There’s always something to howl about

Door knocking my way to walking the walk

So now that it’s time to think big and act on those thoughts, I went door knocking. Oh yes I did. I have made a public commitment to prospecting, and no, I do not have an unbroken chain of red X’s, and no, I don’t feel good about that. Okay so now that we have that covered, let me tell you about door knocking.

Another Realtor and I have on occasion been partnering up for the past year. She’s just gone full time so I recently suggested that we go door knocking. Not only has she never done this, but when I suggested it, she was sure that: a) she’d hate it; b) she’d have people cuss her out and slam the door in her face; c) she’d promptly be kicked off this planet; or d) all of the above. What she didn’t count on, couldn’t believe, and was tickled to find out was, e) none of the above happened. Here’s what we learned about door knocking: The hardest part is getting started. No really. Once you set a time, drive to the neighborhood and get yo lazy booty out the car, the hard part is over, and once you knock on that first door, the rest is a cake walk down Primrose Lane.

We picked a practice neighborhood. A neighborhood that we have a listing in, giving us something to talk about, but we really wanted a neighborhood in which we wouldn’t be too horrified to make some mistakes. It’s a forgiving neighborhood that I’m familiar with. Hard-working, blue collar, friendly people who are used to door-to-door sales people. They will either open the door to be polite, or kindly tell us no thanks. Sorry BawldGuy, not one person told us to go to hell- not one! The houses are close together allowing us to quickly move on to the next house, and we went in the afternoon, 2pm, our thought being the only people home at that time are either retired or SAHM, and both would be receptive to having a quick face-to-face with a friendly adult to break up the routine of the day, plus, retired folks always know what is going on in the ‘hood, and the SAHM are likely to be moving on eventually, and are plugged into the kid’s activities and other mobile families. But mostly, we just wanted practice and to overcome our unfounded fears.

We armed ourselves with business cards a’la Bloodhound Realty. An unobtrusive thing to hand across the threshold, and I know they’ve never seen anything like it before so there’s some novelty involved. Our script? “Hi! We are with Exit Realty and have listing on the corner. Can we give you this wallet-sized property card? If you know of anyone who might be interested in moving into the neighborhood, would you pass it on to them?” Suggestions for improvement are welcome.

So what was our experience? Our very first door, we were invited in to “look around at what I’ve done with the place!” Oooo’s and Ahhh’s and she’s not moving, but she’s retired and knows who is, so that’s a great contact in the neighborhood. At another house, a little old lady, all of 4 ft nothing, holding a child almost as big as her, stepped on the dog to open the door. ::Keep smiling:: Her son just got a divorce, she’ll pass the card to him. Thanks, (although what son wants to live around the corner from Mom?) and uh, sorry about your dog. In all, we made contact with only about 10 owners which in some ways was hardly worth the trip but we needed the practice and mostly we needed to stop being afraid to knock on doors.

Here’s the thing: I just got off the phone with Jenn. She went back to that neighborhood on her own today and met a wife who would like to sell. This was about an hour and a half total time invested over two days. Only one person who answered the door said “No thanks.” No one got angry or even rude, so, if you are hesitant to do this, take heart. People need to hear from and meet good Realtors who really care. They need you to make contact with them. They might not be sure about what’s going on with real estate in their neighborhood and they want this information. Better to get it from you who will treat them well, than someone else.

Jenn and I have already made plans to hit the neighborhood of another listing on Saturday morning, good lord willing and the creek don’t rise. Soooo. How about you? Need to drum up some business? Go out and hit a neighborhood yourself this weekend- we’ll be brothers in arms- and then I’d love to hear from you about what worked and what didn’t.


28 Comments so far

  1. Mike Mullin September 15th, 2010 2:20 pm

    Teri, you’ve reminded me (not fondly :)) of the time one of the real estate agents I worked with asked ME to accompany him on his door knocking rounds. Yikes! Well, the experience was exactly as you described – no big deal. I don’t know what the long term results will be but I like it from the aspect of how simple the tool is – no websites to tweak, no automated drip systems to install, etc. Just create your farm, consistently visit, and follow up with regular mailings. I’ve got to think it produces results.

    From a home owner’s perspective I still remember the name of the agent – Boon Chatlaong – that called on our home in the early 1990’s. Guy showed up like clockwork, rain or shine – and had more listings in our neighborhood than anyone else.

  2. Teri Lussier September 15th, 2010 6:08 pm

    >I like it from the aspect of how simple the tool is …Just create your farm, consistently visit, and follow up with regular mailings. I’ve got to think it produces results.

    It ain’t rocket science, but consistency is probably the place where most agents fall down.

    >I still remember the name of the agent – Boon Chatlaong

    That’s going to crack me up for days. When I’m door knocking on Saturday, I’ll be thinking of him. πŸ˜€

  3. Tom Johnson September 15th, 2010 9:23 pm

    May I make a suggestion? While your are burning shoe leather, snap a photo of every house in the neighborhood and post it to Zestifarm!

