Door Knocking: A Bold Approach

Posted by | August 30, 2011 | Marketing Advice, Small Biz Talk | 14 Comments

Twice in the last week I’ve had young men knocking at my front door, trying to sign me up for a free estimate for roofing, siding and/or windows. Overall, I was impressed with both guys that came to the door. They were professional, and not too pushy. Having just moved into a home that was already in good shape, and since my brother-in-law is a professional roofer, I declined the offer, at this time.

Before the young man left, I wanted to encourage him a little. I wished him all the best in his efforts, and I asked how the work was going: “Not too great…got 2 leads so far today.”  And this was at 5:30 in the evening!  If I were the marketing manager of this company, there are a couple of tweaks I would make to try to improve the image and closing prospects of these canvassers.

  1. Dress Code The young man who came to my door was probably a college student. He was dressed in shorts and a polo shirt–not too shabby. However, he did not have any company apparel. As a homeowner, I’d like to know this is a legitimate company. He told me the name of his company but when we were done talking, I forgot the name. Tip: Don’t go cheap if you have people walking the neighborhoods! Make sure they present your company well.
  2. Leave Behind Material: I was not interested in their service right then and there. Plus I was in the middle of wrapping up work…so it was not a good time. However, I was impressed with the canvasser.  He was good, yet he did not leave me his card or a brochure. Tip If someone is busy or in a hurry, at least leave them with your information. With your business card or brochure in their home, you never know when a homeowner will run across it again and call you or look you up online (hopefully they will be impressed with your online image too).
  3. Better Organization: The two guys that came to my door were from the same company within days of each other. Tip When doing canvassing, make sure you have a good road map for your sales team. I didn’t like explaining twice we didn’t need their service, especially at dinner time.
  4. Use Your Own People More: Hiring canvassers can be a good idea if you hire the right people who are personal and “closers.” Those folks are hard to find. Sometimes just using your own people is the best way to canvass a neighborhood. Tip Better yet, use the employees who are truly doing the work in the neighborhood. These guys are not born salesman, meaning they don’t have sales training. While homeowners are often “put-off” by a typical salesperson, a painter in his whites or a carpenter with his red wing boots and saw-dusted hat is very approachable. He can take a break from his project and canvass 5-10 (or more) homes and actually point out where he is working. He can ask the homeowner if he or she would like an estimate while his company is working nearby. This approach is the way to go, because homeowners can look outside their front door and see that work is truly being done at their neighbor’s home.

Do you have any tips on canvassing neighborhoods? What has worked for you?

About David Chism

David Chism started his business out of a passion for helping small contracting businesses grow, be more profitable and become better known to their target clients. One lifelong hobby of David is using techie gadgets. So this blog is a place where he writes about technology, marketing ideas, just for fun (humor), personal thoughts on small business and more.


  • John Stahl says:

    Great article. With all the buzz on social media and SEO we forget how powerful face to face, and referral marketing can be.
    When I ask my clients: ” Where does most of your new business come from?” I ALWAYS get the reply: “Most from word of mouth, referrals and building relationships”
    I suggest a mix of both in a marketing plan. A percentage of time and effort allocated to both “on-line” and “off-line”

  • Mike Banks says:

    You should be able to get a job from every job you have. If you market around the current job you have, the next door neighbor is the next best job you can have… Door hangers, job site signs, neighborhood post cards, magnets for the mailboxes, flyers,… Make sure the 20 closest houses know who you are by the time you are done with your current job.

  • Andrew Ross says:

    David – couldn’t agree more. Face-to-face is a great way to put your company above the others and very few companies make that effort. Especially these days, people appreciate the effort. However, there are just so many doors, that a couple of nice young people laying the foundation is necessary, versus your people doing it themselves too much. Your key people should focus on the warm leads, but you need the canvassers to be skilled enough to identify who actually is warm. Good stuff!

  • Steve says:

    A good friend of mine who owns a tile company here in Venice Florida, has a canvassing program. He is realizing enough ROI to continue. One key he found was to use middle age to seniors for canvassing. They establish rapport much faster then the younger crowd plus they are better listeners.
    Another reason the Boomer generation is great is because they are looking for easy part time work and love the exercise!
    Oh, one last thing. Rob found that from 4 to 7 pm is the best time to canvass.

