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www.CrownExteriors.com
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I'm in the process of setting up an office for my father's contracting company. I'd like to find out what program/system some of yall use for entering costumer information when you receive a new call. This is before he actually gets the job and just to make a record of the customer. I've read up on Quickbooks Costumer Manager, but haven't tried it out yet. Before I do, I wanted to know if there was a better and preferably free (or at least non-recurring cost) option to accomplish the same goals. Also, any other advice is certainly welcome!

I appreciate any help
 

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I am not a computer geek--However, make sure you keep track of where the customer came from--

Web site-paper add-referral(Who gave the reference), --Good luck with that -there are some real good business people here.---Someone will offer you their ideas.--MIKE--
 

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We use customer manager to handle all our leads/customers/etc.

It works reasonably well and integrates pretty well with QuickBooks.

My too complaints are:

1. "sorting" facility (i.e., show me all leads that came in in 2007 from referrals) should be lots more powerful

2. it very much seems like Intuit is treating it like an orphaned child. They "sort of" support it, but haven't really invested the time or resources they could to create a really good product.

If you have any specific questions, I'll try to answer them.
 

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Hi, I'm in the process of setting up an office for my father's contracting company. I'd like to find out what program/system some of yall use for entering costumer information when you receive a new call. This is before he actually gets the job and just to make a record of the customer. I've read up on Quickbooks Costumer Manager, but haven't tried it out yet. Before I do, I wanted to know if there was a better and preferably free (or at least non-recurring cost) option to accomplish the same goals. Also, any other advice is certainly welcome!

I appreciate any help
Welcome to CT. Just a heads up, please fill out your profile and do an intro in the introduction section.

I have the same issues, and use a combination of Construction Suite Pro and Quickbooks Contractor. It's hard to develop a system, but this site is full of guys who have great ones in place.
 

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We use customer manager to handle all our leads/customers/etc.

It works reasonably well and integrates pretty well with QuickBooks.

My too complaints are:

1. "sorting" facility (i.e., show me all leads that came in in 2007 from referrals) should be lots more powerful

2. it very much seems like Intuit is treating it like an orphaned child. They "sort of" support it, but haven't really invested the time or resources they could to create a really good product.

If you have any specific questions, I'll try to answer them.
I believe Intuit took the latest version to the web of customer manager and the desk top version is now an orphan.
 

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I have not found a contact management program that plays nice with any acct or estimate system .... not sure I want to ... analyze your company first, do you want your contact management program and those who use it to have access to your acct software? Perhaps contact mgmt and estimating combined might be ok but generally in those cases the CM program is lacking ... try a real cm program if you have a sales crew, it's a world of difference .... and don't think about MS Outlook if your serious, it'll bog down at about 2400 contacts
 

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If Intuit's offering meets your needs then its cost shouldn't be an issue. It is about the most affordable CRM that exists that isn't free.

You can also check out ACT, Goldmine, SugarCRM, Zoho, Salesforce, Highrise, MyOnlineToolbox, Ntractive if you're on a Mac, and many others. If you were in a service industry I would recommend you try out ServiceTycoon.

We use Salesforce and we're happy with it. We are going to try out Intuit's just for the integration with our accounting system. Mike is right, it's all cloud based now. The previous version got poor reviews and we haven't tried the most recent version.

The biggest investment in these systems isn't the cost of the software, it's the mapping of your data and figuring out what you need to enter, and then spending the time entering the data. It simply takes a lot of time if you have a lot of records.

Most of the software available has a trial period in which they hope to get you hooked -- once you've entered the data and become comfortable with their way of doing things, you'll be less likely to try out their competition.

Good luck with your choice.
 

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We wrote and developed our own - I would suggest that if you don't have a system put your thoughts down on paper.
Write down your business process first - you might learn some interesting things - from Business Plan -> Marketing -> Sales -> Plan / Specs / Estimate -> Contract -> Admin -> Production -> Accounting

If you go through this process - you can find what information you want , how to set up your systems.

Then write your forms

It makes it easier to evaluate your software.

I would be glad to walk you through ours to see what you can accomplish.

Contact me if you wish.

Terry
 

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Nest Home Improvement
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I have used a number of different CRM programs including ACT, Goldmine, SugarCRM, Access.... If Customer Manager by Intuit can really transfer information into QuickBooks as they claim and you use QB already, then I would see a big time savings benefit there despite the $10 monthly fee.

However, it really depends on your needs and how you plan to use it. A big consideration is whether or not you want a desktop based or web-based program.
 