    You can leverage your time and it blends face to face activity with your online presence. Make sure your Zillow profile pic looks like you. Then when that nice person whose dog you stomped looks up their house value on Zillow…”Damn, that agent is everywhere!” Of course your Zillow profile kicks back to your personal website and you have just peed on a tree.

  4. Teri Lussier September 16th, 2010 5:46 am


    Rather than zillow, my time and efforts would be better spent creating my own big heaven:

    (got a database error first time I tried to leave this, if this is a duplicate, that’s why)

  5. Richard Riccelli September 16th, 2010 6:35 am

    I love this.

  6. Teri Lussier September 16th, 2010 9:31 am

    Thanks very much, Richard.
    I tried to put some thought and reason into the purpose for this door knocking excursion and how we might make the most of it. As Mike said, the follow-up will have to be consistent and thoughtful as well, but we should see some good results by staying the course.

  7. Jeff Brown September 16th, 2010 10:22 am

    Terri — Mike said, “Guy showed up like clockwork, rain or shine – and had more listings in our neighborhood than anyone else.”

    That was, as you already know, my exact personal experience.

    Love how you decided when and where to practice. Good thinking for sure.

    Suggestion: Figure a way to knock on 250-400 doors weekly — at least. The same doors each month if possible. Before long your listing presentation will be what mine was when farming.

    “Mr. Seller, you know the 11 homes in this neighborhood that have sold in the last 90 days? I listed/sold seven of ’em. Please sign here.”

    Keep us in the loop, as I’m smilin’ from ear to ear that it’s you doing it.

  8. Tom Johnson September 16th, 2010 10:39 am

    Teri: Why not toss the stairway to heaven laden with bread crumbs on Zillow? Until you own the zip code, they will rank. The effort is in the shoe leather. Pics do not index yet so no dupe content penalty. Watermark the pics with your URL and sellers who want to know the value of their home can find you more easily.

  9. Teri Lussier September 16th, 2010 1:33 pm


    >Figure a way to knock on 250-400 doors weekly β€” at least. The same doors each month if possible.

    That’s about, what? 15-20 hours a week? Why, that’d make me a door knocking b*tch. πŸ˜‰

    I know we discussed this at length, but it’s been awhile: Did you follow up with mailings or was your entire contact with these farms, f2f?

  10. Teri Lussier September 16th, 2010 1:36 pm


    Bottom line is that I don’t really trust Zillow, or anyone else, with my content.

  11. Jeff Brown September 16th, 2010 1:55 pm

    Teri — That’s more like 10-15 hours weekly. I hit just 50 doors daily during the work week. When I’d decided to expand was the time I also decided to get outa selling homes.

    I handed them my monthly ‘hot sheet’. This was the mid-70’s. Now? I’d get them to my neighborhood blog by hook or by crook. The key remains — they see your smilin’ face every month and with something worthwhile to say.

    Results seem to have helped quite a bit too. πŸ™‚

  12. Cheryl Johnson September 16th, 2010 4:06 pm

    But Teri, you’re not giving Zillow your content (other than a few photos and a little piss on the tree…) πŸ™‚

    Here’s Greg on “Zestifarming”
    from a very, very long time ago.

  13. Teri Lussier September 16th, 2010 4:38 pm


    (you said “piss” teehee) πŸ™‚

    Okay, juevenile humor aside.
    I remember reading that post. It blew my mind. Maybe content isn’t the correct term. Let me try this: I can build a zestifarm on my own without giving up the SERP to zillow? Is that about right? With all the pix and links and mappage (is mappage a word?) and all sorts of stuff, I can do that myself, as Mr. Swann keeps generously showing us, so why give anything to zillow? And, Cheryl, I buy adverts on zillow so I’m a fan for many things, but that’s a temporary situation to my mind. If I’m going to go out and take photos, I want as much of that mortar stuck at TheBrickRanch.

    Or. Please tell me what I’m missing…?

  14. Susan September 16th, 2010 6:22 pm

    I’ve done door knocking as well and I’ve found it to be a very pleasant experience. People love to tell you what the neighborhood is like, how long they’ve lived in their home and who might be looking to buy or sell. However, word to the wise–if you door knock with the NOD list in your hand, you get a much more negative response.

  15. Jonathan Blackwell September 16th, 2010 8:01 pm

    You are a brave and bold soul.

  16. Tony Sena September 16th, 2010 9:54 pm

    When I first got in the business back in 2001, it was a requirement that we cold called and knocked on doors. Needless to say, I didn’t stay with this brokerage for long. I made every excuse in the book so I didn’t have to knock on doors and still to this day, I have never knocked on doors to generate business.

    Kudos to you!

