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Absolutely. Exterior contractors have the advantage as they can see the issues. Repair companies: Plumbing, Electrical Contractors, HVAC too.

Kitchens, baths, flooring, ect have a lot harder time identifying their market.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Kitchens, baths, flooring, ect have a lot harder time identifying their market.
True, but if you go into a neighborhood where you have serviced those interiors, or know of someone who has, you are at least targeting the right demographic. If your skills are versatile enough, you may be able to do other work for people in the neighborhood until it is time for an interior remodel.
 

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I feel its not the way to go. If someone knocked on my door selling home improvements my first thought is High volume, Low quality, Need to feed the big monster, etc.." , Door hangers, maybe. Cold calling, that's strike three in my book.

And meeting neighbors may not always be a good thing. For one, your client may not have a good relationship with them and/or may not want neighbors to know what they are doing, doesn't matter the reason, it's their business so let the client tell what's going on. Don't be a blabber mouth. This is also a good reason why one should always ask from the start "how are your neighbors, will their be any issues?" you know every once in a while you come across the nut neighbor.

Neighbors are not blind, they will see you come and go and if they are close/friendly with your client and need work, you'll get the call. How many times have you been on a job and the client says, oh by the way my neighbor is going to give you a call.

But if you have to feed the monster than by all means get a good pair of shoes and have fun...
 

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Access Heating & Air
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Meeting a real face is so valuable these days. It's hard to put faces to companies that are in the phone book and online and an occasional van-spotting.
These days, people are looking for real interactions with real people, more and more.

We canvas neighborhoods on each and every call and hand out free air filters to all the people we meet and who need one. We leave a "postcard" that explains our maintenance and benefits and a coupon/call to action.
 

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Sophisticated Siding Guy.
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I feel its not the way to go. If someone knocked on my door selling home improvements my first thought is High volume, Low quality, Need to feed the big monster, etc.." , Door hangers, maybe. Cold calling, that's strike three in my book.
I agree 100%. We have a good grasp on how this industry works though and most don't. I know some customer's have had reservations about signing a contract with me because I'm not the high volume ads everywhere type of company. They felt they would always be in business and could count on them if warranty issues arise 5 years down the road.

For me I can't spend the time on lot's of leads. If I I had a salesman and his only job was to follow leads I'd say it would work. I focus on low volume and customer's that want a great value and high quality in residential. I get the high volume bidding commercial jobs where each job is like 30 houses.
 

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I agree 100%. We have a good grasp on how this industry works though and most don't. I know some customer's have had reservations about signing a contract with me because I'm not the high volume ads everywhere type of company. They felt they would always be in business and could count on them if warranty issues arise 5 years down the road.

For me I can't spend the time on lot's of leads. If I I had a salesman and his only job was to follow leads I'd say it would work. I focus on low volume and customer's that want a great value and high quality in residential. I get the high volume bidding commercial jobs where each job is like 30 houses.
The neighbor is always the most observant to their neighbors. Believe that. I recently posted a bunch of jobs from 2010-2011 on my FB page. Most are neighbors and most neighbors are from knocking doors. One neighborhood 7 out of 12 we did one right after the other.

A competitor drove through when I was by the truck asked me if I was going to all of the, my response- eventually.

Another time three ladies were speed walking by and I actually heard one say- I need a RB sign on my lawn- I look at my house and wonder what we need.

Neighbors notice, neighbors compete. The Jones, or Jones' idk.
 

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Sophisticated Siding Guy.
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Since we only do exteriors and the usual job runs at least a week, our work and the way we look is our advertising.

Everyone has a company shirt on. The job is run professionally. The sign is in the yard. The neighbors know what we do and who we are.

I'm not saying canvassing is bad but as a business owner that is a control freak, I have reservations about paying someone to knock on doors and represent my company. I offer a truly personal experience and feel canvassing takes away from that.

I'm networked in really well around here as the guy that can do the impossible jobs that know one wants. It's an interesting niche in a very competitive trade. I love it. How I got here I'll never know.
 

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It's not for everyone. Some guys/ gals would prefer to sit in red lights and drive across town to look at the next job, or to project manage a different job across town.

Me, I'd prefer to build on the neighborhoods I'm already in and save the logistics of jobs spread all over.

It's the bottom line. Add up the cost of your leads. Marketing, time investment it all adds up.
 

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Sophisticated Siding Guy.
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I can be anywhere in 25mins in my town. Traffic is only in issue 2 hours out of the day. 7-8am and 5-6pm. We are the 16th largest city population wise but only because it's spread out so much.

Bottom Line wise, canvasing is probably the most expensive lead generator possible unless you can offer something for free. Like after a storm a free roof paid for by there insurance.

Each market and business model is different. Marketing for me is making sure everyone know's my company name and what we do so when they need my service they call. I don't like the idea of knocking on a door and asking if they need my service, telemarketing, etc. I base this on my own buying habits so I realize that the knocking on doors works on some.

Me personally I would never buy from a contractor that knocked on my door, or really anyone that knocked on my door. I had a guy back in august knock on my door at 630 while I was eating dinner with my kids. It was annoying. I listened to his pitch about what he'd like to do for my grass only because I am a salesman and found it interesting. In the end he asked if he could just have my number so he could get the credit for the lead. I gave him my cell phone number and got called 3 times. Never answered. lol
 

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I bank on my competitors thinking exactly like you.

