KANDY Outdoor Flooring

Expanding Home Experiences

Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, KANDY Outdoor Flooring has been expanding home experiences since 2011. Using floating floor deck tile systems that do not attach to any building surfaces, KANDY beautifies condo balconies, ground floor patios and rooftop decks for residential and commercial applications, with a focus on the residential condo market.

Filling a Market Niche

Kelly Niessen, who co-founded the company with her husband Doug Niessen, tells us that the inspiration for KANDY stemmed from their own experience. After buying a condo in Vancouver and renovating the interior, she was surprised to discover the lack of options when it came to improving the floor of the condo balcony.

“I researched for three or four months, trying to find something that met my taste and style. I was looking for some options and there literally was nothing on the market that didn’t contravene our building bylaws that said I wasn’t allowed to glue or nail anything to the surface of the floor or the building in any way. I basically woke up one night and realized there’s an unfilled market niche. I thought that I could not be the only person who wants something nice for their balcony.”

Niessen began researching, and found that almost 20% of homes in Canada were owner-occupied condos, that multi-unit housing starts have been outstripping single-family housing starts for years and that the numbers are only rising as urbanization increases.

“Our research confirmed there was a market, and we decided to fill it. We began to offer our customers exactly what we couldn’t find: service, quality and choice in outdoor flooring options for condo balconies that didn’t contravene building bylaws.”

Service, Quality and Choice

KANDY is distinguished from other outdoor flooring companies with their commitment to service, quality and choice.

“When we were invited to pitch on Dragons’ Den, we went through the process of trying to get our message as succinct as possible. Even though we were already doing this before we went to pitch, we weren’t articulating it. We really nailed it during preparation. Now someone can ask about the difference between KANDY and what they can buy at Home Depot, for example, and I can explain it very easily: it is service, quality and choice. If those three things are important to you, then KANDY Outdoor Flooring is a good match for meeting your requirements. That’s our unique value proposition and it really does tell our story,” says Niessen.

To provide customers with excellent service, KANDY begins their relationship with the customer by providing a free, no-obligation in-home consultation wherein they bring samples to customers so the customers can assess their options in their own environment, and consider how the different styles match their floor, décor, taste and style. Then, KANDY will measure the space and give customers a firm quote on the spot. Pricing includes the product as well as shipping, handling, delivery, installation, customization and clean up. The company also offers a maintenance program.

“We are very particular about what exactly happens on a customer’s premise. Everyone is branded. We take off our shoes. There’s a definite methodology, and it’s the same thing with the installation. The installer is branded. They take off their shoes. They tell the customer what’s going to happen and what to expect. They lay down runners to protect the customer’s interior flooring. In every single case we’re very respectful of the person’s home. Being really consistent in our professionalism is already setting us apart and is also going to serve us in the future. It is all about our customers and the experiences that they have with us and the results they get to enjoy,” Niessen explains.

Flooring options include exotic hardwood, granite and composites in a variety of colours and styles. Regardless of which flooring option the customer chooses, all of KANDY’s high-quality products are manufactured to the company’s unique specifications so that they can withstand the Canadian environment. The durable flooring can be left outside all year long, and the open profile of the flooring allows for air circulation around the tiles. Water and debris fall through and wash away, so the floor remains clean and dry.

A Solid Growth Strategy

KANDY is a franchise business that has franchise partners located in British Columbia, Alberta, and the Greater Toronto Area.

“The model lends itself very well to our business because the customer experience is the most important thing to us as a brand. Having franchise partners out in the field who take pride in ownership will deliver that experience in a far superior way than any other business model would allow. We also maintain control over the consistency and the brand messaging,” says Niessen.

Franchise partners are given a secured territory with a minimum of 40,000 owner-occupied condos to ensure that KANDY’s target market is available to them, and franchisees maintain exclusivity over that territory. Because KANDY is the manufacturer and houses the inventory, there is a very low overhead cost for franchisees, who work out of their homes rather than retail stores.

Niessen believes that the most important quality in a franchise partner is alignment with KANDY’s core purpose of expanding home experiences, and the core values: bring out the best in everyone; be the solution; deliver on every promise; passion for condo living; and, ever-evolving.

“We’re also looking for someone who wants to be in business for themselves, but not necessarily by themselves. It’s great to have a little bit of experience in construction and home renovation, either personal or professional experience, but it’s the customer service, interaction and communication skills that are even more important than that,” Niessen states.

Although KANDY’s initial focus is making sure every market in Canada is appropriately served, the company is also looking to expand into other countries in the not-too-distant future.

“Within five years, we will be expanding into the U.S. There’s a huge market there. We get calls all the time both from people who want our services and products for their own balconies and also people who want the franchise opportunity. We’ll have a considerable presence in the U.S. and possibly other markets as well. We get inquiries from pretty much all over the world. There doesn’t seem to be anyone doing what we’re doing the way that we’re doing it, and there is a global trend towards urbanization,” remarks Niessen.

KANDY will also expand their product line to include more than flooring options, to things like planters, lighting, and other products that are complementary to outdoor spaces.

The company is growing quickly and has exciting plans for the future, but Niessen finds the key to this success lies with sticking to the company’s customer-focused core purpose and values, which were identified early on.

“We have created a culture by design as opposed to by chance. Everyone that has anything to do with KANDY Outdoor Flooring is aligned with those core values. What that means is that our customers are going to have a similar experience regardless of who they interact with,” she says.