With some of North America's most exciting real-estate projects in its portfolio of more than 150 hectares (370 acres), Vancouver-based Shape Properties Corp. knew it needed strong customer relations support to manage its investment and development.
That led Shape to Spark.
"We set out to find a robust CRM [customer relationship management] software system to support our residential sales and marketing business," says Brenda Truong, Shape's director of corporate marketing.
"Now we're Spark's number 1 fan," she points out.
Spark, also headquartered in Vancouver, applies 21st-century technology to manage and deploy real-estate, investment and property-management data, helping companies like Shape manage their portfolios effectively. Spark takes the paper out of paperwork, enabling developers and property managers to work digitally, seamlessly and in real time with state-of-the-art data-management and CRM tools.
"Spark immediately stood out as a leader in their field," Ms. Truong says. "It was important to find a product that encompassed the strengths of CRM systems but was [also] aligned with innovating for the future."
Spark is important to Shape because Shape works hard to be a forward-focused property company in a highly competitive sector.
"SHAPE specializes in creating complete urban communities that combine homes, shops, restaurants, offices and entertainment in one place connected to rapid transit," said Ms. Truong. "This mixed-use model makes it possible to live, work and socialize in one place where everything you need is in walking distance. This is the future of urban living and we're excited to bring it to Metro Vancouver."
SHAPE's portfolio includes 2.7 million square feet (250,000 square metres) of commercial space, with an additional 3.5 million square feet (325,000 square metres) of commercial and residential space under construction. This includes The Amazing Brentwood, a 28-acre project that will include 6000-plus new homes over 11 high-rise towers and 250-plus shops and restaurants. It also includes The City of Lougheed, a 40-acre master planned community with 300-plus shops, restaurants and services and 23 residential towers. In the coming months, SHAPE will bring 17,000-plus new homes to the market.
With the size and complexity of SHAPE's projects, Spark adds value through the robustness and scalability of their platform.
"SHAPE is committed to delivering best-in-class service and a seamless experience. This applies to everyone from our corporate stakeholders to our shoppers and our home buyers. With the sheer volume of residential purchasers we manage, a reliable, flexible and effective CRM system is key to our ability to build strong relationships and provide the highest standard of service."
What impressed Shape was how Spark "combines both a fresh and intuitive interface with the best of back-end tools and processes," Ms. Truong says.
"In addition to providing a top calibre product, Spark's fresh approach and collaborative nature are a perfect fit for SHAPE. Strong relationships with valued partners are a key component to SHAPE's success. We work closely with Spark on custom solutions that enable us to best serve our purchasers and our business."
A collaborative approach on large scale projects is exactly what Spark provides, says Simeon Garratt, who co-founded Spark in 2012 with business partner Cody Curley. "Spark is managing more than $25-billion worth of new-development projects on our platform now, in 67 cities around the world," Mr. Garratt says. "We now manage more than 500 projects, compared with 200 just one year ago."
Spark also eases CRM for project developers like Shape by putting all relevant data related to a project onto one screen, making the information easy for sales teams to track. The sales force can see client leads, view the follow-up steps that have been taken and compare projects, as well as answer clients' questions quickly and directly.
At the same time, Spark's platform monitors marketing costs and digitizes contracts, so documents are clear and easy to follow, as well as easy to sign electronically, process and track and file. Spark gets rid of a lot of the patchwork-style administration typical of the real-estate industry.
Shape started working with Spark last year on a product launch, which proved successful. "Now Spark is a valuable asset to our company," Ms. Truong says. "They're solid in their core offering but also flexible in adapting to our business. Spark provided us with the right tools to manage and measure customer relationships throughout the full life cycle."
Spark's real-estate CRM platform offers another advantage to innovative companies like Shape in that the more nimble property developers and managers are adept at utilizing the extensive data that the platform provides.
Younger companies are more data-savvy and tend to be better at deploying data, notes Professor James McKellar, who is the director of the Brookfield Centre in Real Estate and Infrastructure at York University's Schulich School of Business, in Toronto. Lots of real-estate companies gather data about projects and their customers, and the few that stand out are the companies that learn how to use the data, he says.
Meanwhile, Ms. Truong says that Shape likes Spark's additional product highlights, such as email templates that provide Shape's in-house team with full autonomy over creative, design and timing.
"We were also won over by their client service. They're impressively knowledgeable and highly responsive," she says. "Spark strengthens our customer relationships, which in turn, strengthens our business."
Learn more about how Spark helps real estate developers gain an advantage on their website.
This content was produced by The Globe and Mail's advertising department. The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.