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Maximizing Your Return on Investment: A Guide to Getting the Most Out of Your Construction CRM

Too often, we speak to construction companies who bear the scars of unsuccessful Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software implementations and the consequential apprehension to consider another option. In fact, according to CIO, 1 in 3 CRM implementation projects fail. That is a scary statistic, but failure is a relative term - simply not meeting the original, potentially unrealistic expectations can be categorized as failure. Yet, it is clear that there is a large amount of discontent regarding CRM implementation experiences.

Before delving into specific strategies, it's crucial to understand what constitutes a return on investment (ROI) in the context of a Construction CRM. ROI is not just about financial gains but also encompasses improved efficiency, streamlined processes, enhanced collaboration, and better decision-making. If you’re in any doubt of the benefits of a construction CRM, have a read of my recent article on why I think every construction company needs a construction CRM.

So how do you ensure a successful CRM implementation and maximize your ROI? The first step is crucial: recognizing the transformative potential of a construction CRM.

A 2014 study by Nucleus Research found that the average ROI of CRM software was 871%. A subsequent 2020 report claims that this ROI is as much as 1697%. That is almost $17 returned for every dollar invested. While I do have reservations about the reliability of the study due to the lack of empirical data to support the findings, I do agree with the core message - CRM is one of the most critical tools to help grow your business.

A company's ability to achieve those returns can be largely determined before the actual implementation begins. Before generating a return from a CRM software, we must first investigate, document and refine our internal CRM processes. We must first focus on the problem before implementing the solution.

This article delves deeper, exploring strategies to maximize the return on investment from your construction CRM. We'll explore key areas to focus on, from user adoption and data hygiene to process optimization and leveraging advanced features.

Build a Culture of CRM Advocacy

The success of any software hinges on user adoption, and user adoption must be driven from the top down. An organizational shift is required - here's how to encourage your team to embrace the new system:

  • Identify the Why - Set Clear Objectives: Make sure everyone in your business is clear as to why your company is implementing this change, and how it will help the business and each individual stakeholder. Clearly outline your goals and expectations, and timeline for achieving them. Communicate clearly and regularly to everyone.
  • Change Management Strategy: Implementing a new system can disrupt existing workflows. Develop a clear change management strategy to address concerns, manage resistance, and guide the team through the transition.
  • Targeted Training: Provide comprehensive training tailored to different user roles. This ensures everyone understands the CRM's functionalities and how it benefits their specific tasks.
  • User Champions: Identify and empower "CRM Champions" within each department. These individuals can answer questions, provide peer-to-peer support, and champion the benefits of using the CRM.
  • Incentivize Usage: Create incentives for employees who actively engage with and effectively utilize the CRM. Recognize and reward individuals or teams for achieving milestones, driving healthy competition, and encouraging widespread adoption. Set activity targets and review collectively to create an environment of accountability.

Build a Reliable Foundation

Data is the new oil, powering innovation, insights and economic growth. Your CRM is only as valuable as the data it holds, which means your capacity to innovate, generate insights and deliver economic growth is intricately tied to the effectiveness of your data management. Here's how to ensure data accuracy and completeness:

  • Data Entry Guidelines: Establish clear and consistent data entry guidelines for all users. This promotes consistency and minimizes errors.
  • Data Validation Rules: Utilize built-in data validation rules to enforce data integrity. These rules can ensure data adheres to specific formats and prevents invalid entries.
  • Regular Data Cleansing: Schedule regular data cleansing exercises to identify and remove duplicate entries, outdated information, and inaccurate data.
  • Data Ownership: Assign clear data ownership for different modules within the CRM. This accountability ensures specific individuals are responsible for maintaining data accuracy within their designated areas.

Modern CRMs can provide the flexibility to align your data guidelines to the CRM, the access and data field controls to enforce your data validation rules, and the reporting features required to hold data owners accountable. They also provide streamlined ways to mass import/update data making it easier than ever to foster a culture of data stewardship.

