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Marginal Gains – as published in GGP Magazine

Mark Dudley, Director at Windowlink talks about how their software can help installers achieve better margins, taking inspiration from Sir Dave Brailsford’s Marginal Gains.

mark-dudley-windowlink.comTeam Sky’s Sir Dave Brailsford once said: “The whole principle of marginal gains came from the idea that if you broke down everything that could impact on a cycling performance — absolutely everything you could think of — and then you improved every little thing by 1 percent, when you clump it all together, you’re going to get quite a significant increase in performance. So, we set about looking at everything we could.” It’s a theory that has proven its worth for British cycling and a concept that can also be applied to getting the best margins when selling windows, doors and conservatories.

By taking into account everything that goes into making a window or conservatory installation happen, from business overheads, transport and fitting to cost of glass, frames and hardware, businesses can make sure that they are getting the best margins on their jobs and ensure profitability. Using software helps make this consistent across the business, no matter how many people are out there selling installations.

Upping the Pricing Game

If you’re a retail company using a printed pricelist that has been unchanged for a few too many years, you are not alone. When we’re approached by retailers to set-up pricing and presentation software, we never know whether we’ll be presented with an over-simplified one-pager or a huge folder of information. Whichever it is, these systems rarely give directors and business owners a real idea of the profitability of a job.

Paper pricelists are also open to interpretation, so can be problematic for companies who have more than one sales person. And in today’s modern world, where we use technology for everything from tracking how long we’ve been asleep to doing our banking, homeowners expect something more professional. A quick drawing and a price without any additional information or break down just isn’t enough.

So, how do installers up their game and get the right software that works for them?

Windowlink SoftwareFlexible Software Options from Windowlink

At Windowlink, we make it easy for installers to switch from their old, paper, pricing methods to a modern way of pricing that makes life easier, looks super professional and helps maintain the all-important profit margins.

Our systems are flexible enough to be adapted to each individual company so that they can make the switch easily. The software is designed to make the process of selling more efficient as well as more profitable. It can be set up to mirror supplier software, to make sure that frame costs are accurate. Then prices can be marked up or they could be taken from an existing pricelist. Hardware, cills and furniture can be added on separately, with their own unique mark-up and then fitting, building work and trims can be added on at the end. It gives both installer and homeowner an accurate price in double quick time.

The software is completely personalised too, to cover your entire product range, no matter how many home improvement products you offer. This includes different PVCu and aluminium window systems, composite doors, bi-folds, sliders and even glazed and solid conservatory roofs. Not only that, but combined with our designer software, sales people can show homeowners exactly how their home improvements will look using a photo of their property, so they can make easy decisions on styles and colours too.

Most importantly, using software gives business owners the confidence that every job sold has the correct margins, so their profits are safe. So, get savvy with your pricing software and turn marginal gains into extra cash for your company.

Aspire Bifolds choose Windowlink from day one

Windowlink is an essential working partner for Aspire Bifolds

When Aspire Bifolds set up just two years ago, one of the first phone calls Director John Small made was to Mark at Windowlink. Having worked with Windowlink’s software before, John knew it was integral to the success of the business.

After 10 years in the industry, John and fellow director James Wenlock set up the supply and fit business in October 2016. The following year, the duo opened a showroom. “We are growing fast,” says John. “Even though we are in the early stages of the business, we are very busy. We already have three surveyors as well as three full-time installation teams.

“Because we are busy it’s a no-brainer to have Windowlink software in place. It saves loads of time for us and adds a level of professionalism to our quotes. When we are with a customer, we can measure up, put the sizes in the system with some other variables and it gives us an accurate sales price within seconds. We set our margins in the software, and that means we have confidence that we are selling at the right prices.

“Windowlink makes choosing the options simple and we often turn around the screen, so customers can pick for themselves. They feel very involved in the process, and they especially like the visual element of Windowlink’s software where they see what their property will look like in 3D from inside and outside, with the new products fitted just from uploading a photo.

“Without Windowlink we would have to send the information off to the supplier for the trade price and wait. We would have to reformat and reword it, before sending it out to customers. Then there are all the contracts and invoices that are automatically produced and emailed immediately to the customer as part of the service.”

Windowlink creates personalised templates of all the paperwork needed by companies selling windows, doors and roofs. “Any changes we want to make are done very quickly,” adds John. “In fact, often it is immediate.

“Windowlink is an essential working partner for Aspire Bifolds, just as important as our window and door suppliers. The software gives us a level of professionalism and accuracy that gives us confidence to continue to build our business for the future.”

