Photo from Travel Alaska

How Once in a Blue Moose found its FileMaker groove

by Lydia Davey, Content Marketing Manager, FileMaker, Inc.

When our editorial team came across the FileMaker Can Do That! video, we knew we had stumbled onto something special. Lots of folks love our platform, but it was clear that Carmen Fisher, CIO at Once in a Blue Moose, was a FileMaker Platform fanatic.

We sat down with her to discover what makes her love for FileMaker-based custom apps so deep.

Why the FileMaker Platform?

I’m a huge FileMaker fan. When I first discovered it, it was kind of a religious experience. I loathe spreadsheets, so to have software that can handle a high volume of data so easily is great. I always say, “Don’t send a spreadsheet to do a database’s job.”

Carmen Fisher, Co-owner, Once in a Blue Moose

We looked at packaged solutions, but they had baggage we don’t want and they don’t do some of the things we need. FileMaker can do exactly what we want.

I get requests for new functions all the time and most of the time, I say “Yes. I’ll do that right now.” You can develop a new function in the moment and it’s available everywhere you need it right away.

What’s great about it is that you don’t have to be a programmer to start making a difference in your business. You only have to learn as much you need to get the job done.

Finally, I adore FileMaker’s themes. I don’t have much of an eye for design, but they make me look like I know what I’m doing.

How do you use your FileMaker-based custom apps on a daily basis?

We use FileMaker for everything. We’re a seasonal retail business in Alaska with five year-round locations and two summer locations, so centralizing data and ensuring it is current and available to everyone at any given moment is key to our success.

We use FileMaker to:

  • Process payments
  • Manage employee information
  • Train new employees
  • Run timecards and payroll
  • Track vendor information
  • Create purchase orders
  • Receive incoming products
  • Manage deliveries
  • Manage inventory
  • Print labels
  • Track bank deposits
  • Print annual reports

Each year, we buy from more than 800 vendors, and people say we’re the most organized buyers they’ve ever seen. I created a whole inventory management system called, “Mercury: Messenger of the Gods.”

Mercury ensures we never lose track of items. With FileMaker, we’re able to have fields for multiple numbers per items. For example, we might have five different numbers we want to be able to refer to things by. For example, with items like Advil, the barcodes change frequently on the boxes, but we might already have product in the stores with another barcode. FileMaker enables that kind of flexibility.

Since implementing two new applications in 2014, I estimate we’ve saved about 200 hours per year. Over time, I’ve written hundreds of applications, so quantifying our success with the platform is tricky.

What future plans do you have for your applications?

Right now our stores fax in orders when they need new inventory, but I want ordering to be done on iPads. When the order is filled at the main warehouse, Mercury will automatically transfer the product to the store.

I’m also training two FileMaker administrators, because I’m getting toward retirement age. They’re both very excited about learning, and I’m hoping next year they’ll be able to attend DevCon.

Want to learn more about the FileMaker Platform? Check out our resources page or download a free trial.

If you have a custom app story you’d like to share, please submit your story here. We’d love to know how you use your FileMaker-based custom app!