Streamline Processes for Efficiency

Your CRM should streamline workflows, not complicate them. Building on your initial investigation into your internal CRM processes, consider how your construction CRM can help enhance your business operations. Here's how to optimize your processes:

  • Identify Bottlenecks: Analyze current workflows and identify areas where tasks are slow or inefficient. The CRM can then automate repetitive tasks or streamline communication channels to improve overall efficiency.
  • Standardize Processes: Establish standardized processes for key activities like lead generation, opportunity management, and client communication. This ensures consistency and reduces the risk of errors.
  • Leverage Automation: Utilize the CRM's automation capabilities to automate repetitive tasks such as generating reports, or assigning tasks based on triggered events.
  • Integrations: Explore integrating your CRM with other essential software like accounting, project management, or bid management tools. This eliminates the need for manual data entry and promotes seamless information flow across different systems.

When considering the above point, I again emphasize the benefits of a construction CRM over generic alternatives. Construction CRMs are designed to maximize efficiency, in our industry - the workflows, the nomenclature and the automations (among other things - see below) are specific to our industry. Even the integrations are with construction specific software. Some of this can be achieved, to an extent, with generic CRMs but this adds cost, complexity and end user confusion. This, along with the absence of construction specific integrations severely limits a company’s ability to maximize an ROI from generic CRMs.

Unlock the Full Potential of a Construction CRM

Construction-specific CRMs offer a plethora of advanced features designed to enhance your construction business. 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. Consider combining these below options to maximize your ROI:

  • Digital Asset Management (DAM): Consolidate more than just your opportunity data. CRMs with built in features like DAM allow companies to organize everything from project photos to team resumes, intuitively organized and coordinated with opportunity, project, people and company information stored in your CRM.
  • Proposal Management: A 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.
  • Bid Screening: Automate your deal analysis by leveraging historical data in your CRM to assess the suitability of new opportunities.
  • Project Management Features: Utilize project management features to manage tasks, track progress, collaborate with team members, and monitor project budgets and schedules.
  • Reporting and Analytics: Harness the power of reporting and analytics to gain valuable insights into your business performance. Generate reports on key metrics like project win rates, project profitability, client satisfaction, and identify areas for improvement.
  • Mobile Access: Ensure your team can access and update CRM data on the go using mobile applications. This facilitates real-time communication, improves data capture from the field, and empowers remote collaboration.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): What would a technology article in 2024 be without the requisite reference to AI 🙂. Joking aside, AI has the potential to drastically improve your ROI on CRM, by eliminating repetitive tasks, streamlining data stewardship, analyzing historical data to identify appropriate opportunities and even automating the proposal creation process.

If you are interested in learning more about the capabilities of AI in construction, check out our E-book on “Unleashing the Power of AI in AEC

Continuously Measure and Improve

To truly maximize your ROI, continuously monitor and measure the impact of your CRM investment. Here's how:

  • Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Define relevant KPIs to track your CRM's effectiveness. These could include metrics like the sales ROI in returned revenue since the adoption of the CRM, productivity ROI as it relates to people, or simply the number of leads generated, or project win rates.
  • Regularly Monitor Progress: Regularly monitor your chosen KPIs to identify areas of improvement and assess the impact of your CRM implementation.
  • Refine and Adapt: Based on your ongoing evaluation, refine your processes, user adoption initiatives, and utilization of advanced features. This ensures your CRM continues to deliver optimal results as your business needs evolve.

The Ongoing Journey of ROI Maximization

By following these strategies and leveraging the unique capabilities of a construction-specific CRM, you can transform your investment into a powerful tool that drives efficiency, improves collaboration, and empowers data-driven decision-making. Remember, a successful CRM implementation is a continuous journey, not a one-time destination. Embrace continuous improvement, and watch your construction business achieve new heights with the power of a well-utilized CRM.

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