How do you pull it all together?
Keeping track of customers, proposals, contracts, employees, payroll, appointments, is hard if you don’t have a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system in place. Most people I talk to use some combination of Outlook and Quickbooks along with paper documents and appointment scheduling software.
Doing it that way worked okay when my painting business was smaller but now that I’ve grown, so too has the need for me to have a better, more reliable system in place to power the different processes in my business. I’ve checked out lots of different CRM systems for contractors but CorkCRM works the best by far. Here’s an in-depth review of the software based on how I use it in my business.
Cork Customer Relationship Management Features
Anytime someone contacts you for a painting estimate, you can keep track of their information by putting it into the system. In my business, I’ve set up the system to send the customer a welcome email with some basic info about my business. The welcome email also has a link to a page where they can schedule the estimate online.
Most customers find me through referrals, lead generation services, or just by searching for different painting companies on Google. Regardless of how they find me, the first thing I need to do after giving them some basic info about my business is schedule a time to give them an estimate. About half of my appointments are made over the phone. The other half comes through a form on my website that links directly to my appointments in CorkCRM.
It was pretty easy to setup the form, I just had to copy and paste some code onto my website’s “Request an Estimate” page. My customers have the option to just give me their information or give me their information and then schedule an estimate based on the appointment times I set in Cork. The appointment calendar itself is pretty easy to use too, works just like any other online calendar you would use.
I used to do everything on paper, including work proposals and contracts but doing it electronically turned out to be a lot easier. After I crunch all of my numbers I just punch them into the system and it creates a really sharp-looking proposal form I can give to my customer. If the customer wants a hard copy I can give them one using a portable printer I keep with me in my truck. I’ve been noticing that more and more of my customers prefer to do everything through email. The system will automatically email my customer a proposal after I’m done filling it out.
When one of my customers is ready to sign a contract they can do it online from their home. I prefer to do it in person. When I meet with a customer to sign a contract we will usually go through the terms of the contract and then they sign their name on my phone using a stylus or just their finger. The signature is saved in the system and they automatically get a copy emailed to them. If they want a hard copy I can print one off for them but for most people, email is enough. If you want, your customer can sign on an IPad or on your computer but using my phone works just as well.
Job Scheduling and Accounting
I like this particular feature a lot because it lets me schedule out my jobs on an easy to read calendar. When scheduling a job in the system I can also assign a crew to that job. Depending on the season I will have 2 – 3 crews going at a time. I don’t ever have to tell my crews where they need to be, they just show up, because all of the info is already in the system. My proposals are usually pretty detailed so I don’t have to tell them what’s included/ not included, they just pull up the paperwork for the job online.
What’s also cool about the job calendar is that it displays how many hours my guys have reported in payroll compared to the budget for the job. That way, I don’t have to do any math to figure out if each job is on budget or starting to go over just in time for me to put the hammer down. Hours worked are displayed directly on the calendar.
I used to have my guys write their hours down and then email them to me at the end of the week. It sort of worked except I would have workers on the same crews report different lunch lengths and different stopping times for the day. I like Cork’s payroll feature because it allows each guy to input his hours online and I can view employee entries at any time. There’s no paperwork to lose and I can compare individual time entries with the rest of the guys on the crew to make sure no one is claiming to have worked longer than anyone else. At the end of the week I can approve the hours and cut checks. This way there is no second-guessing who worked what hours.
Recording payments and expenses
I still keep my receipts in a folder for tax time but now I also record them in CorkCRM so it’s easy to see how much I spend on labor, and materials for each job. At the end of the job I can pull a report in the system to see how much I made on the job, to the penny.
Want to try it?
For more information on CorkCRM you can visit the website at http://corkcrm.com. There are videos to explain how to do different things in the system on the site. You can also play around with the software by signing up for a free trial.
If you have any questions, please comment below.
Once you’ve had a chance to check it out feel free to post a review here.