“I want software to sell windows and doors that’s as simple as sketching on a pad. That can't be that difficult…can it?”
Call me sad, but I’ve always loved selling windows. 25 years in the industry, and I’ve tackled most parts. But selling windows face-to-face with clients has always been the best bit. I often joke that it's a hereditary disorder; My father sold windows for 50 years, and (believe it or not) his father before him did too! I really had no hope.
The Framepoint platform was born of frustration. Frustration at trying to sell windows to customers with the wrong piece of software to hand; software that was clunky, overly complicated but most of all dull and boring. Surely it was possible to design a piece of software that got the customer’s heart beating faster and helped me win an order?
That simple premise lead me to knock on the door of Rob Franks. Rob was my erstwhile IT Director at TimberWindows.Com; a company I founded in 2004 and sold, to private equity, in 2009.
“I want to be able sketch windows on a computer, just like I do on my A4 pad,” I told Rob. “And have them appear in full, photo-realistic quality, priced and ready for me to take the order. And I want to be able to show a client exactly how they'll look on their house too!”
That was in 2012. I never actually asked Rob outright how long it might take to build this holy grail. But in my mind, I'd thought one year. The team grew. My bank account dwindled. Seven years later, with the support of a bunch of talented coders, Rob delivered.
To be fair, the goal posts moved considerably. Turns out it wasn't just windows that I wanted the software to draw and quote; I needed doors, double doors, composite doors, sash windows, patios, bi-folds and tilt—turns too. Plus, of course, bays. Oh and by the way, the app would need to be able to configure all these products in PVCu, aluminium and timber!
Would I invest again if I knew the time and costs involved? The problem is I was hooked; and still am. From the first time I drew a window on Framepoint with my finger, and saw it render on the screen before my eyes - lifelike, accurate and in glorious technicolour – there has been no going back. After that it’s just been a question of chasing down every last detail from thresholds to trickle vents, packers to patterned glass – every option available to touch, tap and see.
We launched proper in November 2019. I roped in the best two sales guys I knew and we hit the road demo-ing the product to window installers up and down the land.
By Christmas 2019 we had twenty-five companies using the platform, which felt good but didn't exactly swell the coffers. Framepoint is not expensive. Coming from an installer background I know that margins are tight. It is available from under £100 a month so that installers of all sizes can benefit; that commitment to affordability is important to us.
Feedback from these early adopters gave us confidence, though. There were reports of huge time savings – for some Framepoint was cutting quoting time in half. Also real wins for installers in minimising error. Many reported improved conversion rates and a sense of pride in presenting more professionally.
By the time of the first lockdown we were at about fifty or sixty subscribers. Like most businesses, we wondered what was going to happen next. Then a weird thing happened; sales and activity rocketed. Faced with the prospect of no longer being able to conduct home visits, installers turned to us as their ‘virtual showroom.’ Hooking up, sharing screens and carrying out sales demo’s remotely saw volumes of quotes and makeovers on Framepoint surge through spring and summer; In February less than £6m of quotes were done on the system, by June we were running north of £28m.
We’ll finish 2020 with around 250 installation companies using Framepoint; about 750 individual users. With Corona it’s been a roller coaster first year of trading, but our mission is certainly clear. We are here to help installers sell better; to Sell with Wow. Face to face, in a showroom or remotely.