Frank J. Borkowski

After good office suite software, the next piece of technology any remodeler should implement is customer relationship management (CRM).

An effective CRM system can not only help you reconstruct every “touch” between your company and a prospect, customer, or vendor, it can also become “mission control” to help you manage your sales pipeline; provide personal time management tools; show you the most effective use of your marketing dollars; and help you create complex personalized marketing pieces, proposals, and contract packages, all with just a couple of clicks.

Today’s CRM systems likely will be Web-based — available on any device with a Web browser. You can find CRM tools that will add on to information managers you may already be using, e.g., CRM add-ins for Microsoft Outlook. For remodelers, a CRM system should:

  • Reconstruct customer/vendor history and track incidents/issues, e.g., notes from conversations, serial numbers of installed products, sales transactions, etc.
  • Provide calendar-driven task accountability for your entire team — and make it easy to see who is available when
  • Send out automatic task alerts that should be configurable to how people want to work (e.g., if they use their smartphone, the alert should be a text message)
  • Have custom fields, e.g., the type of remodeling work prospects have done in the past and who they hired
  • Create custom reports formatted any way you want
  • Connect to accounting and project management systems so sales can be logged in the CRM and show up in accounting without re-keying
  • Merge documents — everything from marketing pieces to proposals and contracts
  • Be accessible anywhere so you can view the data on any device you choose
  • Offer Web integration so that Contact Us forms on your website can feed your CRM system directly and fire off an alert to the appropriate person that a new contact has registered or an existing customer has made a warranty service request.
52% of small- and medium-size businesses say that they use at least half of their CRM’s functionality

—Joe Stoddard is an industry consultant helping remodelers be successful with their technology.; [email protected].