Tommy Trinder’s window installer turned ‘software guru’, Chris Brunsdon, details his journey from family installation business to developing the Framepoint app.
“Call me sad, but I’ve always loved selling windows,”says founder and CEO of Tommy Trinder, Chris Brunsdon. “27 years in the industry, and I’ve tackled most parts. But selling windows face-to-face with clients has always been my favourite bit. I sometimes joke that it’s a hereditary disorder; My dad sold windows for 50 years, and (believe it or not) his dad before him did too. I really had no hope!”
Tommy Trinder’s Framepoint platform was born of out of Chris Brunsdon’s frustration. Frustration at trying to sell windows to customers with the wrong piece of software to hand; software that was clunky, overly complicated, built for manufacturers not installers, but most of all, he says, dull and boring: “Surely it was possible to design a piece of kit that was simple to use and actually got the customer’s heart beating faster,” says Chris. “Basically, I just wanted something to save me time and help me win an order!”
That simple premise led Chris to knock on the door of Robert Franks. Rob was Chris’ erstwhile IT director at TimberWindows.Com; a company Chris founded in 2004 and sold, to private equity, in 2009.
“The brief was simple,” explains Chris. “I want to be able sketch windows on a computer, just like I do on my A4 pad. It’s got to be an absolute doddle. I want them to appear in full, photo-realistic quality, priced and ready for me to take the order. And, of course, I want to be able to show a client exactly how they’ll look on their house too! That can’t be that difficult can it!?”
That was in 2012. Chris maintains he never actually asked Robert outright how long it might take to build this holy grail. But in his mind, he’d thought one year. The team at Tommy Trinder grew. Chris’ bank account dwindled. Seven years later, with the support of a number of talented computer programmers, Rob delivered.
“To be fair, the goal posts moved considerably over those seven years,” says Chris. “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 PVC-U, aluminium and timber!”
Would Chris invest again if I knew the time and costs involved?
“The problem is I was hooked; and still am,” he says. “From the first time I sketched a window on Framepoint with my finger, and saw it appear 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.”
Tommy Trinder launched proper in November 2019. By Christmas 2019 the firm had 25 companies using the platform, which felt good but didn’t exactly swell the coffers. Says Chris: “Framepoint is not expensive. Coming from an installer background, I know that margins are tight. Framepoint 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 the firm 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 Tommy Trinder had grown to about 50 subscribers. Like most businesses, the firm wondered what was going to happen next. Then an unexpected thing occurred; sales and activity rocketed. Faced with the prospect of no longer being able to conduct home visits, installers turned to Framepoint as their ‘virtual showroom.’ Hooking up, sharing screens and carrying out sales demo’s remotely saw volumes of quotes and makeovers on Framepoint surge. Pre-lockdown less than £6m of quotes were done on the platform each month. By June 2020, installers were quoting around £28m of work through the platform, and in March 2021 it will top £50m.
“It’s staggering to think that over 8000 homeowners receive a quote generated by Framepoint each month,” says Chris. “With corona it’s been a weird and wonderful launch, but our mission is certainly clear. We are here to make selling easier for installers; to help installers sell with ‘wow’. Whether that’s face-to-face, in a showroom or remotely.”