If the catalogue will go through
the letterbox then make sure you push it all the way through.
Otherwise, if they're away, your catalogue will tell burglars that
no-one is home.
If the catalogue is too large,
you'll have to leave it on the doorstep. Try to put it
somewhere out of the rain, and where it can't be seen from the
Be as quiet and unobtrusive as you
can when delivering catalogues - and when collecting them back.
You've asked the customer to leave
the catalogue outside their door on a specific day. So make
sure you collect when you said you would. Otherwise they'll
think of you as someone who doesn't keep promises.
Take the list of the addresses you
went to when you did the first drop. And use it to keep
records as you go along.
At each house look for your
catalogue left out on the doorstep. If it's there - great!
Check it immediately to see if there's an order. Make sure
they've filled in the order form correctly. Or you'll have to
knock and ask for the missing details. Best to do that while
you're there rather than have to go back later.
What are you going to do if someone
hasn't left the catalogue outside their door? They may just
have forgotten that today's the day you're collecting. Or
maybe they're just not interested. Do you knock on the door?
Leave a note? Or abandon the catalogue (that you've paid for)?
Knocking's best - but be prepared
for the minority who'll be very rude to you. Tramping the
streets is very tiring - especially in bad weather. So, you'll
be tempted to be rude back. Don't! This will only make
things worse. Just apologise and walk away. Make sure
you cross them off your list - and don't go near them again.
If there's no-one home you'll have
to leave a note - or come back another time.
When you get home, update your
records carefully. Keep the customers' order forms somewhere
safe. It's no good taking an order if you forget who it's
When you fill in the company order
form, double-check everything. It's very easy to make silly
mistakes as you transfer details from the customer's form. The
sooner you spot any slips the easier it is to correct them.
Your customers won't be impressed if you turn up at their door with
the wrong stuff.
Some companies ask for payment at
the time of ordering. Use your credit card for this and pay
off the debt in full. That way you defer payment at least two
weeks. You'll have collected the customers payments by then.
Note: don't do this if you owe money on your credit card or
you'll pay even more interest.
Inspect the returned catalogues.
Save the good ones to use again. A few will have been damaged.
Throw these away as tatty catalogues will put your customers off.
Orders & Collecting Payment
Prepare the receipts and delivery
bags while you're waiting for the company order to be delivered to
When signing for the company
delivery, check the parcel for damage. If it's had a rough
time, show the delivery man and write something like "parcel
damaged, contents not examined" on his paperwork.
Make up the deliveries for
individual customers, and check them carefully against their
original order forms. Put a new catalogue and order form in
each pack - to encourage them to buy some more.
For regular customers, consider
letting them keep the catalogue and phone their orders to you.
Some people prefer this. Others like you to come back and see
them. Go with the customer's preference.
Early evening is a good time for
delivering to customers. You're more likely to find them at
home - and you won't be waking up people who work night shifts.
If you can't do evening deliveries, you may find this restricts who
you can sell to.
If you're delivering after dark,
take someone else with you – watching from the car or waiting at
the gate. If you both go to the door they may think you're
trying to sell religion!
If you're going to accept cash
payments, make sure you have enough small change - customers rarely
have the exact amount ready.
Don't release the
goods without payment in full - unless you know the customer
can be trusted to pay later. One bad debt can wipe out the
profit on a whole series of orders.
If someone you don't
know tries it on, just say "The company doesn't allow us to
leave the goods without a payment". That implies you'd
like to help but can't - which is easier for the customer to accept
than simply saying no.
Only accept payments
in the forms acceptable to your company.
If you're offered
cash, make sure the amount is right - not always easy in a dark
front porch. Count it in front of the customer - even if that
does seem a bit embarrassing. You can't go back later to claim
the money was short.
If you're offered a
cheque, make sure it's completed correctly. The right date.
The right payee (the company or you depending on the scheme).
The right amount (in words and in figures). Signed (with the
right name). Make sure you see the cheque guarantee card (if
required) and make sure you write its number on the back of
If you're offered
payment by credit card or debit card (and your company accepts them)
make sure the details are recorded accurately. The cardholder
name (as stamped on the card). The card number (as stamped on
the card). The card expiry date (as stamped on the card).
The issue number (for Switch cards only). The right amount to
be charged to the account. Ask the customer for the
cardholder's address (as recorded by the card company) if it isn't
the same as the delivery address. Finally, make sure the cardholder
has signed the form.
If there's no-one at home, leave a
note asking them to phone you with a convenient time to come back.
If you think they're not on the phone then promise to call back the
next day - and give them an approximate time. Whatever you
promise - stick to it!
Your campaign will
have given you the names and contact details of paying customers
(even if you didn't recover your costs). Record these people
in your customer list and guard it jealously.
Once you've captured a
customer, follow up every few weeks/months. Send them the
latest catalogue when it's updated. Or phone them for a brief
chat (but back off if they don't seem keen to be called). Your
aim is to encourage them to buy again. Remember, it's much
easier to get follow-on orders than to find new customers.
Don't forget the
people who ticked the "I'm not ordering now, but please call
again" box. Include them in your delivery drop for the
next few catalogues.
Persevere with erratic
customers - the ones who buy intermittently. They may be
making up their minds about the products (and you). Once
they're satisfied they may well step up their purchases.
Now and again you
should review how well you're doing. Count up how many orders
you've taken. Work out the value of those orders and your
commission / profit. Then take away your costs - catalogues,
order forms, notepaper, plastic bags, petrol, shoe leather.
Did you recover your costs? Earn a bit of extra cash?
How much does that
work out as per hour? Did you beat £6.60 an hour (the
National Minimum Wage)? The first drop will almost always seem
a poor return for your effort. Because you're delivering
catalogues to everyone. Once you know who's interested, and
who isn't, you only go back to the "warm" ones - which is
cheaper and faster. Subsequent drops should give you a much
Were the order rate
and average order value what your sponsor told you before you
started? If they were higher - well done, you've found good
products that sell well in your territory.
If you haven't done as
well as you hoped, do you have any clues as to what went wrong?
If you spoke to customers, or non-buyers, they may have said
something about why they bought (or didn't buy). There isn't
much you can do about the products and catalogues - except tell the
company. But if you listen carefully you may find something
you can change which will make a difference.
And Payments - Roger Bowen - Issue 6 - 19th May 2000
Goodwill Hunting - Suzanne Ewing - Issue 1 - 3rd March 2000