Why Bother with a Real Estate CRM?
Once upon a time, real estate agents, or their assistants, meticulously maintained address books, rolodexes, and notecards by hand, filling out and then filing client information away until the time came for them to manually seal, address, and stamp bulk mailings before heading to the post office. Each new handwritten name, address, and phone number represented a crucial expansion of the agent’s growing network and increased the risk for papercuts and hand cramps from writing on and folding so much paper. The human cost of labor (hours upon endless hours) and the environmental cost of sad trees falling to a brutal end led the frazzled agent to seek out a better solution.
Skip ahead a few decades, past the early days of unsightly Microsoft Excel spreadsheets (nobody wants to go there) and rudimentary digital address books, and land in the 21st century to experience the dawning of a new era of efficiency and automation. Because the real estate industry relies so heavily on networking and constant communication with lots of people at once, professionals increasingly employ a CRM, or Customer Relationship Management software.
Now, to the sound of happy trees celebrating everywhere, real estate agents can manage huge contact lists, automate routine emails (not a single trip to the post office required!), and manage the entirety of a client’s sales pipeline in one place. However, despite such massive, digital-age progress, choosing a CRM among the hundreds of them hitting the marketplace can leave companies feeling as frazzled as the pre-digital real estate agent.
If your company needs to find a CRM to manage its sales pipeline, don’t fret. We put together a list of considerations to prioritize when comparing CRM features. But first, if you want to learn more about what a CRM is and how a few of them compare, read our Deep-Dive on What Makes the Best Real Estate CRMs. Then, continue on for an overview of what factors to take into account when searching for a CRM.
Related: How to Become an Apartment Locator
Top Factors to Consider When Choosing Your New CRM
Your budget will determine what CRMs make it onto your list. However, in addition to budgetary considerations, several other important factors should influence your final decision. Pay close attention to following issues:
If you can’t afford it, you can’t buy it. Sounds pretty straightforward, but you’ll want a clear CRM budget plan that fits within your company’s long-term financial goals, especially if your CRM comes with a subscription that you’ll continue to pay on a monthly or yearly basis. Some software companies, such as Salesforce, offer tiered-packages with cheaper options that come with fewer features, or more expensive packages that come with more.
2. Real Estate Centered
There are general CRMs and industry-specific CRMs. The general ones attempt to produce a system that can work for as many industries as possible with customizable features to adapt the software to your workflow. These CRMs can work well for many businesses, but require extra time to set up in a way that works for your industry and for your particular business. If any general CRMs make it onto your list, research them carefully because they aren’t always user friendly and can cost more in both time and labor than other options.
CRMs built specifically for real estate take the needs of that particular industry into consideration. They will design their product around a typical real estate workflow and offer the features you need most without as much set up as a general CRM. Often, the learning curve will be lower as well since, as a product made for your profession, it will require much less customization to make it work the way you need.
Your CRM should make it easy to move clients through every step of the standard real estate pipeline: Lead → Phone Call Scheduled → Meeting Scheduled → Agreed to Work Together → Touring → Closed Sale. Review this pipeline in comparison with your own process and adapt it as needed. Add in details, such as what emails need to go out at what points. Then, check every CRM on your list to make sure it can carry you through each step.
The best CRMs on the market can automate a great deal of work for you, freeing you up to focus on making meaningful connections with clients who need immediate attention. Automated emails based on templates that arrive in client inboxes at exactly the right moment have become a common CRM feature. Set reminders of all sorts, and let the software prioritize tasks and track your progress for you. Automation can save serious time and boost productivity, so consider it a must-have.
5. Contact Details
By contact details, we mean detailed details. The more information you collect and store about a client, the better you can meet their needs. It is no longer enough to gather a name, address, and phone number. You need to learn about your client’s preferences, their needs vs. their wants, their likes and dislikes. Find out about their pets, hobbies, favorite foods, and more. You never know when that information will come in handy. After all, that spare bedroom could have great acoustics and work as a sound room for your next guitar-playing client.
6. Learning Curve
It shouldn’t take months of learning before you can successfully implement your CRM. You want to make sales now, not later. A CRM that will allow you to jump in and start working right away should take priority.
Pro tip: As you peruse the websites for all of these CRMs, be prepared to sift through some gimmicky language about cloud-based services, AI, and databases. Some companies like to throw empty catchphrases around to market their products. Most of these terms refer to the basic building blocks of virtually all software made these days.
With those factors in mind, you’re equipped to start finding your business’ real estate CRM, and with a little perseverance and dedication, you’ll find the best match for you.
But, if the perfect CRM fails to emerge from your search, consider building your own.
Read the story of how AptAmigo decided to build its own custom CRM.
Why Not Avoid the CRM Search and Work for AptAmigo?
Don’t want to deal with the hassle of finding a CRM? AptAmigo’s apartment locators use the company’s own proprietary software built for our unique workflow. Apply today to become an agent and gain access to the best real estate CRM out there.
AptAmigo is proud to be an equal opportunity workplace and does not discriminate based on race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, genetic information, physical or mental disability, medical condition, marital status, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by applicable law, in connection with any aspect of employment at AptAmigo.
Karrie Fuller earned her PhD in English from the University of Notre Dame. After a decade of teaching college-level writing and English courses, she brings a wealth of expertise about writing, editing, and content management to AptAmigo's marketing team.