeted. Mailers (snail mail or emails) will keep in touch to encourage company name recognition and respect. As the reputation of Finest Faucets grows, it will be expected that the sales staff will have design and construction knowledge on top of basic skills in quoting prices and describing features. Benefits to buyers will be clear and compelling.
Such is my imaginary world of faucets. I hope this model will spur an interest in not just these necessary, handy devices, but in starting a business in Ottawa, no matter how small.