Fire Training Netherlands keeps track with Archie
Fire Training Netherlands is the front-office organization for five fire-training centers. All employees are in contact with customers. To enable easy transfer of work between employees and an efficiently laid out customer process, the organization works with Archie. “Our sales process is very effective. Thanks to workflow support, nothing ever slips through the cracks, and we know exactly what everyone is working on. We couldn’t do our job without CRM.” An interview with Henrike Alberti.
The Netherlands has a number of training centers for firefighting and in-house emergency and first-aid service (BHV in Dutch). Up until the beginning of this century, they operated independently of each other. Every center had its own sales department and competed with the others. In order to work more efficiently and stop stealing each other’s customers, Regional BHV Netherlands was founded.
Training Netherlands later emerged from this organization. This front-office organization is responsible for sales and quality management at five fire-department training centers. Office manager and sales representative Henrike Alberti explains: “We see to it that the training centers can concentrate on training. We take care of everything else.” Everything else’ is quite a bit. Besides sales, it includes quality management, such as TüV certification, hotel bookings for groups attending multiday training courses, as well as accounting and invoicing.
The five training centers still operate as independent organizations, but they no longer compete now that they are working together through Fire Training Netherlands. And there’s no need for that, knows Alberti. “All five are capable of providing basic training. For this basic training, fire departments usually pick the center that’s closest to their location. In addition, every center has its own specialty. For example, the training center here in Baak specializes in extinguishing hazardous materials, and the center in Vlissingen features a replica of a subway station. By offering the training courses of all five training centers, we can provide a complete package.”
Alberti joined Fire Training Netherlands shortly after the organization was formed in 2006. She had worked with Archie in her previous position. “I quickly realized that we would be able to improve our efficiency by acquiring a CRM package,” she tells. The selection process took place towards the end of 2007.
"We wouldn't be able to do our jobs without Archie CRM."
One of the most important criteria for the software was that it had to be able to work with Fire Training Netherlands’ five clients. “We want to be able to completely separate the five training centers in all of our reports. And because most customers purchase training courses with multiple centers, we also want to be able to produce reports from the customer’s point of view. Most CRM packages don’t work like this, instead expecting to deal with a single company. They allow for the creation of multiple customer databases. But we want the exact opposite: a single customer database for multiple companies.” In Archie, this problem is solved using the Campaigns feature. For Fire Training Netherlands, this name was changed to Locations.
Another important criterion was user-friendliness. And this is another thing Archie excels in, Alberti finds. Nonetheless, user training turned out to be very useful. “My colleague and I have both worked with Archie in the past. We never received user training at that company. The software is so easy to use, it’s pretty much self-explanatory. But we did find that we benefited from the training. The software was capable of far more than we realized. The training helped us get the most out of the software. Now we really make optimal use of all the features that are relevant to us.”
"Archie features a great variety of reports, providing endless amounts of highly useful guiding information."
The wide variety of reports is important to her. “We can basically make any cross section we want. We report to the training centers every month the state of sales and the types of training courses that have been sold. We also perform benchmarks among the centers. And we produce a lot of reports from the customer’s point of view: what training courses do they book, at which centers do they book them, and what shifts have taken place in comparison to previous years? You can draw a lot of useful guiding information from that,” Alberti says.
One of the most convenient features is the automatic linking of emails to the customer card. The software recognizes the email address, and for every email that is sent or received it asks whether you want the message to be linked. Alberti: “We used to have to do that by hand, and that’s something you occasionally forgot to do. Now, not a single email ever slips through the cracks. This is very important to us, because we share customers. For example, my colleague in inside sales support takes care of hotel bookings. I myself work partly as a sales representative, but I also do the bookkeeping. When a customer calls to ask about a hotel stay and my colleague is out of the office, I still have all the information on hand, including email correspondence. That’s why we rarely have to tell customers: ‘my colleague knows the answer and he’ll be in tomorrow’.”
"One of the most convenient features is the automatic linking of emails to the customer card."
Because Fire Training Netherlands has used Archie essentially from the beginning, the software’s effect cannot be measured in sales figures or efficiency gains. Nonetheless, Alberti has absolutely no doubt about the software’s usefulness. “We simply wouldn’t be able to do our work without CRM.” The advantages lie in a different area than they did in 2007 when Archie was implemented, however. “At the time, there were 440 fire departments in the Netherlands. Today, our country has 25 safety regions, in which fire, police and ambulance services cooperate. This has meant a substantial change for the sales and quotation process. “The safety regions are required to be publicly tendered. The real art for us is to sit down with the customer at the very beginning of this process and help them to write their specifications. As such, it is important to recognize requirements at an early stage. Archie helps us achieve this.”
In summary, Fire Training Netherlands is very happy about both the software and the supplier. “Archie provides good support. They think along with us, for example in terms of arranging the software. For our organization, this software is perfect,” she concludes.
About Fire Training Netherlands
Fire Training Netherlands is the front office of five fire-training centers spread across the Netherlands, each with their own specific specialties. The organization emerged from a desire within the market for training variation and specialization. By working together, these training centers are able to provide fire departments with a very broad training package. For further information please visit: www.brandweertrainingen.nl