Companies with a CRM at the heart of their business are 3.3x more likely to see company growth. They're 2.8x more likely to have satisfied customers and 3.3x more likely to retain those customers.
In an industry like build-to-rent, customer satisfaction is critical. And retention can lead to significantly lower marketing and lettings costs.
So it's vital to adopt a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) that gets buy-in from the whole team and can be embraced by the entire business.
There are many to choose from, but only a few that offer a really comprehensive solution. We're going to share 8 tips with you to help you get the most out of your CRM, or to help you pick a new one.
I'm a massive fan of HubSpot and I know first-hand that it's an ideal solution for build-to-rent businesses. So I'll also be sharing a bit of HubSpot context along the way.
Let's get stuck in.
Tip 1: Make sure your CRM can scale up with your portfolio
What you need on day 1 will be quite different to what you need on day 1,000.
When you only have 1 building for example, you won't need all the bells and whistles of an enterprise-level CRM. But when you're managing a portfolio of build-to-rent developments, generating thousands of leads and doing dozens of lets every month, you'll want those bells. And the whistles.
Rather than dealing with the faff of jumping between CRMs every time one falls short, you're better off getting settled in on day one with a CRM that has the power to scale.
So when looking at a CRM, it's important to ask:
Tip 2: It MUST be REALLY easy to use
Nothing gets a lettings team groaning more than being forced to use a system that's a real pain in the $@&! to use. It's intensely frustrating when a CRM is overly complicated…
When it's too complex, the interface looks different at every turn and every task takes twice as long as it needs to, that's when your team start to avoid using it.
Activity within the CRM starts to drop… Tracker spreadsheets start re-appearing… Messages get missed… Deals fall through unnecessarily…
A CRM should make everyone's lives easier. If it's actually doing the reverse, then it's not fit for purpose. So it must be easy to use. To a point where even your most computer-averse team member could find their way around.
Many powerful CRMs come at the expense of ease of use. And likewise, many easy to use CRMs come at the expense of power. But there are a couple of options that offer the best of both worlds.
SCALABILITY & EASE OF USE
HubSpot has 4 tiers: Free, Starter, Professional and Enterprise. So kick off with Free before you've even got a planning application in, and ascend to Enterprise when things get real busy and you need full power. HubSpot has ease of use nailed too. Their intuitive UX is consistent across the whole CRM. So learn how to navigate a contact record and you're sorted for the entire system.
Tip 3: Make sure it has the tools to supercharge MULTIPLE departments
Each department will have their own shopping list of needs when it comes to software:
This often results in several different systems being stitched together (aka the 'tech stack').
But what if you could tick off multiple departments' wish lists within 1 system? Well that would make things a lot more simple.
No costly, complicated (and often faulty) APIs between systems. One consistent user interface within which to train all teams. One single source of truth when it comes to reporting. And one centralised place to store customer data securely.
Tip 4: Demand that it can easily INTEGRATE with the tools you can't do without
There are CRMs that can provide a TONNE of built-in functionality. But there are always going to be those specialist tools that your business can't live without.
You might want to run a survey on Typeform, build your website in WordPress, send reporting data to Google Sheets, or fire tasks into your team's Slack.
One of my biggest pet peeves with some CRMs is their stubborn insistence that they won't integrate with anyone else. You have to use their solution and if it isn't up to scratch, it's a nightmare to find a workaround.
This is wholly unnecessary, as the biggest and best CRMs out there know that there are certain tools that do a better job in their specific niche. And they should be embraced and integrated with to make your life easier.
If your CRM won't integrate easily with other systems, be aware that this could be a headache in the future when you have the need of a specific service. You might find yourself stuck in a really bad relationship if you can't integrate with the latest tech when it hits the market.
TOOLS & INTEGRATIONS
HubSpot's 3 biggest tools — Marketing, Sales and Service — are perfectly suited to equip your marketing, lettings and operations teams when it comes to generating leads, closing deals and supporting tenants. And HubSpot supports easy (often one-click) integrations. Currently HubSpot integrates with 700+ different apps to keep your customer experience friction-free. And we recently worked with Spike to integrate HubSpot with their BTR app.
Tip 5: Take the time to map out your customer journey
One of the essential steps I take when I'm working with a new client is to take the time to map out the customer journey — from start to finish.
By using a flowchart tool like Miro, I create a detailed map of how an applicant flows through the various actions; from converting into a lead, to booking a viewing, to becoming a tenant.
By taking a step back and mapping this out, you can:
And to cap it off, once you've perfected it you'll have a clear visual guide for training the team on the ideal customer journey.
Tip 6: Automate EVERYTHING!
