For builders the sales process has been the most coveted part of the home building process and today home building management systems are dominating the market and giving builders an inclusive system to build and close homes. These systems have grown in popularity over excel worksheets and shared cloud files because they don't just write contracts. They amass vital, real-time information about your sales, inventory, warranty requests and customers.
At the core of these systems are third party servers running specialized sales management software that you normally don't own or control. Software developers often sell their software as a basic core system configured to industry standard protocols. Others sell their software as individual components such as a purchasing module, warranty management modules and even CRM modules giving you the impression of having a complete system based on your individual needs.
What do you get for your investment? Without a doubt, the biggest advantage is the ability to centralize the data and get an immediate, up-to-the-minute accurate overview of the sales cycle, option pricing, inventory and much more. For example, each time option pricing is modified, it is updated system wide and immediately available to your sales force.
That data can be surprisingly large. Some builders, for example, will offer hundreds of plans all of which may have multiple tiers of upgrade options. The same may hold true for structural options with additional upgrade tiers and square footage changes which can impose a complex use of resources and data. Keeping track of the thousands of options and upgrades that make up a home can be a real chore. However, consistently having access to the most up to date pricing data and available in real time can add up to a competitive advantage over competitors.
A good sales management system can help by allowing you in a few short clicks to update system wide pricing. When it's time to update level four carpet, some sales management systems go a step further and allow for community and subdivision specific pricing changes. Both options give you an advantage over older methods which take time and manual labor to calculate. You can also run reports to track pricing updates and compare month over month or year over year giving you insight on your purchasing power so you can strike the best deal with your suppliers.
Shopping for the right sales management system
In looking for a sales management system the choices are many, the price can range from the thousands to millions of dollars, and the final decisions can be difficult. Here are some guidelines to help.
Let’s talk ownership
Primarily driven by costs vs. benefits, time to market and ease of use; for many small builders, software ownership may play the biggest part of the decision making process. Owning your sales management system software means your solution will be designed to your exact needs and processes, changes can be made quickly with unlimited options for customization. Furthermore, ownership entitles you to scale your system as you grow further streamlining your sales process while avoiding an overly cluttered feature system built for a general audience.
Generic vs. Custom
Generic sales management systems tend to boast a broader range of features and are updated with newer versions more frequently. They're typically more affordable as well. Unfortunately, adapting these systems to your unique business process may require you to conform to standard industry protocols.
Then there are custom systems like BuilderConsole. These systems employ a core framework and allow for complete customization based on your sales process and workflow. They even allow for third party integration such as PlatViewer, an interactive plat/lot management software. These systems, while moderately priced give builders a robust sales system without compromising their sales process.
Weigh easy of use against functionality.
Generally speaking the more weight you put on your own unique sales process, the more custom your software should be. Consider as well the time required to bring employees up to speed and the time you'll invest training them. The best systems offer a balance of both.
Look for a system that can start small and grow with your needs.
If you are on a conservative budget, you can begin with a core system setup: create contracts, communicate and reporting. Later, you can add additional features as your needs dictate, perhaps warranty and construction management to begin with, then add plat/lot management, purchasing and custom reporting. Also, look for a system that allows you to retain the rights and host in your server environment. A sales management system should be approached as a cornerstone of any builder who closes more than a hundred homes a year. It allows you to operate more efficiently as it boosts productivity and improves customer service. With so much to gain, take the time to make sure whatever solution you choose is one that encompasses your sales and marketing efforts.
Chris Graham is the CEO of BuilderSquared, a technology company for home builders. For more information or to purchase a sales management system, visit www.buildersquared.com or call (800) 933-1012.