Online CRM lets everyone have up-to-the-minute visibility into company wisdom

For ten years Luis Gardolinski had been keeping tabs on his contacts. But it wasn’t easy. Managing them across his team and synchronizing them has always been a manual, delayed, and not always accessible process.


Luis Gardolinski is the CEO of Startrade, a company that builds software and equipment for logistics, specifically planning loads and new packages.

The Challenge:

Since 2001, Luis Gardolinksi always knew he needed some type of CRM solution. He spent so much time relying on paper and memory to manage clients and prospects.

Gardolinski’s first foray into contact management and CRM was the software package Act. While Act was useful, all the data was tied to a specific physical machine. In order to capture information in the company’s contact database, salespeople had to return to the office and recopy their day’s notes onto a computer that had Act installed. Once entered all that information had to be synchronized.

The wisdom of the company was always back at the office, sitting on an Act machine. And the information was always delayed by at least one day, as everyone had to wait for colleagues to enter their data and synchronized. While employees were out and about they never had a full view of what was going on in the office, said Gardolinski.

Even though Act had a myopic view at the time, Startrade used it for about seven years. It was pretty good for what they needed at the time. Although ultimately Gardolinski knew he needed an online solution.

We must be able to see what’s going on with each client at each stage of the sales cycle, said Gardolinski. He always wanted to know, “How far are we along to closing?” While he could do this with Act, he needed something that everyone could access anywhere and always be up to date.

How discovered Zoho:

Gardolinksi’s business and employees were becoming more mobile. A few years ago he moved them all over to using Google Apps and email, and tested a couple of other CRM solutions of which he can’t even remember. He landed on Zoho and chose to move over, but it wasn’t that easy.

It’s always a challenge when you change a piece of software you’ve been using for seven years to something else, Gardolinksi said.

Competitive analysis of CRM:

All the CRM solutions Startrade was looking at were either too fancy, more than they needed, or far too expensive. What really sold Gardolinski on Zoho was the speed of customer service he got especially upon testing the free service. After sending a request he got a response in 30 minutes and the problem was solved over the next 30 minutes.

Unique use case of Zoho CRM:

Now that all his information was online, Gardolinski and his team could travel wherever they wanted and have complete access to all the company data. This freed everyone from being locked to the office or wasting time with double entry.

Bringing the data over from Act wasn’t as easy as Gardolinski thought it would be. Looking back at it now he would have paid for a direct import from Act. But in actuality he saw the difficulty or importing his data as an opportunity to refresh it. He realized a lot of his information was really stale and this forced him to pick up the phone and call new and old clients, renewing relationships and contact information.

Advice for others: 

Even if you can import your data easily, don’t just import everything, advises Gardolinski. Use the move to a new system as an opportunity to renew your database like he did. Call your clients and update all their information.

It takes more time, but it’s worth it to do it right, Gardolinksi said.

Listen to the interview here.


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