CRM as the foundation of your real estate business
CRM is your Customer Relationship Management system forming the foundation of your real estate business that will drive your daily tasks, store buyers/sellers details and send your communication. It is impossible to depend on your memory or 100’s of notes to remember to call everybody and other vital details. The solution is to set up a CRM program.
One of the smartest investments to manage your business is a CRM program either as a purchased program or cloud system. A CRM program provides a business with the ability to create, assign and manage your customer’s requests and sales prospects. The overall goal is to find, attract and win new clients, nurture and retain those the company already has and entice former clients to return thus reducing the costs of marketing and client service.
Your CRM program is more than an address book and contact history. The majority of systems will integrate with other systems in your business from newsletters to accounting and your website. It should be an important part of the sales pipeline.
Many CRM vendors offer web based tools (cloud computing) and software as a service (SaaS), which are accessed via secure internet connection and displayed in a web browser. These applications are sold as subscriptions with customers not needing to invest in purchasing and maintaining IT hardware plus subscription fees may be cheaper than the cost of purchasing software outright. Through the subscription, the updates and maintenance of your program is included.
Without full training on all aspects of the CRM program, it can be underutilised and therefore a full commitment from all levels of your business is required as nearly all your team will be accessing some or the entire program in the daily schedule. The worst thing you can do with your CRM is to ignore it – that’s right, make it part of your daily standard operations procedure for all of your team.
One of the largest challenges that CRM systems face is poor usability. With a difficult interface for a user to navigate, implementation can be fragmented or not entirely complete. So the ease of service is paramount for developing a system that is totally usable and avoid any financial disaster.
At the foremost of planning the right CRM program for your business is the security and privacy of the data collected. Close attention should be paid to relevant laws and regulations. Often this creates a challenge for the developers to strike a balance between ease of use and suitable security measures. Other considerations are the costs, data storage capacity, file storage and features. Will your CRM program be able to grow with your business?
Your CRM program can also be used to identify and reward loyal customers which in turn will help customer retention. Relevant analytics are often interwoven into applications for sales, marketing and service. These features can be complemented and augmented with links to separate, purpose built applications for business intelligence.
Many websites now have these embedded into the back end of the website with numerous programs integrated into your CRM program. Often your CRM is integrated with your accounting system enabling automation of invoicing or marketing communication including client’s history, job progress, feedback and sales performance. It can also be integrated with your social media however some analysts believe that business-to-business marketers should proceed cautiously when weaving social media into their business processes and should be a stand-alone process through other programs like Hoot Suite.
Whilst it may take several weeks (or more) to fully implement a CRM program that works for your business, investing the time to plan, set up, train and start utilising your CRM program will have profound benefits in the long run of growing your business. Take advantage of all the technical and user support on offer. Avoid making the program too complex that will discourage full usage or perhaps non-usage.
There are numerous CRM programs already available on the market if you wish to use a readymade system. Most of them are now cloud based with support and easily integrated with other programs. One of the simplest CRM programs I have used in real estate is Aaron Shiner’s LockedOn. It is cloud-based, and will integrate with 90+ websites like realestate.com.au and domain.com.au for all your listings from $110/month for a single user but quite affordable when you are gaining sales and listings from it.
One of the rules of making the CRM work for you is to keep all contacts under a category and keep the list simple. Buyers are buyers. Don’t refine it into multiple categories beyond control as a $500,000 buyer might be a $600,000 buyer later one. Your Prospects are simply those in your farming area, they then get converted to Potential Clients when they make contact and hopefully that turns them into Current Clients. Even those that are past clients are not forgotten, they just have another set of communication. Each of these categories has a communication plan set for them, whether it is weekly for a Potential Client with your current Open Houses and recent sales or just your newsletter with your Prospects. Don’t ignore them. Even when someone doesn’t want that form of communication, they simply don’t get discarded, just reduce the communication level and remove from the original source i.e. newsletters if that is what they asked. They simply don’t want to do business NOW.
There are a multitude of real estate specific CRM programs, the main thing is to use it and make it work for your business.