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CRM For The Construction Industry – Lifting The Fog – Part 1

I was recently asked, “What is the best CRM for my construction company”?

Answering that question, without asking some qualifying questions would be similar to answering the following, “I don’t feel well, what medicine should I take?”

CRM, it’s good for what ails you if it is applied in way that addresses your symptoms.

Managing construction data has been the foundation of my entire career. As a result of that, I have been involved with CRM implementation for companies with more than 200 users down to a small local general contractors with three users. Each engagement is like a fingerprint, unique.

There are so many great systems available and often CRM can been seen as a ‘Silver Bullet’. Hint: It’s not and never is. My reply to questions such as this is to use an exercise parallel…”Buying a Treadmill does not get you in shape. However, its continued and effective use can.”

The same with CRM with an emphasis on ‘continued and effective use’. Getting to ‘continued and effective use’ is typically where the fog rolls in.

A few questions that will help steer one towards a better solution:

Q: Do you subscribe to a lead generation service such as F.W. Dodge, CMD, CDC News, etc.?
Q: Who will ‘champion’ this initiative towards its ‘continued and effective’ use?
Q: Will you need to be able to attach more than one company to an opportunity?
Q: Do you need to capture this? Why do you think this is important?
Q: Do you understand the difference between a ‘Lead’ and an ‘Opportunity/Potential’?
Q: Will you be importing data from Excel, BST, Unity, Outlook or another system?
Q: Is your company large enough to be concerned with territorial standards?
Q: What are you top three goals in implementing CRM?

…and many more.

Having answers to the above will guide one towards a system that is better suited for a company’s specific needs. Selecting possible vendors, vetting vendors, short listing vendors, getting a purchased signed, assigning roles for a corporate wide implementation and managing data standards can be the easy part.

No CRM? Is your CRM gathering dust? What are you waiting for? Often times, when pressed to provide an answer, some companies don’t have the foggiest idea.

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Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, CRM, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell [at] cmconl.com

www.cmconl.com

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Business Development And Shorter Lines

Waiting in Line
I remember doing some channel surfing many moons ago and coming across George Carlin doing a bit about how all we really need in life is a ‘place for our stuff’. He went on to say that all life is about is finding a place for your stuff. Your house is really nothing but a place for your stuff with a roof. When you go on vacation, you take a smaller version of your stuff but you will still have a place for your stuff.

In the same spirit and thinking, I will contend the parallel for business is not so much having a place for our stuff but, from Walmart all the way down to the sole proprietor, business is all about finding ‘shorter lines’.

Sure, we all have ‘stuff’ for our business: laptop, smartphone, copy machine, coffee maker, scanner and printers. These are merely tools to help me obtain what I truly desire…shorter lines.

Everything in business is a part of some type of line and we all want shorter ones. Think about it: You pull into the bank to make a deposit and there are four open drive-thru lanes. Which one do you pick? The one that has the shorter line. This also applies to checking out at the grocery store, going through security at the airport and any visit to your friendly Department of Motor Vehicles. We all want shorter lines.

When it comes to building new business, every single task we engage ourselves with involves a line of some kind with, I believe, the broader category being ‘time lines’. For each of the following, whatever process we choose, we cannot escape getting from ‘A’ to ‘B’ via a line of time.

• Complete stranger to loyal client

• Zero revenue to your first $1,000,000

• Profit margin from breakeven to 15%

• One location to ten branch offices

• 30 employees to 50 employees

You get the picture. Every business person worth their salt is quite aware of the different lines involved in achieving one’s goals but what separates those possessing shorter lines from the ones with longer lines, is the amount of preparation put into each goal.

How does one reduce the timeline from meeting a complete stranger to having that person as a loyal client from 10 months down to six?

How does one shorten that timeline to seven figures in revenue from three years to two?

The simple answer is effective planning.

This past week, I am happy to report that we moved four companies from our ‘Prospects’ folder to our ‘Client’ folder…each being an entity in the A/E/C marketplace.

If I had to highlight one item as the most profound and common issue of every single company we have worked with it would undoubtedly be how amazed I am to find the number of companies who make their living designing or following a set of plans and specifications…yet do not plan for their business.

What would the timeline be to build a 10,000 SF commercial building without plans and specs versus the timeline with plans and specs?

What would the timeline be to build a million dollar business without a plan versus having one?

-The late great coach Paul “Bear” Bryant once said, “Have a plan. Follow the plan, and you’ll be surprised how successful you can be. Most people don’t have a plan. That’s why it’s is easy to beat most folks.”

The shortest distance between two points will always be a straight line. The best way to make that line shorter is to plan for a shorter line.

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Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell [at] cmconl.com

www.cmconl.com