Some of the updates available under the Gold Service Scheme

Summary of some Gold Service Updates

Available FOC as part of your Service Agreement

General

  • New licensing model – gets rid of dongles and makes it easy to fine-tune installations so each user can (if desired) have different features switched on or off)
  • Basic colours in reports can now be changed by users (text/borders etc)
  • Drawings (.wcd files) can now be opened by double-clicking on them in Windows Explorer (subject to the correct Windows file association being created). NOTE : This only works for ‘Document Set Type = FileSystem’.
  • Finance agreements – Programs can now calculate monthly PMT – calculates the payment for a loan based on constant payments and a constant interest rate.

Glazed Extensions

  • Roof windows can now be hinged at the top (roof lights) or centrally (Velux style)
  • Roof windows can be of different materials for (for example) PVCu or aluminium roofs
  • Glazing end-closer rules for conservatory modules re-instated.
  • Decorative (stone/soldier course etc) cills and lintels can be incorporated
  • Parapet lean-to modules added.

Frames

  • Trickle vents can now be positioned in the frame (i.e. central/proportioned, over openers or over mullions) (Included with production and advanced Focus)
  • Triangular shapes now available
  • Additional survey sizes can be input (Inside and outside aperture sizes, width and height clearances, diagonals, internal height above floor level) (Advanced Focus only)
  • Timber vertical sliders can now be constructed using mullions that ‘break-through the outer frame.
  • Aluminium sections can now be split into the two aluminium sections and thermal break so that aluminium material pricing can be updated throughout all sections by changing just 1 figure. (There may be a charge involved in incorporating this into your program)

Available as chargeable additions to your software

General

  • Analytics module –
    1. can analyse windows, doors and conservatories put through Focus/Vector to give trend information
    2. can analyse sales (if using pricing) (per area, per product/frame type, per salesman etc)
  • Sign/Email options added to all software – this allows a salesman to collect a signature ‘on the night’ and to send a contract by email to the customer, and job files etc to the office.  It also allows automation of the quote/order/survey process (chargeable)

Glazed Extensions

  • Solid roofs (tiled)
  • Profile solid roofs (for example the Ultraframe’s LivinRoof)
  • Solid and profile solid roofs have internal flat or pitched ceilings with/without pelmets and mansard roofs
  • Full height glass panels can be inserted into both solid and profile solid roofs.

Frames

  • Machining centre link now available (chargeable)
  • Saw links available (chargeable)
  • Arched and circular section frames (chargeable)
  • Lantern roofs can now be incorporated into window and door quotes (chargeable)
  • Pickable Fitters lists now available (Advanced Focus)

How to get more profitable business from Solid Roof installations

The conservatory market has evolved a lot over the years and the trend towards solid roofs is the most exciting development yet for many installers.

Fitting a new solid roof on to an existing conservatory gives installers the opportunity to turn around a project more quickly without employing several sub-contract trades. For new build, choosing a solid rood system to create a glazed extension with sliding patio or bi-fold doors reduces the number of trades required and is usually faster than a traditional build.

Good design reduces time on site

Reducing labour time is the key to increasing the profit from fitting solid roof replacements or building glazed extensions. Good design and agreeing the details with the customer before you start will make the whole job go smoother and prevent costly delays.

Windowlink Vector Solid Roof design module is a great way to show your customer how the finished solid roof conservatory or extension will look, whilst helping you to create the simplest roof design for the project.

Vector Solid Roof module can be added to both the Conservatory and Orangery designers. It clearly represents traditional tiled or slated roofs and shows the various solutions marketed by roofing companies. These include Ultraframe’s realROOFTMand the Guardian RoofTM.

You can also cost the project by the integrating Vector Solid Roof module with the intelligent pricing modules.

Ask us about adding Vector Solid Roof to your existing Conservatory or Orangery package.

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Selling windows – with or without software

Put bluntly, a salesperson needs just one thing when sitting down with a potential client: confidence.  Confidence in the product, and confidence in the pricing structure in use.  An effective, well thought-out and easy to understand pricing system makes life easier for the salesperson, and engenders trust and confidence in the consumer.  So why do so many retail companies operate from a pricelist ‘borrowed’ years ago from a competitor or former employer?

Printed pricelists are still in use in a surprising number of retail companies, large and small.  These pricelists tend to have several different, and conflicting requirements.  The owner/sales-director wants to know what the profit margin is, but this requires a level of complexity and maintenance difficult to justify, and which may work against the other main requirement – that the pricelist is easy to use.  Over the years window companies have come up with varied solutions.

