Tuffin’ It Out: Tracking systems keep you and your sales on target
By Todd Raisanen, president of TraVek Inc., Scottsdale, Ariz.
Our referrals and previous customers have carried us through the leaner years. We had a basic tracking system in place for every type of job we have done since we opened for business 10 years ago. Even though we had monetized on it for years, it wasn’t until things got lean that we realized we could track things much more efficiently.
One of the best business practices we implemented a few years ago was a very robust and analytical lead, sales and marketing tracking system: By the Numbers, an online customer relations management (CRM) system.
Basically, when a lead comes in, we enter all the information that we can into the system such as name, address, where they heard of us, project type and any other useful details about the conversation. Then we assign them to one of our salespeople, and they become responsible for converting that lead.
If the lead becomes a sale, then we hand it over to the production team, who uses the system as a management tool. We can track the timeline, schedule, materials and warranties from the system. We also have internal tracking capabilities that allow us to measure employee performance over time.
Because of this system, we have found that not only are we more productive and efficient, but we are able to capture definitively our successes and failures to guide us into the future.
Marketing to secure leads
The current economic climate has turned the remodeling industry into a buyer’s market. This is why relationships and relationship marketing has been so important. Figuring out how to systematically grow and target these relationships became a top priority for us in recent years.
Our CRM system helps us retain all our customer’s and prospect’s information from jobs completed or estimated in a detailed way so we can focus our marketing around their history and future needs.
For example, perhaps we did a bath remodel one year for a client. A couple of years later, we were marketing kitchen remodels or maybe we did a full remodel 10 years ago. By now the people would like a fresh look, but did not have the funds to remodel, so we can now market painting to them.
The program allowed us to have all that previous information at our fingertips, and we can use that to capture their attention because of past services and records. Approximately 67% of our sales come from using this method of direct marketing to our existing customer base.
Another way to use the program involves home maintenance agreements or warranties. Our system has flagged us to get out to a home we completed several years prior to do maintenance that will extend the customer’s warranty.
Previously, these were things that often inadvertently fell to the wayside just because there had been no real way to track and follow up on them. Customers are happy we remembered, and for the company, it is another touch point to bring in sales.
On the other end of the marketing spectrum is the system’s tracking capabilities. The system helps us track the exact acquisition cost of every sale and can tie it to the marketing and the salesperson. We have been able to increase gross revenues through taking money from advertising that doesn’t work and putting it toward a tactic that does work.
This practice allows us to use an open book management with our salespeople in their lead and sales acquisition. They can see exactly the leads they got, how much marketing it cost to get those leads, and how much marketing it costs for them to get every sale. We set the expectations that their overall acquisition cost has to be at a certain percentage, and the rest is up to them.
We have found this to be a great motivator—whether they need to close some higher sales or maybe they need to get and close more referrals and self-generated leads to bring down the overall cost. It is completely up to them, and they can see where they are at any time in comparison to company expectations. Issues of hiring and firing are not surprises because the numbers do not lie. We never have to depend on gut feelings as to whether or not marketing or salespeople are effective.
Having such an analytical system in place has, in some cases, become a bargaining tool with certain marketing venues. Companies that we advertise with see that we track everything, and as a result, we have been able to secure special deals. For instance, after showing a local magazine the historical lead generation data, they allowed us a special trial rate to measure effectiveness that our company otherwise couldn’t afford.
Last, but certainly not least, our current customer satisfaction has increased. Having a system that keeps everyone in tune to what is going on with any job at any given time has proved to be only beneficial to our customer relationships.
When a person calls the office and wonders what is going on with their job, the person answering does not have to simply take a message. They can go right into the system and see what is happening. The customers love it, and employees can act more independently. Customer relations are much stronger when everyone is on the same page.
For these reasons and so many more, TraVek feels that our lead, sales and marketing tracking system is one of the big reasons as to why we have been able to make it through these more difficult economic times. We tightened our sales team with the top performers and have more than doubled our closing ratio. In 2006, before the recession we had a 15% closing ratio compared to now, which is 35% closing ratio. Additionally, because of careful tracking, we have been able to keep our cost-of-sale profit margins within 1% of our goal.
We are committed to putting the best systems in place right so that we can put our best foot forward with each and every customer and prosper. As George Odiorne, author of “Management Decisions by Objectives” said, “Winners know their numbers.” If you don’t know your numbers, get to know them. It will make all the difference.
Todd Raisanen is the president of TraVek, Inc., a family-owned business located in Scottsdale, Ariz. TraVek celebrated its 10-year anniversary having opened for business in September 2001, specializing in kitchens, bathrooms, room additions, guest house construction, patio and garage conversions, interior and exterior painting, and landscape design. TraVek now thrives as a respected name in the world of remodeling in the Phoenix area with about 20 employees and more than $2 million in gross revenues. Todd can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.