One of the biggest value-adds from a CRM system is the automation they can provide. It's essentially like having an admin team of 10 working 24/7, and for a fraction of the price.
So when it comes to choosing a CRM, make sure you pick a system that's powerful in this area.
Choose a CRM where you can quickly and easily build automated processes to take the mundane, routine, motivation-sapping (and frankly boring) admin tasks away from your team. Giving them more time to focus on the things that count — giving great customer service, building relationships, conducting viewings, and closing deals.
My approach to automation is always this: map out the process first, then build the automation.
So this is doubly effective if paired with Tip 5 above. Map out the entire customer journey and then pick out the actions that the system could do for you.
HubSpot is super powerful when it comes to automations. Their workflows tool is very easy to use and you can quickly build triggers and actions to make the system pick up certain tasks for you. If you're on the Enterprise tier, you can even trigger a sequence of emails via a workflow, which means you could respond to new leads instantly without your team having to lift a finger.
Tip 7: Report from ONE SOURCE of truth
Reporting is a big part of anyone's role within a build-to-rent business. Whether you're a marketing executive sending a web traffic report to your manager or a CEO sending a performance report to your investors, data you can trust is critical.
So if you have CRMs for each department and they're all reporting different numbers, which one is right?
It's quite plain to see that there's a huge advantage in reporting from one source of truth. There's data consistency and clarity, and everyone can understand where they are in terms of performance.
So when it comes to picking a CRM, choosing one that can suit multiple departments (as mentioned in Tip 3) has the added benefit of a better reporting experience.
It's always worth automating these reports too. Build a dashboard that fires a report directly to your line manager every week or month without fail. You'll be hyper-motivated to ensure that the figures stay where they need to be!
Tip 8: Stay GDPR compliant with your data
We've been living with the GDPR for 4 years now, and yet it can still be a complex legality to navigate.
Having multiple systems will certainly increase your data risk. If a lead unsubscribes in one, how do you ensure that action carries through to the other systems?
With fewer systems this will be easier to manage. And the systems that you do choose to use should definitely have robust GDPR tools built in.
And not just the ability to add privacy text to forms… I'm talking about checks and controls that put impassable barriers up to stop users contacting leads if they've opted out of communications.
This level of GDPR support from your CRM can make compliance so much more straightforward, so it's well worth requiring it from your CRM provider.
REPORTING & GDPR
HubSpot's reporting will allow you to build highly customisable report dashboards that can be automatically sent to your, your manager, board, client or investor periodically. Choose from 100s of pre-built reports, or build your own from thousands of data points within the system. And their thorough in-built GDPR tools ensure that customer data is respected and that you stay compliant.
Get a CRM to suit the needs of a build-to-rent business
Working with the right CRM can make a huge difference to your business and day-to-day working life. So if you…
Then get in touch, as we can definitely add some value.
Even if you're using HubSpot already, email us or book a consultation call, as we can still use our experience to take things up a notch. And if you're not using HubSpot, we can give you a free demo so you can see the system firsthand.
Incremental has been absolutely fantastic at setting up and managing our CRM! We use HubSpot to manage our sales and lettings process, and Incremental's knowledge of the system was vital in making sure we're getting the best out of it. Their knowledge of real estate — and build-to-rent in particular — was also hugely valuable. Mark mapped out the entire customer journey for us in detail so we could fine tune the process before implementing. I would thoroughly recommend Incremental's services!
Managing Director, VervLife
Mark at Incremental has been absolutely critical to our business success and moving us forward over the last few months (and on-going). A pleasure to work with, professional, and a real expert in what he does. We would recommend Incremental to anyone looking to set up or optimise their marketing, lead gen, processes and integration with other systems.
Central Operations Manager, VervLife
Great experience with Mark working through the system, which is very helpful and extremely useful to my day-to-day needs at work.
Working with Mark over the past 6 months has been a great experience. He has a results-focused approach and attitude, and is extremely thorough with everything he delivers. He is clearly an expert in lead generation and I wouldn't hesitate in recommending working with Incremental.
Senior Strategic Partnerships Manager, Endsleigh
Incremental did an amazing job designing and building the Maze Real Estate website and creating our branding. Working with Mark was a real pleasure — he was quick to respond to queries and delivered the project on time and in budget and did not grumble about the multiple changes we requested! We are delighted with the result and cannot recommend Mark highly enough!
Managing Director, Maze Real Estate
Mark and the team at Incremental have been instrumental in generating high quality leads for Essential Living. They've been able to generate thousands of qualified leads at a cost per lead that gives us a great ROI and has kept our portfolio at 99% occupancy throughout. I would highly recommend their services.
Director of Lettings, Essential Living