There's a lot of talk out there about various Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, and there are a ton of options to choose from when it comes to a CRM system for your home building business. Do you go with a system that is nationally recognized and has excellent support? Or do you go with a smaller company that is specific to your industry? Or maybe you're looking for one that integrates with your existing internal systems.
A quick Google search can become overwhelming as there are a lot of options and factors to consider. That’s why we’ve taken the time to break down some popular CRM options and their features. We will also discuss the best way to evaluate and select a CRM that will help you achieve your sales goals.
CRMs for Businesses in the Construction Industry
Here’s what we’ll cover (click a topic to jump straight to it!):CRM 101
Choosing a CRM
Specific CRM Options
What Is CRM?
Before you can make an informed decision about your CRM system, it's essential to know what it is and why you need one. For starters, CRM software stands for Customer Relationship Management software. Okay, so what is customer relationship management, exactly? Put simply, it’s all that goes into managing and interacting with all your business’s contacts, especially your leads and customers. The goals of CRM software are to organize your contacts all in one place, improve the efficiency and quality of your interactions with leads to improve lead conversion, and, by extension, improve your business’s profitability.
What Does CRM Software Do?
A CRM is a system that organizes your contacts, including prospects, customers, and other connections. It also tracks important marketing metrics. Within a CRM, you should be able to organize your contacts into different lists so that you can do efficient lead follow up, prioritize your leads, and send messages to various segments of your database. In addition, your CRM should track your sales pipeline so that you can see where different leads are in your sales funnel. A CRM should help you answer questions such as:
- How many prospects are still just researching your services versus making a contract decision?
- What is your sales projection this month based on leads at the contract stage?
- How many touches are my sales team members performing for each lead?
Many CRM systems are now adding marketing functions, too, such as the ability to send email blasts and set up lead nurturing emails (an automated series of emails). They can also provide you with data on which prospects and leads are opening and clicking through emails versus which prospects are not. This will give you insight into the types of information your prospects are or are not interested in.All in all, your CRM should track all your sales activity, including one-on-one follow ups with leads and where they are in the sales funnel.
What Is the Difference Between a CRM and ERP?
But what about ERPs (Enterprise Resource Planning software)? Many who have started looking into systems to improve their business have probably stumbled on both of these terms: CRM and ERP. But what’s the difference?
ERPs and CRMs are very different types of software with very different focuses. In short, ERPs focus on the “back office” aspects of business management, such as human resource management and profitability, while CRMs focus on the “front office” aspects, like client interactions and customer service. ERPs cast a much wider net, integrating all the data and interactions for the whole organization. All of the departments in a business would use this software.
As you can imagine, an ERP does more than a CRM and is a much larger business commitment. It focuses more on your organization’s overall profitability and productivity rather than your specific sales and marketing interactions with leads and customers. So, is a CRM or ERP better? It’s a common question, but it’s really an apples to oranges comparison.
- Do you want to focus on increasing sales? CRM.
- Do you want to focus on general business performance? ERP.
Many businesses opt for both. But if you are a home builder or contractor looking to get more leads and boost sales, you need a CRM, at the very least. Surprisingly, 33% of home builders in 2019 still do not have a CRM. Uncover the biggest challenges others in your industry have with CRMs and day to day business when you download the full 2019 State of Home Builder Marketing Report.
How Do You Choose a CRM?
Now that we've looked at some common choices for home builders, what features should you look for in a CRM? Below are several items and questions to consider:
- Is it easy to use?
- Does it integrate with any other systems you're using? (Does it have an API?) Examples include:
- Email tools such as Mail Chimp or Constant Contact
- Marketing Automation tools such as HubSpot or Marketo
- Project Management tools such as Co-Construct or Build Tools
- What is your budget?
- Does it have the basic features you need right now?
- Does it have additional features that you will need in the future?
- What kind of training does the CRM company offer?
- What does the on-going CRM support look like?
- Can you see yourself or your team committing to use it?
As long as you get reliable answers to all of these questions, you are prepared to choose the right CRM for your contractor business.
What Are the Best CRMs?
Now that you know what a CRM is and what it should be doing, let's look at several CRM companies that we see many companies choosing. The goal of this section is not to do a full evaluation of features and pricing. Rather, it will be a quick summary of the platform that highlights its key aspects and how it might be a good fit for your business.
