The Top 10 CRMs for Service Businesses – From Hair Salons to Tutors

Elizabeth Lockwood

Developers tend to take a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to designing business software. To some degree, that’s understandable, even laudable. After all, every business needs some specific functionality. However, it’s a mistake in other ways. For instance, service businesses have drastically different needs when it comes to customer communication, marketing, and sales tracking than product-based businesses.

The difference in business needs is nowhere more apparent than when it comes to choosing a CRM. The right CRM for a product-based business will often be the wrong choice for service-based businesses for several reasons. Service-based businesses often have little need for a product catalog, their promotional/marketing needs are different, and appointment scheduling/calendaring takes on a much greater significance. It’s no longer about meeting with potential vendors or scheduling time to check out a new material supplier – it’s about ensuring that your customers can find your services, understand them, and then book what they need all without any unnecessary hassles that might make them jump ship.

Finding a CRM that fits the bill can be more than a little challenging. How do you even compare your options? This is particularly true for small businesses that operate on a service-based model. Every minute spent searching for software is one less minute of billable time and one less that you can spend serving your customers. 

Understanding the most critical features for service businesses

On the hunt for a CRM? The right features are key. To help you identify what to look for, answer the following questions:

  • What is your primary CRM-related need? Marketing? Sales? Customer communication? Appointment setting?
  • How big is your team? The number of users will affect the price you pay with most CRMs.
  • Does it integrate with your other software? Make sure that any CRM you choose integrates with your existing technology stack, and that it will play nice with other software you need in the future.
  • Is it scalable? Your business’s needs will change over time. Will the CRM grow with you?

With the answers to those questions in hand, you’ll be better prepared to make an informed choice. However, there’s still a vast number of CRMs to consider, and that can be a daunting prospect. We have a solution for you – a list of the 10 best CRMs for service businesses, whether you’re a tutor, run a hair salon, or something else.One quick caveat before we jump into the best-of-list, though. Don’t forget that human interaction is always preferred to take customer relationships to the next level. Check out our dedicated messaging solutions and what we can help you achieve in terms of customer service and business growth. Smith.ai’s services also integrate with most CRMs, creating a customized, end-to-end solution. 

HubSpot logo

1. HubSpot

When you think of CRMs, chances are good that HubSpot comes to mind. There’s a good reason for that: this is one of the most widely used CRMs in the world. The fact that there is a free-forever option is part of that popularity, but there’s a lot more to it than just cost savings.

HubSpot’s unique modular nature means that you can customize the capabilities to meet your needs today, but also scale the CRM to address changes down the road. It’s also one of the better options for service-based businesses and offers features that range from in-depth communication management with your customers to flexible marketing tools to help you grow and thrive. And did we mention it’s free?

Some of the features you’ll want to consider with HubSpot include the following:

  • Free option? Yes
  • Price: $45 per month
  • Contact management tools
  • Contact website activity reporting
  • Deal tracking capabilities
  • Task and activity management/tracking
  • Customizable forms and email marketing templates
Less Annoying CRM

2. Less Annoying CRM

The name really does say it all. Less Annoying CRM was designed to be, well, less annoying than other options. The designers improved the user interface’s functionality and intuitiveness, made it simpler to access tools and capabilities, and generally created a superior CRM.

The reduced annoyance factor isn’t the only thing to love about this CRM. You’ll also find that it’s one of the more affordable choices out there (although it’s not free like the basic HubSpot CRM). For an affordable price, you also get access to powerful tools that let you communicate with your customers/clients, delve into your leads, manage tasks, and more. Some of the features you’ll want to know about with Less Annoying CRM include the following:

  • Free option? No, but there is a free trial.
  • Price: $15 per user per month
  • Full contact management capabilities
  • Integrated calendaring capabilities
  • In-depth lead reporting
  • At-a-glance contact cards
Benchmark One logo

3. BenchmarkONE

Previously called Hatchbuck, BenchmarkONE offers powerful performance and allows you to stay in communication with your clients while also tracking sales. It also brings a lot of marketing capabilities to the table, including email marketing automation to help you save time and effort.

