ALTUS Wealth Solutions is a Registered Investment Advisory firm specializing in financial planning for business owners and entrepreneurs, alternative investment strategies and college funding solutions. Based in San Luis Obispo, California, ALTUS is run by John Buerger, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, wealth coach and fiduciary advisor, which makes ALTUS a one-stop shop for people who need a financial strategy, the coaching to execute that plan and an advisor who is ethically and legally obligated to serve the clients’ best interests.
In addition to approximately 60 active clients, ALTUS has “zillions” of relationships with prospective clients, financial services peers, and other people Buerger has met over his last eight years in business. Buerger operates ALTUS as a solo entrepreneur, making him the one responsible for maintaining these relationships. He is also the one responsible for paying the bills, including the bill for the CRM software he uses to stay on top of his relationship network. As a result, ALTUS needed a full-featured CRM that’s both easy to use and easy on the pocketbook.
“I was with Salesforce before I moved to Zoho CRM, and I found Salesforce to be outrageously expensive for what it was providing,” said Buerger. “For me, nothing in Salesforce was any more powerful than what I can do with Zoho CRM. But Zoho CRM costs just a fraction of Salesforce – $15 per month vs. $100 per month – so I’m saving over $1,000 per year per user.”
ALTUS switched from Salesforce to Zoho CRM in 2008 when Buerger determined that the Zoho solution had matured to the point of being a competitive and, ultimately, the preferred CRM option. As a web-based service, Zoho CRM lets Buerger work from his home office, from his office in downtown San Luis Obispo, as well as on the road via the Zoho CRM for BlackBerry app. The tipping point for making the switch to Zoho CRM was email integration with GMail, which ALTUS uses as its email server. Another key feature was the customization options that let Buerger personalize Zoho CRM to meet his own unique needs and preferences.
“Customization is key to making Zoho CRM work for me,” said Buerger. “For instance, I’ve renamed ‘Accounts’ as ‘Households’ and renamed ‘Contacts’ as ‘Individuals.’ I renamed another category as ‘Planning Documents,’ and I completely revamped it to generate financial plans for my clients. I can actually write a financial plan with all the moving parts and pieces and adjust it any way I want from within Zoho CRM. Now, I can create a very client-specific plan based on this framework that I constructed with Zoho.”
Other features ALTUS uses include invoices, reporting, and bulk mail. Buerger notes that Zoho CRM lets him create custom reports or printouts with just about any piece of data that he wants. “I could never do that in Salesforce,” said Buerger, “without paying an additional fee per month for some kind of special reporting software.”
“I would not be able to manage my business without Zoho CRM. It’s an expansive system that I can tweak pretty hard on my own, without third-party help,” said Buerger. “And Zoho CRM is extremely fast and responsive. When I type a search, the results flash up on the screen in a useable format very quickly. I’m not left staring at an hourglass.”