When Tony Hoty and Chris Thompson started Ohio Consolidated Builders, a windowand siding operation in Cleveland, 100% of their leads came from canvassing. TodayOhio Consolidated has diversified to other lead sources, includingshows and events, but 75% of the company's leads come from canvassing. Marketingcosts for canvassing, says co-owner Thompson, are about 7%, “fullyloaded, including payroll tax.” Overall marketing costs for thecompany are a bit less than 10%.

Canvassing Consultants Hoty and Thompson got good enough at canvassing that a few years ago they beganworking with other home improvement companies — including some ofthe largest, such as Erie Construction Mid-West. Ohio Consolidated producedan instructional manual, CD-ROM, and DVD for training. The manual includesscripts and systems to set up a “turnkey” canvassing operation.

Now, Hoty and Thompson also work with other home improvement companies on aconsulting basis, helping them set up their own canvassing operations.

“We show them how to recruit, train, and manage canvassers,” Thompsonsays, “and especially how to develop a canvassing manager fromthe group.”

Many companies, he says, come to Ohio Consolidated thinking they need to layout a small fortune for a canvassing manager and a van fleet; not so, Thompsonsays. The most important thing to know, he points out, is who to recruitand how to recruit them. Scripting and training follow. “You can haveteenagers bringing in a million a year at 10% lead cost,” he says.

Camp in the Woods Sometime during the first quarter of next year, Ohio Consolidated plans to hosta two-day “Canvass Camp” on how to set up a canvassing operation. Theevent will be held in Cleveland, and Hoty and Thompson will be theinstructors.

Thompson says he expects attendees primarily to fall into two categories: “companiesthat have never done canvassing and don't really know whereto start, and companies that have attempted canvassing but can't get it toa level where they can keep people.”

The seminars will focus on three things: how to recruit canvassers; how to traincanvassers and develop a manager from within the group; and how to adjustthe different parts of your company — such as administration andsales — to processing and selling canvass leads, which are not quitethe same as leads from other sources. “The salesman running that leadisn't going to get the red-carpet treatment he's used to from warm-call leads,” Thompsonsays. But attendees will find that role-playing for objectionsand responses will push the closing rate on canvass leads to a pointwhere they are “as good if not higher than other lead sources,” headds.