I have this client - let's call him John or Paul or George or Ringo. He started running a one-man estate agency and running it very well. His paper records gave way to a few spreadsheets and his sole trader status became a small office space for four. The Fab Four.

The Fab Four were rarely in the same place at the same time - busy, busy - something needed to be done to make sense of the madness.

In his own strength John/Paul/George/Ringo headed over to Google and searched for 'estate agency software'. 12 million results, free trials, 'cloud' this, 'software' that, you know the sort of thing… He did some research, waved his finger in the air a bit and plumped for an 'estate agency software' system that offered to take away his pain.

John/Paul/George/Ringo learned to ignore the menu options he didn't understand and filled some of the 'required' data fields with dummy data because they weren't relevant. He kept a separate spreadsheet for the stuff that the system couldn't handle and employed a fifth person (Pete, or another George maybe) to collate data from various screens into a single Excel report and manually generate sales particulars PDFs, which sometimes accurately reflected what was in the 'estate agency software' and sometimes didn't. He didn't necessarily know where his best leads were coming from and regularly took phone calls during his lunch hour from sellers asking for updates.

Two years later, five had become ten and John/Paul/George/Ringo had been waiting for over a year for some much-needed new features to be added to his off-the-shelf 'estate agency software'. He had three other IT systems that ran alongside his main system and spent more time than he wanted entering the same data two or three times. He asked his team to send emails after each customer appointment, which Pete/the other George manually entered into the system. Pete/the other George didn't enjoy that very much, so decided to leave the band. Sorry, I mean 'the business'.

Then my client gave me a call and I wept for him, because things shouldn't be this way.

Over the past three years we have worked together to build his company to over 50 people. The first step was to replicate the functionality that he previously found useful, then we fed his properties through to his website. Then we really went to work adding workflow, creating self-service buyer and seller journeys and supporting his team as they moved into new markets. We helped him track his inbound leads and built a small intranet to manage holidays, expenses, calendars, news and office banter.

To cut a long story short (sorry, I do go on a bit) the bespoke CRM system that my client now uses is at the centre of his company and helps them in ways that they didn't imagine possible at the outset. They have innovated well beyond what was possible with their off-the-shelf system, automating where possible and creating a truly disruptive business model that has put them head and shoulders above the rest.

We're not alone in providing bespoke CRM systems (see '7 reasons why buying off-the-shelf CRM software is a mistake' from another company that offers similar), but we believe we're good at what we do and we love doing it, which helps.

If your business/organisation is growing, you may already recognise the need to put a CRM/cloud business system or other custom software in-place. If you are finding it increasingly difficult to work from your existing systems and need to find a better way to manage your organisation, please contact us to find out how we might be able to work together.

Footnote: No clickbait or Beatles were harmed in the making of this blog post.