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5 Reasons (and 1 Bonus!) Why Every Construction Company Needs a Construction CRM

If there is one thing I’ve learned from 10 years in the construction industry is that construction businesses run on excel. Since starting ProjectMark I have heard countless people say things like “Excel is broken” and “Excel is killing construction”. I typically stay quiet when hearing these comments because I don’t believe that the people making these comments actually understand construction or Excel.

Construction is so unique. In what other industry is every single project that you ever work on unique to the ones that have gone before and those that come after? You never build the same thing twice. Additionally unique to construction, is that seemingly similar construction companies from the outside, differ greatly in organizational structure and processes. Excel lends itself to this unique industry. It is robust and dynamic enough to facilitate so many different business needs. However, this dynamism is as equally challenging as it is rewarding.

Excel is not broken (it has 1.5 billion users), but for sure there are better ways to do specific things. Excel by itself can monitor opportunities, record contacts, track tasks and even prepare proposals (the marketers reading this will be horrified to know that I have prepared marketing proposals in excel). Simply put, these activities in silos lead to missed opportunity for growth. It's time for an upgrade, a leap of faith, a… Construction CRM.

But before we launch into this digital paradise, let's face the harsh truths of life without a CRM:

- Data Dump Deluge: Spreadsheets quickly become chaotic oceans of numbers, with vital information buried beneath layers of formulas and filters. Finding what you need feels like searching for Atlantis – elusive and frustrating.

- Bid-Building Blunderbuss: Building proposals without centralized, accurate data is a recipe for errors. Vital pre-qualification and proposal data scattered across local drives, or (astonishingly, even in 2024) residing "in people's heads," cripples’ vital collaboration, breeds inaccuracies and inefficiencies, and ultimately leads to missed opportunities.

- Project Management Pandemonium: Juggling tasks, deadlines, and communication outside of a CRM is like spinning plates on unicycles. Inevitably, something crashes, be it missed updates, delayed milestones, or frustrated team members.

- Client Connection Catastrophe: Remember that crucial detail about a client's specific needs? Their favorite tv show, hobby or sporting interest? At best, buried in an Excel file somewhere, never to be seen again. Building strong relationships with spreadsheets as your bridge? Good luck.

- Data Insights Deadlock: The valuable data hidden within your spreadsheets? Trying to make data driven decisions with Excel is like building without blueprints (I have never used this word in my life 😀).Forget spreadsheets and generic CRMs. Construction CRMs are built with construction’s unique structure and dynamism woven into their very fabric.

Let's break down 5 (plus 1 bonus!) reasons why your construction company needs a construction CRM:

1 - Streamline Your Chaos - Centralize Data for Success
The single biggest barrier to progress for any company is not having a single source of truth. I cannot emphasize this enough. Imagine wasting time digging through scattered spreadsheets, emails, and notes - we’ve all been there.

“Who was the last person to communicate with this prospect?”

“What's the latest update on this opportunity?”

“Can anybody get me a list of our sustainability/design-build/etc. projects?”

A construction CRM puts an end to data chaos by consolidating all your critical information into one central platform, presenting vital information on intuitive dashboards. Access opportunity details, historical project information, team profiles, digital assets/photographs, proposals, and client contacts instantly, boosting efficiency and eliminating frustration.

2 - Make Data Driven Decisions
Construction isn't just about brute force, it's about strategic planning on a macro and micro level. Powerful analytics tools reveal hidden trends, identify areas for improvement, and offer insights you never knew existed. Make informed decisions based on real data, not gut feeling. Optimize resources, identify profitable projects, and unlock the true growth potential of your business. A construction CRM puts the answers to common yet not easily answered questions at your fingertips:

“What's our win rate?”

“What's our win rate in this sector?”

“What's our win rate in this sector with this architect?”

“What client gives us the most work? Are we most profitable with that same client?”

“What is the main reason we are losing jobs?”

What can we do with this information!!?

A CRM can help identify trends in activity and further refine by parameters such as location, sector, even project delivery methods. Did you know that 68% of construction projects procured in the US in 2023 were design-build or negotiated? Would knowing that information change how you position or structure your business? Or how you would resource and upskill your teams? Your construction CRM can unearth this type of data, allowing you to take early strategic action for your business.

On a micro level, a construction CRM can ensure you pursue the right jobs for your business. For example, by leveraging historical opportunity/project/contact data stored on your CRM, you can identify and evaluate the most appropriate opportunities to pursue. As you move through the bidding process, drawing on historical project and company data can assist with pre-qualification before allowing you to source internal team members with the most appropriate experience to include in your proposed team. This streamlined evaluation process is a single example of how making data-driven decisions about pursuits, resources, and staffing will increase your win rate and ultimately maximize profit.

3 - Nurture Relationships That Build Trust
Strong relationships are the bedrock of the construction industry. If you do not cultivate strong relationships, you will lose out on opportunities. A construction CRM fosters those connections by storing every interaction with clients, subcontractors, and partners. Access project history, communication records, and past collaborations with ease. Personalize communication, create tasks to anticipate needs, and build trust that opens doors.

