Please recommend a CRM for a plumbing company.
October 8, 2012 9:50 AM   Subscribe

I need a CRM solution for a plumbing company.

I've spent far too long trying out different CRM solutions for our plumbing and HVAC company only to constantly suffer disappointment.

We're a plumbing/HVAC company with roughly twenty technicians, and everybody else necessary for running the place, including someone who handles our parts inventory. Currently, our large customer database is contained in accounting software, contracts are managed in Excel, scheduling is done on paper with help from Google Calendar, and our inventory is in excel.

We communicate with our customers over the phone and in-person; we're not a "sales" sort of place: customers call needing service soon, if not immediately.

-Invoices are done on paper at each job; details are then entered into the accounting software when techs come into the office. This isn't going to change anytime soon, it works just fine for us and our customers, i.e., we're not going to be using iPads anytime soon, though will someday, I suppose.
-Once paper invoices are in the system, we need the inventory manager to know what each tech is using in the field, and to have it check against a warehouse inventory. Each truck has their own inventory, and then we have another 2,000 parts (each in varying quantities) to stock the trucks from.
---need to handle purchase orders for specific jobs (and connect these POs to customer database)
-We need the customer database to hold more information, such as equipment models/serial numbers, air filter sizes, warranty, maintenance contracts and the date of their expiration, etc.
-We want the scheduling and work orders to be handled digitally, so we can then send info via sms to the technicians.
---We want to easily see who is where, and keep tabs on employee jobs per week.
-Large project management for extremely large repairs, bid projects, etc.
-Needs to export to accounting software

About eight people will use the software at any given time, but we need to be able to put other 20 employees in database to manage information related to their jobs--I'd find it strange if we have to set them up with the same level/cost account as those that actually use it. Paying in the ballpark of $500 a month is reasonable; we'd consider slightly more costly options, too

I've tried:
Zoho CRM: far too complex an interface to use software that lacks scheduling integration and such.
SugarCRM: Confirmed with sales that it can't readily handle warehouse inventory.
ServiceMax (Saleforce): Said they'd cost $30,000/year, which practically negates any of our projected savings.
Microsoft Dynamics -- again far too expensive and complex while incomplete.
Work[etc]: lacked inventory and purchase orders, and scheduling isn't quite what we need.
vtiger: seems ok, but lacking some features.
Highrise: No inventory, etc. Looks perfect for our needs, but only available in Australia for now.

Anyone have a close-enough solution? Maybe two services that would integrate with each other.
posted by Outis to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How about NetSuite?
posted by Dansaman at 10:22 AM on October 8, 2012

I don't know if you're going to find an off-the-shelf solution that will do everything you need for this price point. This sounds like a custom app to me. For less than ten thousand, you can have somebody build this. The hardest part would be finding the right somebody. I would bid this out to three reputable small companies. Make absolutely sure that they have good, verifiable references and that they can demo previous, similar projects.

If you spec out the job with very specific details about what you need, you can find somebody that will do this. I highly recommend someone local.

(I have a lot of experience with these kind of apps. If you need specific advice, feel free to mail me.)
posted by nedpwolf at 10:23 AM on October 8, 2012

Another one you could look at is Interprise.
posted by Dansaman at 10:24 AM on October 8, 2012

You might also want to look at some of the higher end QuickBooks products, such as the Enterprise solution for Warehousing & Distribution which apparently includes inventory and "Sales & Customers".
posted by Dansaman at 10:30 AM on October 8, 2012

Another one you could look at is Interprise.

I've worked with Interprise before, and while it has a big feature set and does track customers, it's not exactly a CRM. Feel free to MeMail me if you want to hear more about it.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 10:33 AM on October 8, 2012

I'm a Administrator and an incidental evangelist. You might be interested in using the Service modules.

You get it by the license and there are tons of aps out there that make it work great.

Once you get it up and running, you can load all of your customers in there, do quotes, handle service calls, scheduling and it's in the Cloud, so you don't have to put it on your server.

They have different versions at price points to fit every need.

It's super simple to learn, I came in not knowning anything about it and mastered it within a few months.

I used Dynamics as well, and frankly SFDC is just so much better.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:41 AM on October 8, 2012

i work for

we do custom web-based applications using a visual drag-and-drop interface, so you don't need to know SQL or databases to start building.

we've done scheduling, CRM, and various workflow applications.

we could build it for you or you could build it yourself (building yourself is free). we just launched a wiki to help self-builders, plus we're here to answer questions and do some initial webinars to get you familiar with the tools.

we can make exactly what you need, we're not modifying off-the-shelf software.

we recently did an app for an HVAC rep company that wanted to track jobs and service and all the attendant paperwork and info.. it is probably a lot more than what you sound like you need, but we could give you a tour of a couple of our apps that we've done so you can get a feel for what is possible.

i think your budget sounds reasonable - we can host it for you or you can host it after we build. if you want us to build it for you, my boss will work with you on pricing.
posted by sio42 at 10:47 AM on October 8, 2012

I guess I never hit post answer last week. After considering custom approaches, we've decided to go with Brightpearl, which works for nearly all our needs. Just required a lot of custom fields.
posted by Outis at 10:05 AM on October 19, 2012

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