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Rainier Custom Homes Improves Sales Cycle by 53%

Rainier Custom Homes improved time-to-close by more than 50 percent and that's not all. The customer experience is so great that 80 percent of business comes from referrals. Learn what software is behind their success.

Rainier Custom Homes improved time-to-close by more than 50 percent and that’s not all. The customer experience is so great that 80 percent of business comes from referrals.  Learn what software is behind their success.

How to Improve Sales for a Construction Company

We sat down with Rainier Custom Homes to learn more about this leading construction company in the Pacific Northwest. 

Read on to find out how they’ve cut their sales cycle in half. They’ve improved their time to close from 130 to 62 days.  All the while, they’ve kept up a legacy of great customer service. They decided a sales CRM is the way to go, choosing PIpelineDeals over construction industry software. Today, they have their sales process systematized and automated with PipelineDeals CRM

The CEO behind their awesome sales process is Steve Hettema, who has lead construction company leadership teams and has an impressive background as an industry executive.  In this interview, you’ll learn what success has meant to him and his team and exactly how they got there. 

Q&A with CEO of Rainier Custom Homes, Steve Hettema

Tell us about your impressive experience in the industry.

The company I worked for before Rainier was Apex Facility Resources. I also owned several national construction companies. 

When I came to Rainier, we were looking for software to manage our sales process. I was hired as a Sr. VP with the intention I was going to be CEO by the end of the year. The owners wanted to move along and leading the team at Rainier was a good fit for me with my background. 

Tell us about Rainer Custom Homes which is behind building some amazing properties here in the Pacific Northwest.  What’s the secret to your success?

Rainier has been around 25 years. It started with Jason Jarmin Sr. and his sons, Jason and Michael purchased it from him. So It has been a family business. What that has done is that it has created a well-known reputation and a good reputation in the market for clients and subcontractors and other industry professionals. Relationships are deep. That is an advantage for our clients, especially in a busy market like this.

We have kept a different pricing model than most companies by using a cost plus pricing method. It is very different than time and materials and more transparent than a fixed price bid. We obtain 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 us is open book to our clients. This creates a culture of trust with our clients from the very beginning. 

Your process is unique then?

Yes, and because of our model, we ensure were doing the right thing — what is right for our clients. As a result, we provide them with a remarkable experience and that’s why 80 percent of our business comes from referrals and repeat clients and that’s a testimonial to itself.

Tell us more about building those customer and partner relationships.

We have deep relationships in the architect, design, engineer and municipality communities. They know we know our stuff. That makes a big difference. When we are trying to push a permit through to hit a time frame for our client, the folks we work with know we will make good. Lots of times we get a variance where need be which would have stopped most contractors. There’s a lot of advantages to those great business relationships.

Did Rainier Custom Homes have a CRM when you joined?

When I first came on board they were using BuilderTrend.

I’m fairly techie, meaning I can navigate systems pretty well, but BuilderTrend was much more suited for a different kind of builder. Rainier Custom Homes is a custom homes construction company meaning we do mostly high-end street of dreams, waterfront, multi-million dollar remodels and new construction. BuilderTrend is predicated toward a repeat developer model. It didn’t fit.  

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. There was very little that it would do to ensure that projects were moving from one stage to another, that it was intuitive to how we work. 

Tell us about your search for the right CRM.

I looked at other construction company CRMs. I found they were all built similar and fairly costly. The implementation of them was quite expensive. I had the knowledge of PipelineDeals and what attracted me to PipelineDeals is that it is not a construction CRM. I knew it was customizable and that’s what mattered.

“What attracted me to PipelineDeals is that it is not a construction CRM. I knew it was customizable and that’s what mattered.”


Tell us why a customizable CRM matters for a construction company like yours.

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 and that wasn’t developed yet. My first desire was to create a systematic method of managing projects through three phases: Discovery, Preconstruction, and Build.

First one is our Discovery phase, and anyone looking at it would say that is our sales and marketing phase. 

We take new leads and run them through 10 steps in a pipeline process. 

Finally, once we got a bid-back budget we move them into the third phase which is Build. We actually start the construction and there are many stages in the construction process that require certain action and reaction in that process. 

Explain to us what a project looks like and how you fit it into a sales 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 end up with a bid-back budget. 

That’s another phase but there are many stages in that require certain action and reaction so we can create a unique and consistent experience for clients along the way.

Any hurdles along the way?

When we started, PipelineDeals didn’t have the Multiple Pipelines feature but I knew that was something that was coming soon. So, I created a workaround successfully because PipelineDeals is that customizable. I generated a method that systemized that whole process. The Discovery, Preconstruction, and Build phases without Multiple Pipelines and it worked very well. Then you launched Multiple Pipelines and that made it extremely easy to break our process apart into three Pipelines.

How have the results been?

