A member of Construction Business Owner's LinkedIn group asked:
How should a contractor maintain a customer list? For each customer who calls, I want to be able to see what I have done for him in the past and at the site where he has work.
Procore Technologies Inc.
“A contractor should have a powerful customer relationship management (CRM) tool that enables them to archive and segment all of their clients, track communications and distribute company collateral. If you classify them by market segment, you can provide more targeted content for the right audience, increasing their interest and engagement.
"For example, if you’re bidding on a project with a new client, your proposal should highlight your expertise in that type of construction, including references to similar projects you’ve completed with testimonials from past clients. If you have all of that data well-tracked and organized in a CRM tool, it’s much easier to gather for future proposals.
"You should track a few key metrics on projects completed for each client such as project size, value, location, client testimonials and other special notes. If access to this information while you’re on the go is important, be sure to look for a CRM tool with a mobile app. There are programs out there that will display key information about the person calling in real time on your mobile phone.”
CEO and Co-Founder
Dexter + Chaney
“Winning new business and earning repeat business begins with communication, and communication begins with valid information on potential and existing clients. More than just a directory of names, numbers and addresses, a contact database should be a tool to help fulfill the criteria of effective business communications: connecting to others in ways that are timely, relevant and expected.
"To do this, contact data should be maintained using technology that does three things:
- Makes contact data available any time and any place to everyone who needs it.
- Allows multiple people to access and update records and maintains a history of changes.
- Provides context for the relationship. Are they a satisfied existing client? A prospect who knows you well?
"When contact data is readily available and capable of being shared and contains information on the state of your relationship, then real communication can take place.”
VP of Product Development
“There are several factors to consider when choosing a tool for storing customer information: your budget, your number of customers and your desire to record details about customer interactions.
"If your budget is small and you don’t have that many customer interactions, then I would recommend keeping up with customers with either a spreadsheet in Excel or Google Docs or using the address book in your email software like Outlook or Gmail. Just remember to consider things like who will have access to the customer list for reviewing and editing addresses and contacts and how vital it is to keep the information secure.
"In the mid-range of those factors, an email marketing tool like MailChimp or Constant Contact will allow you to store both customer information and send them marketing emails. These tools will allow you to segment customers, send emails based on the segments and see data like open rates, click-through rates and more.
"On the high end where you have hundreds of customers and a sales team calling on customers every day, a professional customer relationship management (CRM) system, such as SalesForce or SugarCRM, is a great fit. These are powerful and sometimes expensive tools, but they can really help a sales team keep track of the daily interactions they have with new and current customers.”