Once a remodeler reaches a certain size, managing customer relationships requires more than a simple set of manila folders.
Customer relationship management (or CRM) is about more than just tracking contact information for clients and leads. A good CRM solution does that and more, giving you a place to collect all of the information related to a client from meeting notes to design ideas to invoices. It can also be a way to track effectiveness of marketing programs and manage sales goals, readily accessible by not only your entire sales and marketing team, but also anybody else who needs the information.
While there are plenty of tech solutions for CRM, it’s also easy to make an expensive mistake that leaves your firm worse off than it was.
Some tips for choosing a CRM solution:
Know your goal
What do you want your CRM to do? How robust do you need the CRM to be? Are you looking to serve 100 clients and leads a year or 10,000? Do you want to use it track social media efforts? Once you know what you want the software to do, you can identify potential solutions. Otherwise, it’s easy to buy something that is more complex (and expensive) than you need it to be.
What information are you comfortable having stored “in the cloud”? Working with a reputable company should protect your client information from being compromised, but it’s smart to be cautious about who you choose to partner with. While there are programs that can simply be installed on your local system, the downside of opting out of the cloud is that you give up the accessibility and portability of a Web-based solution.
Some companies offer little to no support once you’ve bought their product. Be sure to ask what type of service you’ll get when you purchase their solution, and the cost of that service. Some companies offer included service as part of a monthly fee for the software. Others will offer support for a given period after purchase, while some companies charge for support right away.
And don’t forget to ask about training — will your purchase include any instruction from the vendor on how to use the CRM system?
Understand the cost of customization
As noted above, there may be monthly fees for support or other services. It may also be tempting to buy a solution that promises to be customized to your company. While that may be the right way to go versus an “out of the box” CRM system, make sure you know exactly what that will cost you down the road.
These are a few of the popular CRM solutions for remodelers:
MarketSharp is a Web-based program that tracks sales leads, marketing campaigns, production and more, designed specifically for the remodeling market. It’s designed to be an “all-in-one” software solution.
Prices range from $60 to more than $500 a month depending on the number of licenses and the version, plus a $500 set-up fee. That includes database back-up and unlimited support and training.
The company offers a number of different Web-based services to manage sales, marketing and other CRM needs, including social media campaigns. Salesforce is also promising a forthcoming “touch screen” update.
Prices range from $5 per user per month for simple contact management to $250 per user per month for the most robust solution. The highest-priced options include 24/7 support and training. The company also offers free trials.
Zoho tracks sales and client contact information and can automate marketing plans. It will link with LinkedIn accounts, as well as sync with Google docs. The company offers apps for iPhone, Android and Blackberry.
There is a free version with limited services. The most expensive plan is $25 per user per month. There are many add-on services, such as syncing with Outlook and Quickbooks, that carry an additional monthly fee.
The Web-based service combines client management software, estimating, lead generation and other features in one package. There is a free limited version, plus two paid versions at $19 and $89 a month (with discounts for annual service), with varying levels of support and features.