Cold Calling Mania… and my invaluable College Pro Experience

Wayyyy back in High School I started painting houses for some side income.  It was easy work – and the guy I was painting for paid me quite well, for the time.  Don owned around 30 properties in Calgary, where I live… and my job was to go from property to property after school and on weekends to spruce them up with a coat of paint.

At the time, it was great.  Out in the sun all day… making good coin… and no one watching over me (Don usually showed up at the start of the job then the end of it, with instructions for the next one).

Little did I know that this little “side job” would turn in my first sold entrepreneurial experience…

…and one of the BEST sales lessons I ever had the privilege to learn.

After painting houses for the year after graduation, and learning that being the painter wasn’t my life time aspiration… I decided school wasn’t all that bad.

So I squeaked in to the University of Calgary Bachelor of Commerce program (with the dismal grades I had back then – I wouldn’t have a chance these days… probably would have given the admissions staff a good laugh though if I did apply with my 49% in Physics and my 52% in English  (I excelled in Mechanics though, another aspiration I had when I was young – think I had a 89% or something like that in Mechanics – about the minimum overall grade you need now to get into school).


During my University days, in between parties, I found myself actually needing to eat (something other than barley). So off I went in search of a job – ugly jobs too.

Then I heard about this company called College Pro Painters.

Painting – I know how to do that! Off I went to their office to see what this was all about.  There I met with the general manager to see what they had to offer me.

college pro painters

This binder made me a bundle!


I wasn’t thinking along those lines at first – but my dreams of mega riches from my new franchise glittered in my eyes – so I signed up and became a College Pro Painters Franchise Owner.

It was the smartest thing I had ever done!

Fortunately, I didn’t need to learn much about painting – – they even asked me to teach their new painters how to paint properly.

But I did need to learn more about management and door to door sales.

One of the ways we got painting contracts was door knocking.  Selling $2,000+ paintjobs by knocking on peoples doors… what a new world I had opened up!

Cold calling by door knocking was definitely not an easy thing… but damn I got good at it!  I could knock on enough doors on a Saturday to book myself up for a months worth of work.  Then I found out that all the other franchise owners hated door knocking… I smelled opportunity.

They hated it – I loved it – and I was good at it.

So they paid me to go out and get them leads – – – and I could easily make $300 or $400 knocking on doors for a day (back then, this seemed like a small fortune!).

So one day a month I would do my leads – another day I would do leads for them… it worked out great.  Looking back, I have to wonder what amazing things I really could have done in the lead generation field using direct mail.  I could have supplied the entire crew of franchise owners with leads – and not have had to knock on a single door!

That was one of many exceptional lessons I took away from owning a College Pro Franchise

I don’t see them around as much anymore, but they had some incredible systems in place that explain why they got so big so fast.


1)   They sold territory-exclusive opportunities for entrepreneurial minded college kids. We each had an area we could sell and paint in – and no one else was allowed to cross the boundary (I busted one other franchise owner painting in my area once – yikes did he get in some serious doo doo).

Question for you: Is there any way you can limit who buys from you based on city, location within the city, line of work they are in, etc?  When you create a more tightly defined niche to sell to, your sales process will be easier (everyone wants what they can’t have… and from the buyers side it is much easier to make a decision when you know they are trying to sell to someone with your experience and knowledge).  What smaller markets can you focus your marketing on?   (note: watch for something along this line that I am going to be discussing in  an upcoming article)


2)   They trained us to use systems in everything that we did. We used sales scripts for door knocking (which I modified to suit my style and which got me more leads). We used sales scripts for how we did the quotes. We had systems and forms we used for the actual presentation of the pricing (and a script to follow). We used picture books to show work we had done (proof). We were backed by a major corporation and told everyone that (further proof). We were taught how to pay our crews of painters (I had 8 painters in 4 crews that I managed)… how to teach them to paint… how to manage them… and how to keep them happy.

Question for you: What parts of your business should be scripted more or put into a better system?  I am reorganizing much of my own lead generation system and sales system they go through right now. Have you put yours on paper?  Why not?  It is one of the biggest areas you can see the holes, and implement immediate improvements that grow your business and profits.


3)   We used multi-media sales tools for those who answered the door (cold calling) and for those who didn’t. You will see below one of the very friendly forms we used to leave with people.  Note the flow… headline, subheads with explanation, guarantees, specific numbers (95% satisfaction), order form (with the infamous YES! copy),  checkboxes with choices (from best option to worst), a form with ample room to write on, mailing instructions (self-mailer they can instantly pop in the mail to get the requested information).  It does pack a lot in the little space it uses.

Question for you: Are you pulling out all the stops to make sure you stay in front of those who show immediate action, and with those who don’t?  I am revamping my entire sales and marketing funnel right now – when it is taken apart and re-organized – it’s amazing how many holes you will find in the system. One of the best things you could do is draw out on paper your entire sales system from lead to sale, then from sale to repeat sale right through to what you will do when a customer hasn’t bought in XX months.  This is a GREAT time of year to be doing this in planning for the new year.