We will breakdown CRMs in each of the three following categories:
The Best Non-Industry Specific CRMs
Salesforce is the biggest name when it comes to non-industry specific CRMs. If you're looking for unlimited features, the ability to customize your dashboards, and everything else, this is going to be a great choice. Salesforce also has an API available, which means you can integrate it with other systems such as a marketing automation system or a project management system (assuming there is an API on the other end as well).
InfusionSoft by Keap
Infusionsoft by Keap is an all-in-one CRM, sales, and marketing automation platform. Marketing automation typically focuses on creating automated email nurturing sequences that get sent to your leads and prospects over time. The integrated marketing automation with your sales funnels increases efficiency in lead follow up and lead source tracking. InfusionSoft has advanced lead nurturing capabilities and supports eCommerce marketing funnel creation. If you are looking for a lower tier of lead nurturing and content management, Keap has less extensive CRM and marketing automation options than their InfusionSoft product as well.
HubSpot’s CRM system is fully integrated with their marketing automation system and has been available since 2015. The starting price is right too...free! As a HubSpot Platinum Partner, we use this system ourselves and for our clients who are all in the building or remodeling business. It has many of the features you'd expect a CRM to have including reminders, a notes section, and the ability to create deals & segment lists. Plus, if you integrate Hubspot marketing tools, you get even more functionality from the CRM. As Hubspot grows, it has continually added more features to its Free and Starter versions, which allows any person to manage their business and leads better for $50 or less each month.
HubSpot’s CRM is fully customizable to track the information you need about your contacts through custom properties. They are actively building out more integrations with their API each month and have an extensive array of integrations already. Their reporting capabilities focus on providing value data, such as closed deal amounts by lead source, so you can measure your ROI across marketing channels.
HubSpot is a fitting solution for any home improvement business looking for an effective CRM and Sales tool that is able to be set up to accommodate your current internal processes. Because of its well-rounded capabilities, we recommend HubSpot’s CRM to home builders and remodelers.
The Best Home Builder CRMs
The following CRMs were built just for home builders and allow you to capture leads on your website with forms and have much of the same functionality mentioned above in terms of lead nurturing capability, list segmentation, one-to-one and one-to-many follow up campaigns.
Lasso is a CRM software custom-built to make it easier to capture, nurture, and convert more prospects into purchasers. Today, builders who use Lasso on communities regularly see conversion results increase. It has proven most useful to businesses looking for a tool that everyone on their team can utilize, from marketing, to scheduling, to sales, and management teams alike.
Top Builder Solutions is a technology specifically designed for home builders and new homes sales that will equip your team with everything they need to capture, nurture, and close each qualified lead. Some of the features include lead and prospect management, customizable follow up plans designed to meet your specific business needs, automated follow up emails, bid tracking, and even job boards. It is best for home builders who are currently doing manual data entry, lead tracking, and project management who are ready to upgrade to automation that aligns with their existing internal processes.
Constellation Home Builder Systems allows you to manage the entire sales pipeline and build valuable customer relationships from sale to referral. This platform integrates with your entire Enterprise Resource Planning ERP system, generates, acquires, and nurtures customer leads by capturing and then guiding sales agents and home buyers through the entire sales process. Their CRM also automates financial calculations like forecasting cash flow, provides customer service capabilities, and more. It is best for companies who need a tool that allows for long term business planning and quick decision making alike.
The Best Remodeler & Contractor CRMs
The following CRMs were built specifically for remodelers and contractors. They will allow you to capture leads on your website and have much of the same functionality mentioned above in terms of lead management and project management.
Market Sharp is known for being a marketing and management CRM for remodelers, contractors, and home improvement professionals. Their CRM is also combined with marketing & sales automation and project management abilities (including job scheduling) for large and small companies alike. They tout being able to increase repeat business and referrals by utilizing radius marketing as well. Their CRM is best for companies looking to grow brand awareness in local areas.
Improveit 360 prides itself on providing solutions for larger remodelers and contractors focused on improving their data tracking to make better business decisions. Their tool includes a CRM, scheduling tool, sales quoting tool, project management capabilities, and reporting features. Their platform is best for home improvement companies looking to understand what is and isn’t working in their current marketing and sales processes to make improvements and improve customer experience.
