From file "036_rcs" entitled "Marketing3.qxd" page 01
From file "036_rcs" entitled "Marketing3.qxd" page 01

With telemarketing leads harder to get and media leads ever-dicey, more home improvement contractors have turned to canvassing. But that doesn't mean canvassing has become any easier. The door-to-door search for leads is still uncertain territory where each company needs to find its own way.

Next House Over For many home improvement companies looking to canvas, a current jobsite is a great place to start. The first thing Paul Despenas, vice president at Midwest Construction & Supply in Des Moines, Iowa, does is enlist the customer in his marketing.

“We have an advertising release form so that we can do a direct mail campaign around the jobsite, and we get permission to have our canvassers use [the customer's] name,” he explains. The company quickly puts a job sign up on the site — it typically remains in place at least two months, Despenas says — followed by a mailer, about the same time as the crew is working. Canvassers follow up after that.

Ties to Direct Mail, Newspapers Coordinating canvassing efforts with direct mail or newspaper advertising is a common practice. At Suburban Construction in Davenport, Iowa, marketing managers coordinate canvassing activity with newspaper fliers or direct mailings. “That way you're not going in there blind,” vice president J.R. Girskis says. “People are more familiar with you and more in the mood.” He says that although the coordination pays off, “the difference in results is not dramatic.”

Coordination can be less important in markets where a contractor is already well known. “Our market is small, and we do a lot of television advertising, so people know who we are and when we come to the door we're not necessarily an unfamiliar name,” says Wayne Winn, president of Home Town Restyling, Hiawatha, Iowa. His canvassers — as well as salespeople and installers — wear jackets or shirts with the company name prominently displayed to reinforce that brand in the market.

Coordination can help, but good results ultimately depend on the canvassers themselves. “The canvassers have to be prepared,” Girskis says. “If they don't know how to talk, you're wasting your time.”