Rochon, 24, opened her business back in 2000 because she was disappointed over the fact that cottage owners could not easily rent out their unused cottages over the summer because of a lack of communication and co-ordination between cottage property owners, cottage advertisers and vacation renters. Many of the property owners, she says, also live outside the country and cannot take care of all aspects of renting their cottage.
"Once I launched Cottage Ontario, I realized it was not as overwhelming as I thought it would be," Rochon says.
"People were excited about my idea. They were waiting for a company that could offer a complete vacation package," she adds.
A complete vacation package is what she offers. Rochon takes care of the property rental of the cottage, she maintains the cottage over the summer, she does all the advertising for the renter and she deals completely with the cottage customer.
Since she started, Rochon says her business has been "snowballing." Her revenue, she says, has been increasing by over 200 per cent a year and her profits have doubled since she opened.
Her strategy for success and growth, she asserts, has been her constant availability to clients. Unlike her renters, Rochon is not in the business of taking vacations. She says she is available to those renting 24 hours a day and seven days a week. She has seven part-time seasonal workers who are always on call to repair something on the properties and she always responds in record time to any questions about the properties.
The idea, she says, emerged from her nine-year employment with a Parry Sound area resort. While working there, she asked plenty of questions about the business, which led her towards her business concept. She says if it were not for the candour of the owners, she would not have pursued the idea. While taking care of a property on the resort, she recalls one particular property owner who lived most of the year in Switzerland and asked her to maintain his property. Rochon says the experience of witnessing the problems the man had in addressing renters' issues from overseas was the real genesis of her idea.
When she developed her idea, Rochon also made sure that she only acquired the most problem-free cottage properties--a practice she continues to this day. yond minor maintenance.
BY JOSEPH QUESNEL
Northern Ontario Business
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|Title Annotation:||News; Melanie Rochon of Cottage Ontario Exclusives|
|Publication:||Northern Ontario Business|
|Date:||Aug 1, 2004|
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