College Pro - Entrepreneurial secrets

The lowly flier... one of my most powerful tools when done right

4)   We had the ‘branded’ look and feel. From the shirts we wore – awful bright yellow things they were(!), to the clipboards we used, to the truck I drove (I have been trying to find some photos I had of that beauty!  Imagine a BRIGHT yellow Toyota pickup with College Pro on the doors, a MONSTER room rack that could hold, and was usually stacked with 10 or 20 ladders, bottoming out on the back from all the paint in the back, and pushing some serious blue smoke everywhere I went (sorry Al Gore).)  All the painters wore the t-shirts – all invoices and business cards were branded. We look real professional – and it paid off in the number of contracts I got signed.

Question for you: Are you consistent in your look and feel?  Do prospects and customers alike know who they are dealing with? Either you as the owner can be the brand you show, or your company name (if designed to tell them what you do right in the name, unless you have a multi-million dollar budget to sell people on a name that means nothing).  This is another piece I am re-inventing for the new year – something too few of us marketing through the internet pay as much attention to as we should.


5)   We had FUN!  From the houseboat trips all the franchise owners would take (from what I recall, there were some copious amounts of alcohol drank by all, sitting out on the lake in our houseboat), to the pizza nights with the painters, to the annual awards banquet (I won Most improved Rookie of the year my second year in the franchise).  It was one of the most memorable things I have ever done – and the skills learned there have been invaluable in my future businesses (unlike the skills learned in my University Marketing classes, which are pretty much useless in the real world of small business).

You may even recall my practical joke story I wrote not long ago about my fun days at College Pro?

Question for you: What are you doing to have fun with your clients, your prospects and your employees and partners?  What could you be doing?  For example, this December, I am hosting the Wild West Christmas Bash (www.WildWestChristmasBash.com) – a free nighttime event for clients and prospects to come out, network, have some fun and learn a few things about growing their business.  It is my first annual – so I will let you know how it goes.  The cartoons I have been using for the past year in my marketing of the Wild West Wealth Summit (affiliate link) have been very well received and people comment on them frequently.


6)   Direct sales was mandatory. We had to report in on a weekly basis how many cold call leads we had generated – basically forcing us to get off our butts and create sales – or hire someone else to do it for you.  This really made us ger serious – we had to be serious as we had some serious (22%) royalties to pay on sales!

Question for you: When was the last time you picked up the phone and CALLED some customers or prospects?  See firsthand what they are thinking and what is holding them back from buying more and more often.  Many times it takes the simple things in life for the big breakthroughs we all seek.


College Pro was a fabulous learning experience for me back then, and it still continues to teach me things as I reflect back on what happened over those summers.

I hope you take note and try a few of the things discussed here.


PS: You can still snap up my Mother Days Madness special… the weather
still stinks here so the special stands for now

Be Sociable, Share!


  1. Hi Troy,

    Great post!! When I was in B2B Sales we used a limited availability in a specific geographical area and it worked really well, Unfortunately a lot was missing from that company with the rest of the items that you mentioned. Like you the lessons I learned there are definitely used now when helping my clients with their businesses.

    I love point #6, so many business owners are afraid of sales they just want to ignore the sales and marketing and DO whatever it is they do in their business (the product or service they sell) but they will never grow and prosper unless they take action and measure the effectiveness of what they are doing.

    Thanks for another great thought provoking article!

  2. Earl Thacker says:

    Hey Troy,
    This is an excellent post with tons of great info. You never fail to disappoint your readers.
    I can easily relate to this post as I was in construction for 42 years.

    Earl Thacker

  3. Great post Troy! I ran a little painting operation in college too…me and My buddy Chuck. Nothing like yours.

    But your post reminded me of something I did years ago called Pre-Paid Legal. MLM stuff. I hated it but they had an exceptional trainer, Jeff Olson. One thing he told us that stuck in my head: “Successful people do the little things day in and day out that less successful people don’t want to do”. His point was that change/progress/success comes gradually and if you just stick with it you virtually have to be successful because you outlast your competition.

    But houseboating sounds a lot more fun!


  4. Thanks Stacey. Amazing how we pick up on this little nuggets of information along the way and how useful they become later in life.

    I will never forget the pure power of door knocking.

    I could go out for 2 hours of my time and get enough painting work for a few weeks.

    Not sure if it would be as effective now knocking on doors, I personally think letters, fliers and postcards (done right) would work just as well. Great to hear from you! Troy

  5. Thanks Earl. I do try and deliver good information – without overwhelming or boring you! Troy

  6. Great comment Bill.

    Persistence has always been my thing.

    In my 11 years selling computer and storage systems, I had my biggest sales (some of them in the millions per order) from those accounts I worked on for 2 yrs. When I was at HP there was a deal I worked on for 3 years – just before I quit working for them, it closed for 2 or 3 mill – that was 15 yrs ago!

    Everyone else had given up on that account – but I stuck with it and ultimately closed the deal.

    Persistence is KING online and off.

    Thanks for the comment. Troy

  7. It is best to take part in a contest for among the finest blogs on the web. I will advocate this site!


  1. […] I also wrote a post about my business and marketing lessons learned while at College Pro.  A great read for entrepreneurs in every industry, if I must say so myself. Please Share and […]

  2. […] more here: C&#959ld Calling Mania… &#1072nd m&#1091 invaluable College Pro Encounter Download as ePub Author: admin on April 20, 2011 Category: articles, business Tags: calgary, […]

  3. […] the original:  Cold Calling Mania… and my invaluable College Pro Experience Related Posts:Cold Calling Mania… and my invaluable College Pro Aspiring entrepreneurs like I was […]

Speak Your Mind