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www.CrownExteriors.com
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I really appreciate all the helpful responses. After reading through all of them, I now think it best that I take a step back and analyze our processes, so I can find out exactly what we need.

I would be glad to walk you through ours to see what you can accomplish.
Thanks, modterry, after I get my things in order, I just might take you up on this offer.
 

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I believe Intuit took the latest version to the web of customer manager and the desk top version is now an orphan.
I learn something new every day!

I looked at it a little. I couldn't tell if my first complaint has been improved, but they don't (yet) have a migration path for those of us with the desktop version to the on-line version anyway.

In general, I don't like paying monthly fees for web based applications. I'd rather pony up the money up front and use it as much and as long as I want. Perhaps I'll be looking for a new solution soon, too. :rolleyes:

Thanks for the heads-up.
 

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I think this is a simplistic and effective program for...

managing incoming calls.

This program is for tracking, recording, and managing your service calls when you answer your phone and you don't want to lose or forget to go to a job, go to an estimate, or forget to return a call. We use the program for every job and message that comes in and this simple program can help you to make a lot of money because it will give you a report every day until you finally get to one of those pain jobs that you keep putting off and the job unexpectedly is a little gold mine.

This program is terrific because it is not integrated with other software and you can learn to use it or teach a person in a few minutes. This program is not for tracking where leads come from because this is accomplished with the Customer List Database program that is also free.

I am against gigantic software programs that have a multitude of worthless functions that slow down and complicate data entry.

You can download this dispatching program for free and look at the other free software that simplifies running your business.

http://bestlineplumbing.com/ServiceCalls.htm
 

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MyOnlineToolbox cofounder
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quick alternative without needing to analyze

I now think it best that I take a step back and analyze our processes, so I can find out exactly what we need.
Why not give MyOnlineToolbox.com a quick try. It's live and you can analyze all you want for Free, right now. I would suggest not trying to re-invent the wheel. My instinct tells me that many of the things your dad does are manual and simply outdated when it comes to processes. It is like analyzing someone with a landline phone and you are walking in with a new mobile device. Sometimes studying old outdated methods is simply not applicable when newer technologies and processes are at your fingertips. Best wishes and good luck in 2010. Brian
 

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Web Dude
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Personally use and absolutely love ACT. Bit of a learning curve, but it handles everything and is easily modifiable.

I can tell you this though, having a client database is going to put you and your old man miles ahead of the majority of business people. I don't just mean contractors either, the amount of money people lose by not marketing to past customers is astounding.

Walking over the dollars to get to the dimes, I suppose.
 

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www.CrownExteriors.com
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks, PCPlumber, MOTB, and J. Sullivan for the replies. Right now I'm trying to decide if a server- or pc-based solution is what we need or not. I will indeed check out each of the suggestions you've all made for sure.

I appreciate everyone's help :thumbsup:
 

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Fantastic information!

I plan on re-visiting this in my off-season. I appreciate the information and it is very professionally presented.

I've been using Outlook for the day to day, and getting it into ACT at the end of the year. I know I'm missing a lot of follow-up during our season.
 

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I agree that the first step is to examine your processes and establish what information you'll ultimately need and how you'll use it.

I use Outlook. Contact info integrates with Calendar and with e-mail: these are the essential linkages for managing day-to-day tasks even if you don't manage your daily task list using Outlook. If you have to transfer between different software packages to keep each of these separately updated, the friction will cost you time and money and sanity.

I stay completely away from cloud-based systems, in part because internet access and G3 is so spotty in the field. I need to be able to find a phone number regardless of whether an internet connection is up. I am completely laptop-based and totally mobile.

I synch contacts daily with my Blackberry: smart-phone integration is absolutely essential, and another reason I stay with Outlook. Putting my contact info on my smartphone was the single smartest decision I made since I left my desktops behind in favor of laptops.

Adding contact info to Quickbooks is simple and fast: there's only a half-dozen contact fields you normally use. You add this info for vendors anyway -- it's a normal part of your bookkeeping work. But trying to move in the other direction -- to extract the info and obtain the sorting, synching, and integration capabilities of a program like Outlook -- is always a hassle with Quickbooks and ultimately may be impossible. The combination of anything cloud-based and Quickbooks should make anyone nervous to begin with.

Questions to think about: how many contacts might I ultimately be dealing with? How often and from where will I have to access the info? Who will be entering or adding to the info? What might I want to do with the info besides make a call, send an e-mail, or send a bill? What kind of sorting and organizing would be useful, and for what purposes, and how often?
 

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Interior Renovations
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I use Excel. I am pretty computer illiterate but I find that its easy to use and I can set it up exactly how I want it and make changes easily.
 
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