Last issue, Floor Covering News examined the concept of customer relationship management (CRM) in terms of what it is and how it relates to a retailer’s business. The article also looked at why today’s innovative software programs make it easier than ever for owners to grow and succeed, especially from products created specifically to meet the needs of the floor covering industry.
Recognizing that CRM is an actual business strategy aimed at understanding, anticipating and responding to the needs of an enterprise’s current and potential customers is one thing. Obtaining the software program that will best meet your company’s CRM needs is another.
Looking at it strictly from a technological point of view, CRM is the ability to take customer information and combine it with various operational, analytical and support tools to help the entire operation—from the employees on the front lines to those who work behind the scenes—provide customers with the best possible experience from start to finish.
From this perspective, CRM is not sales force automation (SFA), although SFA is a component of CRM. By most standards, the minimum number of software components to achieve a true CRM suite is three, and include SFA, marketing management and customer service.
Flooring industry software providers are quick to note their programs go beyond these three basic functions and offer a plethora of tools exclusively designed for the flooring retailer.
With that, FCNews surveyed some of the leading industry software firms to get an idea of what their CRM software is about, what makes it unique and why it is an important tool in helping retailers better manage their overall business.
In addition to the above elements, Cathy Welsh, operations manager, said CDMS has “a huge database of historical information gathered over years on your customers, products sales, returns, claims, installation issues and salesman performance.”
Through these tools, CDMS allows the salesman to be proactive in approaching any sale. “We allow you to create mail merges to target specific customers,” she explained, “such as all customers that have purchased carpet 12 months ago, so that you can contact them and offer cleaning services. “Our software allows you to accumulate all kinds of detailed information about the customer, products, sales, salesman performance, installation types, installer issues, and so on,” Welsh noted. There are many analytical reports and downloads to help a dealer make better purchasing, installation, sales, and pricing decisions on any product or any customer.
“We allow you to store as much historical information as your disk drives will hold,” Welsh explained. “With a 70GB disk drive, a customer with two retail stores, representing $5 million a year in sales, can expect to keep as much as 25 years of historical information on his system. With that many years of data, you quickly see trends and problems.”
One of the things that makes CDMS unique, she said is “the Customer Service/Claims Management module that allows a dealer to pull all this information together when processing a service or claim. It keeps track of where you purchased the product, the customer contract number, the supplier invoice, the check number used to pay for it, which salesperson sold the job, which installer(s) did the job, the job’s profit margin, and so on.” The program also allows dealers to export the information out of CDMS into Excel, Access or any other Windows or Mac based application.
CDMS’ Complete Contract History, is another unique concept, Welsh added. It allows a retailer to proactively contact the customer if a manufacturer discovers a problem with a product and tell her what the mill is doing to correct the situation.
For more on CDMS, call 888.848.2367.
Floor Covering Soft
Steven Wang, president, said the company’s FloorLink.net is a CRM web-based system that is also integrated with Floor Covering Soft’s measure estimating solution. Customers can deploy and have access to customer information instantly, schedule appointments, draw a floor diagram, send marketing emails and plan installations over the Web with a browser, he added.
Some of the key features to Floor Covering Soft’s CRM program include the ability to track lead generation, sales activities conversion, contact, appointments and schedules; track his- tory of customer communication; comprehensive reporting functions such as seeing sales revenue projection in pipeline; download vendor B2B product catalogs from any company supporting the industry’s protocol, such as Beaulieu, Mohawk and Shaw, and manage and change measured jobs from anywhere.
The program also allows retailers to control user access rights and it is configurable at corporate and store location levels.
While applicable to any dealer, Wang noted, FloorLink.net CRM is at its best when incorporated into a business with multiple stores and locations, especially those that provide a centralized hub for Web-based access to their remote users.
Along these lines, the system allows companies to measure and estimate as well as collaborate and share measure projects.
There are two ways to deploy the company’s CRM offering. It can be either hosted by Floor Covering Soft or on a business’ corporate server.
The first option, Wang said, is “fast and easy to get started, and it eliminates IT hardware and maintenance expenses.” The cost is a monthly subscription fee based on number of users.
For retailers with a corporate Web server, the second option is suitable. There is a one-time setup cost and, like the first option, a monthly subscription fee is charged for the number of users.
For more on Floor Covering Soft, call 866.928.3326.
When it comes to CRM systems, it should be complete, noted Tim Magnuson, president. Meaning it will include not only prospect and customer information management and marketing management, but fully integrated notes, email, web-links, maps, work orders, and analytical reporting, among other things.
And, that, he added is one of the key premises with which the software provider always works under. “We think the most important thing we can do for our customers is to provide soft- ware that enables better communication among all their employees.”
That is where Kashmoo FlooringSoft comes in as it allows for total communication throughout an operation. “Getting everyone on the same page is a huge benefit,” Magnuson noted. Fully integrated notes flow throughout the system from the work order all the way up to the top level customer record and everywhere in between, “allowing all employees to speak to prospects and customers with the confidence that they know all that they need to know about that customer’s status.”
What makes the system so easy, he pointed out, is that it is Web-based and straightforward. Being on the Web gives a retail owner and staff easier access anywhere, any time.
“So, for salespeople,” Magnuson said,” “it means they can track leads, close orders, determine the status of jobs and much more without having to call, email, fax or talk with anyone, saving them hours of time and frustration.”
