Nov 182013
 

Editor’s note: While reviewing submissions for ASMP’s Best of 2013, I was struck not only by the quality of Pascal Depuhl’s work but the fact that he produced a feature length documentary, just six months after launching his motion career. It seems there is nothing Pascal does halfway. I am delighted he’s agreed to become a regular contributor to the ASMP Strictly Business Blog. ~JH

[by Pascal Depuhl]Pascal's Guest Blog post on ASMP's strictly business blog.

Pascal’s Guest Blog post on ASMP’s strictly business blog.

I spend about 10% of my time actually taking pictures or shooting video. The rest is spend as my own webmaster, SEO specialist, social media advocate, editor, sales person, janitor, shipping manager, equipment specialist, IT manager, driver, in short I (as many other small business owners) am chief cook and bottle washer. So it’s no surprise, that things slip through the cracks once in a while – however – when that crack swallowed two To Do items a few years ago (a client phone call I forgot to return and another call, where I called the same client twice in 24 hours) I decided, that I needed some help.

I have a friend that runs a studio with 160 employees – my studio is about 1/160th of that size – yup that’s right I am working by myself. I do put together crews for productions, but I am a sole proprietor in my photography/cinematography business, which means I don’t have a receptionist that can keep a calendar for me. I started looking around and started reading about CRM (Customer Relationship Management) – in it’s simplest form it is a contact database, an email program and a calendar (so you could do it with contacts, mail and iCal).  By the way this blog post is not written for my friend, although the CRM solution I use can easily handle his operation.

Anyway, I was looking for something that could grow with me over time. Now, there are many CRM solutions out there that cover a wide range of specific needs. One of the biggest and most innovative names I started hearing about was SalesForce and with some of the largest companies using this cloud based CRM service, I figured that would fit my growth requirement. I also wanted to be able to export my data, if I would ever decide to manage my clients in another way. Data integrity and security was also on the top of my list when comparing providers. Custom reports, email templates, reminders, … and so much more makes this a great way to help me run the office backend of my business.

Let me give you an example: The contact form on my website,  populates my cloud based database with all the information a potential client enters online. It then immediately emails a personalized note back to them and sends me a message saying, that someone just contacted me via my website – seamlessly and automatically. So CRM is kind of like a receptionist, but I can grab the iPhone app to see all info I need to see on the run. (Remember the moment of relevance Google always talks about? How fast do you respond to a valid inquiry?)

SalesForce prides itself on having great safety and privacy features and also has different levels of pricing (from $5 to $250 a month) and features to custom tailor to your needs. If you’re interested keep an eye out for some specials that they run once in a while, I got one of those when I signed up 6 years ago and am still paying the same price.

I’ve been using SalesForce since 2008 and it helps me keep track of my accounts, contacts and production opportunities and although there is a learning curve in starting any new process in your business, I found that their customer service and support (even when you’re not paying on the higher end of their fee structure) is out of this world. And since I’ve used them I haven’t forgotten a phone call or called the same client twice in one day.

– This post was first pubished on ASMP’s blog: strictlybusiness

What do you think?