Root Home is a property investment development firm that sources property deals for professional investors. Helping investors find ways to grow their portfolio means Root Home needs a powerful system that can keep them organized, which is what they found with Spreadsheet.com.
Based in Liverpool, Chris Gilsenan is half of Root Home, a real estate business that launched in 2015. While the company mostly works with real estate investors, they are also dedicated to giving back. Root Home teams up with charities to find homes for vulnerable communities. When his cat, Wolfie, isn’t demanding his attention, Chris spends his time focused on growing his business.
As a growing business in the constantly changing real estate industry, Root Home needs to remain nimble and flexible. This is something that Chris and his business partner were looking for in a customer relationship management (CRM) tool. After trying out several different platforms — including SugarCRM, Capsule, and Podio — they found the platforms just weren’t easy enough to customize. This made them incompatible with the nature of their business.
“Most CRMs have a very fixed idea on how a business should work. They are not very adaptive unless you’re using Salesforce, and we haven’t got millions of pounds to spend on that,” Chris says. “Our business has never fit into predefined constructs. Our data model changes quite frequently. Unfortunately, other CRMs are not versatile, and they do not allow you a high degree of flexibility.”
Chris also tried building his own CRM in spreadsheet platforms, like Google Sheets, and found that they lacked some of the important features he needed to run his business. For example, he needed the ability to link data across different worksheets, like tables in a relational database. As Root Home grew its customer base, this capability grew from a nice-to-have to a necessity.
“Any small business needs to be able to adapt and have that creativity to create business flows and business models that suit it,” he adds. “As it grows, you should be able to change those flows easily, but most CRMs do not have that.”
While searching for a flexible CRM for Root Home, Chris came across Spreadsheet.com. At the time the product hadn't yet been released, so he signed up for the waitlist and kept in touch with the Spreadsheet.com team. As soon as the platform became publicly available, Chris was able to address one of his company’s biggest pain points.
“Spreadsheet.com has allowed us to adjust our data model on the fly and to build a CRM solution that mirrors the way we work. With traditional spreadsheets like Excel or Google Sheets, it’s hard to link data across different worksheets unless you’re an absolute genius at using array formulas, which we’re not,” he adds. “Spreadsheet.com makes it easy to do this visually without writing formulas— you don’t have to be an expert.”
The ease of using Spreadsheet.com is, according to Chris, one of the most significant advantages. The platform is welcoming to those who have worked with spreadsheets in the past, though it comes with many more rich features that you'd expect from a purpose built CRM or project management product.
“Spreadsheet.com familiarizes you with using a database, without making you leave the comfort of your spreadsheets,” Chris says. “You can access your regular spreadsheet functionality if you want it, but you can also do so much more.”
Root Home currently uses Spreadsheet.com to organize their entire sales pipeline — from the initial point of contact to lead nurturing, and ultimately closing deals.
“I really like the automations,” Ryan adds. “When I'm reading a message, I can insert data from the row instead of hard coding things. That's fantastic. That makes life way easier. The ability to assign to people, which is tied to their email address as well. That's great.”
While Ryan uses multiple features, it’s the automations that he particularly loves. “Spreadsheet.com saves me at least four or five hours a week just with automations,” he says. “It reduced the number of tasks I had do manually before.” In this project management spreadsheet, Ryan is using about 21 automations—from setting new dates and statuses to triaging escalations, depending on the severity, to sending out deadline reminders via email or Slack.
Pencil drawings or sketches on a whiteboard, or they can be produced by means of a broad array of free or commercial software applications. Wireframes are generally created by business analysts, user experience designers.
Finding a tool that allowed them to interlink data across multiple workbooks was paramount for Root Home. It was one of the biggest challenges they faced. With Spreadsheet.com, they can keep themselves on track as a person moves through the sales pipeline, even when information about the customer and deal lives in multiple different workbooks.
“We’ve been able to interlink data, and that’s been really important for us to connect information across multiple locations,” Chris says. “For example, we do a lot of lead generation on the front end before we run analyses in different datasets to understand whether a deal or lead is worth pursuing. Then, we layer in even more data using different spreadsheets, allowing for deeper insights. This has been a pretty fundamental tool for us.”
Communication and collaboration are key for the team at Gembah. Spreadsheet.com helps them relay messages and share information in easy and effective ways.
Features like Select and Multiselect data types allow Root Home to access the right information faster and easier.
“I love the Select and Multiselect data types,” Chris says. “It makes it really simple for not just me, but other users in the company to be able to quickly identify key bits of information that are color-coded, and then sort and create filters as needed. This speeds up our workflow quite a lot.”
When working with potential clients, Root Home uses Spreadsheet.com Forms to collect information and automatically add it into their worksheets.
“Form views allow us to get data into the system fast because we can send these out to clients to complete on any device with pre-filled data fields. It's convenient for clients because they never have to login to the system to do this, and at the same time it eliminates a lot of manual work on our end,” Chris says. “It’s ideal for reducing the amount of time we spend on data entry, something we do a lot of.”
Spreadsheet.com forms provide a great way to collect and share data with anyone. You can use the powerful tool in various ways, including compiling user or personnel databases, collecting signups for an event, soliciting feedback on a product or initiative, and more. Whenever a user submits a form, Spreadsheet.com creates a new row in the team’s primary sheet, organizing information in a clear way. All of these features have proven useful to Gembah.
“Spreadsheet.com forms are way better than Google Forms,” Ryan says. “If I can find a way to use a form, I’m going to. A lot of interactions, like escalations, are conducted via forms by the entire global team.”
“Spreadsheet.com provides us with exceptional service. They’ve been absolutely on point and have pulled out all the stops to help us operate on the platform. Any questions or issues that we’ve had – they resolved them and the support team has kept us updated all the way through.”