Helping Lifeways streamline complex business logistics using Zoho CRM


When you’re managing complex logistics and people at multiple sites, you need access to accurate business data – fast.

But legacy systems may only give you limited visibility of the data you need. This was the challenge facing Lifeways when they approached A2Z Cloud for help.

We chat with Sue Ayton, Business Development Director at Lifeways, to find out more.

Founded in 1995, Lifeways is the UK’s largest supported living specialist. The company provides supported living services and residential care for 5,000 people with learning and physical disabilities, across 1000 locations. These services are funded by local authorities and clinical commissioning groups or the individuals themselves.

“Our business is complex,” explains Sue. “We have supported living accommodation and teams across the UK.

“Back in 2019, we recognised that we needed a CRM to streamline the way we ran our business,” recalls Sue.

“At that time, there was no way to track leads coming into the business and we didn’t have a comprehensive view of our property portfolio. So, trying to match an individual’s needs to suitable accommodation was always a complex task.”

Getting the full picture of business

The Lifeways team had previously relied on Excel spreadsheets to collate this information. But, these spreadsheets did not provide the depth of information the team needed.

Populating these spreadsheets was also time-consuming and it had become a bugbear for the team. It was clear that Lifeways needed a slicker, faster way to manage their enquiries and matching process.

“We tested various different CRMs,” explains Sue. “In the end, we chose Zoho because of its flexibility and cost-effectiveness. It was also very easy to use.”

The focus then turned to finding the right software engineering partner to implement Zoho CRM for Lifeways.

“We wanted to work with a company based in the UK and we looked at a number of Zoho premium partners,” says Sue.

“A2Z Cloud seemed like a very good fit right from the start. We were impressed with the team, who quickly understood our requirements. We also liked the fact that they had a strong MD, who is very hands-on.”

Nailing the requirements

Lifeways had three main requirements for their CRM.

The CRM needed to:

  1. Manage the journey of different people from the earliest enquiry to assessing their needs and finding suitable accommodation.
  2. Give a comprehensive view of available accommodation through a property database.
  3. Have clear visibility of current and forecasted business performance with different reports and dashboards.

The first task was for Lifeways to collate detailed data about their properties for population in the CRM. A2Z Cloud’s business engineers then worked closely with Lifeways to create and implement a CRM tailored to their needs. The new CRM was implemented in less than three months.

“The initial implementation was fast and it went very smoothly,” says Sue. “The reporting part took a little longer as we had some very specific requirements.”

Once completed, A2Z Cloud provided training to team members to help get them up and running with the CRM.

Around 80 team members across the business, including the finance, business development, operations and recruitment teams, are now using the CRM.

“Zoho CRM is so easy to use so we’ve seen massive buy-in from the team,” says Sue.

“Even team members who aren’t very technically minded have picked it up really quickly and find it easy to use,” she says.

Complete visibility across the business

The business development team is now able to generate reports with a very granular level of detail – such as the number of leads (enquiries) closed each week and how long it takes for each lead to convert.

Many reports can be created from within the CRM but the team is also using Zoho Analytics for more in-depth insights. Crucially, Zoho CRM provides access to real-time data – giving Lifeways a snapshot of how the business is performing at any given time.

“We have complete visibility of what’s happening so we can support and challenge each other on business performance,” says Sue.

Zoho CRM also offers exceptional flexibility. The team can customise the system to meet their requirements – adding new fields and creating a range of reports without having to go back to the developers at A2Z Cloud.

“It’s great to be able to make small changes ourselves but know that we can call on A2Z Cloud for more complex requirements,” says Sue.

“The CRM gives us an accurate record of capacity and occupancy across the UK,” she adds.

Streamlining every aspect of the business

When the team receives an enquiry, they can instantly check whether they have the right accommodation and support for an individual – whether that’s in a single-person bungalow or a 40-bed care home. It’s possible to check even the smallest details, such as whether the room has special adaptations or is on the ground floor.

“Zoho CRM provides the main version of ‘the truth’ for our business,” says Sue. The CRM is the first thing I open on my desktop every morning and I keep it open all day – that’s how useful it is.”

Sue and her team are also making use of other products in the Zoho suite, including Campaigns and Analytics.

“All of these products are integrated. As an example, you can build a mail campaign from the CRM rather than having to download the data first,” says Sue. “It just speeds up everything and streamlines the way we work.

“The CRM has significantly improved the way we run our business but it’s also made the process much slicker and easier for the people we support. It’s proved transformative for us.”

“At the end of the day we are a business about helping people with disabilities live in environments that support their needs and the CRM has helped us do this more effectively.”

Inspired by Lifeways’ transformation story?

Leverage the power of Zoho CRM and let A2Z Cloud streamline your complex business logistics. Get in touch today to kick-start your digital transformation journey.

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