Solutions

A graphic design company that's also a print shop — a printing company that's also a marketing department and a bindery.
Affordable Image is committed to its customers' continued success, not job by job printing.

Affordable Image

Affordable Image.com has found an extraordinary niche in a market where companies like Kinkos and AlphaGraphics dominate. The Phoenix, Arizona–based company does much more than print business cards. They like to call themselves a complete off–site marketing department, providing everything from design, to printing to binding, working closely with their clients to ensure their customers' success.

Overview

  • An off–site marketing department for companies of all size
  • Sleek, efficient FileMaker databases use conditional formatting to coordinate printing jobs, track customers' schedules and inventory all the files and images
  • Located in Phoenix, AZ

Industry

  • Creative Services
  • Printing/Publishing

Solutions

  • FileMaker Pro 9 keeps thousands of job files inventoried, and sales personnel on track.

Actually, I think we're 100% more efficient." I would say that everyone does twice the amount of work than they did before FileMaker Pro. And that's made us more responsive to our clients; we call customers on upcoming projects, we help them make money, and they can track things in an easy, simple way. And because we can anticipate their needs, we've obviated the need for rush charges.

— Mike Shoun, General Manager, Affordable Image.com

Business Challenge

There's something very comfortable about Affordable Image. From their traditional green catalog, to the 1940's style photographs that illustrate it, the customer's first impression of the family run business is one of simplicity, and familiarity. Yet sitting in wicker chairs in an office that was clearly once a home — any notion of "old-fashioned" is quickly dispelled by the state of the art technologies that run the business, providing Affordable Image's customers with the latest marketing solutions.

Mike Shoun is Affordable Image's General Manager. "We like to think of ourselves as an off–site marketing department, and a graphic design company which happens to own its own print shop and bindery," he says. "We service everyone who needs printing, we even work with other graphic designers and produce their materials. We have mom–and–pop businesses, medium–sized ones, and then large corporations including Honeywell, Denny's, the American Cancer Society and Motorola."

Mike explains that what differentiates Affordable Image is the customer service and their attention to detail. "We really care about our customers," he says. "We're dedicated to their success. For example, if one of our customers is attending a trade show and we're producing the signage and collateral for them, we make sure that all those details are entered into our systems, so we have plenty of advance time, and we can plan. In fact," Mike laughs, "we often remind them about an upcoming event before its appeared on their radar."

For their customers it's a seamless process. It just works. For Affordable Image there's a secret ingredient: FileMaker Pro 9.

Successful Solution

Ensuring that everything runs smoothly behind the scenes is a series of databases, custom built and individually tailored to each user's personal needs. "Color is very important to people," explains Mike, "and often times how something looks on the screen impacts how efficiently someone works. The conditional formatting in FileMaker Pro 9 has really made a difference. Now I have a series of bright buttons on my screen, so I know what items are urgent, while someone else in sales will have an entirely different view of the same data, and have it customized in colors and in an order that works for them."

FileMaker Pro was first introduced to Affordable Image several years ago when Mike used it for his own work. He needed to build a disk inventory to easily locate the many hundreds of files that comprised the various jobs of Affordable Image's quickly growing customer base. Mike also needed a vendor database, something simple with contact information and addresses, so he built it himself in a very early version of the software, and it worked perfectly for him. Over time, Affordable Image tried other contact management solutions including ACT!, some of which promised him seamless integration with his workflow, but which in fact caused chaos and distress when they simply didn't work. "We spent a fortune," laments Mike, recalling the company's struggle with ACT! "It was a disaster, no one could master it."

Drawing on his own use of FileMaker Pro for several years, Mike turned to his in–house software designer, Brian Powell, and they decided to experiment with the most recent version of the software to see if the new features in FileMaker Pro could meet their needs. In next to no time, Mike relates, Brian had worked up a series of databases providing the seamless integration with the workflow of the print shop and bindery that Mike had been looking for.

"Our quote and contact databases are greatly enhanced," he says. " We run five databases, and have over 2000 customers, some of whom we contact every day, some once a month, and some of whom we may not contact more than once in two years. With conditional formatting we set up contacts and follow ups, and the types of follow ups, it's terrific for our customers."

The move to FileMaker Pro 9 has really paid off.

— Mike Shoun, General Manager, Affordable Image.com

Customer Benefits

For Affordable Image, their happy and swiftly–growing customer base is proof that their system works. With FileMaker Pro running the nuts and bolts of the business, sales, contacts, inventory and disk inventory — the next step for Mike is further integration with other software. The move to FileMaker Pro 9 has really paid off he says, adding that while he's an old computer hand, most of his team today can't work from a command line. So the newest software is the easiest for them to learn and adopt.

However Mike does have a small secret. As he's the only one who needs access to the old, original vendor database that he made for himself several years ago, he confesses shyly that he hasn't yet upgraded that one into FileMaker Pro 9 from its much earlier version. "It still works for me. It's completely reliable," he says — adding that it reminds him daily of how far Affordable Image has come.

Looking at the elegant interface of the integrated databases, Mike says that conditional formatting has made Affordable Image much more efficient. "Actually, I think we're 100% more efficient." I would say that everyone does twice the amount of work than they did before FileMaker Pro. And that's made us more responsive to our clients; we call customers on upcoming projects, we help them make money, and they can track things in an easy, simple way. And because we can anticipate their needs, we've obviated the need for rush charges."

A company that makes money by saving their customers additional expense? That tracks potential jobs as well as ongoing projects, maintaining full client communications history to avoid misunderstandings, and does it all in FileMaker Pro. That's Affordable Image.com — old fashioned values with today's technology in action.

For FileMaker:

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

For Affordable Image:

Mike Shoun
General Manager
Affordable Image
602-265-2299
mike@affordableimage.com
http://www.affordableimage.com