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Real Estate Franchisor Chooses Microsoft Dynamics CRM to Integrate Specialized Applications and Track Three-Way Sales Cycle


HomeVestors anticipates Microsoft technology will bring “wow” factor to its franchise sales and retention efforts.

REDMOND, Wash. — Microsoft Corp. today announced that HomeVestors of America Inc., recognized nationally for its slogan “We Buy Ugly Houses,” has chosen Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 to provide a common platform for all its corporate and franchisee applications.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides powerful, role-based customer relationship management capabilities and will be especially valuable to HomeVestors in its efforts to track a three-way sales cycle. Headquartered in Dallas, HomeVestors has 65 corporate employees and 240 franchisees who buy homes in need of repair, rehab the houses and sell them to consumers. The company must first track leads from the Internet and other sources and the purchase of those houses by its franchisees. Then it needs to track the rehabbing process. Finally, it must track the sales to home purchasers.

“No other single platform could do all that,” said David Hicks, vice president of operations at HomeVestors.

The company will use Microsoft Dynamics CRM to integrate a number of specialized Web-based applications for functions such as evaluating property, determining repair estimates and distributing leads to franchisees. Until now, recording information in those systems required multiple entries and manual processes.

Moreover, the company’s franchisees had developed a variety of systems on their own to handle their tracking requirements, and the corporate organization could not communicate with those systems directly.

“We needed a solution that would enable us to have all of our franchisees on a similar platform to train them, to work together and to give us in corporate a way to help them be more effective in their markets,” Hicks said.

HomeVestors will integrate Microsoft Dynamics CRM with the company’s current Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft Office Outlook and Microsoft Office solutions. All of its franchisees use Outlook and Office.

According to Hicks, “One of the biggest reasons we chose the Microsoft Dynamics solution was its ability to integrate with our other Microsoft tools. As our franchisees were familiar with Outlook, we felt they could pick up Microsoft Dynamics CRM very quickly.”

To determine its needs, HomeVestors and its consultant developed a list of 15 potential solutions, which was narrowed to three that HomeVestors considered in detail. The two finalists were Microsoft Dynamics CRM and SugarCRM Inc. open source software.

“We knew that Microsoft Dynamics CRM, rather than open source, would be a world-class solution for us,” said Paul D’Angelo, director of IT at HomeVestors. “There is a lot of competition in the house-buying market, and we are always looking for additional tools that will convince potential franchisees to join our network. We were looking for a ‘wow’ factor, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM will offer that.”

D’Angelo also cited the ability to have systemwide statistics, share best practices among franchisees and enable franchise owners to compare their performance with that of other franchisees as reasons for the company’s selection of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

HomeVestors is working with Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Tribridge to implement its new technology. HomeVestors will rely heavily on Microsoft Dynamics CRM’s workflow and reporting capabilities, and it will call on Tribridge to customize the solution to meet the needs for integrating its industry-specific applications and to track the three distinct sales cycles through which the company operates.

HomeVestors expects that Microsoft Dynamics CRM will produce numerous benefits for the corporate office and franchisees alike:

Support for company growth. HomeVestors expects that Microsoft Dynamics CRM will provide franchisees with the ability to track and meet their goals in a much better fashion than before, and will allow the corporate office to track nationwide those franchisees who are excelling and more quickly identify and help those who are falling behind. Consequently, the company expects to improve its franchisee retention. Further, the Microsoft solution will help with company sales by offering advanced technology to prospective franchisees.

Cost savings. Individual franchisees have spent considerable resources developing and maintaining custom tracking solutions. “They will save thousands of dollars in writing applications, loading up servers and creating portals to develop systems that won’t do a fraction of what this one will do,” Hicks said.

Time savings. Previously, when leads came in through the Internet via e-mail, franchisees would have to re-enter each lead in their own system. Because Microsoft Dynamics CRM integrates with Microsoft Office Outlook, those leads will now populate the database automatically, saving two or three points of manual entry.

Better marketing campaigns. Microsoft Dynamics CRM will allow HomeVestors to track its marketing campaigns to determine which ones are successful, improving the effectiveness of its overall marketing effort. The technology also allows incoming calls to be associated with specific mailings to indicate the likely source that stimulated the call.

Improved accuracy. With Microsoft Dynamics CRM eliminating the need to enter the same data multiple times, the chances for error will decrease. The company also expects to more accurately track its franchisees’ metrics, which previously were compiled and reported by hand and then coordinated manually. Now the numbers of appointments, offers made, sales and other metrics will be tracked automatically.

Improved revenue. HomeVestors believes its new Microsoft Dynamics solution will help franchisees create sales that otherwise wouldn’t materialize. Often, for instance, an investor is looking for a house of a particular size and floor plan in a specific ZIP code; Microsoft Dynamics CRM will allow HomeVestors to match that investor’s request automatically with appropriate houses that become available.

Easier reporting. Customized reports and a friendly interface will likely lead to improved reporting compared with the previous methods. For example, the company can create a report comparing the average time required for various franchisees to sell a house so that it can discover the people who are best at turning property rapidly. Also, previously reports on the numbers of offers made on houses were available only monthly, on the 5th or 6th of the ensuing month. With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, managers can see the number of offers that were made the previous day, as well as the number of appointments set by individual franchisees for the current and following days.

“Microsoft Dynamics CRM will help our franchisees better manage their business and be more profitable,” Hicks said. “In addition, it will furnish the corporate office with considerable data to track and provide the kind of technology that will attract entrepreneurs looking for a franchise.”

Hicks said the ability to share metrics and best practices will help franchisees grow, and in turn will help the corporate organization to grow.

“Franchise organizations find particular benefits in Microsoft Dynamics CRM because it unifies the organization and provides detailed business intelligence to the franchisees and corporate headquarters alike,” said Michael Park, corporate vice president for Microsoft’s U.S. Dynamics business. “As a result, the franchise network becomes stronger, more efficient and more attractive to franchisees.”


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