National Wallcovering

The Client

Based in North Little Rock, Arkansas, National Wallcovering is a 26-year-old distributor of high-end commercial wallcoverings. To stay competitive, its customer base of architects, interior designers, contractors and building professionals depend on National Wallcovering to provide unique design, responsive service and custom capabilities.

The Challenge

Rapid growth in the ‘90s – which saw the company grow from one territory to 28, from one employee to more than 60, and from a basement office to a corporate headquarters – was outstripping National Wallcovering’s capacity to keep up with customer demands and deliver top-rate service. A big part of the problem was that too much customer information was falling through the cracks. And valuable data such as sales leads, wallcovering sample requests and fulfillments, and sales figure reports – the lifeblood of the business – wasn’t being put into a useful format or acted upon as well as it could have been.

Like many small to mid-sized businesses, National Wallcovering had business data scattered in several databases and spreadsheets. This lack of manageable data caused many operational hiccoughs in the organization. Sales reps couldn’t easily access or share information that could make them more responsive and productive. Customers weren’t always getting the attention they needed. Managers didn’t know what their sales reps were accomplishing every day. And there was no consistent way to measure if prospects who received expensive wallcovering samples actually converted into buying customers.

For help, National Wallcovering had looked into several packaged Customer Relationship Management (CRM) programs on the market, including Act!, GoldMine and Access CRM, which all offered contact management but lacked the integrated customer management, and employee and asset tracking capabilities and they were seeking. To satisfy that need, National Wallcovering partnered with Softwyre and embarked on the creation of a custom solution.

The Solution

Following a thorough review of National Wallcovering's business operations, Softwyre confirmed the need for a comprehensive CRM system that would combine an expanded database of sales rep work activity information, wallcovering sample tracking, and sales reporting functions.

To ensure data integrity and to facilitate the communication requirements as outlined by National Wallcovering, Softwyre proposed the development of a Web application using a Microsoft SQL Server database and C# programming language within the ASP.NET development platform. The resulting product, called iCast, allows National Wallcovering sales reps to track their customer contact information and purchasing history while empowering managers to track the daily work activities of its Sales Reps and produce detailed reports on those activities.

The customer and sales data dispersed over the databases was consolidated in a centralized SQL Server database. The information National Wallcovering had collected on hundreds of companies, including customers, prospects, vendors and competitors, could now be easily segmented and tracked. Sales reps were required to log their appointments, wallcovering samplings and sales activities, which could now be parsed into customizable, automated reports.

The Results

To summarize, in three words, the results of the Softwyre custom solution, National Wallcovering’s Chief Financial Officer Mark Moseley said it best: “iCast is excellent.”

National Wallcovering managers use the daily sales figure reports and rep activity reports to manage customer accounts, to work toward reducing the sample fulfillment budget at the distributorship, and to see whether money is coming from the customers and prospects that the sales reps are calling. This information empowers managers to make better decisions and run the business more efficiently.

“Just by giving us visibility of the [wallcovering] samples we distribute, iCast has more than produced a return on investment,” Moseley said.

With 26 years of business information in their iCast database, National Wallcovering is positioned to track which products a customer has purchased (or not purchased) over time. Armed with this information, they can send target direct mail pieces and e-mail campaigns. As an added benefit, iCast allows National Wallcovering to e-mail segmented classes and categories of customers without e-mailing everyone. National Wallcovering also generates revenue from advertisements placed in its targeted e-mail blasts.

Although Moseley couldn’t point to a measurable increase in employee productivity or hard cost savings since deploying iCast, he says the ROI has been twofold: the managers now use the time they previously dedicated to creating sales reports to more pressing matters, and the new visibility has revealed once hidden information about sales rep activity that results in sales.

“We reap our greatest benefit from the auto reporting functions," he said. "It’s a very concise program, and it’s much simpler to use than GoldMine, Act or Access CRM.”

Throughout the six month iCast development and implementation process, Moseley says he particularly liked the flexibility of the solution and the dedication of Softwyre developers, who worked closely with National Wallcovering employees and truly understood the business operations. And since the system’s launch in 2005, Moseley believes the iCast solution and his partnership with Softwyre have bolstered National Wallcovering’s competitive edge in the marketplace.

“Softwyre has given us the ability to customize the software to our business model. We didn’t have to do it backwards and change our process to meet the requirements of some boxed software. With iCast we record data in the way we already do business — and that has been invaluable.”

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