Philip Mayling, CEO of BuddyCRM, explores how CRM technology is helping the construction industry to weather the impact of Covid-19
When the going gets tough, it’s time to use tech
The construction industry plays a significant role in the UK’s success both here and overseas. Not only is it a major wealth generator, contributing £117bn to the economy and supporting over 2.4 million jobs, but it is key to Government plans to rebuild Britain during the largest recession ever recorded, thanks to Covid-19.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit the construction industry particularly hard. After all a firm’s success depends on its ability to deliver projects efficiently and on time. This is next to impossible given the measures ordered to tackle Covid-19, which have resulted in travel restrictions, health and safety issues, as well as delays in the delivery of building materials and equipment.
Combined with the fact that the construction market is oversaturated, highly competitive, and known for low margins and high risks, there is a real danger of firms facing insolvency as their turnover drops. Business intelligence group Creditsafe recently warned that “while the long-term economic effects of Covid-19 remain unknown, in the short to medium term, the impact on the solvency of contractors is not going to be limited to the first few months of the pandemic; rather it will likely continue over the forthcoming months”.
In order to survive, grow and prosper, business leaders need to revaluate how they work going forward, in order to ensure their companies are cost-effective, efficient and relationship focussed, which is where the utilisation of technology comes into play.
Digital technology is a competitive differentiator
The construction industry has always been technologically savvy when it comes to power tools and machines to ensure jobs are made safer and completed quicker. Yet there appears to be reticent to keep up with innovations in other areas. Take for example digital technology. Increasingly the construction industry is realising that its electronic tools, systems and devices are the best way to enhance business processes and deliver value to clients. This is evidenced by a recent IDC research survey which revealed that 83% of UK construction companies believe digital transformation is a key priority to “drive much-needed changes to their processes, business models and/or ecosystems”, with managing risk, data security and completing projects on time and on budget as their biggest issues. Yet 73% stated that “only up to 30% of their projects are using digital construction solutions”.
Clearly, there is a problem if the industry understands that technology can deliver for them, but are failing to incorporate it. This may be due to any number of factors such as the initial investment outlay, a shortage of digitally skilled employees, or even a failure to ensure that the technology is actually used, and its benefits recognised. There is even a mentality sometimes which pervades even extremely successful companies, who believe that by adhering to how they have always done things in the past, they can still remain at the top of their game.
Unfortunately, this approach in business typically leads to stagnation no matter what industry you are in. Often the hard truth is a more forward-thinking competitor will replace you. That does not mean that you must go out to tomorrow and buy a brand new computer system or hire a bunch of digital transformation consultants to “digitise” your business. Start with inexpensive and incremental measures first, such as a customer relationship management (CRM) solution.
Every profitable digital journey begins with CRM
At its most basic level CRM technology is a sales management tool that stores, organises, and tracks client information, so business leaders can improve their decision-making and budget better than ever before.
It also helps build deeper and more effective relationships with clients because you can easily access all your interactions with them, understand their financial value, and forecast their future needs. The real value for the construction firms, though, is their ability to manage sales enquiries as well as keep your data safe. In the first instance, a CRM can automatically collate leads and acknowledge their receipt to the sender, before storing the data safely in an easily accessible format, immediately after which it passes it over to your sales team to process. Time-consuming administrative tasks are mitigated, allowing sales team to focus on what they do best.
Secondly, many construction firms still keep all their client and financial data on Excel which was launched in 1985. While it allows data to be easily inputted, it is just as easy to input the wrong data. Programmes like Excel lack the checks and balances required to verify the quality of information being put in. For smaller businesses, data corruption or loss can mean the difference between staying in business or not. A good CRM technology stores your client database securely in the cloud giving access only to who you want when you want. Individual records can be locked down to specific team members, sales teams, or regions, or locked so they cannot be accessed or exported. All actions are recorded within the CRM so you can see when items have been amended and by who.
CRM works for everyone
Over the last few years, CRM is something that companies of all sizes in the construction industry have invested in. Ivor King, one of the UK’s leading sheet piling & bored piling contractors is one such example. In order to fulfil its business growth objectives, the company decided to employ a strategic and technological approach to strengthen their sales and business development. They did this by utilising a CRM system to oversee their accounts and generate intelligence to support their sales pipeline.
Prior to this Ivor King used spreadsheets to keep track of their sales activity but employees found them difficult to use and doubted the accuracy of the data. This not only impeded the company’s strategic business decision making but also made it difficult to monitor its sales team and ensure accountability when needed.
Having now incorporated their CRM into their business, Ivor’s King’s head office can access all their sales team’s data via a website browser such as Google. This means Ivor King have a clear overview of any incoming business, as well as activity on all their accounts. It is also helping the management team to easily understand workload and monitor performance. The improvements to their administration have also created efficiency savings which in turn have reduced the processing time of their sales enquiries. Their CRM has also become a tool to understand and create a performance baseline which their future metrics will be based on.
Given that industry leaders understand and continually invest in their CRM, it should be clear that technology has value. That does not mean you have to invest huge amounts of revenue to secure a strong performing CRM. There are a number of great options on the market all with different features and price tags. What is important is that you find the one that is best for you and your company, with the right level of aftercare and training. After all, if you want to benefit from CRM you and your employees need to feel comfortable using it. This will be important if the economic “green shoots of recovery” take longer than expected to materialise because utilising every resource at your disposal efficiently will be vital to getting your business through the tough times ahead.
Founder and CEO