Zoho CRM helped CARS Protection Plus, an auto warranty company in Pennsylvania, improve account retention by 40%.

"Zoho started as a CRM and project management tool, and now I can say that Zoho is the engine that runs the business"

Rick TudorVice President of Operations, CARS Protection Plus

The company

CARS Protection Plus is a prominent automotive warranty company based in Pennsylvania. They offer a variety of protective solutions for customers and work with thousands of auto dealers, shops, and lenders. Since their launch in September 1998, they have grown from a team of six to well over one hundred. Together, they have serviced over 17,000 dealers in 42 states and paid out mechanical claims to customers all over the continental US.

The challenges

Before they discovered Zoho CRM, the team at CARS Protection Plus were using a homegrown system built in Microsoft Access. Although it was highly flexible, they had no licensed database administrators despite how many people were using it on a daily basis to store information. Too many hands handling the data meant best practices were not being followed, which led to inconsistent data and cluttered screens.

Without proper data administration, and with each team having different needs based on their data flow, new requests came in every day for adding new fields or modules. This complicated the data flow even more and made navigation difficult, causing the team to dip in productivity and efficiency.

Anyone who handled the data manually had to depend on their memory alone to ascertain its credibility and timeliness as well as audit any changes made. This led to a breakdown in their reporting system's efficiency because reports were often inaccurate or inconsistent. The CARS team needed to have a better view of their daily productivity with a universal system that could track the day to day activities of sales reps and teams.

"We had a homegrown system that was easy to use when we were smaller, but as we grew, it was just too much to keep track of and run reports for. We had to go out and look for something new."

Jennifer LawSales Service Manager, CARS Protection Plus

In 2015, CARS Protection Plus was acquired by a private equity company that wanted to expand the business, but they needed a system that would scale. This propelled them to look for a new, more functional administration platform and CRM.

The solution

"We first looked at Salesforce and Sugar. Salesforce was a lot more than we needed, and it was just priced beyond our range. We came across Zoho, and it aligned much better with not only with our pricing needs but also how we do business," said their Vice President of Operations, Rick Tudor.

While looking for a CRM, CARS Protection Plus had three basic needs in mind. First, the cost.

"We were going from basically a zero-cost platform to a monthly fee, and it was an expense we hadn't budgeted for. I needed an application that would fit our needs but not break the bank." Tudor commented.

Tudor then reflected on the need for useful features. "We needed to be sure we were not going backward in functionality and needed to consider if any additional features were worth the additional spend."

The final consideration was training. They were moving from a homegrown, easy to use, flexible system—one they were already used to. They needed the new system to be user-friendly and easy to learn. This meant a smaller learning curve and shorter implementation time.

"One of the primary reasons we went with Zoho CRM was because it was very similar to our homegrown system, so training went very smoothly." Tudor said.

According to Tudor, the implementation went smoothly with help from the Zoho team and was completed in less than three months. The bulk of that time was spent on planning and training. "Importing our current accounts, lists, and historical notes was straightforward, and the territory structure was easy to create," said Tudor.

After the initial implementation, and as the business grew and new needs arose, CARS Protection Plus reached out to our partner, Twelve Three Marketing, through the Zoho Partner Program. They helped implement customizations and the integration with Zoho Analytics.

Benefits and ROI

Today, CARS Protection Plus uses Zoho CRM extensively to run their sales team and manage their database of over 80,000 dealerships.

"Moving to Zoho CRM has benefited us in a number of ways. One of the biggest is being able to manage our accounts more effectively." Tudor commented. After being used to a flexible homegrown system that could be customized at will, the CARS team needed the same flexibility with the new product as well. Zoho CRM provided them the ability to add multiple fields and import that information directly from the admin platform.

They could also better analyze the work patterns of their sales reps. This included tracking which stops they were making, their daily interactions with clients, the time spent on calls, and more. Sales agent activity and productivity was regularly measured with consistent and visual reports.

At the upper management level, employees at CARS Protection Plus used the accounts module, reports, and dashboards extensively. Using different dashboards, they have been able to gather clarity on how the company performs from day to day. The dashboards also allowed them to gauge the performance of the automobile dealers they work with.

They created two key dashboards for tracking their day to day sales metrics. One is 'late calls', used to track the calls that sales representative didn't make in the cadence required by the company. The second module is 'late sales', for when an account has not had a sale in their normal frequency. This view helped them quickly identify at-risk accounts.

With customer views and filters set up, the sales team spent less time identifying which accounts or leads to call. Tudor wasn't shy about numbers. "The report feature has saved us hundreds of accounts and hundreds of thousands of dollars," he said.

Using the accounts module, they created a consolidated place for reviewing account activity. Some of their regular activities involved logging calls through open tasks and a nightly push of major KPIs from the admin platform to CRM.

"Zoho CRM has helped the company on all lines: the bottom line, sales, and even time management. It's actually able to help us filter out bad leads from good leads."

Jennifer LawSales Service Manager, CARS Protection Plus

With CRM, sales reps could also access all the information they needed while in the field. This included customer metrics, next stops to make, and any updates to account information. They could update any account or quickly reply to any customers' inquiries because of CRM's mobile compatibility.

"The mobile app is crucial to my life, especially when I have to answer on-the-go questions and I'm sitting in front of a dealer trying to give them solutions."

Justin PalmieriBusiness Development Manger, CARS Protection Plus

At the macro level, Zoho CRM has also delivered immense benefits to CARS Protection Plus. They have 8,500 dealers under contract and 75,000 leads, all of which they manage through CRM.

"The biggest business benefit from implementing Zoho CRM would be the efficiency of our team, which is hard to quantify. Having a one-stop place for agents to review all of their account’s activity has made them more efficient." Tudor mentioned. "The dashboards help us retain accounts we may have otherwise lost. I'd estimate that our account retention has improved 35%-40%."

Call logs have also helped them keep track of calls and the results that they yield, while the reporting feature has allowed them to effectively and efficiently manage a remote workforce. For example, having all their tools readily at hand meant their sales reps could prepare for presentations better, which in turn increased the chances of closing deals. They could also make notes immediately after leaving a dealership with no time lost in between.

"Having one ecosystem of products that talk to each other smoothens the process," Tudor said. With all their business needs met in one package from recruitment, HR, finance, and sales, their departments work more seamlessly together.

"Zoho CRM is a very powerful tool. It's intuitive, easy to launch, and pretty much runs itself. Barring any major projects, being the Admin for 120 users takes less than two hours a week of my time."

Rick TudorVice President of Operations, CARS Protection Plus
  • Industry typeWarranty
  • Employees51 - 200 Employees
  • Type of businessPrivately held

Looking forward

"Zoho will be key to our growth as our company continues to evolve," Tudor confirmed. For CARS, Zoho CRM acts as a repository of all communications the team has with their dealers. "The more we grow the more important it will become. Our ability to manage territories and accounts is key to controlling channel conflict between our agents."

The product they are thinking of using at an even deeper level is Zoho Forms. They'd like to use it to design decision maps for their claims adjudication process and download PDFs of the results. As their headcount grows, Tudor believes this will allow for more efficient claims processing. These decision trees will also assist during employee training and onboarding for new hires.

Aside from Forms, Tudor mentioned, "Assist and Meeting have been, and will continue to be, essential pieces of supporting our remote workforce. They will enable us to widen our recruiting search nationwide by providing a greater pool of talent."

"I highly recommend Zoho. We have had really no issues with it. It's robust, it's stable, and it pretty much runs itself."

Rick TudorVice President of Operations, CARS Protection Plus

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