For many construction businesses, both large and small, getting new business and attracting customers is not as easy as it once was. Today’s business environment has become a tad more complex and competitive, requiring construction contractors to increase their focus on customer retention and relationships in order to sustain repeat business. This major shift has made customer relationship management (CRM) software a major artery of any construction business.
As the name implies, a CRM is all about helping a business manage its relationships with its customers and beyond. Your construction CRM houses all the contact information you need about prospective clients in addition to tracking current clients throughout their lifecycle. To help you select the best software for your business, we will outline four (4) top features you should consider when purchasing a CRM for your construction company.
1. Project Management
One of the key elements in project management in construction is being able to track each bid as it moves through the sales pipeline. You will want to be sure that your CRM complements your existing project management software for a smooth workflow. Ideally, your CRM system should allow you to create deals on the go and send them to your team with the push of a button. Additionally, it should allow your team members to schedule follow-up tasks for each project.
A primary benefit of project management in construction is to avoid missing opportunities to secure new projects. Consequently, your CRM should send automatic email reminders to ensure that tasks don’t fall through the cracks. It should also allow you to log customer interactions directly from your inbox, allowing bid information to be easily updated.
It’s important for construction businesses to focus on the hottest bids since they typically have many pending projects. A CRM’s project management features should help you prioritize bids throughout each stage of the pipeline, from prospecting to the proposal. A common approach is to allow users to assign a value to each bid, indicating its potential revenue.
In order to streamline the whole process and move more efficiently, make sure to look for a CRM that allows you to map out and keep track of everyone involved, from teams all the way down to the individual level. Having a CRM makes it easy for you to know what every individual is working on—and the tasks that each person needs to complete. Not to mention this process is far more complex when you have multiple suppliers, multiple subcontractors as well as the back-and-forth communication required between you and your client.
After all, as a construction project manager, your role is to create a smooth workflow. Your CRM will help you manage your projects, where you’re able to assign roles and responsibilities, delegate tasks with necessary deadlines, and communicate easily with your team members to ensure they’re getting the most up-to-date information available. When you’re able to understand and prioritize what the most important tasks are and assign them to the right people – you prevent mistakes and hit your deadlines with ease.
2. Pipeline Tracking And Business Development
Any business owner or salesperson will tell you that the key to a healthy and successful business is the ability to maintain a healthy and strong sales pipeline.
What we see most often is that construction companies don’t have a system that gives them the visibility and information they need to maintain their pipeline and they will find themselves in a state of chaos. Either they are chasing contracts out of desperation or they are failing to follow-up with accurate information to seal the deal.
Thus, business owners and sales team managers will create a conglomerate of spreadsheets, papers in folders, and attempting to utilize programs like Microsoft Outlook and Excel to meet their needs. There is a chance that a great sales team will know what is going on in their pipeline, but the reality is that – in this busy on-the-go world – everything becomes confusing and cluttered.
This is why the very first thing you should look for in a CRM is the ability to help you keep track of your sales pipeline.
Here is an example of a sharp construction sales process:
- Sales Lead – This is your prospect intel where you gather as much information as possible to determine if you should move to the next step.
- Qualifications – This is where you find out whether or not there are government funding and potential profit. Once you have an idea if a project is worth bidding on and your company has the necessary resources to take on the project, you can proceed.
- Final Details – During the bidding process, there is likely going to be a few weeks of back and forth communication between your company and the prospect. This is where you find out the intricate details of what your prospect ultimately wants and how your company is going to deliver on time and within budget.
- Proposal – Now it is time to submit your official proposal and in the construction industry, this stage of the sales pipeline can take months to sort through all the details such as the use of subcontractors, regulatory bodies, and various service providers.
- Seal the Deal – At this point, you have been placing your best foot forward and surely you have given the impression that you are the best fit for the project. However, they may have other offers on the table, and this is where the intricate details and your solid CRM Sales Pipeline has prepared you to seal the deal.
- Sustain the Relationship – Now is the time where you have to keep your client as happy as possible and build an ever-lasting business relationship that will keep you on their radar for future projects and referrals.
Whether you are a big or small construction business, there are lots of moving parts to keep an eye on during the sales process. Even being able to track how long each potential bid takes in each stage of your sales pipeline will allow your business to better predict which projects are likely to close and which ones you should let go. A good solid CRM should be able to equip your business with a 30,000-foot view of potential leads, the projects you’re currently bidding on, and your current clients.
3. Centralized Data And Data Entry
Having all your customer information easily accessible to anyone that needs it and in one area not only saves time when searching for information but also drastically decreases the chances of miscommunication and mistakes.
This is where a CRM software solution shows its true colors with its cloud-based features. For example, if a member of your sales team leaves the company—and takes all of their customer account information with them, what would you do then?
Another key benefit of centralizing all your data is that it makes it easier for reporting features that can help you provide information such as budgeting, forecasting, the effectiveness of your marketing and sales campaigns, and even give you a stronger idea of what your ideal customer looks like.
Have you ever had two customers that were just alike? Just like two customers are not the same, your company is not the same as the one down the street and you should be able to customize your software to serve your business needs.
Having the biggest most feature enticing CRM software is not guaranteed to make things simple. Most likely, there are dozens of features that are not applicable to your business needs and you will be dishing out way too much money for features you are not even using. So, it is best to have a CRM professional to take a look at how you run your business to help you determine the best CRM software solution for you. Finding a CRM with a high degree of customization and flexibility as well as ensuring that it lines up with any other tools, you’re currently using will be most beneficial.
Something to keep in mind too. As your business grows, so will your business needs and it’s important to choose a CRM that is able to grow with your business.
5. Integration – Support – Ease of Use
The right CRM for your construction company is one that easily integrates with your current programs, is easy to set up, easy to configure, and easy to learn. After all, time is money and having everyone on your team take a few months off just to get a handle on your latest tech isn’t beneficial.
When it comes to finding the right CRM for your business, look out for what kind of onboarding and training will be offered. Ideally, you want to receive personalized training and a dedicated customer support team.
Make the Most Out of Your Construction CRM Software
Over the years, more and more construction companies have made the leap to obtain a CRM solution and it has become abundantly clear who is gaining a competitive edge. A CRM solution allows construction companies the ability to nurture, prospect, close, and maintain client relationships way more effectively than ever before—something that’s especially important in an industry where business relationships are increasingly valuable.
CRM software is an essential tool for streamlining operations – hands down. Maintaining solid business relationships and tracking interactions with their connections is proving to be extremely valuable for construction businesses, especially where team members are in various locations.
In conclusion, finding the right CRM can help you save money and time, take the guesswork out of growing your business as well as give you the needed leverage to build solid customer relationships from the very beginning.