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Company ditches pen and paper, integrates SugarCRM with telephony

Storage facility business hopes to see ROI on Web advertising with SugarCRM after recording data on ads with pen and paper.

Imagine conducting business nowadays with pen and paper. It’s hard to believe, but that’s what Baco Realty Corp. did until only recently, when it put stationery aside and implemented an open source CRM platform from SugarCRM. 

Baco Realty owns 42 self-storage facilities in California, Nevada, Maryland and Virginia. Until the company went digital, employees had to jot down advertising information and mail the paperwork to company headquarters in San Francisco.

Because people make mistakes, the company received erroneous reports that didn’t truly reflect the return on investment (ROI) of a $100,000 online advertising campaign. Not to mention Baco Realty headquarters had to wait until the end of each month to see the data.

It took a few inaccurate reports for the company to finally recognize snail mail was not a way to conduct business in a computerized world.

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“It’s quite a radical change,” said Steve Ford, the manager of field services for Baco Realty, which rents and manages residential properties and also operates the storage facilities through a sister company, Security Public Storage.

Baco Realty spends more than $100,000 to advertise its storage facilities online. The company runs ads on Google, Yahoo and Yelp.

The company has dedicated phone lines not just for each of its 42 storage facilities, but for each advertisement. If a call comes in on a certain number, then an employee at a facility will know from which website the prospective customer saw the ad.

SugarCRM reduces call log errors
Because of human error, not every call was correctly recorded on a log, so not every report mailed to headquarters was accurate. With inaccurate data, it was difficult for Baco Realty to determine its ROI.

“If you have problems with 50 out of a hundred, then there’s probably problems with another hundred,” Ford said.

And the company didn’t have instant access to data, having to wait for reports to arrive monthly from the 42 field offices.

Tired of this approach, Baco Realty implemented SugarCRM in the spring, and after some work, integrated the CRM system to a phone account the company has with Twilio, a cloud-based application programming interface.

SugarCRM’s open source CRM platform lets Baco Realty headquarters now see where an inbound call comes from and whether the number dialed was prompted by a Google, Yahoo or Yelp ad, Ford said. The CRM platform also breaks down the reporting so management can get a better sense of the company’s investment in Web advertising, he said.

“We invest heavily in online ads,” Ford said. “We need to figure out if we’re getting our money’s worth.”

The CRM platform offers a few other advantages. For the first time, people at company headquarters can listen to the phone calls to the 42 storage facility offices.

Employees had previously followed a call script on paper. And the company didn’t know how those conversations fared. Now it can monitor the calls with a fully automated process.

“That’s huge. It allows us to get into the field quickly,” Ford said. “We can respond to the sites that need more coaching.”

And there’s no more waiting for flawed reports to arrive through stamped mail.

“We were always lost at the beginning of the month,” Ford said. “Once everything is fully developed, it will probably save us 60 man-hours a month, not to mention the consumable costs of envelopes, paper and ink.”

Ford believes the SugarCRM platform has “limitless potential to create new reports and new integration. We’re hooking up Sugar into our operating software. As soon as we learn one feature, it uncovers more.”

He added: “The potential is there. If it helps us move the needle in this economy and stay one step ahead, we’ll take it.”

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