On-site apps are a sure bet

With apps for everything, even the most technophobic window sales/survey/fitter/remedial operators can now go high tech. Glass Times looks at the mobilisation of installer system AdminBase.

Encountering anyone, pretty much at any age, that does not have a smartphone, will draw at least a raised eyebrow. When recent reports suggest that smartphone use is now prevalent among significant numbers of seven-year olds, and with other research indicating that at least 40% of those born in 1945 and before use smartphones and tablets, anyone proudly boasting that they ‘don’t do technology’ will be regarded cynically.

Smartphone use does not automatically mean broad use of its facilities; but even for minimal users the growth in apps has catapulted even those who may have acquired a smartphone because their faithful old Nokia 2110 was no longer available at Carphone Warehouse unwittingly into internet use. The ability to press an icon on a screen that enables the user to check on their football team, place bets, or look up the weather has opened up mobile internet access to everyone.

And that now includes those in the frontline of the window, door and conservatory industry, those handling sales, surveying, fitting and remedials. Though there have been portable solutions for one or two of these functions, and not least for those tasked with getting that all-important signature on the sales contract, until now there had not existed a comprehensive, cohesive and fully joined up system that fed directly into the head office apparatus. The launch of Ab Initio’s AdminBase apps has changed that.

Over the last 20 years, AdminBase has become one of the most popular management systems for window and door installers, from relatively small outfits, to larger companies fitting hundreds of frames per week, and now boasts more than 3,000 users throughout the UK, in hundreds of organisations. And, while we take increasingly sophisticated mobile tech for granted, it is only relatively recently that developments in such technology have enabled the AdminBase apps to be written.

Designed to work on tablets, with the canvassing app also accessible by mobile phone, AdminBase has now evolved so that key tasks can be managed and completed in a customer’s home, with all inputs sent automatically into a central system. This means an end to inaccurate and often confusing pencil and paper orders, manually inputted notes, and faxed orders. Not only is accuracy and efficiency improved, it makes a good impression with homeowners as well.

The new apps, which encourage intuitive box-filling inputs, eliminate duplication and errors caused by transcribing hand-written notes into spreadsheets, Word documents, production and accounts systems, and they save a company time and money in the process. And since their launch in spring last year, the rush to embrace them has been phenomenal, according to Rhonda Ridge, who created AdminBase more than 20 years ago, and who has now driven through the Apps.

“We always wanted to extend AdminBase on site but it is only relatively recently that technology has allowed that, reliably and effectively. But it is as if the rest of the industry has been waiting for that to happen too,” she said.

“Demand has been immediate and almost overwhelming, from existing AdminBase users as you might expect, but also from companies now installing the comprehensive office-based system on the back of the apps being available.”

Curly-cornered notepads and scraps of paper may now be a thing of the past and fitters, surveyors and the like can now look super-slick in front of their customers. And it’s as simple as placing a bet.