What is ‘software as a service’?

Chris Brunsdon, founder and CEO of Tommy Trinder, explains how buying software has moved on, and why it’s a game-changer for window installers.

Historically you needed a bag of cash and nerves of steel to invest in decent quoting software in our industry.

You’d have to stump up £thousands upfront, only to be faced with the trauma of getting it installed and configured, then the rigmarole of training and getting people to actually use it. And even then, you’d find yourself paying for updates forever and a day.

To manage all this on top of the day job of selling and fitting windows was beyond most smaller window firms. We just felt there had to be a better way.

Supplying software tools on a subscription basis (commonly known as ‘software as a service’, or SaaS for short) is nothing new. SaaS is big business in the UK and the market for software delivered over the internet for a monthly fee is expanding rapidly.

By 2025 the global spend on SaaS products is predicted to grow by a further $100 billion. But aside from saving on upfront investment, what other benefits does SaaS bring to the glazing industry?

Speed is key. With no complicated set up, the time to get going with SaaS products is so quick. Even if you’re not tech savvy, we can have you selling with Framepoint within the hour. In their first month with us, many subscribers report a saving of around 30 hours on quoting. That can be a game changer in a buoyant market when there are not enough hours in the day.

An emphasis on ease of use, driven by the fact that customers can give up and walk away anytime, is a common feature of SaaS.

In SaaS businesses, the responsibility for getting users to love the software remains with the software creator. If the product is not easy to use and quick to add value, customers are free to walk, and they will.

This hard truth has driven Tommy Trinder to invest heavily in designing an interface that is as user-friendly as possible; windows and doors can be free sketched on Framepoint, just like drawing on a pad. You can point and touch to show off different colours, ironmongery and glass, and with one tap you can overlay designs onto a photo of your client’s house.

One of our clients said: “If you can use an Etch A Sketch you can use Framepoint.”

Updates and product development are another weapon that SaaS businesses use to hold on to customers. New features that make a subscriber’s life easier need to be shipped regularly to retain and excite clients.

You really need to listen to installers. They are at the sharp end, and want tools that work in the real world. Last month, by popular demand, we shipped our Magic Paintbrush feature, for instance. This allows subscribers to re-colour all items in a quote, in one click, and instantly see the results on the elevation. A simple device that wows customers and saves hours.

But doesn’t the prospect of customer’s cancelling at any time, make for a stressful existence?

Personally, I love the challenge. Every month I have to create so much value that all my customers want to renew, and a load more want to join. It definitely makes for a dynamic and exciting business.