Office with desk

“You constantly have to keep up with trends," says Valérie Perreault, president of Groupe SP Réno Urbaine, a residential renovations business. “Home automation is gaining in popularity; opening spaces is still very popular and ecological renovations are more and more in demand.” (Photo courtesy Groupe SP Réno Urbaine)

Canada | Profile

CPA turns beautifying homes into booming reno business in Quebec

Valérie Perreault is president of Groupe SP Réno Urbaine, which was a finalist for the 2017 and 2018 Mercuriades competition

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“A beautiful home brings such joy!” Valérie Perreault, CPA, CMA, knows what she’s talking about. She is president of Groupe SP Réno Urbaine, a residential renovations business; before that, she was the company’s CFO.

“We have between 10 and 15 projects going at once, each with an average budget of $100,000,” she says. “But we’ve done $25,000 projects and even $400,000 ones. Every undertaking is different: we only do custom projects.” She never found variety like this in SMEs or large companies, where she spent a brief period after becoming a CMA. She then transitioned to finance in 2003, after her husband, Éric Sansoucy, launched a renovations business with a partner in 2002. “I became progressively more involved, especially in strategic planning,” she recalls. “I have to say, there’s nothing like accounting training to help you learn how a business works.”

Now at the helm of the SME, Perreault manages all of its activities with a “homemade” ERP system she has been developing for the past four years.

Valerie Perreault

Valérie Perreault

“From the clients’ first call to their final payment, everything is in the system and constantly updated,” she says. “Clients also have access to it, and soon, suppliers will too.”

This kind of optimization is what made the company a finalist for the Mercuriades competition (productivity growth category with Lowes in 2017 and web or mobile development with Telus in 2018) organized by the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec.

The business is doing well. Groupe Réno SP Urbaine projected 40 to 50 per cent growth for 2017. “It’s a lot, but we manage it. We’ve gone too fast before and really regretted it. We even had to back out of some projects.”

At first, Perreault only hired employees, then a large number of sub-contractors. Now, she has opted for a hybrid model, with a team of 20 employees and 20 to 30 subcontractors. This provides her with more flexibility between the peak summer period and the lull in winter, and allows them to maintain good customer service.

Thanks to this flexibility, she can do business with a variety of suppliers. “You constantly have to keep up with trends,” Perreault says. “Home automation is gaining in popularity; opening spaces is still very popular and ecological renovations are more and more in demand.”

All this keeps her three designers busy full time, especially since her clients have specific ideas and are well informed—by the company, among others, and its eight different social media sites. “We developed a global marketing strategy that promotes 100 per cent local expertise, and it’s working. We have many new clients… and a solid base of regular clients who have new projects every year.”