Packer Shipper December 1994 Article – Let Your Keyboard Do The Walking

In the information age, when everything you ever wanted to know is available at your fingertips, why should the Blue Book and the Red book be any different?
Now, instead of thumbing through pages of listings updated every few months, you can get current information about clients and suppliers several times a week, keeping you informed of developments which can influence business decisions.
Both the Blue Book and the Red Book are available electronically, enabling users to retrieve desired information at the push of a button.

The Red Book, too, is available electronically and Charles Shafae` of Shafae` and Associates, has adapted a computer software package called "Contact Central" to search and manipulate the Red Book data base. It is universal software that can do the same for any other data base the user wishes to import.

Shafae` says information contained on Red book diskettes is first imported into Contact Central which can then search the data base in a number of ways, including by name of firm, by address, by telephone number, by zip code, by product, by city, or by other criteria.

"Say I want to find all the people with potatoes in California," Shafae` explains. "I can filter through the information and find them all. Then suppose I want to send some potatoes to this person and find out if he is interested. I move my cursor into ‘call' and it will automatically dial this number for me. All I need is a little modem."

Once an agreement has been made for a shipment of potatoes, Shafae's software program can be used to print a form letter to be faxed or mailed to confirm the sale. The software can also be used to keep records of dealings and transactions with clients.
"I can write myself a little note that the letter was sent on a particular date and the price agreed upon was $2,500," Shafae` explains. "I can keep track of everything I do with my clients this way. If you're calling me and I know your name, I can enter it in the computer and search for you. Then I select the name and now I know exactly who you are. I have notes on you and I know when we met and what we talked about the last time we spoke. When I use this software, people are surprised. They wonder how I remember these things."

Contact Central can also be used for mail merge to write form letters to clients. If other word processing software is being used in the office, Contact Central is compatible with any program that has a mail merge function. It is easy to import a data file from Shafae's software to the user's word processor. Specifically for WordPerfect 5.1, however, Shafae` says Contact Central has been equipped with macros designed to completely automate the importation of a data file for mail merge.

"If you are using WordPerfect for mail merge, then you don't have to learn Contact Central," he explains. "You can export and import to and from other programs."
Another feature of Contact Central is the "to do list." Accounts can be highlighted to be called on a certain day at a certain hour and each morning the program will print out a list of people to call, Shafae` says.

"Every day, you come into the office and highlight the ‘to do list' he says. "It prints out your list and you can make all your calls and never forget any of them."
Shafae's software comes complete with manual and tutorial to speed up the learning process. It can be used with any number of lists, simply by importing all desired lists and highlighting the one to be searched. If a search is not needed, browsing through any list is also an option.

Data on diskettes can be modified or updated using Shafae's software. If an error or change in information is found during a conversation with a client, it can be corrected on the spot.

Shafae's firm also offers a produce accounting package called "dProduce Man" which can be used with Contact Central. Once a contact has been made and a shipment has been ordered and received, dProduce Man can then step in to keep track of inventory and other accounting tasks. dProduce Man features automated order entry, up-to-the-minute cost and price changes, inventory processing for bar-coding, price lists and multi-warehousing capabilities.

"Contact Central keeps track of daily activities such as who you called, who you made a deal with, etc.," Shafae` concludes. "When he sends me the produce I ordered, then I go to dProduce Man and put down that I received the truckloads and keep track of inventory and accounting with that."