The Lawn-Care Salesman Who Runs From Door to Door

Photo: Serenethos/Getty Images

Carlos Rodriguez, 22
Wheeling, IL

There are lots of pretty lawns in Wheeling. My job is to canvass the neighborhood and get people to agree to a lawn-care estimate for the company I work for: Weed Man Lawn Care. I have to get people’s names, numbers, and signatures on my tablet at the door. Later, the sales team calls them and tells them how much it will cost based on satellite imaging. I have the top amount of sales for our office. As a whole team, we’re doing pretty good out here, with over $165K.

There’s about six of us and we all travel in a van together. We all have nicknames — well, I give them nicknames. There is Jake the Stormtrooper; Chris the Crab; Marvin the Mexican Lad; Canonaco, and then there’s the two new rave kids that we don’t know what to call yet, and occasionally we have “The Steve.” My bosses are Jake and Scott. We are like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Our commission is based on all the sales at the end of the year, and it’s about $5 per sale. We get paid $12.50 an hour and overtime because we work weekends. I want to get 200 sales — I will get the commission at Christmastime. My first New Year’s resolution ever was this year and I said, I want to be a man who knows how to save money. I live with my mom and I give her some money every paycheck. This is the wealthiest I’ve ever been — I feel like a celebrity.

I’m full-time from 12 to 8 p.m. And that’s all door-knocking except for a 45-minute lunch break. I’m taking some classes at community college. So I get out of school and head straight to work. I go to the office where we all get dressed in these silly Weed Man outfits that are green and yellow and say “Weed Man” on your chest in big letters. Then I take a seat and wait for my instructions. Our managers always tell us either “you had a great day yesterday” or “your numbers are low, you need to step it up.” They go round the room and ask each person to say their script and then the bosses will “role play” an objection and we have to come back with a rebuttal. I like to think outside the box, so I do not stick to the script completely. Here’s my pitch:

Knock-knock. Hello ma’am, how are you doing today? My name is Carlos Rodriguez with Weed Man Lawn Care, registered with the village. We’re providing all your neighbors with free lawn-care estimates. Just wanted to make sure you got yours as well, ma’am. Just to confirm this is 123 New Zealand St. And to whom I am speaking? Okay, Alexa. We don’t send anyone here to measure the front or back lawn. It’s all done by satellite. So when that’s complete, what would be the best number to provide you with the estimate? I’m going to read you one last thing to clarify the free quote. It says right here, “Dear homeowner, thank you for the opportunity to provide you a free no-obligation quotation for lawn-care services.” The final step, it says “free lawn-care quote, I authorize Weed Man to call me.” This is just for permission purposes to legally give you the free lawn-care quote.

Some people do tweak out giving us their signature but my script reduces the fear. We don’t mention all our ingredients because we have the top-notch ingredients and we don’t want other companies to get hold of them, but they are natural and the closest thing to organic. We just haven’t bought the organic label. I would never say: Would you like this? That’s an invitation for people to say no. But deep down many people are just a little bit interested in it so you’ve got to capitalize on that. A lot of people are not familiar with Weed Man and a lot of people are not a fan of people knocking on their door. I would prefer that they become a fan of seeing me at the door.

Our supervisor assigns us the street. He’ll say, you get Fourth Ave. and there are 40 houses for you. We use tablets to feed the numbers back to the office. You click on the house numbers and you start knocking from top to bottom and every time you talk to someone you hit a green check. If they tell you no, or it’s no answer, you hit the red check and select: no answer, no homeowner, not interested, or uses other company.

I don’t like my numbers looking bad and having to hit the red cross, but when I get a two-lead streak it makes my yes percentage go up, which is pretty great. I have a 32.6 percent yes percentage which is nearly one person in every three that is giving me a yes. We are supposed to get one out of every four, but lots have only every five or six. If the day isn’t going great, the supervisor might ask if he needs to walk with you, but they understand if you’re having a bad night. He’ll ask if you need some support and walk alongside you and help you, or if you need a drink or some advice or whatever.

When I ring the doorbell I watch to see who is approaching through the windows. I always have a smile on my face but I will change the way I act based on who I see. If it’s an old stern white man, I don’t give him a bubbly personality, I give him the pure business talk. Most of the people I encounter are old, stern people. The young people, who knows what they’re doing — maybe they’re out partying? When I encounter them I give them a bubbly personality and they tend to love me. I speak more gently and sweet to older women. I like working in lower-middle-class areas [where there] are families and the neighborhoods are bonded and united; I can have a really good time out there.

One way to turn a bad day around is to ‘storm’ from door to door. Jake the Stormtrooper introduced me to that tactic. That’s actually why I call him that. Last year, he was kicking my butt. I was like how is he getting so much success? So I watched him and I saw him running. It was snowing that particular day so he looked exactly like a stormtrooper. I thought, I need to start stormtrooping! That’s when it all began. Now I run, and I tell my mind that I am doing a combative sport and I’m coaching myself, saying, keep pushing. Recently, I decided to use a ‘police-style’ door knock on the door and that tends to work! I will BANG BANG BANG with a simple knock. Not ferocious, but a stern “this means business” knock. Not barbaric! And after a stern knock they open the door and are like, “Oh, Weed Man!”

The weirdest thing I have seen at a door was when I went to a house with all these Native American things around the house. They had trees with carvings of, like, a bear or a moose or something. I ring the doorbell and out comes what looks like a grizzly bear. It’s on four legs. It was a man in a bear costume and he sat there perched on his knees and arms and he just looked at me. I was waving at him like, hello? And he didn’t move. So I got out a flyer, and said, “I got this flyer for you sir, you have a good day” and I put it on his door and moved on.

As you keep doing the job and getting paid really well, approaching people’s doors just isn’t scary any more, and even if you get a bad response from someone I just think: Who cares? Some people will be like “Oh, hey, the Weed Man!” Usually those people will ask me if I’m selling the actual plant itself and I say, “No, I’ll give you something a little less exciting but still exciting because it’s free, it’s a free lawn-care estimate!” And they’ll be laughing, and they’ll be like, “Okay, so give me a free lawn-care estimate, Weed Man!” When I meet people like that I’ll tell them, “Wow, you’re one of the nicest guys I’ve met in this neighborhood,” and they’re like, “Heck, yeah!” And it’s like a little party, a very small party! And I’ve made another sale.

The Lawn Care Salesman Who Runs From Door to Door