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Celebration Studios Finds NetSuite Engaging
A wedding photography business responds to anxious brides-to-be in minutes, not days.
For the rest of the July 2005 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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Frantic about-to-get-hitched couples run around trying to see to every final detail for their big day--time is short and everything must be perfect. Much of the planning must be done by these couples on weekends, and the last thing they are able to do is wait very long for a response from the vendor in question. For wedding photography and videography company Celebration Studios, weekends are when its roughly 100 employees are the most busy. The company's account management systems were slow--it often took several days to return a potential client's phone call, according to CEO Marc Schwartz. The company then had four studios, and was adding a fifth; keeping accounts fluid and manageable took tremendous effort using ACT! for front-end service and Peachtree for accounting. Schwartz knew it was time for a change, so he switched to NetSuite. He saw ROI almost immediately, as client response time went from days to minutes. "People plan on weekends. They're excited and they like [us] to get back to them quickly," he says. When customers fill out a form at Celebration Studios' Web site, NetSuite kicks back an autoresponse and sends an electronic message to the BlackBerry device of the most appropriate salesperson within a couple of minutes, no matter where he is. The longest it takes salespeople to respond is 30 minutes, and that's rare. Customers are "blown away. They say 'How did you do that? I just called you,'" Schwartz says. "It's a huge statement of service. Generally, the competition won't call them back till Tuesday at best. We've already set up the appointment and the benchmark for immediate satisfaction." Once the newlyweds are in the door, Celebration Studios can spend less time gathering information. "It moves the process along nicely, and it personalizes it," Schwartz says. As a result, the company saw an unprecedented 24 percent jump in same-store sales in one year, and after-sales of items like photo albums and framing doubled, mainly due to email campaigns. The company was able to reduce operational labor costs by 70 percent, because a majority of the communication with clients is now done through automated technology instead of phone calls. Schwartz also cut bookkeeping labor in half (from 40 to 20 hours). By emailing bills many customers immediately enter their credit card information, instead of waiting several weeks to send a check, significantly improving cash flow. "In a small business that's great," Schwartz says.
Justin Foster, vice president of professional services for NetSuite, helped Celebration Studios with its implementation. Foster helped the company improve lead flow by determining the best way to notify the appropriate sales reps for each customer and creating a shared calendar view from outside the office by remotely linking them to their Outlook. "SMBs," Foster says, "are saying 'Gosh, I never realized I could have all that.'" Celebration Studios continues to see more efficiencies and new opportunities emerging. "We have integration like significantly larger companies, without the pricing structure. It's an evolution, you learn as you go," Schwartz says. "I never understood my business as well. NetSuite has increased my knowledge of something I've done for a lifetime. I'm more than impressed, I'm actually grateful." The Payoff By switching to NetSuite for its front-end and accounting technology, Celebration Studios:
  • increased same-store sales by 24 percent in one year;
  • cut operational labor costs by 70 percent;
  • accelerated cash flow by several weeks; and
  • doubled aftersales in one year.
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