If your design/build or landscaping company seems to be struggling as of late with handling communications with existing and potential customers, you may have been advised to invest in a CRM tool or system that will help you streamline the customer relations management process.
It’s sound advice. A CRM tool can simplify your work life and help you maintain the crowded communication channels of contacts, previous customers, lost bids, potential customers, and everyone else who has ever reached out to your company, including business partners, investors, real estate agents, and professional peers.
What Is CRM?
CRM is software that manages all your company’s customer (and potential customer) relationships and interactions. It helps you stay connected and engaged, it streamlines communications, and can enhance your bottom line.
The goal of a CRM system is simple: to improve your relationships and ultimately, grow your business. It does this through contact management, sales management, email systems, and more.
A CRM system helps you focus on the relationships you have with individuals—not just customers, but colleagues, suppliers, vendors, and distributors. As well, it assists you through the entire lifecycle of a customer, from finding potential customers, winning their business, supporting them after the sale, and offering additional services.
How to Know If You’re Ready for a CRM System
If your landscape or remodeling business is recently starting to gain traction, you’ll want to keep momentum by investing in CRM. This likely should occur sooner than later. To assess the timing, consider the signs that it’s worth exploring:
You cannot quickly and efficiently find information about a specific customer, or a conversation you had with the customer.
You cannot quickly and efficiently find the special offers or deals you emailed out to your list.
Your customer communications aren’t consistent—for example, a customer tells you your office manager said one thing and heard conflicting information from you (how many awkward, backpedaling conversations could be avoided if everyone is on the same page?).
You have so many projects, and so many individual “deals” going, that you can’t keep them straight.
You’re still wasting time organizing everything on paper, and spending half your time looking for information, contracts, promises, specs, and notes.
You have forgotten to follow up on thanking a customer for a referral.
Your email communication methods are not effective. For instance, if the process of emailing important company news (such as an industry award, a new product, or a stunning project you’re especially proud of) involves sending individual emails to dozens or hundreds of existing and/or potential customers, a significant time waste is occurring.
If these points do not apply to you, and you’re very early in your design/build business, you can probably put the CRM research on hold and keep your focus on building the business. Keep it in the back of the mind as something that will simplify your operations in the future.
For those who do want to pursue a CRM system and are looking to justify the investment, readiness entails being prepared to:
Streamline your email communications (not only sending out bulk emails, but sending out targeted emails that go to a specific niche audience).
Stand out from the competition by giving your customers something that really resonates with them—the personal touch. By being able to quickly look up a customer or prospect and remind yourself about their style preferences and concerns before meeting with them in person, you can have more fruitful conversations and ideas for directly meeting their needs. In the other words, you’ll be giving them the sense that they are a prized client.
CRM lets you stay organized, keeping not only product and service information but customer information readily accessible. Instead of wasting time and money looking for information, you can keep your business moving and growing.
Taking the Next Step
You could start with free CRM options such as HubSpot. Another consideration is whether the tool you use can integrate with other software you use to run your business, such as QuickBooks. Also give thought to ease of use by those on your team—CRM only works when everyone keeps using it, updating it, and referencing it, day after day.
Incorporating the New System Into Your Business
Keep these tips in mind to make any CRM tool a beneficial asset to your company:
Ideally, bring everyone on board when they have the time to get accustomed to it. Don’t try introducing a CRM during the busy season if you can help it.
Focus on helping your team create good habits, including consistent use and updates of the system.
Bring everyone on board by helping them see how a CRM can make their lives easier and directly help the business.
Save Money, Gain Profits
Ultimately, a CRM system introduces cost efficiencies by streamlining operations. At the same time, it can increase your profits by fostering stronger relationships with clients, including their referrals.