Independence Construction Gains Forecasting Ease and Accuracy with a Salesforce Solution
Problem and Background
Independence Construction is one of the largest and most capable commercial construction management firms in the country. Headquartered in northeast Ohio, Independence and its sister companies employ over 1,100 people. In recent years, the company has built marquee outdoor shopping and dining complexes, state-of-the-art libraries, corporate office spaces, hospitals, museums and other large-scale projects. (Pictured above is an aerial view of Pinecrest, a 57-acre upscale, mixed-use retail space with residential and entertainment components that serves the east side suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio.)
Managing the timelines of highly involved projects had been a challenge in the past, says Director of Project Development Jack Baumann. “From my perspective, doing business development in both construction and operations, knowing what we were tracking after a project is won, is important. We needed to see what was missing. We needed the big picture from the ground up, and our previous CRM hindered our ability to view this.”
Because the company has numerous complex jobs being quoted and built simultaneously, it’s extremely important to gauge the impact of future work. This knowledge allows the company to make informed decisions regarding sourcing of materials, staffing, and other variables. However, Independence had been struggling with a CRM that wasn’t able to easily provide necessary forecasting information; it couldn’t be sorted by market segment or provide the deep analysis the company needed. Populating it was a time-consuming process requiring hours to enter the previous week’s data. That’s time not spent engaging with customers.
Tracking the conversations and activities of where things were in the sales pipeline could be “pretty painful with our previous system,” Baumann says. Independence Construction was looking for a way to track its opportunity pipeline, customers and contacts, and its work-in-place projections. The company needed an intuitive system.
The Vertex Solution
Vertex built a Salesforce system that addresses all Independence Construction’s needs, drastically reducing the time spent populating data by allowing users to enter information as it is gathered. The system also streamlines the process for users to track who they should be following up with at various points during the sales process.
Independence organizes sales tracking into three compartments: Early prospects, development of submittals, and proposals. The new Salesforce system handles all three categories, helping Baumann’s team know what needs to be done and when to do it. Typically, the company plans most of its sales early in the year, but as other jobs pop up over the course of the year, these need to be tracked as well. Users update their content via a computer or mobile device as they gain information. When the team meets to discuss project status, the system seamlessly provides the information needed to take appropriate actions.
Additionally, emails are automatically linked to Salesforce. Users simply click an icon to tie the email to an opportunity. “This is fantastic,” Baumann notes, “especially with multiple emails.” Users don’t have to keep going into the system. All the information is in one place.
Independence Construction has gained clarity on project status. “Are we winning the work or not? It’s much easier to know where things are in the sales pipeline,” Baumann notes, adding that he now just hits an “export” button to retrieve reports to get pertinent details that help his team make decisions based on real data.
“Now we can look at our sales pipeline and see the available projects. We know what’s out there and where to put our attention,” Baumann says. “For example, with the pandemic, clients shifted focus and we had to as well. Market segments paused while others kept going. We suspected this with anecdotal evidence, but the Salesforce system provides the concrete data to validate our decisions. We’ve eliminated a lot of guesswork and saved a lot of time.”
Results and Benefits
- Significant time savings in populating and searching content.
- Ability to easily add content anywhere, anytime on computers or mobile devices
- Simplified, comprehensive sorting and organizing features
- Easy to track client interactions
- Ability to forecast and plan for opportunities into the future as well as maintain data on current projects
- Ability to sort by market segment
- Alerts to follow up with prospective opportunities
- Email integration
- All information is stored in one place
“It’s a great system,” Baumann says. “We don’t have to do anything other than keep our content populated. A CRM shouldn’t be a hinderance and control your processes. When the system dictates what you can and can’t do, that’s a problem. This Salesforce system has solved our sales tracking problems. We now work seamlessly and far more efficiently.”
The following images show recent projects from Independence Construction.