Solutions

Producer of trade shows and exhibitions for a wide range of clients manages contacts and customer shipments with FileMaker Pro 8.5

Eaton Hall Exhibitions

Behind the exhibits, behind the displays at every trade show there's a team of professionals who bring it all together. At Eaton Hall Exhibitions, the focus is on service to clients, whether they're world–class companies like General Electric, Honeywell, or Siemens, or small entrepreneurs looking to make a splash in a crowded marketplace. Eaton Hall's best known presentation is the annual School Building Expo, the largest and best–attended school design and construction show in the United States, but whatever the show, FileMaker Pro databases organize the essential contact information.

Overview

  • Organizer of trade shows and exhibitions, specializing in programs relating to school design and construction.
  • Based in Florham Park, NJ
  • Approximately 10 employees

Industry

  • Creative Services
  • Small Business

Solutions

  • Customer tracking and sales contact system built in FileMaker Pro 8.5 allows online access to vital data for company representatives in the field.

We've been able to get these databases up and running much, much more quickly doing it ourselves. Minor changes to layout appearances are even done by our administrative staff or sales people now. I've been impressed with what non–technical people on my staff have accomplished in FileMaker Pro

— Scott Goldman, President, Eaton Hall Exhibitions.

Business Challenge

Every trade show depends on a constant flow of information before the floor is opened. Clients must be contacted, arrangements must be made, and follow–ups must be pursued to ensure the booths are filled. And all this effort requires an efficient system of contact management. "We used ACT for a time " recalls Eaton Hall Exhibitions president Scott Goldman, "but we found it rigid and inflexible. And we've used supposed 'high end' databases like Omnis 3 and found they didn't have anywhere near the flexibility we needed — adding fields or modifying how data was presented was extremely difficult once the database was in place."

Eaton Hall Exhibitions needed a database system that was flexible, adaptable, and easy to use, without the need for specialized training. "We chose FileMaker Pro," Scott continues, "because it was a solution that could be used by relative novices — without a long learning curve."

That was seventeen years ago — and since then Eaton Hall's been through upgrade after seamless upgrade, taking advantage of the enhanced new features of each FileMaker Pro version. "None of our upgrades presented any problem at all," notes Scott. "Our users didn't notice and it didn't take any more time to accomplish than doing an actual software install."

Successful Solution

Now, with FileMaker Pro 8.5, Eaton Hall Exhibitions maintains a powerful, self–contained customer management database system, operating on Macintosh G5's and Intel–based Macs. "We have a file with about 16 different layouts," Scott explains, "from a basic one–contact–per–screen layout to reports on sales and call activity. The solution keeps a running view of customer contacts, time–stamping each contact with user, date and time, and placing the most recent contact notes at the top of the client's history. All the previous notes are viewable as well."

Information contained in the FileMaker Pro application covers every step of the sales process. "We track exhibit booth sales prospects and the calls we make to them," Scott elaborates, "and we continue to use FileMaker Pro as the platform for customer contact once the sale is made. We generate sales activity and volume reports, customer lists, customer correspondence, and more, directly from FileMaker Pro."

Each show has its own dedicated database for sales contacts, along with another one that tracks the speakers and presentations offered at each event — with each database containing hundreds to thousands of individual records.

Customer Benefits

Often in the trade show business, one sale lead can generate others — and at Eaton Hall Exhibitions, FileMaker Pro keeps them organized. "When a new exhibitor comes on in a certain category, FileMaker Pro lets us retrieve other prospects in that space, so we can talk to them about why they too should be exhibiting," observes Scott. "It's much more effective sales tracking for our sales reps. We also have the ability to review and isolate data in ways which no other application can duplicate, such as defining and identifying prospects within a combination of business area and geography. This lets us direct the sales efforts of a small number of sales reps to the prospects whom we believe would be the most likely to be a good match for us."

With all the development of the application done internally, it's a real savings of money as well as time. "I'm sure we could have spent as much as $50,000 on the time developing our internal databases," declares Scott," but we've been able to get these databases up and running much, much more quickly doing it ourselves. Minor changes to layout appearances are even done by our administrative staff or sales people now. I've been impressed with what non–technical people on my staff have accomplished in FileMaker Pro."

Using FileMaker Pro's built-in remote sharing capability, we share our files live, in real time, using a third–party hosting service that costs us just $10 a month…We can deliver better customer service with rapid access to information — by sharing on the web we can all serve any customer at any time!

— Scott Goldman, President, Eaton Hall Exhibitions

After years of experience with multiple versions of FileMaker Pro, one might think Eaton Hall Exhibitions had figured out everything they could do with the application — but earlier this year, they discovered a benefit they'd never explored before: FileMaker Pro's ability to share databases through remote hosting. "Our firm is based in New Jersey, but we have contractors in Massachusetts and Colorado who are experts in our field, and who do work for us and other clients in our industry," Scott explains. "They run their own businesses but need access to our data on customers and speakers to do the work they do for us. Now, using FileMaker Pro's built–in remote sharing capability, we share our files live, in real time, using a third–party hosting service that costs us just $10 a month."

This discovery brought a dramatic change in the way Eaton Hall Exhibitions does business on a daily basis. "Previously, we had to divide up accounts based on a strict alphabetical list to avoid conflicts between staff and contract sales people, and we had to update files by shipping CDs back and forth so we could have some idea of what's happening in the field," continues Scott. "But now, because the file is accessible to everyone, we can assign any individual account to any sales rep — and our data is much more timely, because we see it as it happens! We can deliver better customer service with rapid access to information — by sharing on the web we can all serve any customer at any time!"

For FileMaker:

Kevin Mallon
Public Relations Manager
FileMaker Inc.
408-987-7227
kevin_mallon@filemaker.com
http://www.filemaker.com

For Eaton Hall Exhibitions:

Scott Goldman
President
Eaton Hall Exhibitions
973-514-5900 x102
sgoldman@eatonhall.com
http://www.eatonhall.com