The Cornwall office fits with Zoho’s overall hub and spoke strategy, and enables the high emphasis they are placing on a bilingual strategy and being able to communicate with French speaking customers in French.
CRM and collaboration provider Zoho has formally launched their new Canadian office in Cornwall, Ontario. This new office is designed as part of Zoho’s global Transnational Localism strategy, which was first introduced more than 10 years ago as a means to create self-reliant local communities and economies. It builds on Zoho’s regional Canadian approach to sales, support, marketing, and partner management—including bilingual sales and marketing.
The Transnational Localism strategy is based on a hub and spoke model, but it is important to note that in Canada Cornwall is the hub, not a spoke, despite it being a relatively small town.
“Cornwall is the Canadian hub,” said Chandrashekar LSP, Zoho’s Canadian Managing Director. “We are not a spoke of the United States. We now have 15 people in Canada, with eight being in Cornwall as we speak. The spokes are sales and account roles closer to their markets, like Vancouver.”
While Zoho has a strong Quebec presence, they do not yet have anyone based in eastern Canada.
“At this point, we are still growing our initial team, but if people eventually want to go there, we will be happy to do that,” LSP said.
Zoho’s intention to move their head office to Cornwall was actually announced in May 2021, but the impact of COVID resulted in a significant delay.
“When we started looking for spaces it was hard to find office space,” LSP noted, “Given that Cornwall is a travel hub, it was incredibly difficult. The one I eventually found, they were just waiting for materials to come up, and were having some supply chain issues. Right after COVID, the construction industry in that area became very busy, to the point where we now we have people coming into the office.”
Cornwall was selected for two, related reasons.
“One was access to bilingual talent,” LSP said. “We want to be able to offer bilingual support, in the same way we offer bilingual pre-sales and sales support. We have a heavy emphasis on bilingualism. We own our support and presales, and we won’t outsource that out. Many of these Francophones in business speak English, but I strongly think having French pre-sales and support for them is critical. Even in marketing, we are putting in French today, as well as to web sites and resources.”
The second factor favoring Cornwall was its physical location basically next to the Ontario and Quebec borders.
“Ottawa is also on the border of Ontario and Quebec, but the cost of living is much higher there,” LSP indicated.
LSP also stressed that the organization of Zoho in Canada is a particularly good fir for the SME market.
“By design, Zoho is identified as an SME operator, even though we have enterprise customers,” he said. “The SME is completely underserved, and the issue is how do we find them. 95% of businesses in Canada are small businesses.”
Zoho’s success in Canada has seen 35% and 15% growth in revenue and customers, respectively, and the company plans to expand the Cornwall office as those numbers rise.
“The traction is really happening in three or four provinces,” LSP said.