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#3 – CRM for Construction

May 16, 2022
Bruce and Aaron discuss why construction companies should consider using a CRM.


If you own or work in a construction company and you’re still using spreadsheets to manage your business and sales, then this podcast is for you. In this conversation between Bruce and Aaron you’ll learn how a CRM like Pipedrive can help free up your time so you can focus on what really matters, growing your business and delivering projects.

Introduction [0:04]

Bruce: Hello, and welcome to the Evolve Pipedrive podcast where we talk about everything Pipedrive, sales, apps and the Pipedrive marketplace.

In this episode, I sit down with my business partner, Aaron, CEO and Technical Lead here at Evolve and we go a little bit deeper into the Construction industry and how Pipedrive or even a CRM in general can help them.

We’re going to cover:  

  • Why should a construction company consider a CRM?
  • What pain points have we come across?
  • How have we addressed these pain points in some of our projects?
  • And most importantly, how can Pipedrive help construction companies solve these problems?

So Aaron, a lot of the people that I’ve spoken to over the last couple of months have said that they don’t have a sales team. Now, my first question is, how can that be? The MD must be doing the sales right? A lot of companies honestly and sincerely think they don’t have a sales team. But if you dig deep enough, you’ll find that they still have a sales process.

The process might be that a new inquiry comes in and there’s a first call to scope it out to figure out if this is work that they want to deliver, and then at some point it will go to a specialist that’s going to spec it out. Then it gets sold or a quotation gets sold, so they might not have a business development person, but they are still selling.

So from your experience why should a construction company use a CRM, even if they don’t think they have a sales team? [2:01]

Aaron: Yeah. So I gotta start with getting to the point of let’s accept that they don’t have a sales team. I think everyone can accept that you have a sales process. If you sell something, you have a sales process. This isn’t the big issue. There are also many clients who come in and they are forward thinking and realise that the guys they might call a project estimator, those are their salespeople. So they may recognise that already, but let’s just go with the fact that they don’t have a sales team for a moment.

And so how would a CRM be used if you know, this is a sales CRM, right? The core purpose of a sales CRM is to manage the sales of your sales people who use it. And particularly in SaaS, the terminology used is a lot around sales. So if you’re not hugely sales orientated or you don’t have a specific sales team, then some of the marketing messages might miss you slightly. But let’s focus on the point that’s not sales to start with, and that is time saving.

A CRM could help you save up to 30 hours a week of manual data entry

In every business there’s a huge amount of admin, things you have to do that don’t directly make you any money, and the less of those you have to do or the quicker they are to do the better for everybody. This is a two fold point, I think firstly, you’re saving money literally in man hours. But secondly, the time you’re saving allows you to focus on the things that you want to do, which keeps everybody happier. But, you know, he’s focused on the important things, whether that’s actually developing the business or spending more time having good conversations with clients and getting that extra cup of coffee.

So there are huge benefits to saving time, money and reducing admin. So that’s the first point to using a CRM. We find that a lot of clients who aren’t on a CRM yet, they’re still on spreadsheets, and even using paper. Whether that’s paper for estimates, or paper for invoicing, job sheets or job getting. So for somebody sent out on a job with a sheet of paper in the morning, it actually might feel like a huge jump for them to go out with an iPad instead. And people may think that, oh, that’s way too far. We don’t need to go that far. But the benefits are enormous.

It’s really easier than paper. There’s no printing, there’s no worry about what you do with the paper afterwards. There’s no paper getting trodden on the bottom of the van floor or tucked down the sides or lost. Everything’s recorded digitally on the cloud immediately. There’s no opportunity for loss of data, there’s no additional admin work translating what’s on that bit of paper onto a system which inevitably has to happen. And there’s also no filing you know, the days of filing cabinets are gone. We don’t need filing cabinets anymore. So if you are using filing cabinets and you’re storing lots of paper, I think that’s another point of why a CRM will quite literally reduce the amount of storage space in your office and the amount of printing you have to do.

Bruce: Yeah, but just on the point of time saving, not sales and printing. Because there’s clients that we’ve helped, that did this, that the CRM actually helped their business massively, but it hasn’t really touched the sales department. What it did do is streamline the back end services, so they didn’t have to keep re-entering data that they had from an email from the salesperson into a job sheet, into the calendar, it was in one system, and everyone in the office knew that but they still printed. So, I just want to push back on that, like they still printed, but now just one job sheet. And the time saving wasn’t from the guys going on site not having paper, the time savings came from the guys not having to copy and paste details into the job sheet on a spreadsheet, you know that was a time saver there.

How not to process leads [6:11]

Aaron: Yeah. So if we take a little workflow example of a new email that comes in from a potential client. You can extract the details of that and pop them onto your spreadsheet, so you can keep track of the lead and where it’s at. And then actually that progresses to going to do a site visit. So out of that spreadsheet, you copy and paste the details into a piece of paper  into a Word document, that’s then printed and sent out with the estimator. And there’s some questions on there they have to fill out and what have you to maybe their text and photos. And at the end of the day, they get back into the office and hand a big stack of paperwork over to one of the admin team in the office. And then they put all that back into the spreadsheet again. And then they follow up and see if they can win the job, of course. And when they win the job, they take all of that data back out of the spreadsheet again, and copy and paste it into a project, kickoff sheet, a job spec sheet, whatever it might be.

