Customer relationship management (CRM) systems offer many benefits to businesses, including stronger customer relations, service and retention. For construction companies, this software can provide all these advantages. However, it may be most valuable in managing the business development process and focusing your company’s limited resources on winnable projects that will most likely generate profitable returns.
Data at your fingertips
CRM systems don’t necessarily create new data. Generally, they gather information you already have — either on paper or in multiple spreadsheets or databases — and organize it into a centralized, widely accessible database.
By placing critical data about customers and jobs at everyone’s fingertips, the system improves communications and minimizes the chances that anything will fall through the cracks. For construction businesses, this includes:
- Consolidating information about customers (current and past), projects (existing and prospective), business partners (such as subcontractors, architects and lenders), vendors and suppliers, and even competitors,
- Tracking bidding and sales activities — including job details, the status of leads or bids, and relevant communications — and alerting key personnel to critical tasks or deadlines, and
- Maintaining a library of past projects and bids, with data such as “won-loss” records on previous bids and success of previous projects by client, industry, sector, location and other factors.
This information can help you identify the characteristics of bids you’re most likely to win and projects that are most likely to be profitable, enabling you to concentrate your efforts and resources on those types of jobs.
Better project management
Once you’ve won a bid, a CRM system can help improve project management in various ways. For example, if the owner or developer contacts your company with a question or complaint about the job, the CRM system provides your personnel with instant access to relevant facts and any recent communications on the subject.
You may also be able to better coordinate relationships with subcontractors, engineers, architects, consultants and other business partners. This includes managing requests for proposal and any necessary prequalification requirements.
Of course, among the most powerful features of CRM systems is the ability to access all this information remotely. Cloud-based technology allows your construction company’s authorized personnel to access data about customers, business partners, bids, contracts and projects using their laptops, smartphones or other mobile devices in real time — and to update that data instantly.
Homework is necessary
There are many CRM products available, so do your homework before buying. Look for a secure, well-supported solution that meets your needs, is usable by employees, integrates with your existing systems, and is compatible with those of vendors and other partners.