Regardless of your choice, one of the best pieces of advice is to get help from a business technology consultant that knows the industry and understands business (people first). A great starting place is for you to document your business goals (rocks) and then have a business technology consultant help you create a technology road map that correlates your business goals to technology solutions so that you have a documented plan of how to achieve conquer those rocks through the rest of the 2020 and into 2021
Back in the day, access to data could be expensive, cumbersome, and only available to larger companies with larger budgets. Small businesses lacked reasonable access to tools such as the customer relationship management (CRM) software that we can take for granted today. The earlier versions of these systems, designed for those larger companies, carried steep price tags as well as cumbersome implementation and on-boarding strategies – much of this was out of reach for a smaller or mid-sized paint contractor.
As technology has improved and become easier – and cheaper – to access, the CRM program itself has changed to encompass more features. Traditionally a CRM was oriented towards customer relationship management only. Nowadays, however, we are seeing a growing trend toward more comprehensive platforms which integrate and combine sales, marketing, operations, project management and field services. To put it simply, this allows you access to more data for less money, which can help you manage many aspects of your business more effectively … which saves you even more money!
With the help of these technological advancements, therefore, solid growth for small and midsize businesses is finally attainable, affordable, and a must have. It also means there is a significant proliferation of CRM programs available to contractors, which can make choosing the right CRM as hard for you as choosing the right color is for your customers. Below is a helpful guide for what to look for. The right CRM system can power up your business like nothing else.
How to Choose a CRM
First, keep these features and functionality in mind:
- Easy to use right out of the box, with little to no customization to get started with the basics.
- Efficiency and Scalability – bid tracking, pre-construction, job book, project management, resource management, time card, manpower, field productivity, mobile device management, asset management, accounting integration for project financials, ERP integration
- Industry-specific integrations – think financial systems, like Business Central or project management systems, like Procore Project Management.
- Proposal Automation – one of the reasons integrations are so important is they put project data at your fingertips, allowing you to generate proposals by pulling key project data from your financial system or enterprise resource planning (ERP) software into your CRM.
- Collaboration – improve marketing and business development processes and communication and integration with back-office and field services.
- Mobile device integration – CRM should also allow you to do the following with your mobile device:
- Automatically log phone calls
- Enter notes using voice to text.
- List and search your projects.Organize and search contacts, companies, projects, call and opportunities.
- Receive enabled push notifications.
- Access driving directions to any address in your system.
- Review your upcoming and past due call logs.
Some benefits of CRM
- More complete data; a 360-degree view of your team, company, projects, and
- Less time and money spent on training and on-boarding.
- Increased and accelerated return on investment (ROI). By investing in a more comprehensive CRM solution, you can speed up your processes and keep costs lower. This makes it easier to see real ROI a whole lot faster than you would when purchasing multiple systems from different software companies. For example, by investing in a CRM system that manages each function of the organization, you can easily automate processes and streamline communication to decrease time for project delivery or task completion.
- Integrated and automated systems give transparency along with the reports you need to make import decisions quickly. You will know exactly where your business, team, projects, and customers are.
The Road from Here
In these difficult times, you must be leaner and more efficient than ever. Business owners can become overwhelmed looking at the above lists. Do not be – remember, you move your rocks in small pieces. This is the time to think with your head and not your heart. Make sure you’re not a Ford “or” Chevy lover in this situation! Make the right decision for your company and situation regardless. In its simplest form you have three basic options to choose from:
- Go with free or inexpensive modules that can get you started (Google docs, etc.). If you do this, choose a solution, that when you outgrow it will allow you to export your data for use in a system that will take you to the next level.
- Choose several solutions that offer only what you need and can integrate now (Project Management, Contacts, Timecards, scheduling, etc.).
- Decide now that you want to take your business to the next level of data access, collaboration, efficiency, and scalability with a full system that will allow you to start out with only the modules that you need now with the ability to add what you need as you scale up or down.
There are a lot of very affordable CRM system options to choose starting as low as $30 a user, which for a smaller company could be only one to three users, but which provide you access to the same software that larger companies are using.
Sing along with me
Bob Dylan said it in the 60s, and the times, they are (still) a changin’ thanks to technological advancements and today’s digital world that now give small and mid-size companies affordable opportunities they did not once have.
One of these opportunities is Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE, a full CRM system with marketing, sales, project services, customer service, IoT, field services and integration with Business Central for Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) for small and mid-market companies. Microsoft Dynamics 365 has developed into a very affordable option that is very scalable and integrated. This month, for example, Microsoft has a special – first four months of Cloud based Dynamics 365 CE is free – yes FREE – for companies that want to give it a try. You will be surprised how affordable the ongoing cost is.
Regardless of your choice, one of the best pieces of advice is to get help from a business technology consultant that knows the industry and understands business (people first). A great starting place is for you to document your business goals (rocks) and then have a business technology consultant help you create a technology road map that correlates your business goals to technology solutions so that you have a documented plan of how to achieve conquer those rocks through the rest of the 2020 and into 2021. This way you have a plan on how to implement a CRM solution to achieve your goals and move your rocks – at your pace.