So you know, there’s a lot of copy and pasting going on there. There’s a lot of paper moving around, there’s a lot of manual work. And if you took one job, from the point of the email coming in, through to the job being completed, and the amount of paperwork that has to be done and the amount of copy and pasting, the amount of having to go back through that spreadsheet. There’s hours and hours there per job of just basic administration work.

A CRM makes it much easier to process your leads and win business

With today’s technology, just one thing can be an enormous benefit.

Let’s say now you implement a CRM in the same business.

It goes something like this:

  • That email comes in, and it’s visible in the CRM,
  • We click a button that extracts the details and pops it into the contact database part of the CRM.
  • From here it takes the potential transaction, the potential deal, project, whatever you want to call it, and starts that as a new deal that you can manage your pipeline.
  • You know that now we need to produce a job sheet and we can do that in the CRM.
  • We click a button, it merges all the data that you already put in into that document. And if you really want to print it, you can print it from the CRM because it’s got everything in there, we haven’t had to copy paste it, we just click the Print button. And of course, you are going to have to manually put that back in when someone gives you the bit of paper afterwards.
  • But let’s say they have a tablet. So they also go into the CRM, when they get to site, they can see the contact details, they can phone ahead because there’s contact details in there, they can input the details when they’re there on site. They might record a voice note into the deal in the CRM, which of course is saved. Because we’re on the cloud, of course, the office have got that recorded note and can start working on it.

It’s faster as well to work in this way. Much, much faster. I don’t even have to go through the rest of that workflow, you can just imagine how much time you might save, you turn five hours into one hour per job, which is enormous. Especially as an average admin manager or an office manager might process 10 to 20 inbound inquiries, per office per person. I think in that use case you were talking about just then that was the sort of numbers. So if you can save two hours per job on 15, the average of the two numbers I just gave you, say 30 hours a week. I mean, that’s bonkers. And that’s just on that process, let alone all the other things that are going on that you could potentially use the CRM for. And that doesn’t even touch on what we haven’t even talked yet about the sales benefits.

Bruce: Yeah, I was going to touch on either the sales benefits or the benefits to the wider business owner. But I just wanted to jump on to pain points and what we’ve seen. So there’s a couple of things where I think you feel this as well, where, when we’re talking to these construction companies, they might be a manufacturer up north, they might be a roofer in the south of England, they could be someone on the east coast of the states. They’re masters at their craft, whether that’s landscape gardening or building houses, but they actually have a fear of the guys on site sometimes, that they might not be technical or technologically involved enough to take an iPad and do this. How have you found that? The training and technical side of using a CRM on-site in projects?

The technical aspect of using a CRM [11:26]

Aaron: I think intrinsically people want their lives to be easier. And when you talk about introducing technology to people where it hasn’t previously come naturally, there’s a fear of more work or life being harder. The reality is that once you get over the hump, I like to call it a hump. It’s usually a couple of weeks after the deployment of a new piece of tech. Once you get over that people realise that the system makes their lives easier. There’s a huge eureka moment. And people then really engage and you’ll see them flip from thinking that it’s more work into asking new questions like, how do I make it do this for me? Or how do I automate that process?

Bruce: That does change really fast doesn’t it.  And I’m just going to bring this into COVID, as we recorded this in COVID times, where someone said to me once, it was probably October last year, “I can’t believe we’re out in London having drinks during a pandemic, nothing’s really changed.” And I said, “What are you talking about? We got in an Uber, everyone in the car had to wear a mask and I’ve just had to sign in.” That shows how quickly we adapt to the kind of technology around us. And it just eases into our lives in a COVID sense, but also I think in the day to day, to your point, if it’s making life easier, you actually forget how much time it saved you and then you only look to the upshots of what else it can do for you. So where does Pipedrive fit into that flow? What does it bring?

Why should a construction company consider using Pipedrive? [13:15]

Aaron: So the number one reason why Construction companies should use Pipedrive is that it’s so easy to use, whilst offering enough functionality for all of the different things a construction company is going to need to do. So things like:

  • creating estimates and proposals and emailing them out
  • keeping a timeline of communications with each client invoicing
  • tracking custom fields
  • you could put your contractors in there and suppliers and things can be in the database
  • you can track and sync your emails with them

So there’s loads of functionality, from lead booster where you have a web form on your website to capture leads, through to note taking and being able to tag other people, as well as the mobile app of course, so your guys out on the road can use it on their mobile phone.

Bruce: The mobile app is great. And we found out the other day that they currently have unlimited storage. So some of our clients, we’ve suggested the guys on site take photos on their app, it then goes directly into their Pipedrive. When they’re on site the back office knows straightaway. There’s actually currently no limit to that. So at some point I’m sure they’ll put some storage limits on it like Google Drive just recently have, but right now it’s brilliant for those guys who are taking photos on site so later it can go into the estimate.

Aaron: I also think Pipedrive is the best CRM for people who don’t consider themselves salespeople, because it breaks down a process and a set of actions and activities. And as we always say, with activities at its core, it’s focused around what you need to do each day. You know, administratively, versus hard sales, right?

It doesn’t use huge amounts of sales language, it’s so easy for an admin person or even a site manager to use the CRM and it just feels like it assists you. It’s an enabler in their day, as opposed to some kind of hardcore sales or marketing tool. It’s a space where you have your digitised version of your business systems.

Bruce: Yeah, we use it all the time in our own business. It’s that single source of truth for the business.

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