Organizing business development events like golf outings becomes that much easier. Your construction CRM can help search for appropriate contacts who are interested in golf and who you maybe haven’t spoken to in 6 months. Add them to the list and send them personal notes. It is proactive relationship management that pays dividends.

4 - Elevate Accountability - Boost Productivity with Built-in Tools
A good CRM isn't just a data repository, it's an accountability powerhouse. Built-in task management and activity reporting keep everyone on track, ensuring deadlines are met and progress is never lost in the dust. Transparent visibility across teams promotes ownership, encourages collaboration, and elevates the entire construction game.

Consider this productivity utopia - a central hub that houses all critical data for your pre-construction, sales, BD, marketing and operational team members; integrated communication tools that connect teams seamlessly, fostering real-time updates and proactive collaboration; a built-in task management system that keeps everyone on track, assigning tasks, associating them with specific opportunities, projects, contacts or companies, setting deadlines and tracking progress visually.

A construction CRM isn't just software, it's a game-changer. It fuels productivity, strengthens accountability, and transforms your construction company into a well-oiled machine.

5 - An All-in-One Digital Toolkit
Unlike typical CRMs, a construction CRM is a complete ecosystem. The process of winning new work in construction requires cohesive, coordinated contribution from multiple teams. Construction CRMs understand and solve for this by providing additional project winning tools as part of their platform.

The advancement of construction technology has narrowed the margin of error in commercial (financial) proposals. This has placed a greater emphasis on presenting your suitability as a partner to your prospective clients and that is achieved through personal, illustrative and engaging, technical proposals. To assist with that, construction CRMs provide Digital Asset Management systems (DAM’s), construction specific Content Management System’s (CMS’s) and proposal tools.

A central digital asset library stores everything from project photos to team resumes, readily accessible and ready to build with. These assets are intuitively organized and coordinated with project, people, and company information in a construction CMS. The built-in proposal editor is your secret weapon, crafting stunning proposals, qualifications packages, and case studies with effortless efficiency. Collaborate seamlessly, share data across projects, and create impactful content that wins every bid.

Additionally, as mentioned above a construction CRM facilitates the identification and evaluation of the most appropriate jobs to pursue. It subsequently helps identify and plan for the most suitable resources to propose on the project. While centralization of data allows for this, tools like Bid Screening, Go/No Go questionnaires, and Resource Planning powers it to greater effect.

A Bid Screening or Go/No Go process will allow you to assess the suitability of a new opportunity by evaluating specific client and project parameters using historical data on your CRM. Various scoring systems can be implemented, ranging from the most rudimentary system of setting a minimum threshold of Yes/No questions to be answered correctly, to the more elaborate weighted scoring system across multiple categories of assessment.

All of this is coordinated efficiently by an integrated task management system rounding out an All-in-One digital toolkit.

Bonus Reason: A CRM Built for Construction

You may presume that typical CRMs offer all these benefits also, and to an extent you would be right, but there are subtle, yet impactful differences.

Typical CRMs often treat won opportunities as closed chapters, archiving data and moving on. Construction CRMs are different. When an opportunity is won, it transforms into a living, breathing project. Every decision, every challenge, every success becomes valuable data. This data empowers you to understand what works, what doesn't, and who excels on different types of projects. It helps you identify the most suitable and profitable projects to pursue, select the perfect team for each bid, and increase your chances of winning, completing, and maximizing profit on every endeavor. It's like having a blueprint for future success, built from the bricks of past experiences.

I’ve noted above that a CRM centralizes your data into a single source of truth. Key contributors to that single source of truth are estimating, bid, project and financial data. Therefore, the process of getting this data into your CRM is of vital importance. This is a barrier for generic CRMs. For example, 83% of construction companies rely on a dedicated software for accounting/ERP, almost 100% of these are construction specific software. Given the relatively low, but growing rate of CRM adoption among construction companies, this deprioritizes integration with construction software for generic CRMs.

Which leads to my final point, generic CRMs are simply not designed for construction companies. Yes, they are designed to be flexible to accommodate multiple industries, but in order to accommodate multiple industries you must have functionality specific to multiple industries. This creates a feature rich environment with so many bells and whistles that are irrelevant to the construction industry, causing confusion and frustration, leading to lack of end user adoption. Because of the complexity, the initial set up and ongoing changes are not easy - generic CRMs become costly to implement, typically requiring an external consultant or a full-time internal team member to manage. Construction CRMs are built with construction users in mind. They are fast, flexible, and intuitive to use, with a simple focus on construction workflows, nomenclature, and industry specific insights.

Embrace a Data-Driven Future

Excel and generic CRMs are extremely powerful tools for your business, but a construction CRM is better. ProjectMark CRM is more than just a software, it's a strategic partner that understands the language of GMPs and “unforeseen conditions”, the rhythms of bids and contracts, and the unique dance of construction chaos. Embrace a data-driven future with ProjectMark, the construction CRM built for builders, by builders.

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