Zoho CRM: From Post-It-Notes to High Level Service

Premier Ophthalmic has been providing equipment sales and service to optometry offices for more than 20 years. It was around this same time that Zoho began to take shape. And the two companies’ journeys have intersected for more than a decade.

Read more about the story behind Premier Ophthalmic and how they’ve shaped their operations with clearly defined systems in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Buys, sells, and services medical equipment for ophthalmic offices.

The team carries equipment from top industry suppliers. But they also purchase used equipment, sell refurbished items, and provide service to clients. So there are several functions that all need to be managed under one brand name.

How the Business Got Started

As a small operation.

Mike Ryan originally founded the company back in 1999. The goal was to provide a high level of service and quality to ophthalmic offices that needed equipment and service. But he didn’t have many processes in place to accomplish that goal.

COO Kevin Flynn joined the team several years later. He told Small Business Trends, “In the early days, there were just three of us. And the business was being run on QuickBooks and Post-It notes.”

Growth Strategy

Create structure.

Flynn says, “In the early days, Quickbooks was our only structure and it was very limited. In any business, implementing a strong structure if what gives you more control over your growth and helps you maintain and sustain that growth. So Zoho gave us that foundational structure and allowed us to scale much easier.”

The company started out using just Zoho CRM. But they eventually adopted tons of other Zoho tools, including:

Books
Inventory
Cliq
People (HR)
Creator
WorkDrive
Expense
SalesIQ
Flow
Social
Forms
Analytics
Campaigns
Projects
Showtime

Zoho CRM still operates as the company’s central hub. And they integrate the other tools into that main dashboard so they can access everything easily. They now have a team of more than 30 and operate around the country thanks to these systems.

Biggest Challenge

Organizing inventory.

Flynn explains, “When buying and selling used equipment, tracking that equipment is always a challenge. It comes in and sits there and nobody knows what it’s doing there, it’s history, or what needs to happen with it. At the time we had no system in place.

“But now anything that comes into our warehouse gets barcoded and included into our asset management system, which is plugged into our CRM via Zoho Creator. So we can basically check in equipment as it comes in and goes out.”

Bonus Challenge

Managing trade show logistics.

Flynn says, “Sales reps would have to communicate what trade shows they registered for and things like dates and setup times. When we used to do this over email it would often entail about 30 messages back and forth.

“But now we have a custom trade show module within our CRM that provides the basic blueprints. It walks sales reps through each step so they can provide the information needed. And then it’s passed off to an internal person.”
Future Plans

Automating the company’s finances.

Flynn explains, “The big thing we’re working on now is our Zoho Finance integration. We have a lot of automations built into our CRM. But now we’re migrating the financial information over to Zoho Finance. So we’re working on rebuilding a lot of that automation.”

Lesson Learned

Take it slow.

Flynn adds, “When I first started using the Zoho platform, there wasn’t a ton of documentation available. So it was a lot of trial and error. Today there are YouTube videos, forums, and all kinds of information available to help you make the most of it.

“I think with Zoho One it can be tempting for people to jump right in and want to try and integrate every tool. But I’d recommend that you start with one and slowly roll them out. You’ll give people time to learn all the new systems so they don’t get confused or frustrated. The most difficult thing about this is trying to change people’s habits. So you need to make it as easy as possible for them.”

Company Motto

Find small areas of improvement.

Flynn says, “No matter what we’re doing, we should always be thinking ‘how can we do this better?’ Even if it’s a tiny, simple thing, we want to empower people within the company to come up with any ideas. And we want to be thinking about how we can make people’s jobs easier.”

“We’re not trying to recreate the wheel. We just want to improve bit by bit. And that has a compound effect. So if we see where we want to go, we can make small incremental changes. And we can see that we’re doing pretty well today. But we want to be able to look back in a few years’ time and think that it’s amazing how far we’ve come.”

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