Clay Pigeon Shooting Club Ensures Business Continuity with Cloud Computing
Lakenheath Clay Target Centre (LCTC) shooting club was back in business just hours after a fire destroyed its clubhouse. A few months earlier LCTC had migrated its membership, marketing and office systems to the cloud with Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. The new system has ensured full business continuity due to ease of integration and will help reduce marketing spend by around 20 per cent.
Lakenheath Clay Target Centre (LCTC) is a popular shooting club with around 1000 members. In 2011, LCTC Owner Peter Usher wanted to improve the business value of the club’s £15,000 annual marketing budget by making it largely web-based and therefore more cost effective.
LCTC also needed to organise the business around the needs of its key staff. The Marketing Manager worked some of the week from home and required access to the website 24 hours a day, seven days a week. At the time, marketing campaigns depended on a paper records, a series of Excel spreadsheets, Microsoft Office Outlook, and plug-in functions from the LCTC website. The organisation also had a Microsoft Access membership database, which provided basic functionality, but was unable to track campaign responses, member activity, or member spend at the club.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online was absolute gold for us. We re-opened three weeks after the fire and members overwhelmed us with supportive messages. None of this would have happened without the cloud.”
Peter Usher, Owner, Lakenheath Clay Target Centre
As a small business with limited capital, LCTC wanted to avoid any major upfront investment in servers. In addition, it was looking to reduce marketing spend and organise the business around its people. Usher says: “We wanted to give staff anytime, anywhere access so they could log on to systems from home without having to maintain virtual private networks. But, because all the systems were on-premises, the major concern for our small team was disaster recovery.”
The LCTC site is across the road from the RAF Lakenheath air base, so Usher was always aware of the risk, however small, of the potential risk to the club of an aircraft or other accident. But Usher’s fears of a disaster proved to be real when fire destroyed the clubhouse and offices on 3 December 2011—an event that would have put most membership organisations out of business.
In early 2011, working with Microsoft Gold Partner Softwerx, LCTC assessed the feasibility of transforming CRM systems using Microsoft cloud services by investigating the extent of customisation, configuration, and training required.
Jonathan Holmes, Business Development Manager, Softwerx, says: “Once this was established, we advised LCTC on cleansing its data. We then imported all contacts, created various marketing lists, and customised the cloud-based system to reflect the special needs of a membership organisation.”
Softwerx deployed Microsoft Office 365, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online went live in January 2011, 10 months before the fire. Office 365 delivers familiar Microsoft Office collaboration and productivity tools through the cloud, while Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online delivers powerful cloud-based CRM software.
As a result, LCTC made a rapid recovery from the fire. Usher says: “Using Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, we emailed all our members with news of the fire within hours of it occurring. We told them about the action we were taking to return to business as usual, although without the clubhouse or catering facilities. If only our insurers could move as quickly as that.”
LCTC re-opened on 24 December in time for the expected increase of visitors for clay pigeon shooting over the holiday season. Usher says: “The easy integration and synchronisation of our Office 365 suite and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online means that we operate all our systems from a single module.” In addition, as a small business using the Office 365 suite, LCTC no longer needs to worry about upgrading its Office toolset because updates are automatic and at no extra cost.
The cloud provided LCTC with a complete disaster recovery solution and is helping the organisation to reap a number of other key business benefits:
Essential business continuity. The hard work and careful planning of the deployment of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and Office 365 ensured LCTC users were kept informed about recovery just hours after the fire. Usher says: “Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online was absolute gold for us. We re-opened three weeks after the fire and members overwhelmed us with supportive messages. None of this would have happened without the cloud.”
No upfront capital expenditure. The pay-as-you-go financial model for Microsoft cloud-based computing eases the cashflow pressures on small businesses—especially important after a major setback such as a fire. “Upgrading our software in the traditional way could cost us between £400 and £500 a time, but with cloud-based services the updates are delivered automatically and you’re always up to date,” says Usher.
20 per cent saving on marketing budget. Integration with Office 365 gives LCTC the opportunity to use its website for marketing campaigns, driving customers to its website through targeted email messages. Usher says: “We estimate that the new cloud-based system will help save 20 per cent from our annual marketing budget because we’ll make less use of print media and do more on the Internet.”