The Boathouse

Custom app helps The Boathouse save $405k annually in operating costs

Discover how a project management app allows this creative agency to do more projects with less overhead

Agency replaces ad-hoc mix of spreadsheets, paper, and packaged software offerings with three custom apps built on the FileMaker Platform

Overview

  • Agency replaces ad-hoc mix of spreadsheets, paper, and packaged software offerings with three custom apps built on the FileMaker Platform

Industry

  • Creative Services

Solutions

  • Custom apps built on the FileMaker Platform are available across desktop computers and iPad devices. The apps manage incoming pitches, calendars, project management, and client ad approvals.

Benefits

  • Reduced operational costs.

When Aram Rappaport founded his own advertising agency and film studio three years ago, he had a vision for a lean organization with more artists than administrators.

Commercials and advertisements are often top-heavy, costly endeavors that use ad agencies as liaisons between clients and creatives. Rappaport knew this from his experience as a director and producer. If something went wrong on-set or needed to be changed, he’d often have to call the agency, who would talk it over with the client. If the client wanted a change, they’d call the agency, who would call him. Significant time was wasted.

“Due to the game of telephone you play, I felt the brand’s objectives were often diluted,” Rappaport said. “Thus, no one was willing or able to make the best creative decisions.”

I estimate our custom apps save us the cost of hiring six Project Managers (PMs). That's $408k annually. Thanks to our apps, we only use one PM to handle everything, and she does it with ease.

— Aram Rappaport
The Boathouse 1

Launching a new venture

Rappaport thought, 'What if you could get rid of the middle man by becoming him? What if the agency and the creatives could be part of the same organization?' So Rappaport decided to join a growing industry trend by establishing a studio and growing a built-in ad agency that would represent products it actually believed in.

"For us, it’s about telling a story that really matters,” said Rappaport. “I thought, 'If we can just shrink the team down and engage creatives who already love the brand, we have a model that isn’t simply based on overhead and commissions and doing the bare minimum.'"

And so, the Boathouse Agency was born. Its calling card would be “immersive stories that can’t be ignored."

In the early days, the agency relied on an ad-hoc mix of spreadsheets, Google docs, whiteboards, manual checklists, and packaged software offerings to manage projects and client information.

But after 18 months of rapid growth, the team realized information was scattered, siloed, and getting lost. An employee recommended the FileMaker Platform to help the team find a better way to work. The software could be used to rapidly create a custom app tailored to the unique way the agency does business.

The Boathouse 3

Custom apps at work

"At first we created a single custom app to manage our projects,” said Rappaport. “But quickly we evolved that into multiple apps built on the FileMaker Platform."

The agency now uses one custom app to track a work calendar, incoming projects, and pitches. A second app allows producers to manage ongoing projects while a third allows employees and customers to record and discuss how the advertisements they’ve made look in the real world.

It’s been a year and a half since the Boathouse Agency began using their custom apps. In that time, the agency has proven that that its hybrid model works, with offices now in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

At any time, four to 18 people are using one or more of the three apps deployed across a variety of devices - from iPhones and iPads in the field to Macs in the office.

“I estimate our custom apps save us the cost of hiring six Project Managers (PMs),” Rappaport said. “That’s $408k annually. Thanks to our apps, we only use one PM to handle everything, and she does it with ease.”

Low overheads mean more money can be invested in hiring the best storytellers. The apps also allow The Boathouse to keep track of projects across its three offices — separately, and as one organization.

“Our Chicago, LA, and New York offices each have their own workflows,” said Rappaport. “If I’m in New York, I can see things getting done in the other offices individually and as a unified group. That’s super helpful — to see the big picture and zoom when I need to.”

The bird’s-eye-view of what’s getting done, and who it’s getting done by, has helped Rappaport identify and reward the highest-performing employees at the agency. That’s a big win, considering how spread out his employees are.

Ultimately, the FileMaker Platform has allowed Rappaport to keep his focus where he wants it: on storytelling.

"Our business model has chosen to front-load creative people who are completely brilliant and also completely unorganized,” he said. "In order to load up each team with these people, who are pushing the envelope for our clients, we had to cut back on management to hit budgets. The FileMaker Platform allowed us to do that."

To learn more about the FileMaker Platform, download your free trial. To learn how to build your first custom app, visit the Custom App Academy to watch a series of free educational video tutorials.

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The Boathouse