Windowlink is often called in to set up pricing and presentation software, and we have come across all shapes and sizes of pricelist, from single-page much-simplified efforts, to large and bulging lever-arch files.  Some are based on a ‘cost plus’ basis and, at some point in their history, have probably given an idea of profitability to the management team. Many more are ‘guesstimates’, cobbled together as a few pages, or a single matrix uplifted for coloured foils, varied materials and glazing.  The best to be said is that it is easy to use, and the company seems to be doing okay.

What could possibly go wrong?  The obvious answer: a lot.  Paper pricelists are open to interpretation: it is possible for three sales-people to price a job from the same pricelist and to calculate three very different ‘correct’ prices.  They are inaccurate and have no relationship with actual costs and overheads of a business.

The good news is that pricing and presentation software like Windowlink’s can cope with any method our customers care to throw at it.  Systems can mirror software used by suppliers, ensuring that each frame-cost is correct.  Prices can then be marked-up, or could be a reproduction of the manual pricelist previously used.  What is important is that cost can now be checked against selling prices before the invoices come in.  Alternatively, the pricing could be based on any hybrid method used by the installer.

So, what is the best type of pricelist?  From a software point of view, the ‘right’ method is to take the cost of frames and glass, add fitting costs and an element of overhead recovery, then to add the margin required.  However, your target market will influence where you position your price.  If you present yourself as a top-end, ‘Grand Designs’ kind of company you will present yourself as best in sector, and you may be able to set your price-point independently of competition.  If your target is in the middle or lower part of the market you may need another strategy.

Common pricelist models tend to be either market or competitor-led.  You can base your pricing on what you estimate the market will stand, or you can attempt to match your competitors’ price.  Neither can be claimed to be accurate; neither will tell you your profit margin.  An advantage though is that they can be quicker (and cheaper) to build, and can be modified by simply changing the discount structure.

Many fabricators and trade suppliers now offer versions of their manufacturing software to give accurate costings. This can be helpful, but is of little use to a sales-person on an evening call who needs to give at least a ball-park figure on the night.  These programs are focussed on one element of a wider product range, but are of more use to the supplier than the installer, removing the need to provide quotations on demand, and allowing the installer to order directly through the software.

Presentation, visualisation and pricing software such as Windowlink’s can be set up to reflect an entire product range, costed accurately and regardless of supplier, from PVCu, aluminium, and timber windows through to high-end bi-folding and composite doors.  Set up properly, a software system can act as brochure, pricelist and sales training manual – if it is in the program it can be sold; if not, not.  It gives confidence to the salesperson and client and has been proven to increase sales.

DRAFT111

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Windowlink are getting FIT for the fourth year running

Windowlink are proud to announce they will be exhibiting at the FIT Show 2017 for the fourth year running, which this year has moved to a significantly larger venue.

Operating from stand G46 at the Birmingham NEC industry exhibition, the Gloucestershire-based developer will use a range of technologies to show installers and fabricators how its intuitive software can help them improve conversion rates, up-sell more effectively, and convey trustworthiness and professionalism to their customers.

Windowlink’s software solutions have been specifically designed for windows, doors, conservatories and orangeries, allowing installers to create impressive 3D visualisations of their products in the comfort of the customer’s home. An automatic pricing module provides instant tracking of how much the proposed project will cost – a feature that has greatly improved the relationship and trust between sales people and their prospective clients.

The Fit Show provides Windowlink with an excellent opportunity to connect with others in the industry and establish new business relationships. It also gives existing clients the chance to speak face to face with the ‘Tech Team”, who will be on hand to chat to users about how they can make the most out of their Windowlink Software.

Windowlink’s Managing Director Mark Dudley is looking forward to meeting installers and fabricators of all sizes this year but is keeping quiet about an exciting new development “I won’t say too much about it now, but what I will say is that if you install or fabricate windows, doors or conservatories, you definitely don’t want to miss our Fit Show stand this year”

The Windowlink team look forward to meeting you at their stand G46 in the Birmingham NEC on May 23rd 2017.

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Meet Tony Pepper – Senior Software Installation Engineer

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Tony Pepper has been working at Windowlink for the past 25 years and for the past 3 years in the new offices in Gloucester. His role within the company has evolved over the past 25 years and he is now the Senior Software Installation Engineer.Tony Head shot

Tony has a background in window manufacturing which makes him perfect for the role he is currently working in. He has a good level of understanding with regard to the manufacturing processes involved in window production and can therefore assist window manufacturers in their day to day processes through the use of Windowlink’s software Focus.