BenchmarkONE is designed primarily for SMBs and is a particularly good fit for service-based businesses. It provides detailed reporting, in-depth analytics, and the free version makes it easy to fit a CRM into even a limited budget. Some of the features you’ll want to know about with this CRM include the following:

  • Free option? Yes
  • Price: $70 per month per 2 users
  • Monitor contacts/communication in real-time
  • Website visitor tracking
  • Deal tracking
  • Integrates with Gmail and Outlook
  • Audience filtering and segmenting
Insightly logo

4. Insightly

Another CRM that’s well-suited for service-based businesses, Insightly delivers critical capabilities in a highly-polished package. Of course, it goes well beyond being easy on the eyes. Insightly is simple to navigate and delivers lots of performance, too. 

Insightly helps you track relevant lead information, provides a timeline that includes key information such as the relevant marketing campaign and other touchpoints, automatically routes leads to the correct person in the business, and more. Workflow automation, email tracking, and relationship linking are also high on the list. Features you’ll need to know about with Insightly include the following:

  • Free option? Yes
  • Price: $29 per user per month
  • Lead management
  • Lead assignment and routing
  • Email templates
  • Web to lead capture
  • Contact management
  • Relationship linking
  • Task and event management
Zoho logo

5. Zoho CRM

Looking for an affordable CRM that helps you connect clients with your services painlessly? Zoho CRM might be exactly what you need. First off, it’s free (forever), which is a great thing for small service-based businesses with tight budgets. Second, it offers an impressive array of features and capabilities that can help you build a thriving brand.

With Zoho, you’ll get sales force automation, as well as process management analytics and lead/deal prediction capabilities. You can track leads throughout the sales funnel, ensuring that you’re there at every touchpoint along the way. Other features you’ll want to know about with Zoho include the following:

  • Free option? Yes
  • Price: $12 per user per month
  • Lead and deal management
  • Workflow automation
  • Contact management
  • Customer journey management
  • Sales process builder
  • Omnichannel communication capabilities
Apptivo logo

6. Apptivo

Designed to help you “attract, engage, retain, and delight more customers,” Apptivo is an interesting CRM option that will work well for any service-based business. It’s flexible, integrates with the G Suite, offers plenty of customization options, and, best of all, there’s a free forever version, too.

Don’t let the “free” designation fool you. There’s no shortage of features or capabilities with Apptivo. You get customizable web-to-lead forms, email-to-lead forms, lead conversion tools, contact-to-customer tracking, and a whole lot more. Some of the key things to know about Apptivo include the following:

  • Free option? Yes
  • Price: $8 per user per month
  • Lead conversion tools
  • Lead/deal tracking capabilities
  • Opportunity tracking
  • G Suite integration
  • Sales tracking dashboard
  • Sales planning tools
Agile CRM logo

7. Agile CRM

Designed specifically for SMBs, Agile CRM offers the ability to level the playing field, giving smaller organizations the same tools and capabilities enjoyed by big businesses for years. This is an all-in-one CRM that delivers all the capabilities you need, from sales and marketing to deal tracking and granular communication capabilities, too. It’s also cloud-based, so you can access it easily from any web-connected device.

Agile CRM has a lot going for it, including contact management, deal tracking, project management capabilities, and marketing automation to name just a few features. It also integrates with your social media and helps track email interactions, building more loyal customers along the way. A few of the key things to know about Agile CRM include the following:

  • Free option? Yes
  • Price: $8 per month
  • Custom data fields
  • Lead scoring
  • Track and manage deals, documents, and tasks
  • Email tracking and 2-way email integration
  • Form builder
  • Email templates and customization
SugarCRM logo

8. SugarCRM

Looking for a sweet deal on a CRM? SugarCRM gives you just what you want. It promises to give you “past, present, and future visibility into customers’ behavior to deliver a customer experience like you’ve never seen.” There’s also an option specific to small businesses, which brings a lot of groundbreaking features to the table in a package designed not to break the bank.