  • David says:

    Good points, Steve. You might be right about hiring some middle age or seniors to canvass neighborhoods. One thing to think about is that you still need to hire someone who is motivated to get appointments. If someone is not motivated and you are paying them an hourly fee…good luck. Some college kids (paying their own way) need money…and are motivated. My dad hires a college girl to walk neighborhoods. She has been with him 1 1/2 years doing it. She is fantastic! I’ve seen a few examples of middle age guys who just are not motivated. If they are…hire them!

  • David says:

    @Andrew Ross
    Andy, thanks for pointing that out. I do agree with you and maybe I didn’t make that clear. I think it should be done by canvassers primarily. Then to back it up… use the employees to target a few homes closest to where they are working to get a stronger lead. Like Mike mentioned in his comment, the next door neighbors are the best candidate!

  • David says:

    @John Stahl

    Social Media is such a buzz right now that most contractors are just plain ignoring it now. I think that is a mistake, because good social media is just connecting and listening to your target customers and networks online. The tools available to us online are powerful…if used correctly. As you said though, a mix of online and offline marketing is the way to go. Now more than ever, canvassing can really work, because neighbors are probably shocked that a real live person came to their door instead of emailing them! So, connect with people wherever you can. Built a brand that people remember and like! Good points, John. Great minds think…alike. Hey, will I see you in New York later this month? Funny thing is I’m doing a presentation on Social Media…yet I’m going to give the pitch to continue with the old fashion stuff too.

  • David says:

    @Mike Banks
    Mike, could not agree more! Thanks for expounding on this! It is not always about quantity as it is quality. The homes directly around where you work are gold mines. Spending extra energy on 20 homes is well worth the time and investment.

  • John Stahl says:

    I hope to see you at the NYPDCA convention in Sept. I always learn great stuff at your seminars. Keep up the good work.

  • Archie says:

    I have my own business , i do auto body repair
    On site , meaning the repair is done in your drive way
    The problim i have with knokung on doors is people really get scared when they come to the door ,
    Is there anything i could do to make the people feel more relax with me? I should tell you i dont have any markings on my car , and i dont wear company alfit
    Please help if you can thanks

  • David says:


    Archie: Thanks for the question. Door knocking is a pretty bold approach as you know. I’m sure you are dressed appropriately for your line of work, knowing you’ll get a little grease now and then! 🙂

    I’d do a couple things:

    1) Definitely Get SIGNS for your vehicle. That is a must.
    2) Keep your vehicle in top notch condition: clean, detailed, running well, and clean signage.
    3) Have a dress code: Uniforms are not that expensive, especially for a small shop like you. I’m a small company: me and one other employee…and we have logo shirts etc. It just looks nice. I’d look at a uniform service to do all your cleaning of the uniforms: have 4-5 outfits so one outfit doesn’t get too dirty.
    4) Just doing the 3 things above will get you business. If you need more, a less bold approach is just flying a neighborhood: you or get someone to do it while you are in the neighborhood: sample pricing for oil changes (neighborhood special: $22.99 this week etc. (or whatever your pricing is)
    5) If you need more…then knock on doors with a nice and clean look. If you are dirty…don’t knock! 🙂

  • Archie says:

    Thanks ! I cant thank you enough ,
    Great tips , sorry for responding so late lol
    I didnt think anyone was gonna anwser me lol

    I did get some signs on my car and a few t- shirts
    My only problem is im driving a 1993 toyota camry lol
    I wish i had the money fir a nice van 🙁 Lol.

  • Chris says:

    I am a sales rep that knocks my own doors in the Seattle area. I check different forums from time to time and I like to keep on my toes. I’ve been knocking for years its sometimes a tough gig.

    I take issue with your diagnosis of the canvassers. Who cares about the attire as long as its clean.
    Why would you ever offer constructive citisism to someone that no matter what you wouldnt move forward?
    Funny to give advice however you mentioned you know you need a roof but you minimize the effort by saying someone you know does roofing… that’s a slap in the face. How do you put in your 2 cents worth when you lack common sense to beautify and protect your own investment
    What’s your rebuttle to knuckle heads that use your excuse as an objection? ?

    I know someone that’s a roofer to ; ME

    • David Chism says:

      Thanks for your comments too, Chris.

      I have hired services from door knockers. I don’t always try to get rid of them. The roofer, I did say no because it is true: my brother in law is a local roofer and has maintained my roof.

      I will stick to my guns and think a canvasser should have some type of leave behind piece and corporate identity.

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