Customer Relationship Management

With all of the information (emails) coming in and out of Agency offices these days it is important to consider a Customer Relationship Management Package that can help you manage and track this information effectively.

As a developer of software for agents, I have considered adding this capability to my product, however if I spent a year developing software for this, I still would not come close to the offerings of some of the more established CRM packages that are available.

I do know that some of my competitors have integrated some basic form of CRM , but every agency handles their data differently and when compared to professional CRM packages they all fall terribly short on features.

So what is out there? In the last few weeks, Sage ACT Premium CRM released a version for Real Estate Agents. This software is supposedly tailored for real estate professionals so it may be worth looking into.

There are also some CRM packages that integrate with Microsoft Outlook such as…..Teamscope, Avidian and BTrack

Microsoft Dynamics is quite a powerful albeit expensive product that may be suited to larger organisations.

However the Internet is where all the action is with CRM software web services from as little as $50 per month for 1 – 5 users. These packages have amazing power including mobile access so I suggest you look into the power of these products can give to your company. All of these allow for FREE trials so you might want to investigate first.
SalesForce.com
Severa
Entellium
SalesPro

There is also a FREE Open Source CRM product that you can install on your servers or pay to have it hosted (with support). This package call SugarCRM and it is quite an amazing product.

My suggestions is to look into what is best for you. There is a myriad of products that are available and many have all of the features that you may need and most include a free trial!

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About Peter J Ricci

Peter Ricci is the Director of Agentpoint.com.au, Business2.com.au, Ginga.com.au and ZooProperty.com and has been involved in designing and developing real estate systems and websites since 1997. In July 2001 Peter founded Business2.com.au to help real estate agents better understand the power of the Internet and the real estate landscape in Australia and New Zealand. Since then he has penned over 300 articles on a variety of subjects in the real estate technology industry. Business2.com.au is now the leading real estate technology site in Australasia.

3 Responses to Customer Relationship Management

  1. Paul June 28, 2006 at 3:39 pm #

    I’m currently against online solutions, but time will change this I am sure. The problem I have with online solutions is that your data is held by an external company that you don’t have control over. Also momentary loss of internet connectivity, router down somewhere, some isp goes pop for 5 mins and you can’t access your data, potential losing thousands of dollars. If your going with an online solution I’m a big advocate of owning your own system, whether it be open source like SugarCRM and having your data replicated else where at the same time.

    The ideal solution though would be to have Real Estate Systems completely integrated into your CRM to provide superior customer management and doubling up on work at the office (which happens all too frequently in the industry)

  2. Peter June 28, 2006 at 7:44 pm #

    Interesting comments Paul….Ownership of data is important however I think you will find all of these companies make it clear about the ownership of data (which is always held by client) and even clearer what they do to ensure protection this data. I am sure any of these hosted solutions would take amazing steps to do so – as any leaks would pretty much drown their company.

    The second point about uptime, my servers have been running for about 6 years straight. History (from my experience) has shown that data held on premises without adequate security and backup facilities is alot worse than any quality provider. Viruses, gneral problems cause more downtime than most reliable ISP (read reliable) suppliers.

    An estimate for adequate facilities like these would be around the $30,000 mark and then add ongoing costs of course. Most agents cannot afford this.

    Connectivity will also be important going forward (access to information wirelessly) and to be honest I cannot understand why an agent would want to do this themselves. Worse still employ someone to do this internally (they eventually leave).

    So unless the Agency has someone with these skills (read owner not employee as they evenutally leave or hold companies ransom), then I think it is always best to outsource.

    I can actually remember a local council had this guy once that said they wanted their own CMS system developed internally. This guy spent 2 years trying to develop a system and then left for another job. So something that was costing them $10k a year blew out to around $200k in costs with nothing return. This guy told me he will have something up within 4 months….I actually remember telling his boss that we will be happy to help the transition, but I also told him, that I have doubts whether this guy will be successful.

    So, unless alot of thought is put into it, it is best to outsource these things with a proven (reliable) company that spends millions of dollars protecting the data and more on continued development.

    I concentrate solely on what I do and outsource to other providers that specialise in different areas. My advice is that agents lease and sell property (which they are good at) and should stick to their core functionalities.

    Just my opinion of course.

  3. Mike January 9, 2007 at 12:48 pm #

    I implemented vtiger (vtiger.org) which is an offshoot group from sugarCRM.

    I liked it, it ran on a webserver in the office, so there was no problems if the DSL died but staff could get at it from outside and I think they were developing mobile versions and there was a plugin for outlook to store emails from candidates into the CRM so everyone could see it.

    Having done it once, I would install one of the open source CRM products again. Everytime I use an open source product which is beta or better I am pleasantly surprised at how good they are and the functionality.

    Given they are open source as well, it means if you want to write addons you can (and we did)

    There are also a number of local providers who support this, just google either vtiger or sugarCRM and some ads will come up.

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