How essential is a CRM for your business?

Ideally a CRM is something you would implement when you’re starting out in business when you have a limited amount of data to input to set it all up. However, when you start out the costs of software and affordability of administration are a big consideration, and most entrepreneurs have an opposition to doing administration themselves (well I know I do!). Therefore, you start as we did with paper systems complemented with spreadsheets. This system worked fine for us at the start while client numbers were small. As the numbers built relying on your memory and spreadsheets more and more you start to realise you do not have a system you can expand your business with.

Therefore, you have to make a decision, are you going to invest in some suitable systems to help do the work for you. We concluded not doing this would result in the business growing ahead of the implementation of the sufficient systems to fulfil increased demand. The problems this can lead to is a decline in service levels and demotivation of staff, this is to be avoided at all costs as you will lose your early momentum of driving your business out of its infancy stage.

The way we were working to name a few of the pain points.

  • All technicians’ service sheets used were in book form and we had 7 different types of forms dependant on the service being carried out
  • We would wait for the return of the paperwork sheets to assess any technicians’ recommendations and to invoice the client. The sheets were generally coming back on a weekly basis. This delayed invoicing and client’s recommendations being dealt with in a timely manner
  • All completed sheets were then filed in the client file but would resurface if a client requested a copy only to be scanned in and emailed over
  • Invoicing was done on word converted to PDF and invoicing information entered on to a spreadsheet/daybook for bookkeeping purposes
  • Each job raised would be sent to the technician via email or phone call and client information pulled each time from the customer file
  • Pre-planned maintenances were on a large sheet on the wall
  • All callout response times and pre-planned maintenance visits recorded for auditing purposes on a paper system

We implemented a CRM after 6 years in business which did take a considerable amount of time to set up. However, in our over-enthusiasm to change things and implement a CRM, we didn’t sufficiently research the CRM we ended up using. At the time we still didn’t have enough competency within administration and was not quick enough to evaluate that the chosen software was not going to be the right way forward for us. We got the CRM up and running and it was working okay but had limitations. After 18 months the support was removed from the CRM provider and it was not compatible with any windows upgrades, so we had no real choice but to start again!

A term I use often is “there is no failure only feedback”, so we invested more time researching all the key criteria of the new CRM. All criteria had to be met for it to satisfy our requirements.

We chose an application called Joblogic which is a service-based solution and fitted what we were looking for. We had the benefit of speaking to another business who had successfully implemented and been using the software for over 2 years. This along with a full system demonstration, led us to decide to start using the product.

Some of the key benefits of our investment we have found so far as a service-based business:

  • A place for all your client details, site service history, and invoicing information
  • The CRM raises jobs for our technicians and deploys them straight to their phones
  • Our onsite technicians can complete forms and certificates on their Joblogic apps. Technicians can add parts to their jobs and book their onsite time, to generate a report that the client can view on their portal and create an invoice template that administration can approve and send
  • The CRM invoices all jobs and integrates seamlessly with Xero software and can be set up for technicians to take card payments
  • Onsite completion of forms is a cashflow winner, as it means your jobs are being invoiced quicker as opposed to waiting for paperwork to find its way back to the office
  • 4-hour response and pre-planned maintenance stats easily obtained by running reports
  • A client portal for site service history and site asset lists
  • Monitor profit and loss on each job
  • Monitor key areas of business activity helping us target our marketing
  • Boost in staff productivity for both technicians and administration

In conclusion, the time in setting up the CRM has been the biggest overall investment. While initially a labour-intensive task, we have found that as we add in each new feature and see the benefits, it motivates us to continue its implementation. Applying systems and processes as you grow is a must, and our overall experience is, at the earliest possible time, try and get a CRM that is suitable for your individual business. Doing this will take out the stress and removal of the systems that you have used while in your business infancy stage. Early on these systems may well be suitable, but as you try and progress it could cause a barrier to your overall growth and impact client service levels.

What we are all most looking forward to now is the day we all agree the filing cabinet can finally go!

Simon Philp
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Simon Philp

Simon started in the security industry as a technician back in 1988. Over the years gaining experience with different companies working his way to engineer manager. In 2004 he had the opportunity to join an electrical company to start a security division. He did this successfully for 7 years - it was like a trial run for having my own business without the risks. In 2011 Simon started his own business with the purpose of having the freedom and autonomy to run a business without the bad and improving on all the good he had seen on his journey as an employee. Simon’s mission is to keep his clients safe, secure and compliant and work alongside a team that feels fulfilled and has a sense of purpose as they all continue to develop with the business.