Cold calling is it worth it ?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Bunton Guy, Sep 3, 2002.

  1. Bunton Guy

    Bunton Guy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,756

    Now I have spent the last 2 hours cold calling. Last night and the day before I went around town while taking off work for the holliday and saw some properties in which could use my services....and also picked some out of the phone book in which I knew allready. All in all called 45 companies and got nothing. Now dont get me wrong this isnt my first time doing cold calling im just curious if any of you guys have had any luck. I have tried cold calling since 1994 and never have gotten any business out of it. It just dosent seem like a affective way to grab a commercial client. Most of the properties I called had been overgrown I figured they might be my best chance. 99% of them said the same spiel " we allready have someone...I think they are just taking a break and letting it grow for a little while " what a cheesy thing to say eh ? then the other half says " we allready have someone " or " we do it in house " I think the main reason why im in a bitchy mood is since before 9/11 I had so much money flowing in I didnt know what to do with it and had to invest in more equipment in order to maintain all the properties that I was taking on then after 9/11 I lost dozens of accounts to guys with crapsman tractors. Now I have all these bills and no money to pay for better form of advertisment. Cold calling is most likely the cheapest way of advertisment but seems very hard to penetrate throught a boss man and get them to give in a let you bid. Any suggestions on things to say on the phone ? other ways to go about this ?
  2. Sean Adams

    Sean Adams LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,597

    I always felt that the "warmer" you could make the "cold" call, the better. I implemented a process for commercial cold calling that ended up working very well.

    I would locate the properties I wanted to service that really looked like they cared about the appearance of their property. I would call and introduce myself or someone calling from my company would do the same.

    We learned quick that treating the "gatekeeper" (secretary) golden was a big step in getting the information we needed.

    We'd ask some questions, see who was in charge of the property management, their e-mail address, direct extension, full name, address, etc....

    Then we would send a letter explaining that we called and spoke to Marie (insert any gatekeeper name here) and she provided us with his/her information. We would avoid in the letter giving a big long grocery list of our services.

    Instead, we introduced ourselves, our company, our mission statement, and our desire to develop a relationship with them as we have with all of our other clients, showing that we recognize the struggle for someone in their position to find a reliable professional company to care for their lawn and landscape needs.

    We request an opportunity to meet with them to discuss their needs, answer any questions and possibly walk the property with them, ensuring that we would present an organized, detailed proposal of services we would be able to perform for them in a short period of time.

    Upon sending the letter, we would wait 7-10 days and if we didn't hear from them, we would call, ask if they received the letter, and if they were interested in meeting or us just walking the property alone.

    When we do get the chance to meet, everyone here knows the up in a nice clean vehicle, prepared, clean cut, properly dressed, etc.... The one big plus for us was when we noticed that taking notes just didn't cut it. So we purchased hand held digital tape recorders and taped our walk-around (with their permission) or we would just speak into it.

    The one thing up front that I always stressed was how different we were when it came to relationships. I made it very clear that we did not want to simply just be someone's service provider. We want to work with them to create a relationship that would always be win/win.

    It's a process, but always caught their attention and usually got us the clients we truly wanted.

    Hope this helps.
  3. Bunton Guy

    Bunton Guy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,756

    I send out several hundred well written letters to possible clients every year. I have done almost every type of advertisment . Yellow pages, money mailers, cold calling, fliers, meetings with clients, ect.... and nothing has worked. In all of my sending letters in the past years I have gotten 2 calls for work and one job. What makes anyone think that cold calling or sending letters would make someone just drop their current service and go with ours ?
  4. Dennis E.

    Dennis E. LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 349

    That's how we got into the commercial properties. We always target the small to mid-size businesses. Like you,we do up a list.
    Call and ask for the person in charge. Manager,owner,adm. asst. or whoever it may be. Always friendly and to the point. (It's easy to lose someones attention if you keep them on the phone too long.) We tell them who we are and find out if or when they may taking bids for our type of service. If they are currently using a LS we ask how things are going. A lot of times that question will start something.;)
    Sean had good advice if you get a chance to go give a bid. Thats exactly how it should be done.

    The reason for the small to mid size targeting is because here the "big guys" don't mess with it because of small cash flow(unless it's a multiple location deal). The smaller guys stay away from them because of the insurance requirements,etc.
    It's been our bread and butter for a long time.

    Don't give up on doing it. It'll work.:D
  5. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841

    Remember, most advertising is just a numbers game. Like flyers, cold calling can be very successful if you do enough of them. But if you hand out 40 flyers and expect to get a call, you are kidding yourself. Same thing with cold calling. If you call 10 or 20 places and don't get a good response, don't be surprised.
  6. Sean Adams

    Sean Adams LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,597

    Jim makes an excellent point. The clients you have should be quality over quantity. But how you go after those clients should be quantity and quality. Does that make sense?
  7. Bunton Guy

    Bunton Guy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,756

    I do send out what I consider to be enough fliers ( 5,000) per season. Should I try to hire someone to do nothing but cold calling all day ? See what happens from that ?
  8. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841

    I can't answer that. I don't have enough experience with cold calling. All I know is I tried it once (with residential homes) and I seemed to get positive interest about every 20-30 calls. It would be worth giving it a shot I think.

    As for flyers, I am surprised if you sent out 5000 and didn't get much response. If I were to put out 5000 flyers today, we'd get a lot of calls and I'd land about 10 new maintenance accounts at least.

    Depends on time of year, area, etc. I market to upper middle class to upper class neighborhoods and get good response from flyers.
  9. Bunton Guy

    Bunton Guy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,756

    I dont do much residential anymore but I was targeting homes from the $375,000.00 mark and up. Several neighborhoods with over 150 homes ranging from $500K-1.7 million and only landed one job out of that neighborhood and the man landed up selling his home and leaving for Germany .....he left me high and dry owing me money and cutting the contract.
  10. f350

    f350 Banned
    from mi
    Posts: 424

    hire a telemarketing firm. oh one more thing, never judge a man by the size of his home or the car he drives. look at it like this he may have a 80k benz but not have $10 bucks for gas. as for the house i know 18 y/o kids strait out of highschool living in homes 300k to 500k but they cant get a car loan for a honda

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