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Have You Ever Prospected Potential Clients?

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by icudoucme, Dec 14, 2011.

  1. icudoucme

    icudoucme Senior Member
    Messages: 367

    The last 3 years I've been building an address book that has a list of poorly plowed/cleared driveways and commercial lots. I've been waiting till I could plan out a "prospected" future route before I made contact with anyone. I was wondering if anyone has ever sent out a mid winter questionnaire?

    I was thinking about sending out a letter to those addresses I've written down. It would include a quick survey they could take online or fill out and mail back. The only problem is getting people to mail them back. I was thinking of doing some sort of incentive (non plowing related) to get a better return on the mail in. Self addressed envelopes along with postage would be included (post card style questionnaire)

    The basis of the questionnaire would be:
    Are you currently satisfied with your present snow removal company.Yes/no/somewhat
    Do you think your current price has anything to do with the quality of work being done.
    How long have you been with your current snow removal company.
    How likely are you to continue with your current snow removal company.
    If another company offered better service at a higher rate would you switch?
    Do you prefer the results of a snowblower or snow plow?
    How often do you like your driveway cleared of snow:Each event, every 3-5", more then 5"

    Has anyone tried this before? Once I get a better questionnaire nailed down with some sort of rating system I'll update the thread. My hopes are to send this out mid February or do you guys think it's better to send them at the end of the plowing season. For me that would be end of March.
  2. snowguys

    snowguys Senior Member
    Messages: 708

    Good idea never thought about but maybe this year i will
  3. Longae29

    Longae29 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,953

    What if they have a higher trigger? or refuse salt? don't pay their bills?

    I've had a hard enough time getting current customers to fill out a survey.

    If its a property I targeted before the season and there's too much parking taken up, or I know its not being done to what they spec'd I prefer making a phone call. Hey do you need snow hauled away? I noticed the lot we do next door is always done before yours, even after your employees show up, etc.

    I've always felt its better to have had prior contact.....use that list as your targets to make sure to hit first next year, right after the season is over, maybe they will have a fresh bad taste in their mouth, its often forgotten by sept. When price is the only thing on their mind.
  4. ShorePower

    ShorePower Senior Member
    Messages: 116

    I might word it like, If another company offered superior service at a similar rate, would you switch snowplow contractors?
    Using the word higher rate, just indicates that you have critiqued the quality and assume the customer went with the cheap guy.
  5. Spucel

    Spucel Senior Member
    Messages: 413

    I think with some minor adjustments this will work well for you. I like the idea of looking for lots that were done poorly. Just remember to not come off with an offensive aggressive tone.
  6. icudoucme

    icudoucme Senior Member
    Messages: 367

    I think with some minor adjustments this will work well for you. I like the idea of looking for lots that were done poorly. Just remember to not come off with an offensive aggressive tone.

    I think the solution for that would be personal contact a face to face introduction as or some sort of personal communication as pointed out by Longae29

    These are all great observations thanks guys

    Quick side track..Do any of you guys google your companies or check consumer forums or search engine ratings to see what customers think of your services? I've been starting to keep any eye out for mine and my competitors to try any deduce who is a Chuck in a Truck(aka lowballer) and who is a legit business but just doesn't have the kinks worked out yet or who is just a scammer.

  7. Winterized

    Winterized Senior Member
    Messages: 120

    I think that is a GREAT idea... The biggest concern I feel is to not come off as NEGATIVE about their current provider. Asking to technical of a question may confuse and intimidate and result in a no return. ....

    How often do you like your driveway cleared of snow:Each event, every 3-5", more then 5"..... simple to us, but may be confusing to them?
    It's amazing that some people just have no concept of snow depth or grass height !!!

    Give only positive information... what you can do FOR them... how it is in THEIR best interest to consider having you take over the account.

    And yes.... some people are idiots and are beyond redemption because of their own stupidity. You will sort that lot out and concentrate your efforts on the others that have been getting poor service from their current provider.

    Let us know how this works.... Good Luck!
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2011
  8. MikeRi24

    MikeRi24 Senior Member
    Messages: 563

    For the commercial businesses, I would just go there and talk to someone. Usually something mailed to any decent sized businesses gets intercepted by an office person who "weeds out" the junk mail and only passes on the "important" stuff to the person who you would need to deal with. I would think something like what you're talking about would go in the junk pile. A lot of these people are ignorant too, they arent looking that the parking lot next door or down the street and thinking "hmm, that lot is plowed a lot better than mine. I wonder why?" they are usually too wrapped up in whatever is going on at the business to even think about it. So until someone like you goes in there and basically says to them "hey, you're guy is doing a bad job, and you're getting screwed here" it never crosses their mind. To a lot of them, snowplowing is about on the same level as the water bill: just pay it and forget about it.
  9. theholycow

    theholycow PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,180

    Why not a free push? That not only gets them to return the survey, but it gets you face time with them (insist that they must be there when you do it) and gets you a chance to show off how efficiently/carefully you operate.
  10. icudoucme

    icudoucme Senior Member
    Messages: 367

    Around my area if you offer a free push they will wait till there is three of snow and a car stuck halfway down the driveway.
  11. theholycow

    theholycow PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,180

    :eek: Ok, so you might need to be more specific...a free push of a 3 inch storm or something.
  12. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    I do more of the bid thing. I've been sending out bids to the same places for 10 years ,just so if something should change with who ever they had in the past.This way I hope it jogs their memory. The only bad thing about your survey is if they send it back and say the current company does a great job and they have no reason to change then something happens later on , You might not of kept in contact with them and could lose out for not following up every season.
  13. I'd be very careful about seeking out these lots. If there is a competetive plowing industry in your area as there is in most anymore, these lots probably received poor service time after time (and didn't switch contractors) for a reason. This could be things such as not wanting to pay professional rates for professional service such as low triggers, salting etc, and just hiring some craigslist hack to "just do the best you can heres $50. It could also mean that they DO NOT pay their bills, therefore the contractor stopped servicing them. Just be careful and if you do sign any of them make sure you have a Clear and Enforceable contract in place.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2011
  14. NickT

    NickT Senior Member
    Messages: 707

    I totally agree with this take
  15. MahonLawnCare

    MahonLawnCare Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 852

    The key to going to talking to someone (which sounds great in theory) is you NEED to know who is in charge. I would tell you how I do this but then I'd have to kill you. You can direct mail, email fax etc. once you find the decision maker. Otherwise you can knock on doors all you want it won't work. I find out who is in charge get in touch and present a bid. Ultimately it comes down to two things 1) money 2) who you know.
  16. Superior L & L

    Superior L & L PlowSite Veteran
    from MI
    Messages: 3,041

    Thats what im saying. No one will take the time to fill out a form. Just go knock on there door
  17. SnowGuy73

    SnowGuy73 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 24,870