Client name . SWS Solutions
Sector . Automotive
Summary comment . Steve Wright, Managing Director, SWS Solutions
"My jaw hit the floor, almost literally. I just imported my solution into FileMaker Go, and there it was, looking just as I'd designed it to. It's amazing, absolutely amazing. It just works."
SWS gives garages even more "Go" with FileMaker
What the developer says…
"It gives me the ability to provide my customers with a solution that works on the latest devices, and it helps them to run their businesses better than ever. FileMaker Go is just amazing."
SWS Solutions has a long history with FileMaker. Set up in 2003 by founder and managing director Steve Wright, the Horsham, West Sussex, based family business specialises in providing innovative database solutions to the automotive trade. Steve, whose own experience spans both the motor and IT industries, was originally recommended FileMaker whilst working at a garage, a friend of his suggesting that it might help him tackle duplication issues around invoicing.
Just a short time after purchasing FileMaker, Steve had created 'Garage Assistant' (GA), a dedicated customer and vehicle invoice tracking system. Since then, and with the founding of SWS Solutions, GA has been through a number of iterations, each adding more functionality, better features and an increasingly attractive user interface. But with 1,500 clients on his books, Steve isn't one to rest on his laurels. Seeing the growing presence of mobile devices as a major opportunity for SWS, Steve began to formulate plans to create a version of GA that would work on the latest mobile platforms.
With the unprecedented success of Apple's App Store, Steve saw it as the natural choice as a platform for his idea. No stranger to App development himself, having already released an App to help with radio recoding shortly after the Store launched in 2008, he laid the foundations for a mobile version of GA that would work with both the iPhone and the – at the time – soon to be launched iPad.
"My industry is highly competitive," says Steve, "and I'm always looking for ways to differentiate SWS. Garage Assistant was doing well in its own right, but I always knew that it had potential away from the desktop as well. The only question was how I was going to make that happen. I knew how to develop the App, but wasn't sure how to link it back to FileMaker."
In a moment of serendipitous timing however, just a couple of days before he was due to begin development of the App, Steve learned of the launch of FileMaker Go. FileMaker Go, which brings FileMaker's power and flexibility to mobile platforms, allows you to import existing databases created in FileMaker Pro and take them on the road on the device of your choice.
"This was it, the answer to all of my questions," continues Steve. "I think that I must have been one of the first people in the world to download FileMaker Go from the App Store. Day one, I was there downloading it, and day two I had Garage Assistant up and running on my iPhone. It's absolutely incredible."
As Steve says, porting Garage Assistant from the desktop to the iPhone was easier than he'd ever anticipated. "I made a couple of small changes in terms of scripts, and a bit of resizing, but with almost no work at all, I had the mobile version of Garage Assistant that I'd always dreamed of. Garage Assistant is pretty graphics intensive, but within just a couple of hours a day spent fine tuning, and within a week I had a new solution to sell."
That dream is one that many of Steve's clients share by all accounts, with the FileMaker Go version of GA fast becoming a major selling point for SWS. "As soon as I was able to offer it as a solution, I put the FileMaker Go version of GA up on the front page of my site," says Wright. "Interest just spiked from there, and while I don't sell FileMaker Go myself, my clients have quickly seen the potential of being able to download it for themselves and port their own GA solutions over."
For many of the 'one-man-band' automotive repair crews that Steve works with, he has repeatedly heard that it has "changed everything". "It's a natural evolution," he continues. "I originally developed GA as a way of tackling duplication in regard to invoicing. Now, my customers are able to take their whole business on the road with them, meaning that they can run everything from sales to stock to invoicing right while they're on their customer's driveways. That's an incredibly powerful thing, because it makes them more efficient and cost-effective, and who doesn't want that?"
Steve also sees potential for some bigger garages to make the most of FileMaker Go. With devices like the iPad revolutionising the way that businesses of all sizes work, Steve believes that there is huge potential for FileMaker Go to have a similar impact on the back office. "If I was the MD of a garage right now, I'd be looking at FileMaker Go and thinking 'that can help me save money by getting rid of my desktop PCs, save time by letting me run my business on the move, and most importantly, offer a better service to my customers'. That's a great business proposition, all for something which costs just a few pounds to download."
- FileMaker on the 'Go' – all of the same powerful data that's essential to running a 21st Century business, but now in your pocket
- Ease of use – no need to toy with tricky scripts or coding. FileMaker Go makes taking your data on the move easy
- The latest data – FileMaker Go synchronises with your desktop FileMaker solution, meaning that no matter where you are, if something changes back at HQ, you know about it instantly