Contributing over £117bn to the UK economy, and responsible for 2.4m jobs, the construction industry is a jewel in the country’s crown. That being the case, here Philip Mayling, Founder and CEO of BuddyCRM, explains the role in which Customer Relationship Management (CRM) can play in supporting companies in these most challenging of times.
Such is its importance that Alok Sharma, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, wrote an open letter in March paying tribute to “all those who are working tirelessly” within it. In fact, just three months later Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated in no uncertain terms that the UK’s recovery is dependent on the construction industry, claiming the UK needs an “infrastructure revolution”, and therefore we must “build, build, build”.
While this is high praise indeed, and rightly so given the industry’s positive growth in June and July, it is important that construction firms should not leave anything to chance. They must continue to work hard now to ensure they have a pipeline of work in the future, and do their utmost to make better decisions, save costs and increase productivity to guarantee their continued success. In practice this means revisiting existing client relationships and building new ones, in order to land the opportunities that may not otherwise come your way. Afterall, every client, vendor, manager, or subcontractor is busy dealing with the fallout from the pandemic to their business, so a little proactivity never hurts in difficult times.
A new approach to old problems
Construction companies looking to economise, organise and secure a competitive advantage, should consider the role that technology can play in supporting their growth and success. While construction has a reputation for excellence, it has typically been plagued by old-fashioned workflows and disjointed communications, that can result in project overruns and unnecessary costs that are simply not seen in other industries. For example data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals that between 1997 and 2019, the UK construction industry’s output per hour, increased by more than 20%, compared with a 30% rise for productivity across the whole economy.
This difference can be explained by the recognition of the business value of technology by other leading industries such as manufacturing and retail, and its subsequent prioritisation for investment by its business leaders. Companies within construction should certainly adopt a similar mindset, and those that do are likely to see a major difference to their bottom line. Afterall technological solutions when embraced wholeheartedly can really support CEOs and management teams in their drive for quality, by improving communications, streamlining processes, improving organisation, and reducing waste.
Do you CRM?
One such digital tool that is seeing increasing uptake in construction is customer relationship management (CRM) software. As its name suggests, CRM is a system for improving relationships. It achieves this by overseeing and automating your contact management, such as the storing, organising, and tracking of information about your clients, prospects, and leads. Name, job titles, telephone numbers and email addresses are just some of the things that are safely recorded for future use, as well as your company’s client interactions. Furthermore potential new business enquiries can be easily searched through to see if a response has been issued and whether a follow-up call needs to take place. This same tracking functionality also ensures that you can see what work has been completed and therefore needs invoicing.
CRM is key to the effective management of sales enquiries. Unfortunately, many companies still relay on old spreadsheet programmes like Microsoft Excel for such activities, which have not moved with the times or are even fit for purpose. They make data entry time consuming, inaccessible, and more likely to be lost and overwritten.
Such solutions have naturally impeded uptake of other technological advances and made it for difficult to expound their benefits. The difference with CRM is that it is can be easily tailored for the job required. Data can be easily be translated into a visual sales pipeline, and the status of lead’s and their progress effortlessly tracked. Project teams also recall information from past and current projects to help give an accurate idea of any future costs, equipment, and staffing requirements, which in turn, improve productivity and strategic decision making, that are necessary to aid the continued growth and development of a business.
Maximising resilience, minimising risk
Going forward, the construction industry should certainly consider placing greater emphasis on technology as a means of ensuring its continued viability. Doing so does not have to be an expensive proposition in the short term, and ultimately can be a massive cost save and revenue generator. With Covid-19 continuing to impact the economy, and a ‘no-deal’ Brexit still on the cards, construction firms need to size on every opportunity to safeguard themselves and weather the downturn. After all they are not just benefitting themselves but are key to securing the green shoots of the UK’s recovery.