Begin customer relations before your business is up and running

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Bernt Ruetzel is literally building a small business. It’s a rental home in Italy, an old rustic home called Bogata Roggio. As he’s waiting for permits to start building, Ruetzel has launched a website and began engaging with prospective customers.

Here’s the rundown:

Business: Vacation home in Italy, Bogata Roggio.

The challenge: Initiate customer relations before business begins operations. Add custom fields specific to the needs of his customers.

How discovered Zoho: Stumbled on Zoho at his large company that wanted to use a CRM solution just for their department. He began playing around with it and realized it would be perfect to use for his small business.

Competitive analysis of CRM tools: He looked at and compared many CRM products including Salesforce.com. He feels that all the CRM systems are the same. What differentiates them is how easily can you customize the product for your specific business needs.

Unique use case of Zoho CRM: In Germany, school holidays change depending on what region of the country you live in. By asking a prospective customer their address and if they have kids, he can determine when they have free time to take a vacation. This allows him to better time his holiday requests and offers.

Advice for others: Ruetzel says users of CRM solutions need to spend more time upfront thinking about what you want to do rather than immediately implementing. It’s important to understand the entire process from getting a prospect, to sending an offering, getting pre-payment, final payment, follow up, and ultimately feeding those tips back into the system so he can improve his business process.

How do you want to follow with your customers? What are the steps you need to take? These will inform you as to what fields you’ll need to add to customize your CRM system, Ruetzel said.

Listen to the whole interview with Bernd Ruetzel here.