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Canvassing: Connect with the Neighborhood

by Michael Stone

Generate Leads with Neighbors Where You're Working #MarkupAndProfit #ResidentialSales #Remodeling #LeadGenerationOne of the more unpopular things I recommend is canvassing the neighborhood around your jobs. It's unpopular usually because it's misunderstood. If you'll give me a few minutes to explain what should be done and how to do it professionally, you'll see how it can help bring in good leads.

Canvassing is contacting home or building owners within a defined distance of an existing project. Let's call it your contact area. I'd suggest keeping it to whatever distance can be walked directly in five minutes or less. That doesn't sound like much, but in some neighborhoods you could possibly reach as many as 60-70 contacts in that distance.

There are strong arguments against this method of marketing. For instance, it's considered old-fashioned. You'll get doors slammed in your face. It's what religious groups do.

I agree with most of those arguments. However, canvassing will get you a higher rate of return on both your time and your money than almost any other method of advertising, and once you get started, it really is pretty easy.

A good routine can get you one good lead in about every 20-25 contacts you make. That means you'll have to suffer through 19-24 slammed doors or rude comments for every good lead. Your job is to get through the "No," so you can get to "Yes." If you can handle the rejection, is there any other method of advertising that will get you one good lead in every 20-25 contacts?

Here's how to do it. Look sharp by dressing in clean clothes and preferably wearing a shirt with a company name and logo. Please don't wear dark slacks, a white button-up shirt and a tie. Carry business cards; if you have simple brochures that explain who you are and what you do, leave them if no one answers the door.

When someone does answer the door, give them a very short introduction and explain why you're on their doorstep.

"Hello, I'm Michael Stone; I'm with Stone Construction Services. We are doing a project for your neighbors, the Smiths, who live right over there." This is where I would turn and point in the direction of the Smiths' home. "If we can ever be of service to you, please take my card and give us a call." Smile and hand the card to them. This should take somewhere between 15 and 20 seconds at the most.

Now, one of three things will probably happen.

  • They'll close or even slam the door in your face. That's okay; it's one less no you need to get to your next yes.
  • They'll say "No thanks," one way or another. Excuse yourself politely and head for the next home or building. Again, that's one less no you need to get to your next yes.
  • They'll ask a question about the Smith job, or show interest of some kind. They might even say, "We've been thinking about having some work done, do you have time to look at it now?" Of course you have time!

That last one is the yes you've been waiting for. You've made positive contact and they've told you they want to get work done on their home.

There are other opportunities you should take to make a good impression on those in the neighborhood. If you're going to be running loud noisemakers, contact those who live close the day before and give them a heads-up. They might appreciate the advance notice.

When the job is complete, send a short note to each neighbor advising them that you completed the job on time (or ahead of schedule) and ask them to watch for the open house that will be held shortly by the Smiths so their family, friends, and neighbors can see the improvements. (Make sure the Smiths are okay with this first.)

Help the Smiths make a one- or two-minute video clip talking about all aspects of their job. Post that clip, along with before, during, and after clips of the project, on your website, so the neighbors can take a look at what you've done before they call you. Ask the Smiths directly for at least two referrals.

I consider this part of the salesperson's job. If the salesperson then sells a job brought in by their own canvassing efforts, that job earns them an additional 2% sales commission.

You could pay canvassers to do this for you. You might not get quite as high a return on your investment, but it is a possible way to get your name out in the neighborhood.

Don't let prejudices against door-to-door canvassing limit your leads. Give it a try and see if this approach to bringing in leads makes sense for your business.

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