The Importance of Creating Goodwill While Canvassing
“I can’t believe that someone would say these things!”
This is what I thought to myself as I cringed in horror while reading the nasty review that my company had just received. All sorts of anger and contempt from a local resident who has never done business with our company. What is the source and logic behind this consumer’s firey retaliation you ask? We simply knocked on their front door…
I am very used to putting out fires and overcoming challenges in my current role working in a large home improvement company. Never-the-less, I still could not help but take personal offense to this person’s attack on our hard-working, ambitious, altruistic employees. After all, I recruited and trained these door-to-door canvassers and I have watched them repeatedly put their own goals on the back-burner as they voluntarily go out into the field, regardless of temperature or weather to face immeasurable rejection – nearly 90% of the time that they are simply doing their job. For years, I have witnessed our team members as they have placed our potential customers needs on higher priority than their own. This doesn’t even begin to factor in the random acts of kindness performed for the general public whenever the opportunity presents itself.
“Hey Boss- I know this sounds weird and I know we need leads badly, but I felt so badly for this elderly lady that I talked to earlier. She thought we were there to mow her lawn. She said the kid that was supposed to do it, took-off with her money and never came back. Is there any chance that we can mow it for her? She’s not a customer and doesn’t need what we offer, but I just want to help her out. Her neighbor said we could borrow their mower. She just doesn’t have anyone to do it.”
Now, how could I say no to that? Sometimes, you have to take a short-term business loss to get the Win in the long run. Which in this case, meant even though we needed leads, the senior in distress needed our humanity more. So, after lunch I took the guys back over there and they mowed her lawn.
That’s just one scenario in the past 12 years while building a door-to-door canvassing team. There are countless more that include heroic calls to 911 and even performing CPR on a struck dog. All of these kind and valiant deeds have got me thinking, why is it that so many consumers dislike door-to-door people so much? When in reality, most of them are good human beings, just doing a job to feed their families… One of many things that I have learned along the way is that, just like any other profession, a few bad apples can spoil the entire bunch, creating a giant rot-fest, which can permanently damage an industry’s reputation.
I guess that thing that is so incredibly perplexing to me is that when an adolescent (just a few years younger) goes door-to-door on behalf of a worthy cause, like Girlscouts or Boyscouts, they receive virtually 0% push-back. They most certainly never run the risk of a door being slammed in their face or a scathingly bad review written to humiliate and defame them. On the contrary, they actually have a much better chance of making a sale – higher than any other industry in direct sales history!
When was the last time you read a review that said
“These damn Girl Scouts just won’t stop!! Morning, noon, and night! Lock your doors folks the 800 billion dollar cookie industry is out there to rip us off! $6 a box!!!! DON’T BUY THE THIN MINTS!! IT’S A TRAP!”
(In my best Katt Williams voice) Not Never.
However, far too often you will read reviews that say things like
“This company knocked on my door. How dare they come by with their lies and deceit and attempt to talk to me about something- they shouldn’t be littering our beautiful neighborhood with their crappy flyers anyway.”
Here is the hypocrisy – the same person who just shared an article on Facebook about how we should all support local businesses and save small businesses that have been impacted by COVID are the same people slamming the door in the displaced restaurant workers face! They are the same ones writing the nasty review referring to anyone who goes door-to-door as a scam artist! (Accept my daughter the Girlscout!) Do you see my dilemma here? These people somehow fail to see that service companies that use grassroots marketing, teach kids incredible skills that will help them with whatever path they choose in life.
Instead of seeing all of the positive, I have found that the same person who complains that “millennials don’t want to work” are also complaining when they actually do! What ever happened to the old world ethic that my grandpa would recite to me
“I would much rather have an honest man at my front door trying to sell me something, than a dishonest one at my back door trying to separate me from something.”
When most homeowners are confronted with this logic, the majority re-think their knee-jerk response, which is rooted in entitlement. What’s exciting is that with the proper context, you can take them from
“who dare knocketh on my door!?” to “How can I help you…”
The question is how can we get consumers to make that transition and begin to see door-to-door workers as servants? What really is the difference between going door-to-door to promote your business versus going door-to-door selling cookies? The answer: people want to be part of a noble cause, something that is bigger than themselves. Studies have shown that consumers care more about helping others, than they care about low prices. This means, if you do good work for the community as part of your company mission, everyone wins! Better yet, you are no longer viewed as the big bad business beating down peoples doors to peddle your goods or services. Instead, you become part of the solution. It’s a solution most consumers can get on-board with and support. They are happy to become part of your mission to help out a non-profit because after all, we should strive to be more than just a home improvement company, but a community improvement company!
One of my favorite quotes from Gary Vaynerchuk is:
“there is entirely too much complaining about how we want it to be, and not enough action adjusting to how it actually is.”
We could sit around and play the victim card – POOR ME! We can cower and concede that door-to-door is dead and that it is too hard in today’s world. We can claim that in the era of click funnels, Amazon Prime, and consumers seeking instant gratification that it just isn’t feasible. Or we can adapt, evolve and enhance our approach to simply include what consumers want. And what do they want? To be part of something bigger than themselves. So, why can’t we as small business owners, be willing to sacrifice a portion of profits in order to give back to our communities? If businesses understood how positively this can affect the ROI in the long run, through reduced recruiting costs, lower turnover and higher employee morale- they would already be doing it!
So, where does the threshold lie? At what point does a human being cross the line from being a young person doing a good thing selling cookies door-to-door to raise money for their troop – to a sleezy adult who is perceived to lie, cheat and steal simply for knocking on the door? Wasn’t it just 5 years prior when this same kid was being revered for the money they raised while out knocking doors? Is there a legal age of consent for cussing someone out on your porch? Should a solicitor be met with a smile when they are 15 but a middle finger if they are 19?
Funny thing is, there is nothing more American than promoting an honest good or service- a door to door team like ours can be considered the wheels of the economy. Nothing can move until it’s sold. From the truck drivers that deliver the shingles to the job sites, to the lady that sweeps the factory floor during the 3rd shift, to those who work in finance to fund our projects, none of these people have jobs if marketing doesn’t bring in leads! We all should take a great amount of pride in our job, especially when yours is the type that creates so many jobs for others. The kind of pride that a little girl has when she approaches a person walking into the supermarket and asks if they will support her troop by purchasing an overpriced box of cookies. Ironically, the customer says yes- not because the cookies are a great value, but because they want to help or perhaps they just have a sweet tooth! (I am not judging, I just call them like I see them.)
Everything I have written, I wrote to convey this: Be part of a worthy cause. It can truly change not only the public’s perception of you and your company- but it can also change so many people’s lives in a positive way. There is so much value in partnering with a worthy cause to bring value to your community. Imagine if just 10% of home improvement companies pledged $1 to a worthy cause for every lead they captured while going door-to-door? Aren’t we already at a $400-$500 issued lead cost anyway? Will you even feel that dollar on your profit and loss statement? Probably not, especially when it’s a write off. Especially when it improves recruiting and margins and morale. Do you know who will feel it though? Our local charities that need our help. Let’s all make a sound resolution for 2021 and help change the public’s perception of door-to-door marketing. It cannot be done alone and it cannot be done without the giving spirit!
Megan Beattie has spent the last 19 years as a student and practitioner of marketing and sales process with a specific focus on lead generation. Learn More About taking your lead generation to the next level by requesting a FREE CONSULTATION.