The Vanishing Art of Canvassing
Make communities aware of your presence and services
Few HVAC sales professionals canvass anymore. Canvassing is seeking business door-to-door. It’s personal marketing at its most fundamental level. If you want more sales for yourself or your business, maybe you should try canvassing. Here’s how to do it.
START CLOSE TO HOME
Start canvassing in the neighborhood where you live. Do not be pushy. Simply introduce yourself as a neighbor. Say, “A lot of people in the neighborhood don’t know I’m an air conditioning contractor. I thought I’d introduce myself in case you ever need an a/c guy.” Hand out a card with a neighborhood discount and a bag of ad specialties (e.g. a magnet, jar opener, note pad, etc.).
You can also comment on a common problem. “When we moved in, we had a real problem getting the master bedroom comfortable. You might have the same problem. Here’s what we did…”
It’s simple, yet it works.
IDENTIFY GOOD NEIGHBORHOODS
Outside of your neighborhood, look for a tract where homes were built around the same time. Look for one with old condensing units and a few new ones. It’s getting ready to go through a replacement cycle.
Since air conditioners last around 15 years, a random selection of 15 homes should include one that will replace this year. In an older tract neighborhood, the odds improve dramatically.
THE MCCART APPROACH
The late Tom McCart, who was among HVAC’s first sales superstars, always canvassed. He would knock on doors and say, “Hi, my name is McCart. We are in your neighborhood today to inform homeowners like yourself about some special funding available to add or upgrade your home comfort system. Would you like to see if you qualify for this special funding?”
The key, according to McCart, was to shut up and wait for the homeowner to respond. The special financing was usually deferred payments or an interest rate buy down.
Given the price of HVAC systems these days, I recommend working with a lender to arrange 10-year installment financing. Even with an interest rate of 8 percent, a $10,000 changeout will only cost $120 per month when financed over 10 years.
I used to send McCart to help struggling contractors. He would fly in, grab the contractor, find a promising neighborhood, and start knocking on doors. Unfailingly, Tom would make at least one sale. His approach works.
To motivate yourself, divide the number of doors you need to knock on before you make a sale by the commission you will receive from a sale. The result is the amount of money you make each time you knock on a door, no matter the result. It just may take you a few more doors before you get to collect.
Contractors can make canvassing more lucrative by raising the commission for self-generated leads. You can also measure closing rates by dividing the number of sales by the number of company-supplied leads. The salesperson with the highest closing rate over the previous week gets the first lead of the day.
If you do no other canvassing, canvass the homes surrounding each installation following commissioning. Inform neighbors it’s been your experience that once one home replaces its system, several nearby homes will replace within a year. Ask if they would like you to work up a replacement price while you’re there so they will have it and know what to expect, just in case.
Finally, a few innovative contractors are practicing pre-sale canvassing. In this very soft approach, a non-threatening company ambassador knocks on the doors of homes located near the installation before work begins. The purpose is to let them about the installation trucks and give them someone to call if there’s any issue because the company is very focused on maintaining a stellar reputation. Inevitably, this leads to additional business.
It’s been said that successful people do what unsuccessful people do not. One of the things the most successful salespeople do is canvass.
Publication date: 5/23/2016