Launched in 1934 with the acquisition of an existing business, the Maison Rondeau adventure is now in its fourth generation, and the small family business is stronger than ever! A distributor of commercial kitchen equipment and culinary accessories, Maison Rondeau also provides sound personalized advice to those starting their own restaurant business.
The company's mission is to provide the best commercial kitchen equipment and supplies that meet the needs of its customers while aligning with its vision: to improve the experience of everyone involved in commercial kitchen logistics while creating value.
Mr. Louis-André Rondeau was kind enough to answer our questions.
Yellow Pages: What distinguishes you most from your Canadian competitors?
Louis-André Rondeau: The competition is quite fierce. There are maybe three or four big players in the province. We are a little smaller, but we have a lot of inventory. That's something that sets us apart. People, when their fridge breaks, they need it right away. With us, there's no need to wait, we have them in stock. We offer personalized service that meets specific needs. We work together with our suppliers. When the supplier is more specialized in a product than we are, we are not afraid to involve them in the process, to send them on site.
YP: At what stage of your development did you turn to Yellow Pages, and what needs did you want to address at that time? What services do you receive from YP? How have these evolved over time?
LR: We've been with Yellow Pages for about 10 years now. They're really the ones who made us go digital. We used to work with the phone and paper. We were a little afraid of that. Then, little by little, we created a website with them, we bought Google keyword optimization, banners … We really started small, then after that, we were with the full line of services.
Currently, we have decreased a little bit because of COVID. We've had to adjust because the restaurant business has been hit hard. We had ads on YouTube. We had pretty much everything available.
YP: You consider your customers to be partners. Do you see your relationship with the YP team in the same light?
LR: Yes, it's a partnership. We have meetings every month, always on the same day. We have a video call. We discuss the results of the last month. We see how well it went, we make corrections; sometimes it's seasonal, like the ice machines in the summer. At the last meeting, we removed all the patio furniture promotions. We were putting less money into it. So, we aim to optimize the budget, to better target the current needs of the clientele, and then we look at what works and what doesn't. We are in the process of developing new markets with them, including New Brunswick and the Maritimes.
Today, if we didn't have the digital part, we might not be here anymore. They are truly a key partner.
YP: How has your partnership with YP improved your productivity and the quality of your relationships with your existing and future clients? How have you risen to the top of your industry?
LR: It's helped us, especially in terms of prospecting for clients. A lot of people didn't know us. We were mostly known in Quebec City. Now, our sales territory has really become the whole province.
Our truck goes to Montreal every week, which we didn't do before. We became known everywhere: in public institutions, daycares, restaurants, and also in businesses where we would not normally sell. It could be convenience stores or sports centres that need refrigerators. This was not necessarily our target clientele at the beginning, but these are people who need our products. So, YP's a really good partner to develop new markets.
We work on two fronts: we develop our brand image, and we work with Yellow Pages on social networks. They manage our publications, they do our ads on Facebook. And then, there is the “sales” side of our products with the website and the catalogue.
YP: They say success is built on the mistakes made along the way. How did you overcome these “mistakes”?
LR: You always have to surround yourself with people who are specialists in what you don't know so well. On our side, what is important, since we are not necessarily the biggest player in our sector, is to have good relationships with our suppliers and long-term partnerships. We want to become preferred players, so we make a long-term commitment.