We’re proud to say we decreased the time to close by more than double. We have drastically reduced the sales cycle by over half because our sales process is so systematized and not based on memory where someone has to remember like we haven’t talked to them. 

We decreased the time to close by more than double. We have drastically reduced the sales cycle by over half because our sales process is so systematized.”

We were at 130 days average days to close and now we are at 62 to 63 days from the time of the lead (when we first meet them) to close. Consider that we are working on high-end custom home construction projects.

The compliments and comments with started getting through NPS process which has also been – built into the stages and Automations in PipelineDeals, the responses were how much they’ve never seen a construction company be not only responsive but just organized and communicative. One step leads to the net so they understand what is coming next.

How have Automations helped your construction business?

I’ll start with Automations Tasks. Once we get a new lead, a number of tasks need to happen. Some of those tasks are what information is in the pipeline we are gathering from the client, but it also has to do with communications with the client and setting up appointments. I’ve written pre-written emails which are part of the email template list and they are labeled for each phase of the process, and that happens in the Discovery phase. The tasks tell our user to send that email to the client. They don’t think about it. With PipelineDeals what we’ve done is eliminated the need for memory to be what is used to create a  consistent pattern of experience for our clients.

“With PipelineDeals what we’ve done is eliminated the need for memory to be what is used to create a  consistent pattern of experience for our clients.”

When someone adds a new lead, the client needs to get this new email so a task pops up in their portal so they know they need to send an email.

I work with a product called Accue Scheduler – and so each one of our salespeople has a schedule in there. Our clients are able to schedule based on different stages. We do three different meetings with them. The first one is a project survey more about what they wanna do which is loaded into PipelineDeals. The next one is a conference call to go over details make sure they are thinking accurately toward their budget and the third one is an on-site visit.  All that is managed through a systematic and automated process using the Automation feature in PipelineDeals and then the email templates that we have.

I understand communication and organization have been improved, too?

Yes. In the past, we never had a way to capture all communications between us and different individuals and that client. What PipelineDeals does by syncing our emails up is we capture every email that goes to our clients and it goes into one folder in PipelineDeals as their project or deal.

“What PipelineDeals does by syncing our emails up is we capture every email that goes to our clients and it goes into one folder in PipelineDeals as their project or deal.”

PipelineDeals makes everything accessible here. It claws any attachment and makes those as kept per project as well. It is just less to worry about – or having to track people doing that so that has made a huge difference in having to compile data of communication with our clients and everyone is on the same page.

How does your communication with the customer improve with a CRM?

There is a book called Megatrends, John Naisbitt is the author. I tell you that because we take Naisbitt’s concept of “high-tech and high-touch” in part of the stages of the Discovery process. We ask them how they like to communicate, and how they do with technology. We have a specific talk track because we want to understand how they want to be communicated with the best.

Now, this all goes back to going into the internal use of it. That then dictates how we use the tech whether it is the customer is using the technology and actually providing lists directly with a web form, or if it is us on the phone with them or in-person collecting the data manually. Either way, we are collecting the same information it is just how we do that is based on the response and feedback from the client.

How did your sales team feel about adopting a new CRM?

As for the integration of it into our team, I simply didn’t make it an option. People need to understand that this is not a democracy. By that I mean, 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. There was a lot of preemptive explanation of that mentality and then helping people understand that the CRM is new and that it is not something they are going to know day one. However, they are going to find that their jobs are easier. And true to form, our salespeople are more efficient and accomplishing more. That has been the feedback internally and so really we’ve had no major pushback.

True to form, our salespeople are more efficient and accomplishing more. We’ve had no major pushback.

Steve Hettema, CEO of Rainier Custom Homes

What do you like best about PipelineDeals?

To be able to my fingers around data, to know what is working and not working, getting feedback from clients and team members, and ensuring we have processes being followed is great.

“To be able to my fingers around data, to know what is working and not working, getting feedback from clients and team members, and ensuring we have processes being followed is great.”

Also, PipelineDeals has allowed me to integrate a dashboard that is customizable for each position in our company and each what position is responsible for. The data within that dashboard allows me to sift information in any way I desire it, so I can know the thumb pulse of our financials for what we’ve billed this month and what we’ve received in payments and how that impacts our bottom line for the month with the push of a couple of buttons.  

This is the best method I’ve found to run a company having run five national companies, that I have built, I wish I had this when I was building my companies. It would’ve changed the amount of time that I would’ve given to run them.

From the standpoint of running a company, PipelineDeals is heaven-sent.

Thanks, Steve for telling us your success story.

Try PipelineDeals today. Get started with a 14-day free trial by clicking here.

Read more in our press release: Rainier Custom Homes Improves Sales Cycle by 53 Percent with PipelineDeals CRM

Read the case study: Rainier Custom Homes / PipelineDeals Success Stories


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