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Glass Times editor Nathan Bushell looks at the importance of software in life after lockdown.

I think what the last three months has taught me, more than anything, is how important the relationship with the installer is.

I know I run the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, but that relationship is essentially key to getting the industry moving after lockdown; until installers can convince homeowners that everything has been done to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, then nothing moves.

I spoke to Chris Brunsdon of Tommy Trinder on Monday. Chris has designed a piece of software, which he walked me through, that has the sole aim of selling more windows. It’s a clever tool, which puts the homeowner in the driving seat when it comes to products’ design and specification, and it can also be used remotely.

He explained that he had to change course halfway through the development process, which began by targeting fabricators. However, by “working from the customer back rather than the factory forward” Chris realised he could give greater flexibility to installers, which helped them to sell products rather than be a passive recipient of leads.

There is a definite place for lead generation on behalf of your customers, and I’ve seen businesses develop dramatically on this basis – both at supplier level and installer level. In fact, Tommy Trinder has launched its own service.

But I’ve also spoken to a lot of installers over the last three months, and the over-arching impression I’ve received is that installers need to be in the driving seat if we are to see the glass and glazing industry pick up pace following lockdown.

This includes: being confident that your employees are well-equipped to safely work in people’s homes; that salespeople have the tools not only to sell effectively, but also generate quotes efficiently and accurately; and that homeowners feel safe and in control.

From what Chris said, it sounds like the benefits of the Tommy Trinder software are attractive. He said that during May, 130 installation companies signed up to his service (against an average of 30-40 a month) and that £2 million-worth of quotes were processed by the platform in the same period.

As 2019 rolled into 2020, I never would have thought that software would feature so prominently in the day-to-day running of our industry. Yet, as we become experts in Zoom etiquette, we have realised the value in well-designed user-friendly programmes that don’t require constant face-to-face contact.

As usual, I am always happy to hear your views.