So canvassing is more expensive? That's ridiculous. Your not one of those that consider fuel and trip time incidentals and not calculated in the equation? Otherwise we are just comparing time because the same business card you give your customer across town is the same one you'd give a neighbor.

One difference is, in the same amount of time you could have spoken to many neighbors.

You WILL get more jobs by neighbors, and every neighbor you do you create more brand awareness. You WILL NOT get that (brand awareness) from working across town.

The guy knocking your door during dinner had little investment, he just wanted to be paid for your phone number. If I haven't said it already, I will say it now- don't send a hired person. "Hi, I'm (insert your name here) and I own (insert your company name here) we are working on (insert customers address here) and I wanted to give you my card if you are ever in the market" and hand them your card. I wouldn't try to sell them any service, after all your card lists your services.

Short and sweet. No selling. No real time involved. No real cost.
 

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Sophisticated Siding Guy.
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I bank on my competitors thinking exactly like you.

So canvassing is more expensive? That's ridiculous. Your not one of those that consider fuel and trip time incidentals and not calculated in the equation? Otherwise we are just comparing time because the same business card you give your customer across town is the same one you'd give a neighbor.

One difference is, in the same amount of time you could have spoken to many neighbors.

You WILL get more jobs by neighbors, and every neighbor you do you create more brand awareness. You WILL NOT get that (brand awareness) from working across town.

The guy knocking your door during dinner had little investment, he just wanted to be paid for your phone number. If I haven't said it already, I will say it now- don't send a hired person. "Hi, I'm (insert your name here) and I own (insert your company name here) we are working on (insert customers address here) and I wanted to give you my card if you are ever in the market" and hand them your card. I wouldn't try to sell them any service, after all your card lists your services.

Short and sweet. No selling. No real time involved. No real cost.
I'm sensing some offensive attitude there. I really am not trying to make an enemy here but...

You are making a lot of assumptions about me and I really don't think you understand my experience level here. I have a brand.

Not only do I include fuel, I include small tools, marketing, bad debt, supervisor, warranty, and other trailing costs in all my bids. Something everyone should be doing. All hits the job before markup get's applied. Not my idea.

I consider canvassing going into a neighborhood with the sole purpose of knocking on doors. I have done it after storms and had very good luck with it. There is obviously a need for my services. When I was younger, I'd knock on doors at lunch and leave hangers for those that didn't answer.

I'm to the point in my career where I don't need to knock on doors anymore. If I did I would pay people to do that. That is where the cost would come from. My time is far to valuable to spend canvassing neighborhoods.

I'm getting more leads than I can handle right now from the area's I want to work, from sources that take none of my time and costs nothing more than gift card on a sold referral. I have two very large roofing company's in my area that refer me anyone needing siding for free. I have my supply house's sending me referrals. I have my website. I am in a network of large GC's that will work with me to make it happen. Not just look at my number and pitch it.

I also have no interest in growing any bigger. I have a $376,000 back log right now on signed contracts with deposits. That's all that I want.
 

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I just had my first month business.

$97k in installed business with a 34% net profit margin. All with 3 canvassers and 1 sales guy. Lead cost of $119. No office, no company vehicle, no billboards, no radio jingles or fliers. We do have branded apparel for everyone and business cards.

Regarding the "feed the machine" theory we go at it completely the opposite. We explain the guys with all the billboards are the feed the machine guys. They have to get their name in front of everyone in the hopes that the HO will remember them and call. We just pick a neighborhood and cruise through finding people that might need a little work done.

Any customer who's initially said they never heard of us before I say, "You're right. I need to do something about that." Then I marked up their job another $1000 right in front of them. When they ask me what I am doing I say, "Well, someone has to pay for the billboard. You don't think companies actually pay for that themselves do you?" with a chuckle and a grin. They get it right away and I mark off $1200 for good measure.

When it comes to leads there are two ways to go about it....hunting or gathering. I think I'll keep hunting for awhile and when my freezer is overflowing with dollar bills do a little gathering for fun.

Definitely will not work for every trade but for exteriors it's the only way to go IMHO.
 

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I'm respectfully calling shenanigans.
I'm not sure where you call shenanigans? $97K from a sales guy is realistic as well as a 24% NPM. We had some things we could get better at and some things that worked out in our favor last month.

The jist of the post is to let people that are thinking about canvassing as a lead gen option or are having problems with lead gen that it is a viable and profitable way to generate appointments.

I will say it isn't without some work:

1. Pitch and rebuttal script building
2. Training on:
Body Language
Voice Inflection
How to approach a HO and get them interested and excited
How to work a neighborhood efficiently
3. Recruiting:
Placing ads
Screening
Interviewing
4. Tracking hours and pay for the bookkeeper
5. Coaching and motivating

Once you get it done and find a right hand guy to take over those duties then to scale you just add 2 canvassers for 1 sales guy and you've just added another $60k - $100K to your revenue for the year. Do it again and also hire an appointment setter the next round. Do it again and hire a data entry person and another installer. You can be at $3.5M in 1 year making $100K and still end up with $300-$400k in the company account at EOY.

I am personally not in this to work 50 hours a week or 40 hours a week. I'm all about the exit strategy. Build it up, sell it, take a board seat, and collect my quarterly check.

But even with a few canvassers a guy can still make $100k/yr and never have to step foot inside a home or measure a house in sub-zero temps again.

Again, it may not work for all trades. For exterior companies its not the ONLY way to go but if you want consistent leads its definitely a viable one.
 
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