In today’s homebuilding market the customer relationship is king. While CRM (customer-relationship management) software has always been high on the list of priorities for homebuilders, it’s perhaps more so these days as builders look for ways to differentiate. Different types of builders look for different types of solutions; and it all comes down to fulfilling your needs.

For example, Landmark Homes, www.ownalandmark.com, Ephrata, Pa., uses its CRM system to manage thousands of options in 33 communities across seven counties. According to its CRM provider Sales Simplicity Software, www.salessimplicity.net, Chandler, Ariz., this has helped Landmark become one of the top builders in its market.

Landmark also uses the content-management aspect of the CRM software to help improve its market presence. It uses this feature in order to dynamically feed its community sales Websites.

Keith Volker, neighborhood consultant, Landmark Homes, says CRM technology is a critical piece to assisting in the company’s mission of being able to customize a home for a buyer. The builder offers 60 active models and thousands of options for each home. Buyers can configure a model and see realtime lot availability in any community where Landmark is building straight from the Website.

Such data includes topography maps, plans, pricing and lot dispositions based on sales activity. This is all tracked by Sales Simplicity minute-by-minute, across multiple agents and locations.

Speaking to the cost-saving aspect of the CRM tool, Volker says, “We don’t have to hire a Web services company to maintain our site or the data that feeds our topo maps. For our subs and crews, we can print out or electronically distribute lot-specific options specs, and everything—from contact, to contract, to warranty—is fed from the same database, so we are not re-keying data. We have dramatic times savings in our record keeping and lack of redundancy. And after all of that, we look great in front of the buyers.”

For larger production homebuilders, integrating CRM functions to key areas of the enterprise like an ERP (enterprise resource planning) system is essential. Builders like Toll Brothers, www.tollbrothers.com, Horsham, Pa., and M/I Homes, www.mihomes.com, Columbus, Ohio, for example, use software from CDC Software, www.cdcsoftware.com, Atlanta, Ga., to create an all-in-one customer tracking experience.

For the builder, such a system provides a one-stop shop that includes prospecting, follow-up, quoting, contracts, change orders, financing, deposits, option cut-offs, customer care, and email campaign management, among other things. Through customized reporting, a builder can have access to things like sales leads, future sales, and prospecting activities.

Depending on your needs, there is a CRM solution out there to fit your strategy. As the market starts to turn around and new prospects come down the pike, you don’t want to leave any options on the table. Or, in the case of a new home, you may want to leave all your options on the table—home options that is.