Humanizing appliance rental services.
For more than 10 years, Électro-Loc has offered an appliance rental service in Gatineau; at its helm, four entrepreneurs who also own several housing properties. The idea behind their service is bolstered by the desire to shift people’s way of thinking and convince tenants and landlords to contribute indirectly to a circular economy. Doing business with Électro-Loc is also an ecological gesture, helping extend the useful life of home appliances. Jean-François Caron, operations manager, looks back on the adventure that began in 2012 and tells us how humans are integral to his business and its services.
Rogers Business: Can you give us a brief history of your business?
Jean-François Caron: Électro-Loc was founded 10 years ago. At first, we were three property owners taking the plunge; today, there are seven employees, and by next year, the workload will require two more. Électro-Loc is a family-style business; our personal bonds are very strong, and the entrepreneurial spirit has never taken priority over them. We all complement one another, which is our team’s strength. Currently, the business’s longevity is looking very good, with nearly 1,300 appliances (refrigerators, stoves, ovens, washing machines, dryers, etc.) rented out monthly. Our success has also led us to do business with large apartment buildings. All this from starting with only a dozen rental appliances.
Rogers Business: How did the idea to start your business come about?
Jean-François Caron: At the time, Électro-Loc’s owners to be needed an appliance rental service for their own properties to avoid buying everything new. After finding resale sites to be lacking, they decided to start their own business to meet the needs of not only landlords but also short-, medium- and long-term tenants.
Rogers Business: Was there someone or something that inspired you start this business?
Jean-François Caron: The idea behind this business was partly inspired by the phenomenon of shorter and shorter appliance lifespans. The desire to help tenants and owners of these appliances give them a second life was another factor. The circular economy is also something that’s important to us, and we’re proud to help popularize the concept of extending appliance lifespans instead of buying new units. Lastly, Électro-Loc is a cost-effective way to financially assist tenants and landlords.
Rogers Business: What was the most important lesson you learned from opening your business?
Jean-François Caron: Behind every transaction is someone working hard to find solutions to challenges we face. To fully meet the needs of our clients, we have to mobilize a whole group of people. Delivering and repairing these machines for our clients has proven to be an essential service, especially after these last two years marked by the pandemic.
Rogers Business: Who or what was your biggest source of support when you started?
Jean-François Caron: The support from our families and associates was, in all respects, vital to launching Électro-Loc. The first two owners were particularly helpful financially when the adventure began. Of course, aside from that, we have to acknowledge our trusted partners, without whom we wouldn’t be where we are today; this would be especially true without our clients. Their satisfaction is our biggest motivator and reflects the quality of our service. Human beings are our greatest source of support and drive.
Rogers Business: What’s your vision for the future of your business?
Jean-François Caron: Our ambition is to double our workforce and continue adapting our operations over the next five years. We want to be able to offer our current after-sale service to landlords who’ve purchased a large number of appliances from us. By perfecting this option, we hope to help them maintain their equipment, and to achieve an optimal result, we’re aiming to have a dedicated after-sale service team within a few years.
Rogers Business: What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business?
Jean-François Caron: As I said before, humans are key. You need to surround yourself with the right people, especially ones whose traits complement yours, people who are likely to make your business evolve. These same people will be able to bring fresh ideas to the table; this is how both you, as a person, and your business can grow.
Rogers Business: If your business has a “secret ingredient,” what is it?
Jean-François Caron: This is going to sound a bit cliché, but humans truly are at the heart of our concerns here at Électro-Loc. Our inter-associate relationships are important. We must treat our collaborators well; this is key to good mutual understanding and success. This is the recipe for happy clients and positive feedback. Helping and listening to one’s employees and clients, that’s what counts.
Rogers Business: Where can we learn more about your business?