SugarCRM offers several different tiers, but most service businesses will benefit from the Professional version. It’s the most affordable option, but it doesn’t lack any features. You will need a minimum of 10 people on the team to use it, though, so this might not be the best choice for startups and micro-businesses. Some of the features you’ll benefit from with SugarCRM include the following:

  • Free option? No, but there’s a free trial.
  • Price: $52 per user per month
  • DocuSign integration
  • Sales forecasting
  • Ticket management and customer service features
  • Task management
  • Contact management
  • Custom quote forms and quote management tools
  • Opportunity forecasting and tracking
Really Simple Systems logo

9. Really Simple CRM

Really Simple CRM is, well, really simple. However, don’t let that fool you. There’s no lack of features or capabilities here. In fact, RSCRM bills itself as one of the most powerful business CRM systems out there, but the intuitive user interface and simple-to-access tools make it accessible to anyone, so you don’t need a technology degree to use it.

Really Simple CRM gives you the chance to build strong relationships with your clients. You can track leads with ease, set appointments, follow up on tasks, and even automate your sales process. Team collaboration is another high point here, as is the granular touchpoint tracking to help you stay connected to customers all the way through the sales funnel. Key features of note with Really Simple CRM include the following:

  • Free option? Yes
  • Price: $14 per user per month
  • Integrates with plenty of other apps, including Sage, Xero, and more
  • Campaign builder
  • ROI tracking
  • Case management
  • Lead and campaign management
  • Marketing automation
  • Email marketing capabilities 
Bigin logo

10. Bigin by Zoho

We touched on Zoho’s main CRM previously, but the company also offers something designed specifically for small businesses. Bigin is a “pipeline-centric CRM built and priced for small businesses” that helps you build stronger customer relationships quickly and easily. It also brings a variety of tools to the table to help you do that.

Bigin offers a three-pronged strategy for building customer relationships. First, it helps you engage your prospects, from your website to email marketing to tracking interactions. Next, it helps you manage your pipeline. Finally, it provides plenty of capabilities to help you close deals. You’ll also find both an Android app and an iOS app for easier use on the go. Some of the key offerings you’ll find with Bigin include the following:

  • Free option? No, but there’s a free trial.
  • Price: $7 per user per month
  • Integrates with your technology stack
  • Mobile apps
  • Customizable web forms
  • Social media integration
  • Email marketing
  • Customer interaction tracking
  • Contact management
  • Pipeline view
  • Activity management

Serve more customers and build a thriving brand

CRMs are all about managing and strengthening customer relationships. Whether you’re looking for a free option or you have the money in the budget for a paid solution, there’s a CRM designed just for your service business. However, don’t forget that automation and digital technology can only go so far. 

At Smith.ai, our live receptionists help broaden your customer engagement and intake efforts by providing always-on solutions to engage prospects, convert leads, and better serve your customers. Check out what our live receptionists can do for your business, or go ahead and schedule a Live Chat consultation today. If you prefer, you can get in touch with us by email at hello@smith.ai, or drop us a line at (650) 727-6484.

Elizabeth Lockwood

Elizabeth Lockwood is the content marketing associate at Smith.ai. She focuses specifically on writing and editing engaging articles, blog posts, and other forms of publication.

Try Smith.ai now

Accelerate growth with live receptionists and AI. Get started risk-free for 14 days!

Accelerate growth with live chat agents and AI. Get started risk-free for 14 days!

GEt Started NOWGEt Started NOW

Contact our sales team today at (650) 727-6484 or schedule a call.

sign up for our newsletter

Thank you!
Your submission has been received.
Yikes! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Categories