“The scheduler can communicate with everyone in the business by simply dragging and dropping color-coded jobs on an interactive Web-based jobs calendar,” he continued. “The person doing purchasing can see all the jobs ready to order, and a list of all active purchase orders. The owner can see who is scheduled to work the showroom and who is out on measures at a glance. And the warehouse can see jobs that need to be staged for the next day and receive materials as they arrive from manufacturers.”
One of the program’s key differentiators, he said, is its ability to seamlessly integrate with QuickBooks. “A large majority of flooring retailers use QuickBooks, and Kashmoo’s Flooring Soft product is the only one with a real-time, two-way QuickBooks integration. This is very important to the CRM picture, since most retailers have been entering customer relation- ship information into QuickBooks for years.”
Not only does this feature allow retailers to “retain that hard-won investment of time, money and historical data” they have in QuickBooks, it eliminates the need for double data entry.
Kashmoo, Magnuson added, is also “the only software vendor in the industry with a ‘configurable system.’ This means the program can be custom-configured to match the dealer’s unique need—such as sales and work order forms—and because the system was designed from the ground up, custom configuration can be done quickly and at very low cost. No other flooring software offers this kind of flexibility.”
For more information on Kashmoo, call 888.448.0101.
One of the unexpected benefits of using Pacific Solutions’ CRM features that surprises new clients is how much better their customer service becomes in such a short period of time, explained Don Kilbourne, vice president of sales. “This allows them to resolve in seconds aspects of customer service that would otherwise require many minutes or hours and span multiple business days. Naturally this kind of customer service efficiency translates into higher profits for the business.”
To achieve this, he said Pacific Solutions blends flooring-specific information and functions with the contact management tools of Microsoft Outlook, allowing salespeople and business development staff “very powerful tools that are also logical, intuitive and familiar to almost all computer users.”
But, what really sets Pacific Solutions’ CRM apart, Kilbourne noted, “We are the only flooring system using FileMaker Server, a database of Apple Computers. Most people are now familiar with the immense dedication and hundreds of millions of dollars Apple invests in R&D for user interface and efficiency. So users can accomplish a lot more in much less time and can run their business completely paperless.”
He said the system is based on an unlimited approach, product categories, contacts per account, condition categories, and number of users. “And because it is multi-threaded,” he explained, “it allows multiple sessions per workstation without requiring more user licenses, so users can have CRM tools open in one session, their jobs or reports open in another, and so on.
Part of the benefit of affiliating with Apple, Kilbourne added, is Pacific Solution software runs natively and optimized on an iPhone and iPad. “That greatly expands the freedom and scope of using CRM software—from the showroom floor while making selections, a client’s living room, contractor’s jobsite, your car or truck, virtually anywhere you’ve got the opportunity to use your cell phone.”
For more information on Pacific Solutions, call 800.400. 4927.
Having a compete CRM package is one thing, having one that is made specifically for the flooring industry is another. But having a computer system that is also easy to use is key to helping make a retail operation run efficiently and at its full potential, noted Chad Ogden, CEO.
This ease of use is a key component of the QFloors system, he added. “It is very easy to input, access and share the data— everything integrates smoothly.”
As an example, Ogden said the ability to turn a proposal into a bid is a “very simple, seamless process. Information does not need to be re-entered into the computer, saving mistakes, time and dropped balls.”
Because it is user-friendly, he explained, all sales employees can both input and access their own customer information. “This streamlines things and makes following up a much quicker and easier process. With this system, no employee is dependent upon another person in the organization to access or retrieve the data he needs to be successful.”
In essence, Ogden said, the QFloors CRM package allows a dealer to create a record that tracks potential customers. “It makes it very easy to organize leads by salesperson and even allows you to pro- duce multiple proposals for a potential customer. Those proposals can easily be turned into orders within the system.
“Tracking potential customers electronically provides management with valuable information on how successful the company’s business practices and processes are,” he continued. “Owners and managers can also track specific employees’ success rates, so that they can then replicate those results [with other employees].”
As a result of all this, “Fewer people fall through the cracks,” Ogden said. “Each member of the sales force benefits because they have better information on which potential customer they should be focusing their time and energies on.
“Thus,” he concluded, “the system helps them prioritize their leads, as well as prioritizing and following up with existing customers.”
For more on QFloors, call 866.563.0140.
Recognizing that effective CRM software should not simply be a record book, but rather a method of organizing, managing and streamlining every single aspect of prospecting for and obtaining new customers. The CRM software offered by RFMS is “much more than simply a contact database,” said Terry Wheat, president.
“RFMS was built on integration and management focus,” he added, “so naturally, our CRM software modules follow suit.”
Broken into three main areas—sales floor manager, retail sales manager and commercial project manager—Wheat said a dealer can choose the exact version that fits his operation—from a small retail setup, mid-sized, all the way up to commercial.
With RFMS’ CRM suite, he continued, a dealer can manage his sales floor, track advertising, keep in touch with existing customers, organize and track warranty issues, streamline large commercial jobs, set appointments, send internal email, mail merge and create letters, and check sales performance.
Data capture is only a small part of what CRM’s technology is about, Wheat noted. “It starts from the moment a customer steps inside the store” with the Sales Floor Manager, which man- ages the sales force UPS, and captures important customer contact information and demographics. The Retail Sales Manager keeps everyone in the company on the same page. “You can send task notifications to the appropriate staff, enter important remarks, produce sales reports and perform many other relationship tracking duties,” he explained.
Finally, Wheat said for serious flooring project management, the Commercial Project Manager module is the tool as it allows the total integration of all aspects of a commercial flooring job. “The need for multiple programs to keep track and manage the complexities of commercial work is eliminated.”
For more on RFMS, call 800.701.7367.