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When it comes to building or remodeling the most beautiful, stylish, street of dreams homes, Rainier Custom Homes has built a reputation for quality and “remarkable” customer service.
It didn’t happen overnight.
The Jarman family focused on great customer relationships from two generations. Then it was time for a new CEO — Steve Hettema — to continue growing a business where 80 percent of business proudly came from referrals word-of-mouth.
“It has created an incredible reputation for clients, subcontractors, and other industry professionals. Relationships are deep and that is a fantastic advantage to our clients.”
In a busy market like Seattle, relationships are everything to help prioritize client jobs and to keep the work coming for subcontractors. Besides client relationships, Rainier Custom Homes is deep in architect, design, engineer, and municipality communities which helps them meet deadlines and requests for customers — true advantages to those relationships.
Leading Pacific Northwest construction company improves time-to-close by more than half while continually offering remarkable customer service.
While the company remained successful, Hettema knew he needed to keep those relationships going and reach new sales goals based on those same company values. He kept the Rainier Custom Homes mission statement in his business process:
Hettema said that’s why the company has kept a different pricing model than most companies by using a cost plus pricing method. He said it is very different than time and material and more transparent than a fixed price bid. The Rainier Custom Homes team obtains all of the actual hard costs for what it will take to build a client’s project and simply charge a pre-agreed overhead and markup on top of that.
“This allows us to be completely transparent with our clients on their costs to build. In essence, costs and pricing with Rainier Custom Homes is open book to our clients. This creates a culture of trust with our clients from the very beginning.”
He added that because of the Rainier Custom Homes business model, the staff understands that they are “doing the right thing, what is right for clients.”
As a result, the Rainier Custom Homes team calls their “remarkable” experience which has impressively led to 80 percent of business garnered from referrals and repeat clients.
When Hettema came on board, the team was using a vertical CRM called BuilderTrend, marketed toward companies in the construction industry.
But it wasn’t what he needed.
“In my opinion, it wasn’t much of a CRM because it lacked a lot of the contact relations management and it was more internal. It had a few points that it would coordinate with clients.”
He said it didn’t have the productivity features he needed.
“There was very little that it would do to ensure that projects were moving from one stage to another. It simply wasn’t intuitive to how we work.”
Hettema did more research and demoed other construction company CRMs but he said they were all built similarly and fairly costly including expensive implementation costs.
That’s when he decided to look into Pipeline CRM for Rainier Custom Homes. He had used Pipeline CRM at a previous company he ran.
The fact that Pipeline CRM is a sales focused CRM and not a construction CRM was an advantage especially because he knew from experience that Pipeline CRM is customizable. He had a new sales process in mind and Pipeline CRM had the tools to make it run smoothly.
“I need to manage a pipeline of both previous clients as well as referral sources, and also leads that we had in play and where they were at in the process.”
Hettema created a three-part system of managing construction products including a Discovery phase, similar to a sales and marketing phase, which means taking new leads and running them through 10 steps in a pipeline process.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into a project. Once you got a contract with a client, you can’t just start building, you gotta now have finished plans, designs, and specifications in order to be able to accurately price it and so we take them through preconstruction and end up with a bid-back budget.
A second phase is called Preconstruction where the team gets a bid-back budget. The third phase is called Build.
Every step of the way, Pipeline CRM kept the team on track.
“There are many stages that require certain action and reaction so we can create a unique and consistent experience for clients along the way.”
Today the company uses Multiple Pipelines to easily breeze through the three different phases of the sales process: Discovery, Preconstruction, and Build.
With Pipeline CRM’s Automations feature, the company ensures important tasks that move a deal forward are taken. As a result, clients are contacted at the right time in the sales cycle and the sales process continues seamlessly.
Automations kick in once the sales team gets a new lead. A number of tasks automatically set off that continue communications with the prospect and with setting up appointments. Along the prospect to customer journey, the pre-written emails (conveniently labeled for each phase of the process within PIpeline CRM) are cued up and team members send the right email at the right time to the right person. This includes project surveys, conference calls, and on-site visits.
“Pipeline CRM Automations has eliminated the need to think about or do repetitive tasks. As a result, we’ve created a consistent pattern of experience for our clients.”
Before implementing Pipeline CRM, the team didn’t have a way to keep all relevant communications and emails about a deal together. With Pipeline CRM’s email sync, each email goes into one client folder and keeps any pertaining attachments too.
“The email sync feature has made a huge difference by giving us a way to compile communication with our clients and partners. Now, everyone is on the same page.”
With a streamlined sales process, Hettema’s team runs like clockwork which led to significantly improving sales cycle length. The team reduced time-to-close by more than half. Before, it took 130 days on average to close a deal and now, with Pipeline CRM, the average is 62 days.
Steve Hettema, CEO of Rainier Custom Homes
The company has also managed to improve what has always mattered the most: customers. Hettema says customer service and feedback is fueled through Pipeline CRM, too.
“The compliments and responses we’ve started getting through the Net Promoter Score (NPS) process, which has also been built into the stages and Automations in Pipeline CRM, were great to see. Customers say how they’ve never seen a construction company that was so responsive, organized, and communicative.”
Hettema said that with Pipeline CRM, one step always leads to the next so customers truly understand what is coming next.
Furthermore, the team has adopted the CRM fully.
“We simply didn’t make it an option. People need to understand that when you move into a product and it runs or touches almost every aspect of your business, everyone has to be on point. Not just kind of but all the way.”
Hettema said the team understood they’d have to learn a new software but they also expected that Pipeline CRM would make their jobs easier.
“True to form, Pipeline CRM proved to help make our team more efficient. They are accomplishing more than ever and that is why we haven’t had major pushback in adopting the software.”
As for Hettema, he’s proud of how far Rainier Custom Homes has come with a sales process that runs on technology that has proven to be the right fit.
With customizable dashboards, Hettema gains the insight he needs to run the company as well as sift information in any way he needs to in order to make the best business decisions and see how his decisions can impact the bottom line.
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