  17. Teri Lussier September 17th, 2010 2:24 am

    Thanks for the advice, and for sharing your experience. It’s not at all an unpleasant way to find out what’s happening in the neighborhood. I know an agent who, first day she was licensed, door knocked around her neighborhood, determined that she wasn’t coming back until she got a listing. Took her two hours. She’s a very good salesperson. Now, her husband had been a broker for years so she knew her stuff, but it was her determination and skill that got a listing.

  18. Teri Lussier September 17th, 2010 2:31 am

    Jonathan and Tony-

    See how easy you make this? Call reluctance is so pervasive that I think anyone who can put themselves out there already has a huge advantage over those that can’t/won’t/don’t.

    I’m no expert, but my theory is that RE 2.O has given us many new excuses not to make cold calls of any sort. If you have an effective site, or PPC campaign, or whatever, you don’t have to pick up a phone or get f2f in a cold call situation, but I think (again a theory only) is that buyers might be online, but sellers are in their own homes. I want to go where the sellers are. Sounds pretty simple to me, and it’s easy too!

  19. Teri Lussier September 18th, 2010 10:46 am

    Okay, I’ll go first and report on this morning’s fun, er, I mean work:

    Jenn is much more natural at this than I am, so I need to step up my game. Loosen up, relax. Here’s where we are different- I’m all business. I want to hand out as many cards as possible in the time allowed, whereas she likes to chat people up, so I handed out at least twice as many cards, but she spent much more time talking and getting to know people. I’m not sure which is best, or better, but it was a fun way to work as a team.

    Here’s the other thing: We got soooo much information about the neighborhood that will enable us to do a much better selling the home within the neighborhood.

    And, one more thing we learned: People love those business cards. Love them. LOVE them. It’s like handing out candy. Get the shiny cards, people love to touch them, run their thumbs across them as they are talking to you, flip them back and forth. I already have ideas for printing them up for all sorts of different uses: Market Reports, neighborhood facts, Short Sale call to action, etc etc. They are amazing little tools, limited only by my imagination.

  20. Jeff Brown September 18th, 2010 11:40 am

    Teri — You guys are discovering what you and I talked about so much. Interesting that with your ‘pass out the cards and move on’ approach, combined with Jenn’s way, (my way to btw), you two are probably the accidental bionic super-farmer. πŸ™‚

  21. Teri Lussier September 18th, 2010 1:42 pm

    >Jenn’s way, (my way to btw)

    I have a lot to learn from Jenn (and you πŸ˜‰ ). Thinking back, being completely honest with myself, I was out of my comfort zone and I justified that to myself by saying numbers mattered, but there’s no doubt in my mind she made the bigger impression in that neighborhood this morning. She’s fearless. She’d holler “hello!” through the screen door, she stopped someone riding their bike, and we had a really nice chat. I was a rank amateur in comparison. But. Improvement is very doable.

  22. Jeff Brown September 18th, 2010 1:46 pm

    It’s a trial ‘n error deal for the most part. The learning curve is almost always quick and steep. My way, your way, as long as you’re having real conversations, it will result in much business.

  23. Janie Coffey September 20th, 2010 6:02 am

    Teri, I am so glad you wrote this! @BawldGuy has been all over me to do it, but I admit, I have not yet. The fact that Jenn went out on her own is also encouraging, because I admit I was a bit afraid! Thanks for sharing this with us and for the encouragement to walk that walk with you!

  24. Teri Lussier September 20th, 2010 6:58 am

    Hi Janie-

    It is easy, and don’t tell anyone else, but it’s fun. Obviously some people are going to be annoyed, and some will not make any attempt to hide that, (I’m now on a mission to warm them up) but a majority of people will open up right away and they love to talk about their own home or the neighborhood. It’s the fastest way to get a wealth of information that I’m aware of.

  25. Wayne Johnson September 20th, 2010 9:31 pm

    I’ve been reluctant to walking neighborhoods as an extension of farming. I have walked them to seed the area for new listings and Open House. I can see how the walking the neighborhood can work but for me now, it’s not the best use of my time for this area.

    It is an options to be kept available for when it may work in an area.

  26. Abraham Walker September 22nd, 2010 9:04 am

    This post gave me the nudge I needed to finally start door knocking in my target neighborhood. I was able to give out 75 fliers (if people were not home I stuffed the flier into a plastic sleeve made for doors). 6 people were home from 3-5 pm and I received 7 visits to my website thru the flier.

    The plan is to schedule 3-4 hours for door knocking 5 days a week.

  27. Teri Lussier September 22nd, 2010 1:25 pm

    >This post gave me the nudge I needed to finally start door knocking in my target neighborhood.

    Abraham- that’s the best thing you could have said about this post. Thank you so much, and good luck to you! Keep me informed, please.

  28. Richard Dillon November 23rd, 2010 2:24 am

    Door knocking is not a common marketing approach by real estate agents, well not in my country. It is a good idea though, as we mostly like to show case our homes so what better approach than to promote your business through common ground and soft sales techniques.