Knocking on doors to promote snow removal services works.

No matter what time of year it is, there is always a service you can sell to home owners as maintaining a property can be quite overwhelming for many. In this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, we hear from one entrepreneur who was able to build up his snow removal customer base over the winter and get some leads on spring time mowing services as well. One lawn care business wrote “even though I’m a bit behind on trying to pick up snow removal customers, as it’s already snowing out, I made up a quick flyer, made some photocopies, and headed out into my neighborhood yesterday as the snow started to fall again. Due to my late start and the lousy weather, I was only able to hand out about 30 flyers, and of those, I only spoke to about 8 people who answered doors.

This morning, I had two calls to shovel driveways, and around midday, I had a voicemail to get an estimate for a relative who lives about 2 miles from where I had been distributing the flyers.

As I was shoveling the driveway at the first customer’s home, the neighbor was out shoveling his walk and said ‘hello.’ He said he saw me place my flyer in his door yesterday and that he ‘may be calling me.’ I introduced myself and we chatted for about ten minutes. During this time, he called out down the street to another man doing some shoveling and said ‘We have a young man here that is offering to clear driveways - I’ll give you one of his cards!’ I had just handed him half a dozen. As this gentleman and I talked, he finally said, ‘if you come to do their driveway, and you see snow on mine, go ahead and do mine as well.’ That was another great success!

After finishing that driveway, the customer told me that I can just come back and do it again any time we get the same amount we had today which was about 5-6″ inches. She also has some small yard jobs to talk about for the spring time. I was even paid $5 more than what I asked for ‘Because you were so prompt and did a nice job.’

Later, I cleared a drive and sidewalk for an elderly couple. He can handle the light stuff that can be pushed, but can’t lift the shovel so well. They seemed happy to have the snow cleared and liked the fact that I was a neighbor - not someone they would have to wait for, and hope they show up. Hopefully, they will pass my information on to others in the neighborhood.

Afterthoughts:

I went out during the workday in hopes of running into more older people who are home during the day, and who are more likely to need help shoveling. Sadly, many of them are hesitant to open the door to a stranger. I can’t say that I blame them. I always introduce myself by name and let them know that I’m one of their neighbors - that I live ‘just around the corner, on _____ street.’ This seems to help put them at ease and allows for a more relaxed conversation.

Knocking on doors works to get snow removal customers.

Knocking on doors works to get snow removal customers.

  • I hate putting flyers in mailboxes (I understand the legalities of it), but for a few homes, I did (mostly people I knew to some extent), because there was no other way to leave it.
  • I did cut X’s in the top of some of the flyers ahead of time in order to slip them over a doorknob, but I didn’t leave any in that manner yesterday.
  • I regret not having bought a SINGLE stage snow thrower instead of this two stage beast that I have. I could do SO much more work with a smaller unit. Live and learn. I can’t afford another one, so I’ll just have to use a shovel until we get deeper snow.
  • My timing was good and bad. Bad because we’re already into winter and I hadn’t distributed my information. Mainly for legal reasons as I am still awaiting my zoning approval for my home based business. Good because it was SNOWING like MAD when I was handing out the flyers… “Hey, give that guy a call that was just here!

I’m going to do some more door to door tomorrow - perhaps focusing on homes with walks and drives still with snow on them. Knocking on doors is TIME CONSUMING. It would be so much easier to simply leave a flyer and move on, but I think it’s important to get that personal interaction whenever possible. A few things I will do differently in the future:

  • I will wear a yellow safety vest.
  • I will add some signage to my truck.
  • I will approached homes that have walks/drives that are already clear rather than just the homes with snow covered walkways.
  • I also will go to neighboring areas with more income potential (bigger homes)

One mistake I feel I’m making is not offering up a price to clear a drive/walkway when I do get someone to open the door. I’ve been keeping to pretty much an introduction type of conversation, and while it’s great that they are willing to take my marketing material, I think I’d catch a little more business if I gave them a quote while I’m at it. Live and learn.

When it comes to attire, I feel that wearing vest differentiate me from any other Joe walking down the street and it hopefully piques their curiosity if they happen to see me before I get to their house. I’d love to have my logo added to a vest and maybe a matching bright colored hat/cap.

Oh, and the people who answered at homes with walks/drives that were already cleared seemed to be more pleasant/receptive. Many of them offered to pass my information along, and a few said they would have spring time jobs for me when it begins to warm they may call me about. I noted those addresses in my book to contact them again in a few months.

When going door to door, I found it’s not the walking that takes the most time but it’s the talking that slows you down. On the flip side, it’s the talking that gets you work. Sometimes you really don’t care to hear about how many children someone raised in ‘this little house’, but by the end of that conversation, you may have earned the trust of the homeowner who can send leads your way.”

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