When a business is growing, there comes a point where the decision about how to grow must be made. Certainly, one way to grow a company is to hire more people to do the same thing that’s already being done on a smaller scale.
Another, perhaps less costly, option is to review your processes to see if there is a way that technology can streamline things. The goal of that approach is to do more without significantly increasing overhead or decreasing time through hiring and training.
One of the biggest burdens on a growing business is managing processes. As technology creeps into the workspace through computers, tablets, and smartphones; it is inevitable that alternatives to traditional manila folders and dry erase boards will present themselves. One of the most common ways to help manage processes is to use new technologies to streamline the management of customers. Enter the CRM.
Contractor-centric CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software acts as the old Rolodex, file folders, and white board in one place. There are plenty of choices out there, so the question you have to ask yourself is, “Which solution is best for my company?”
Here are 10 things to consider when choosing contractor CRM software:
1. How comfortable are you with technology?
For some companies, especially in contracting, many of the processes in managing customers and jobs are very visual and manual. Because of this, making the jump to managing processes with software can be disruptive.
Consider the people involved in implementing a new technology and how well they will be able to cope with the change. In the search for a solution, be sure to consider the cost of time to learn and implement the software as well as the monetary cost of the product.
If you feel like the software will be too hard to manage, find another one. You’ll lose more time and money trying to make the wrong CRM work than if you were to find a simple CRM solution that works for you immediately.
2. Which CRM offers the best solution?
Keeping life simple tends to be a universal goal for business owners.
However, many of the contractor CRM software solutions out there have grown from a proprietary solution designed for a specific company that was then marketed to the general public.
This is a great way to go, if every company were to walk the same walk and talk the same talk. But, as we all know, they don’t and this makes it harder for companies to adapt those solutions.
To truly find a system that will work for your company, consider your current processes and find out how they will translate into the apps you’re looking into. You shouldn’t have to change what you do to fit a CRM; on the contrary, the CRM should help you do what you already do more efficiently.
3. What are the expectations?
Finding an “out of the box” solution will be tough. Unless you’re ready to invest time and money into making sweeping changes to your processes, having at least some level of customization is essential.
Descriptions, processes, and expectations are all different from each company. The first step in hunting for a CRM is to figure out the “who.” Who is the customer. Some contractors may consider the customer a “homeowner”, while others may consider them “property owners.” Defining who the CRM is going to track and manage is going to help decide how to manage that client.
4. What processes are the best?
Each customer will have unique needs, but there are some basic processes that every customer will need to go through to make it from prospect to a completed stage.
Managing existing customer life cycles, finding new prospects, and following up are all things to consider. Making a detailed and descriptive map of business processes and practices will be helpful in looking for and setting up an effective CRM.
With contractor CRM software it’s cheaper and easier to make existing clients into future or repeat clients, because of the simplicity of scheduling effective interactions with them in the future.
5. What customization will be needed to support customers and processes?
With these needs in mind, look at the different CRM software available. How much is found in an “out-of-the box” solution? How much will need to be customized and how complicated is that customization? How much will it cost to have someone re-work the existing system to make it work effectively? How much will the training cost?
For some businesses, custom CRM software is totally worth it, while others might find that a customized solution just causes more headaches. By and large, however, a little customization is always necessary.
6. Can you create the reports you want/need?
Each CRM package has different reporting tools, and each has its own unique limitations. The types of reports needed are as important as the process of creating them.
The consideration should not only be about the reports, but the people at various levels of the organization that will be using them.
7. How mobile is “mobile”?
In the world of contractor CRM software, there are both hosted (on premise) and cloud based (on internet) solutions. Cloud solutions are generally mobile, allowing companies to do business from anywhere.
With today’s ever changing marketplace and the need for many people to be on the road and able to access a CRM is, without question, one of the most essential things, regardless of where the people involved in managing customers are.
Defining mobile requirements will help in the decision-making process. Hauling a laptop to a coffee shop may not be as convenient as accessing company information from a tablet or a smartphone.
Some systems have mobile-specific interfaces geared to support the small screen of mobile devices, or are otherwise optimized for mobile computing, while others have native apps for specific devices.
Be sure that the mobile support you’d get is the mobile support you need to run your business wherever and whenever you need.
8. Communication is the key.
Email, invoices, and other forms of customer interaction should be of the highest importance. The main goal of CRM software is to improve communication (the human relationship) between customer and business.
Finding a way to effectively communicate and share with customers will help lower the incidences of customers “falling through the cracks,” and effective communication will generally cause customers to come back when they’re in need of future service.
9. Corporate buy-in?
It doesn’t matter how powerful the system is if staff can’t figure out how to use it. Digging into ease-of-use and looking specifically at the processes that will be done most frequently by the greatest number of people is key.
It’s always useful to pull some of the people who will actually use the system into the selection process. Including them in demos and trial periods of the systems will help you get input direct from the mouths of those who will need to use it daily. Pay special attention to those who aren’t particularly tech savvy.
10. Who will support the package?
It isn’t just about how simple the system is. Some companies require intense training courses. Some free and open source systems end up costing more than a vendor supported system because the support is very specialized.
Often, companies end up hiring or training a specific office support person to deal with it. The other alternative is hiring an expensive consultant. Either way, think through how complicated it’s likely to be to find someone appropriate, both now and in the future.
Contractor CRM software is very appealing. Who wouldn’t want a low-cost means of tracking all their supporters in one place?
Each of the available options provides different strengths and weaknesses. Make sure you think through the processes that are most important to your organization, and choose the system that will work best to support them and all your other needs.
JobNimbus is a low-cost, easy to use, customizable solution for contractors. Support and training is absolutely free, and our technical support team is always on hand to show you what our CRM software can do for your business.