By BUILDER Magazine Staff. Home builders are a ripe market for customer relationship management (CRM) software. Builder 1440 launched a builder-specific CRM solution in 2001, and Click2Community plans to do the same later this year. Now the Palatine, Ill.-based Infinite Crossing has entered the fray. Originally launched nearly three years ago as a Web-based visualization tool to help production builders sell options, it has since morphed into a lead-to-contract solution called the Toolbox Network.
The Web-based service, aimed at companies that build more than 100 homes a year, will track what customers and prospects do on a continuous basis. Being able to record which options customers look at on the builder's Web site lets the system suggest other upgrades that might interest them--like Amazon recommends books based on what you've bought in the past.
But CRM programs like Toolbox Network also help salespeople interact directly with customers. "If Mr. Smith gets approved for a mortgage, the tool might tell the salesperson that it's a good time to call Mr. Smith and congratulate him," says company president Larry Eastman.
Pricing for visualization and option selection is on a per-community basis. (For each community, builders can show six different models with three elevations and four customizable rooms each.) The CRM function costs between $100 and $150 per month per user. (A user is generally a salesperson.)
For builders skeptical of the dot-com world, Eastman says the company is debt free. He also says that if a builder has a problem with the software that can't be fixed in 30 to 90 days, the company will refund its investment. "And if we go bankrupt, we will give them the source code."
Besides accessing the software from the Web, builders can also purchase a Toolbox kiosk to install in their sales offices. The kiosk opens up possibilities, such as introductory videos. At least one customer found a creative way to do this. "A gentleman with a remote controlled plane had it fly over a community and take a full-motion video," says Eastman. "It was a lot cheaper than hiring a plane."