Canvassing is arguably the most effective way of taking on new window cleaning business. It’s a daunting, comfort zone-defying task for many window cleaners – but it can generate new business very quickly if carried out properly.
Perhaps you’ve tried canvassing for several hours and got nothing, or walked away with so little that it really didn’t make it worth your while. Whilst that is to an extent part and parcel of carrying out cold sales, it shouldn’t always be the case – we take a look at 10 ways you can be as effective a canvasser as possible.
1) Target the right area
One of the first things you need to get right is where you canvass – get this wrong and you can waste a lot of time. You need to try and make sure you’re targeting the right kind of potential customer. Better areas and bigger properties generally indicate more affluent homeowners, meaning they are likely to have more disposable income for services like window cleaning.
At the same time, a large property on a main road of a good area is likely to have been snapped up or approached many times by other window cleaners. Whilst this isn’t always the case, looking for properties a bit more off the beaten track can really pay off. Explore your target area – Google Maps and Streetview can be a great way of doing this without even having to leave your chair. Even in your home territory, you’ll be amazed at the properties you didn’t even know existed, and if you didn’t know they were there, the chances are other window cleaners didn’t either.
2) Target the right properties
Consider what kind of properties you are targeting and assess the likelihood of them needing a window cleaner. For example bungalows make it far easier for a homeowner to do window cleaning themselves. Whilst they can never be ruled out as potential customers, you’ll simply have less success targeting a road full of bungalows than you would houses.
On a case by case basis, assess the house before you approach it. If the front lawn is 3 feet tall and the property is a state, are the residents likely to care about having clean windows? Move onto to the next door and don’t waste your time.
When you’ve worked out where and who you’ll be targeting, you need to make sure you approach them at a time when they are most likely to be in. Unfortunately for you, that means evenings and weekends. Use discretion though, calling too late in the evening or too early on a weekend is unlikely to win you any happy customers.
4) Move on
Be flexible and willing to move on to a different area if you’re not having much success. Sometimes, even applying the above techniques, you’ll simply end up choosing an area that is already well served by other window cleaners.
5) Appearance and demeanor
Perhaps an obvious point, but when you’re making your way uninvited onto somebody’s property, your appearance and demeanor can make a big difference. You want to look presentable, but not too smart – a polo shirt or top with your logo on is perfect. Make sure your demeanor is open and friendly so that you make a good first impression, and do so long before you get to the door – you may not always know when your potential customer is watching you.
6) Short and Simple Pitch
This is the part that many window cleaners overcomplicate. Keep your opening ‘pitch’ as short and to the point as possible – you’re not selling something that needs a lengthy explanation and people will generally want to know why you’re knocking on their door as quickly as possible. You could use the following example as a template.
“Hi there, I’m a local window cleaner [or we are a local window cleaning business] – I clean your neighbours home at number 43 – do you need a window cleaner?”
Using this approach tends to get a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ response, meaning you don’t waste time chatting to people that aren’t interested.
Sometimes, you don’t get a simple ‘Yes, how much?’ response from interested potential customers, and you’ll need to offer them a bit more encouragement. Have a few more in depth selling point’s prepared and up your sleeve for this point. Things like how many years you’ve been in business, how many neighbours you clean or customers you have in that area, the fact that you’re fully insured and the fact that you could clean more than just their windows (using the water fed pole system) are all examples of things that go down well and might give the customer the confidence to proceed.
If they’re still undecided, try and put yourself in control of getting a decision – even if it’s a no. Customers that say they will ‘let you know’ rarely do and are often just politely saying they’re not interested. Take control and offer to return on a set day, (maybe when you are cleaning other houses in the area) or call them at a set time to get their decision. They are much more likely to be honest about how interested they are at that point, and you don’t waste your time.
8) Work thoroughly
If you’re canvassing an area and picking up work, make a note of houses you called on that had no one in. To be as efficient and profitable as possible, you want as much work as possible in that area and you want to know who you can try and canvass again at later date.
9) Don’t undercut
Occasionally, you’ll call on someone who’ll encourage you to undercut their existing window cleaner. It’s bad practice to do this – you’ll only end up with under-priced work, disloyal customers and a very unhappy competitor.
If a homeowner insists that they are getting a poor service and have or will be getting rid of their existing window cleaner, then offer to do the job at the price you would have charged anyway, not at an undercut price.
By applying the above techniques, you can canvass effectively and, depending on how much time you’re willing to put into it, grow your business at a surprisingly rapid pace. You might also want to read our article about picking up profitable work.