Have you ever felt the adrenalin-rush that comes from cold calling? You know that sweaty palms, locked–up-tongue type feeling that all door-to-door canvassers go through. The what-am-I-doing-here overwhelming fear that almost convinces you that becoming a candidate for the next Survivor series is a better option.
My wife and I operated a window cleaning business in an Australian regional city. We had lived there for only a year after moving from Sydney. I used to clean windows at the picturesque Bondi Beach. That was a real hoot. Each day was a new experience. One never knew what sight would delight the senses today. Would it be the dementia suffering cross-dresser, with his new black handbag and lacy white skirt? The bongo bashing Brazilians cheering their beach volleyball teams during the 2000 Olympic Games? Or the aroma of freshly ground coffee emanating from the gourmet deli shop crowded with Eastern Suburbs wannabes? Amongst the many delights of a balmy sunny day was trying to keep the windows of boutiques, salons and trendy cafes gleaming as the social set admired the views. It was easy to go to work. New retail outlets opened from time to time and it wasn’t too hard to attract new clients.
Then we left town! Business for sale, relocation to a quieter lifestyle in a smaller community, time to start again. The realisation eventually dawned: the business needed to grow to its Sydney level. What was required was door knocking, pounding the pavement, and basically wresting someone else’s business from him. Here comes some real competition!
Window cleaning is an interesting business. The majority of small window cleaning concerns relies on the goodwill of the retail sector. A route of small to medium shops that rely on outstanding window displays to attract potential customers sustains business. Cold canvassing builds up the route. Referral from nearby shops also assists business growth. Most of the retail sector become very loyal to a good, regular window cleaning service. Some window cleaning businesses expand into larger commercial entities that clean multi-storey buildings, large hotels and schools. This is achieved through networking and effective advertising.
But the small guy, read the author here, from time to time has to hit the beat and do some talking. He has to come up with something different, something new, which will make people take notice. At times it is price that is attractive, for others it is quality of work, level of reliability, but mostly it is a combination of all the above.
So it was I found myself visiting the shops in the surrounding suburbs. At times the rehearsed introductory words flowed well, sometimes it didn’t sound so good. I started to realise what the key to success is. Set out to be professional. Look the part, (I’ve always worn a company uniform) speak clearly and honestly, and most of all, have self-belief. The service you are promoting is the best in town. Be brief and succinct. Smile, be friendly and always express appreciation for the time that they’ve taken out of their busy day to speak to you. Your goal is to make the brief experience they have had with your business a good one. One to remember when they look at your business card in the future! After all, many shop managers are happy with the serviceman they have. But, it just may be that your one friendly, dignified and well-presented visit may be the catalyst for change! A change that will result, as it did for me, in success and growth in business.
Cold calling for business may be scary, it may leave you a nervous wreck. But, be sure that with right planning, clear thought processes, and belief in your product and service, success will not be too far away. And when it comes, go to one of those lovely cafes that I clean, and over a cafe latte, enjoy the views.