I really like to hear from the owners of other roofing companies.
Here’s a question I recently received about their roof salesmen and the difficulty they have getting them to knock doors…
“The salesmen we have refuse to door knock. They will only stay if the owner provides leads everyday which is astronomical and he really can’t afford to do it. Are there any salesmen left who will actually door knock or do they all want their own canvasser provided by the owner at a huge cost. Should they be fired or does he give in and provide them with leads?”
Nobody Likes Rejection
Let’s start by stating the obvious, “NOBODY LIKES TO KNOCK DOORS”. That’s because knocking doors is all about facing rejection… over, and over, and over again. Running roofing leads that are just handed to you is a lot easier, right?
Very few people are willing to sign up for these daily doses of rejection. Walking up to a door knowing full well that you may be dissed, dismissed and disliked by the person on the other side is more than a fragile ego can take.
Quite frankly, selling roofs by door knocking is for Big Boys & Girls. Some people can do it while others can’t, won’t, or just flat out refuse.
Leads Are More Expensive Than You Realize
Canvassers, telemarketers, radio, print, television and direct mail all cost real money… and there’s no guarantee they’ll even generate a single lead.
Back in 1996, I left the roofing company I started with and went to work for a man who generated leads using radio advertising. He was a major advertiser for several stations and sponsored their special events and radio personalities. As a result of his massive advertising budget, I was able to get several fresh leads a day. He did the same thing for 5-6 of his other salesmen too.
Sounds like a dream come true for a roofing salesman, right?
Honestly, it wasn’t bad… at first.
I was making sales every week, but it wasn’t enough to get ahead and I certainly wasn’t having the big paydays like I did with my first roofing company.
So, what was the problem? With the benefit of hindsight, I can see that there were quite a few problems with getting leads fed to me daily.
- I got lazy. Too lazy to even knock the doors around my lead. When you know there’s another free lead coming, it is hard to motivate yourself to knock.
- I got busy. I ran leads from all over Dallas and Fort Worth. I was spending more time in my truck driving to the next lead than I was spending selling.
- I got junk leads. It is hard to make a living spending half a day driving to a lead that just needs a new pipe jack or some skylight flashing.
- I got paid less. One Saturday morning the owner held a sales meeting and told us he was going to charge 5% more to help pay for the advertising.
- I got owned. When you count on somebody else to pump you full of free leads, they want something in return. No longer do you work for yourself, you work for the system. It’s like being an employee all over again.
Get Paid What You’re Worth
If you’re counting on your roofing company to supply you with a batch of fresh leads every day, don’t be surprised if the owner announces a special Saturday morning meeting where you find out he’ll charge you 5% more to help pay for the leads.
You say you’ll just pack up and go work for another roofing company, but will you really? I can only tell you what I did when I got hit with an extra 5%… absolutely nothing! By that time, I was too comfortable being lazy. Besides, I had a pipeline full of jobs waiting to pop out that I needed to get paid on. I really couldn’t afford to leave.
Maybe you’re really good at closing the deal when you get in the front door, but you aren’t comfortable knocking doors for yourself.
Why not hire your own canvasser? Wouldn’t it be better to pay somebody $15-$20 bucks an hour out of your own pocket, plus $20-$30 per appointment, and a small percentage of every deal you close than to pay another 5% on top of your existing overhead charge?
Would it be worth it to pay out $500-$1,000 a week for your own personal canvasser if it meant you could make an extra $1,000, $2,500 or up to $5,000 more a week?
Think Like The Business Person You Are
I can hear you saying, “…but what if they don’t set any appointments or I don’t sell anything?” That’s exactly what the owner of your company is thinking right now.
“The person who is willing to take the biggest risk is the person who deserves the most profit.”
If you don’t want to take any risks, you shouldn’t expect to get paid what a real-life, hard-core, rejection eating, door knocking roofing salesman makes… because you aren’t.
You’re just an order taker.
Open up any newspaper in any major metropolitan city in the United States and look for a job in the Customer Service section. That’s where you’ll find the order takers.
There’s nothing wrong with taking orders. It’s an honest living, but it only pays $15 to $20 an hour… if you can even get hired in this economy.
The Answer To Your Question
So, “Should they be fired or should he give in and provide them with leads?”
You’ve probably figured out your own solution by now, but let me give you my suggestion since you asked.
First of all, don’t fire them. It would be cruel and heartless to fire somebody in today’s economy unless they’re just asking for it.
People need jobs and you’re providing a good opportunity for your sales people to make a good living. Opportunities to make the kind of money you can make selling roofs are rare these days.
Instead of firing them, try to “fire them up”. Hold a contest, give away prizes like an iPad or a new laptop, add special daily cash incentives.
Find out what’s important to your sales people and create a reward. Whatever you do, there’s one rule you have to live by… Reward only those behaviors that you want to increase (e.g. knocking doors).
Secondly, if you are going to hire canvassers or pay to generate leads, institute a surcharge for the leads you generate that turn into sales. You need to have something in place to re-coup your expenses.
The man I worked for who gave away the free leads from all his radio advertising eventually had to close the business. He had inadvertently created a lazy sales force and a culture of entitlement.
When you create an entitlement culture, you strip your sales office of the atmosphere it needs to be successful. Proceed with caution here.
Finally, remember why you got in to this business. If you’re anything like I am, you were tired of working for the office. You refused to spend another day punching a clock or sitting in a cube.
Your sales people are a lot like you are. Some of them may go on to own their own company some day. Work shouldn’t be a drag. Make it an exciting place to make a living.
The more you feed their entrepreneurial spirit, the more likely they are to reward you with even more customers.
Mike started selling roofs in ’95 while working as a youth pastor at a small church in North Texas. A decade later he transitioned to speaking at industry conferences, then training sales teams nationwide, and now works exclusively as the premier consultant to roofing company owners who are driven for growth.