When deciding on the right CRM, an agency needs to first understand its needs and expectations so it can better organise and streamline its current systems.
Various experts note the importance of automation within a CRM, since a good system should minimise the efforts of staff in their day-to-day tasks.
CRMs should also be able to consolidate all critical client information in a single, easy-to-read and easy-to-search platform with automated prompts for following up.
However, the most comprehensive CRM is useless without well-trained staff entering accurate information into the software.
Don’t whip out the chequebook just yet
LJ Hooker Parramatta head of property management Tamsin Wilson says companies need to take a deep breath before investing in a new CRM.
First, they need to investigate whether the challenges they face in their business are related to systems, processes or people.
“So many offices are quick to blame their software, but they must also have an understanding of what outcome they are want to achieve from a new CRM,” she says.
“Have a plan – this will then help you understand what features and functionality you need.”
If a new CRM is needed, Ms Wilson suggests doing a lot of research. This could include arranging demonstrations, speaking to industry experts, consulting other offices or attending conferences.
“I personally speak to a lot of people within the industry and love hearing what software and systems they are using and getting their feedback,” she says.
Ms Wilson says the key features for businesses to look for include the set-up and ongoing costs, ease of use, training and support offered, and whether it integrates with the office’s other systems.
“If the decision has been made correctly, and the research was completed, I don’t think anyone should have to reassess their CRMs. If anything, they should re-assess internal process and plans,” she says.
Set clear expectations and assess regularly
M Residential director Laura Levisohn says principals first need to know what they want to achieve from having a CRM and speak with providers to ensure their systems provide the necessary features.
“Some good questions to ask are does it have marketing automation capabilities and sales automation, which will prevent duplicate efforts between staff.”
Ms Levisohn says regular use and communication with clients will determine whether the CRM is right for the business or if it would be best to reassess a CRM provider.
“Our process is that each time we are hoping for a certain feature on any of our software programs, we have a running list of ‘our wants’, she says.
“If you find the list keeps getting bigger and you are getting frustrated with your current software, then it’s definitely time to investigate to see if another system provides those features.”
According to Ms Levisohn, it’s good to regularly research and network with others in the industry to remain in touch the latest developments in CRM software.
“I find companies in America are very proactive in the systems and software they use, get onto forums and see what people’s pros and cons are on each of the choices.”
Some important questions to ask first
Aro Software chief executive James Rubulis said CRMs should help agencies organise its systems, expand the business, streamline processes and offer clients the best and most complete systems.
With that in mind, Mr Rubulis says principals should investigate whether a particular CRM can:
- Automate administration and make tasks like trust accounting more accurate
- Produce professional online and print marketing materials with the click of a button
- Store business-critical information in a single, easy-to-search location
- Create more leads and nurture prospects with customer relationship management
- Enjoy a single view of everything that's happening and how staff are performing in real time
- Keep up to date on market trends with the latest industry data and reports
- Upload rental properties to real estate portals in one go
- Synchronise team tasks in Microsoft Outlook
- Ensure company listings appear as high as possible on popular search engines like Google
- Check tenant history through integration with the National Tenancy Database