Acorn Rentals

“The moment we found out about FileMaker Go for iPad, we instantly switched over to it and abandoned our previous costly, complex mobile development effort,” says Aaron Martin, national operations manager for Acorn Rentals.

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Car rental firm drives increased customer satisfaction with FileMaker Go for iPad
Acorn Rentals eliminates paperwork and speeds rental delivery with breakthrough mobile solution

Overview

  • Rental-car delivery firm, needed to increase efficiency with a mobile solution for delivery drivers

Industry

  • Small Business: No-charge, temporary car replacement for auto accident victims

Solutions

  • Created iPad solution in days with FileMaker Go for iPad after struggling for months to develop proprietary mobile solution

Benefits

  • Enabled better customer experience; slashed administrative overhead; increased driver productivity and reduced ongoing IT costs
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Acorn Rentals (www.acornrentals.com.au) delivers rental cars to customers after an auto accident. Now Acorn's drivers travel with FileMaker Go on their iPads, so they deliver an even better customer experience along with the cars.

Acorn's drivers typically deliver a rental car to their customers at an auto repair shop. With an iPad running FIleMaker Go in hand they enter customer and vehicle details directly into the firm's main database at headquarters. Then the customer receives a copy of the documentation by email.

Customers waiting for a rental car want to get their replacement and get going as fast as possible. In its role as "clipboard replacement", the iPad eliminates an intimidating amount of forms and copies, removes the need for rekeying of customer data, and eases and speeds the whole experience for the customer.

"The moment we found out about FileMaker Go for iPad, we instantly switched over to it and abandoned our previous costly, complex mobile development effort," says Aaron Martin, national operations manager for Acorn Rentals.

For Acorn and its customers, the benefits of adopting the iPad and FileMaker Go are immediately evident — fast time-to-market for an advanced iOS solution, improved productivity, reduced costs and enhanced customer satisfaction.

"With FileMaker Go, we now deliver a customer experience that is unrivalled by any car hire firm in Australia and was achieved without a huge development budget and specialised hardware," says Martin.

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FileMaker Go for iPad replaces paper forms

Productivity gains from extending a proven FileMaker solution to the iPad

Based in Sydney, Australia, Acorn Rentals specialises in providing free rental cars to people involved in accidents when they are not at fault — so the accident victim avoids out-of-pocket expenses and hassles.

Acorn provides its rental services Australia-wide and has been in operation for 20 years. Acorn uses FileMaker Pro in the headquarters office to run its day-to-day operations. This includes storing customer information, insurance and delivery details, and even time-stamped file notes and diary entries of all actions taken. The company also schedules car deliveries and pick-ups through FileMaker Pro.

With the advent of smart mobile devices like the iPad and iPhone, it became apparent that the company could benefit from a mobile component to its FileMaker Pro solution. Acorn currently provides vehicles from more than 250 locations nationwide. Traditionally, delivery agents on the road used printed forms to complete the necessary contractual and insurance documentation. Then, they returned to the depot to manually input the information into the company's FileMaker Pro database.

FileMaker Go for iPad can deliver true mobility with minimum headache.

— Michael Costin, National Account Manager, Acorn Rentals

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At Acorn, rekeying customers' data is a thing of the past

Manual entries, extra miles

Completing paperwork and then re-entering the information back at the office was a time-consuming process. Having to rekey information resulted in a higher possibility of errors.

The system also lacked global positioning system (GPS) location capabilities, making it impossible to determine exactly how far away a delivery driver and an available car were from a waiting customer. Pick-ups and deliveries had to be coordinated once delivery agents returned to the depot and updated their information in the FileMaker Pro system. As a result, miles piled up on the cars and customers often needed to wait longer for deliveries.

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Acorn staff have full access to the FileMaker Pro database when remote

iOS development made easy

Seeing an immediate need and many potential benefits, Acorn began developing a proprietary mobile car rental solution through a third-party company. This tack, however, was proving costly and technically complex. Then Acorn Rentals learned about FileMaker Go for iPad, a solution that would allow delivery drivers to input the necessary details of a rental straight from their iPads in the field, and have all the information updated to the server-hosted database in real-time. Michael Costin, national account manager for Acorn Rentals, set up a quick trial of FileMaker Go for iPad. "We were instantly impressed with its possibilities, power, and ease of use," says Costin. "FileMaker Go is exactly like using FileMaker Pro in the office, just with a slightly smaller screen on the iPad. We chose FileMaker Go for iPad because of the simple data entry on the iPad screen, ease of integration with FileMaker Pro and strong mobile capabilities."

Costin adds that implementing FileMaker Go for iPad was straightforward. "Setting up FileMaker Go out of the box was a matter of inputting our IP address and opening a port on our server," he says. "Our delivery agents in the field immediately had full access to our FileMaker Pro database from anywhere. We subsequently made a few layout modifications and created a script so that we could insert customer signatures electronically into all the documents. It was that simple."

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Acorn says setting up FileMaker Go was 'straightforward' and 'simple'

Reduced administrative overhead, better customer service

Using FileMaker Go for iPad, drivers have full access to Acorn’s database remotely and can input client and vehicle details. “We were pleasantly surprised when we installed FileMaker Go for iPad,” says Aaron Martin. “It looks and feels exactly the same as FileMaker Pro in the office, so there’s really no training involved.”

By automating agents at the point where they interact with the customer, the customer has a better experience.

With FileMaker Go, drivers now input all their details straight into the iPad. The information is then synchronised with the company’s FileMaker Pro database instantly over a 3G network. The customer receives a copy of the documentation by email. The company is saving on the cost of printing forms while insuring accuracy, an important aspect in their day-to-day work with insurance companies.

Because the system is iPad-based, drivers and managers now have visibility into vehicle locations thanks to the “Find My iPad” feature offered through MobileMe. “We use it to locate drivers so we know when they will return to base and how far away from arriving at a delivery they are,” Martin says. “Also if a driver is waiting to be picked up by another driver they can see how far away they are from a destination.”

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Rapid ROI

The initial outlay for the iPads, according to Acorn executives, will pay for itself quickly in savings on administrative time and costs as well as on consumables such as paper and toner cartridges in less than three months.

“There was no significant additional cost to support FileMaker Go for iPad after the initial purchase of the iPads for our drivers,” says Costin. “The only other cost involved is running the data over the 3G network, a nominal expense.” The new solution is also helping to increase income. Costin, who is responsible for sales of Acorn’s services, can use FileMaker Go for iPad to access the company database from the road to see if repair shops in a certain area have used the company’s services. From there, he can visit the car repair shops ripe for business expansion to cement existing relationships or forge new ones.

“FileMaker Go for iPad can deliver true mobility with minimum headache,” says Costin. “Tackling the mobile project from scratch with a third party was proving to be quite an undertaking, but we were able to purchase the iPads and FileMaker Go for iPad and start using them right away with relatively few modifications to our existing FileMaker Pro system.”

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For FileMaker:

Vuki Vujasinovic
Click PR
+61 2 8006 0132
filemaker@clickpr.com.au

For Acorn Car Rentals:

Aaron Martin
National Operations Manager
Acorn Rentals
www.acornrentals.com.au
1300 22 67 67

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