UDA Technologies has developed several project management and business development software specifically for businesses operating in the construction industry. General contractors and remodelers are the primary fit, but the UDA Technologies tools can also be useful for Design-Builders. The most relevant tool for inbound marketing purposes is their ConstructionOnline software which enables file management, project scheduling, prospect communication, and change order management. This platform is best for those who are looking to get organized internally and increase project efficiency. If you are looking to improve lead generation through inbound marketing, a different CRM on this list would better suit your needs.
Cosential is a construction industry CRM built specifically for commercial construction and remodeling. It comes complete with tools for lead management, email, sending proposals, subcontractor management, and so much more! If you are mainly working with other businesses in the construction, architecture, or engineering industries, this could be a CRM to look into!
Job Nimbus has the essential lead management features of any good remodeler CRM, but where it differs from others is it's list of integrations! From Quickbooks to Google Calendar to Zapier, if you need a connected CRM that's a little more specific to the construction industry, check this one out.
A remodeling CRM created by contractors for contractors - Job Progress provides many helpful features such as a sleak mobile app, cloud storage, proposal and contract management, and estimating, quoting, and scheduling features. Customers using Job Progress report increased productivity, revenue, and customer happiness!
Making the Decision on Your CRM
Now that you've looked at several options that are both industry-specific and non-industry specific, it's decision time. Which CRM should you choose? Jump to my opinion. Ultimately, I can't make that decision for you in this blog post because I don't know what your existing systems look like for marketing, sales, and project management. However, I'd like to give you a few guidelines to help you choose a CRM:
- Make sure it integrates with a marketing automation system (even if you're not using marketing automation today). This is where marketing and sales are trending, and you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to streamline your process and nurture leads better now and in the future.
- Make sure it can generate the specific reports you want to see so that you can measure your sales pipeline and improve your sales process over time. Consider what is important to you and your business and go from there.
- Make sure it has all the basic features you need in terms of follow up reminders, email capabilities, and lead stage tracking. (Almost every CRM listed above should suitably manage these.)
- Make sure it fits your budget now and will also fit your budget if you add salespeople or if your business grows in other ways. Think about contact limits, user limits, and other factors that may limit your CRM in the future.
Need to talk your options through? Schedule a 15 minute meeting with me (Spencer).
Above, I've done my best to give you an unbiased view on CRM system for home builders and how you can evaluate them. There are some really great options out there, and if you don’t have a CRM yet, any of the above will undoubtedly improve your business.
That said, I figured you might want to know what I think, keeping in mind that it will be a biased opinion and that I don't know anything about your goals or current systems.
I think you should sign up for the HubSpot CRM. It's absolutely free for every user on your team, has all the basic features and functionality, and integrates with HubSpot's Marketing Automation platform. Full disclosure: we are a HubSpot Platinum Partner and we use their software to power our own website as well as all our clients’ websites. However, their marketing automation platform isn't required to use the Hubspot CRM. You can pick and choose what tools you do and don’t need for now and add as you need them. AND you have 24/7 access to their support team of real people should you have a question.
In addition, the free Hubspot CRM has a sweet set of sales tools that allow you to track email opens and clicks right from your email. Imagine sending a contract over to a prospect and getting a pop-up notification on your computer and smartphone that tells you when they opened it. Pretty slick!
The Best CRM
Ultimately, the best CRM is the one you and your sales team will actually use. After all, a CRM is just a tool. If I buy a hammer, nails, a saw and some lumber, a house won't be built in front of my eyes. I actually have to use the tools. It's the same with a CRM. If you use your CRM (no matter which one you select), it will be infinitely more valuable than "the best" CRM that doesn't get used.
If you’re interested in learning more about how a CRM and marketing automation platform can help your business succeed, schedule a 15-minute call with me, and we can talk together about what would be best for you and your business.
Almost 20% of home builders we surveyed still don’t use a CRM. We compiled the results to this survey in a free PDF, and it has keen insights on how home builders are using CRMs, changing their marketing priorities for 2020, and much more. Download the full report to see how your business compares: