By: Lisa Tufano
Is your CRM helping to grow your NOI? It should be. Otherwise it’s really just pretty, but likely expensive, pixels on a screen.
Investing in CRM, or any lead management technology, is a tremendous strategic undertaking and it needs to pay dividends. However, you don’t need to feel stuck under the weight of it. These 6 steps will guide you on your path to CRM success.
1. Identify opportunities for NOI improvement
You can identify current strengths and weaknesses by asking some basic performance-based questions:
- Do we have enough prospect pipeline to meet our goals?
- Are we investing too much or too little?
- Who are our high and low-performing leasing agents?
- Are we meeting our sales engagement standards?
- Are we proactively engaging our residents?
- Do we have renewal predictability?
Your answers to the above will guide you in identifying core themes and your BHP (big, hairy problem). It’s okay if you don’t yet have answers to these questions, or if you’re not sure about your answers today. That is exactly why you need a CRM.
2. It takes a village
Involve internal stakeholders early on in the CRM vetting process, because this one business decision will trigger noticeable downstream impacts in multiple departments in your organization, good or bad. Generally speaking, you will ideally need input and guidance from:
- Leasing – On-site team and Regional Directors
3. Measure twice, cut once
Gather current organizational data in your key areas of NOI opportunity, because knowing where you are today with performance will really help you to compare and understand the impact of new lead management technology. At a minimum identify the following benchmark data for your portfolio today: tour/lease conversions, response times by agent, ad spend, loss reasons, conversion to tour/lease by contact type and renewal ratios.
4. Do a little homework
Once you have identified your benchmark data, it’s time for research. Modern consumers often crowdsource solutions to major decisions, and you will soon discover that CRM technology can be very polarizing because of how central it is to a well run sales organization. Consider asking what your industry friends and peers are using in online forums and groups. What do they love about their lead management processes today? What do they dislike? Narrow the field and then set up product demos based on your findings.
Crowdsourcing is step one of your CRM due diligence process. As you begin to review solutions, at some point early on you’ll want to invite your IT team to collaborate with potential CRM providers and evaluate the depth and flexibility of integrations. You’ll want to get answers to what you can expect in terms of initial set up and roll out, as well as ongoing training. Ask for customer references and case studies, and be sure these insights come from customers with no financial stake in the CRM technology you’re considering. It’s important to get the “real talk” from current CRM users to avoid unnecessary disappointment, frustration and costly change management later on.
5. Run water through the pipes
Before making a portfolio-wide decision, I advise narrowing the field to two or three potential partners. A typical pilot lasts about three months, which is plenty of time to really run some water through the CRM pipes.
The ultimate goal for CRM is always to improve NOI. The path to creating that value is different for every operator, so during your pilot period you’ll work closely with your CRM providers to establish what success looks like.
The pilot period is the time to test and to get things wrong. There inevitably will be road bumps, and that’s okay! Use the pilot period to determine if you’re still solving the right problems. It’s also an excellent opportunity to experience how implementation, training and technical support will work at scale.
6. Review the ‘OIs
NOI. ROI. That’s all that matters at the end of day. If a CRM doesn’t deliver financial returns during the pilot, then why move forward? Some bigger questions that can help frame this are:
- Were you able to eliminate redundant or outdated technology?
- Did you spend your marketing budget more efficiently?
- Did economic occupancy improve through better sales performance?
Investment in CRM is an investment in time, money and effort. These 6 steps will ensure you’re not leaving money on the table!