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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Cross fertilizing canvassing ideas

Leonard Megliola at Bestline Plumbing in Los Angeles arranges to deliver this flyer before his canvasser starts door-knocking, He says the canvassing campaign is now highy effective because of the genuine free service offer.

Can this blog take credit for facilitating the cross-fertilization of a referral/repeat client marketing idea in the Washington DC area, with a plumbing contractor's canvassing program in southern California? Yes, according to this thread started by Leonard Megliola at Bestline Plumbing in Los Angeles.

In his canvassing campaign, he sends out an advance flier offering free plumbing services, then when the canvasser door-knocks, a plumber is ready to provide the free service.
We started our canvassing campaign about 5 weeks ago and the start was very bumpy. We changed our tactics a few times and we are just starting to see amazing results. We have only one door knocker and he is getting 3 to 6 hot leads every day and we gave estimates on almost every lead for prices ranging from $3,000 to $16,000. There are many reasons we did not close sales for the first few weeks. The main reason was because we used the same system for closing sales we use when customers call from other advertising campaigns. We got into a home, found problems, and attempted to close a sale. Now, on the first day, we go into a home, make small repairs, and follow through with closing the sale the following day, after we build trust and a warm relationship.

We came up with what I think is a terrific canvassing campaign. The day before we canvass an area we hand-deliver the ad that on the bottom of this post. This ad is to warm up the customer and prepare them for our canvasser's visit. The following day, we send a plumber to the neighborhood with the door knocker. We tried sending the door knocker alone to set appointments, but this did not work because most people cancelled, or we had to play cat and mouse.

Like many people I always thought door knockers take a beating from customers and I was surprised to find we get a friendly welcome from almost every person.

We have a lot of changes we will be making. We will set up a database and track every house on every street, so we know every person in a neighborhood. We are going to set up farming areas and put the door knocker's picture on advertising for their area so we can make every person 'their plumber'. We will be able to back-track to go to people's homes who were not home.

The way I met my door knocker may be important. I put an ad in the Los Angeles Times, interviewed over 300 people over the phone, hired three, and they flaked. I decided to start soliciting to people who were soliciting to me, so I told a sales rep, who was trying to sell me something, about my door canvassing and he came to work for me. He is one of the nicest and most professional salespersons I ever met. In the next few weeks we will start adding more door knockers until we have four and I am very confident we will close $20,000 to $30,000 every day.

I originally offered my door salesman a guarantee of $100 per day as a draw against a 7% commission for getting the lead, plus 5% to 7-1/2% for closing the sale when he gains enough experience. After the first day, I knew the campaign was going to work, so I raised his guaranteed salary to $150 per day. This week, after closing the 3rd sale, I raised the guaranteed salary to $200 per day, and I may raise the % for getting the lead to 8-1/2%. My overall advertising budget for my company is 10% to 15%, so 8-1/2% for getting a lead leaves me a little cushion for managing the door canvassing.

These figures are based on our average contract price. When the door salesman sells a job for $6,000 he will get 8.5% x $6,000 = $510, plus for closing the sale, he will get 7.5% x $6,000 = $450 + $510 = $960. If he sells only 3 jobs per week he will earn $2,880 x 52 weeks = $149,760 per year, plus if he is the manager of 3 more salesman who are paid $15 per hour plus a much smaller commission, he will earn about $300,000.

I know there are a lot of companies that are doing door canvassing, but this is new to me and really exciting. I hope companies that need more business give this serious consideration.

You may have noticed that my company gives away (or offers) $5,000 in free services, every month, for elderly persons with financial difficulties. While we put in writing that we will never take money from a person who is recommended for assistance, we do a lot of work for members of churches and the churches themselves. This week, we signed a contract with a church for a 14,000 sq ft Torch Down roof for $38,000.

"The more you give for free, the more you get back"

My favorite is:

"You get more bees with honey than you get with vinegar"
In a follow-up posting, Megliola notes:
I actually got the idea of giving services for free from this forum. It was from the Contractor Marketing Ideas Magazine that mentioned a handyman who was giving away 1/2 hour of free service to customers.
He is actually referring to this blog's posting about Hopkins and Poirier's approach to their 25th anniversary.

I'll see this myself within the next couple of weeks, when I visit southern California.

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