The Importance of a CRM for Landscape Contractors
While a pocket notebook and an Excel spreadsheet may provide enough organization for the first few customers, the average landscape design/build business often gets overwhelmed with pools of data faster than is humanly manageable. Enter the CRM, or Customer Relationship Management system. This is a digital software system that is crucial for any successful landscape contracting company. It provides a centralized hub of stored data, enables better external communication with customers, streamlined internal communication within the company, enhanced sales strategy, and integrates with QuickBooks and other popular software. A CRM is no longer a superfluous perk for contractors – it is now an essential tool that’s necessary for any thriving business.
QuickBooks is Not a CRM
This is an important distinction. While it’s true that QuickBooks fulfills requirements like tracking overdue payments and storing some customer information, this is not the same as a true CRM. Communicating effectively and efficiently with customers, growing your business, and developing sales techniques do not happen by simply storing information in QuickBooks or an Excel spreadsheet. A Customer Relationship Manager absorbs all that useful client data and transforms it into strategies for growth and streamlined communication methods. This is why contractors with even a small collection of potential customers benefit from the capabilities of a CRM, not just QuickBooks.
The Right Data in One Place
“I definitely wrote down that customer’s patio style preferences on that random scrap of paper…”
“Why can’t I find that phone number in these 10 completely disjointed Excel spreadsheets?”
“I can’t remember what that customer asked me to do for them – do I owe them an estimate?”
These expressions are indicative of the chaotic organization that characterizes a super busy landscape contractor. When running a small business, regardless of the industry, there just isn’t time in the day to sit down, categorize, and double-check all the information gathered that day. This constant struggle can only be mollified by a CRM.
A CRM provides an easily accessible, accurate record of the contractor-customer interaction history with one click. No more spending 10 minutes searching for that random email that contains a customer’s phone number or sifting through notes to remember where you left off in a conversation with a customer. These inconveniences build up and become a substantial time-waster. On top of simply saving time, an instantly accessible customer history also prevents annoying mistakes like contacting the wrong customer about a new service or emailing a client about the same discount twice. These common mishaps often result in losing out on projects. Having a CRM system keeps the correct information all in one place, taking the pressure of organization and bookkeeping off your shoulders.
Better Client Communication
In the home contracting industry, customer communication is not merely calling customers; it requires tailoring your services and products to the needs of each individual client and project. For many smaller companies, this attention to detail is a major technique to stand out in a competitive market, since larger landscape corporations struggle to replicate this strategy on such a small scale. An Excel spreadsheet does not provide the tools to create this level of customer intimacy. A CRM, however, has the organizational capabilities to capture detailed data about a customer and provide it exactly when necessary.
For instance, while traveling to an appointment, you receive a call from a recent customer. Without a CRM, this call may have seemed distracted, impersonal, and even off-putting to the client, resulting in a loss of referrals that contractor need to survive. With a CRM, however, you can open the CRM application on your smart phone, displaying all pertinent data for this call, including, for example, a lighting feature the client had adored during the last project, but did not commit to. By bringing up information specific to the contractor/client relationship, the customer feels special and is more likely to commit to a new sale. In fact, 74% of overall businesses using CRM report better customer relationships. Happy customer means more referrals which is key for driving growth in the landscape industry.
Better Organizational Communication
Not only does a CRM allow for higher levels of professional customer communications, but it also ensures streamlined company-wide internal communications. If one crew leader has decided to upsell a customer on an addition to their patio, a different crew member within the company should not make that same pitch to the same customer. That would appear disorganized and pushy in the eyes of the client, and can result in the loss of a sale. Owners can provide access to individual team members, ensuring maximum security and minimum discrepancies in communication.
Enhanced Sales Strategy
With all of the information that a well designed CRM collects, it becomes much easier for owners to gain a full picture of the functionality of their company. Now, actions can be taken to enhance the entire company’s sales strategy by replicating best practices, eliminating techniques that don’t lead to sales, and even providing extra training to crew members that need help.
For example, if customer surveys sent out a month after project completion are more likely to be filled out than those sent one week after project completion, a CRM will compile that data, adjusting the schedule for future customer surveys in a clear and easy way. Data like this makes it simple to replicate best practices and eradicate ineffective protocols.
Also, those with the proper authority like a sales leader or company owner, can view the sales records of individuals in order to track problems that may affect revenue. Maybe salesperson #2 has had better success closing jobs priced below $30k, or maybe salesperson #1 needs extra training when it comes to communicating with customers. These are activities that can be traced and subsequently addressed, thanks to a CRM.
Despite the extensive capabilities of a CRM, bookkeeping software programs like QuickBooks are still essential to maintaining a full-functioning contracting business. When selecting a CRM for your company, application integration will be a major factor. If your CRM is an island of information, it will not be as impactful. There are multitudes of CRM software to choose from, many with different integration options. If your company thrives on QuickBooks, a seamless QuickBooks integration will be a requirement for your CRM. If your business has a booming social media presence, many CRM systems offer a full suite of social media integration. Analyze the numerous programs your company utilizes on a daily basis, and narrow your perfect CRM search to those that include the best integration options for your specialized business strategy.