CDC Software's newest release of Pivotal CRM for Home Building and Real Estate looks to help streamline operations and boost profits for homebuilders.
Posted Feb 21, 2008
During a time in which the terms "housing," "real estate," and "subprime mortgage" are making the domestic and global economies shudder with fear and loathing, homebuilders -- and some software providers -- gathered in Orlando, Fla., for the 2008 International Builders Show to identify paths to success in the housing market.
CDC Software's Pivotal CRM unit says it's constructed a possible rebuilding tool for the industry: the new version of Pivotal CRM for Home Building and Real Estate 5.9. The updated software, now generally available, looks to help builders increase revenue and margins on home options, while reducing cost and effort of integration with common back-end systems.
Upgrades to the Pivotal CRM solution come directly from client feedback, says Steve Lewkowitz, professional services director for the home building & real estate group at CDC Software. "We have a very strong users group [whose members] help us prioritize or identify enhancements to our product," he explains. "One of our goals is to constantly improve upon our product, so we [can] provide customers with all the information they need as the market changes -- tools they need to really help them do better marketing, nurture leads, and hopefully convert leads into customers."
Pivotal CRM for Home Building and Real Estate, according to the company, is designed to help firms in that vertical to "manage relationships throughout the customer lifecycle." The solution includes help in marketing automation, lead management, sales automation, quoting and contracting, surveying, and customer care. Some of the new features in the 5.9 edition, according to the company, include:
Lewkowitz says the options/selections process was a major area of concentration for the updated version, especially with the growing trend among builders to move toward virtual design software. With that technological shift in mind, CDC Software constructed a two-way bridge for builders to use Pivotal CRM in conjunction with Envision, an enterprise suite of applications developed by New Home Technologies, a subsidiary of Builder Homesite, Inc.
- product library enhancement with support for units of measure;
- option rules and extended wildcarding;
- group calendaring including support for delegation; and
- C# conversion.
The bridge enables builders to offer each buyer a personalized portal with only that buyer's options for use in the design process. Lewkowitz says many builders, including his company's clients, are using Envision in addition to Pivotal CRM. "[Envision] allows [builders] to graphically depict what their options are and provide warranty information -- information they need so they can initiate the sales process," he explains. "We felt a strong need to provide [the bridge to Envision] with our clients, streamlining the integration between the two systems."
Lewkowitz says the newest version of Pivotal CRM is taking into account the notion that homebuyers are often extremely skeptical and slow to make a purchasing decision. "You want to make sure you are giving them as much information as possible and staying in contact with them because the selling process takes longer now," he says. "People aren't typically coming in and buying on the spot."
Melissa Morman, vice president and general manager of Builder Homesite and New Home Technologies, says this integration will enable builders and real estate professionals alike to maximize sales, especially in the current fiscal market. "In today's climate, our builders are looking for every possible way to not only maximize the take rate of [building] options, but also to drive more leads and sales on the front end," she explains. "Having this integration in place helps builders take advantage of both these crucial opportunities while reducing implementation costs and speeding up launch cycles."
Lewkowitz admits that "the feeling among homebuilders is that the market will remain soft in 2008." However, he says, there is industrywide confidence about a rebound in 2009, and this year affords an opportunity to build up CRM technology in advance of the coming wave. "The [housing] market should start to pick up again in 2009, but a lot of homebuilders are looking to get their tools in place during this soft time. So, once the market turns, they will have tools in place to continue to sell."
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