Tony has a variety of skills that he brings to his role within Windowlink including Information technology skills, programming, coding and development. When you add these skills to the skills he gained from working within window manufacturing, you can see why Tony is such an asset to the Windowlink team.

For Tony, working within Windowlink is a pleasure, every day is different and the team have great camaraderie. There is plenty of friendly banter around the office and everyone gets on very well.

Tony gets great satisfaction when he has managed to help a company solve a technical issue. He enjoys making the software bespoke to the needs of individual companies and takes great pride in completing jobs to the best of his ability.

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Save time and money with Windowlink’s “Focus” and “Vector”

mark-dudley-windowlink.com

Mark Dudley, MD for Windowlink Ltd

Windowlink’s Managing Director Mark Dudley has been helping retail companies improve their sales conversion rates in the domestic market for over 30 years and in his opinion the three most common mistakes made during the sales pitch to homeowners are high pressure sales tactics, “too-good-to-be-true” discounts, and not hitting the relevant chord with the end consumer.

Our sales presentation and pricing software called “Focus” and “Vector” have been helping hundreds of progressive installers across the UK improve their chances of success in the consumer market whilst selling their windows, doors and conservatories.

Outdated sales techniques like offering huge discounts, pressure selling techniques and a lack of preparation when visiting homeowners are all regarded as unacceptable to the modern and clued up consumer who now value an open and professional conduct from sales people above everything else.

“Vector” and “Focus” give the modern day salespeople the tools they need to deliver a very different kind of sales pitch, which can be regarded as hassle-free and extremely pleasant. Our software turns selling into a joint process, allowing customers to design their own windows, doors, conservatories and orangeries with the salesperson. “Focus” and “Vector” have not been designed to pressurise the homeowner into making a decision on the spot, however they are an extremely powerful sales tool that can help installers across the UK increase their conversion rates.

An instant pricing option can be added to your chosen software and it can be tailored to reflect your exact rates, alongside your personal product portfolio. Our software applications also protect UK companies from the glazing industries typical “sales staff migration”.

The high turnover rate of sales staff within a business can be a very serious setback for UK glazing companies, especially when you consider the amount of time needed to train new staff and get them knowledgeable on your products and prices.

“Focus” and “Vector” can be tailored to display only the products you offer, together with only your colours, hardware, configurations and features. The software eliminates costing mistakes due to the handy instant pricing option and by using our highly perceptive applications, new sales staff do not need to go through lengthy training sessions, which thus saves the company not only time but also money in the long run.

Click here for more information on “Focus” and “Vector”

Could our software be the answer to your time-consuming issues?

A potentially game-changing business solution for fabricators and installers of windows is available from us here at Windowlink.

Could software be the answer to your time-consuming issues?

Leading innovator of window industry software for over 30 years, Windowlink is the only developer to offer a complete package for retail companies with manufacturing operations. Combining production software with its popular design, pricing and presentation modules, Windowlink can offer an end-to-end solution to stimulate sales, simplify the order-to-production cycle, and improve operational efficiencies across their businesses.

MD Mark Dudley explains: “Our popular retail applications, Focus for windows and doors, and Vector for orangeries and conservatories, are used successfully by many installers across the country. With our complete package though, once the sales module generates the order, it will be automatically sent to the shop floor, where our production software is used to manage the manufacturing processes. There is no need to input the information again, there are no additional steps, and no opportunity for errors to occur. It couldn’t be simpler, or more effective.

”Windowlink’s integrated platform can also be implemented within fabricator-installer partnerships in a similar way, to simplify and speed up the ordering process. “We can customise our applications to produce highly accurate quotes,” states Mark. “Our real time pricing and retail quoting/ordering function take into consideration the fabricator’s built-in prices and the installer’s margins, fitting costs, as well as any additional criteria such as the salespeople’s commissions.

“There are many practical benefits to using our solution that generate a chain of positive results and enhanced performances throughout an installer’s business, or a fabricator-retailer relationship. Ultimately, we are helping window companies to grow faster, and in a sustainable manner,” concluded Mark.

Fabricators and installers visiting the FIT Show this April can talk to Windowlink on stand no. 356, where the team will be on hand to demo their innovative business software solutions.

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Windowlink get fit for the third year running

 


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Window Industry Software specialist, Windowlink, will be hitting April 2016’s FIT Show to promote its best-in-class design, sales and pricing applications.

Operating from stand 356 at the Telford industry exhibition, the Gloucestershire-based developer will use laptops and tablets to show installers how its intuitive software can help them improve conversion rates, up-sell more effectively, and convey trustworthiness and professionalism to end-users.

Windowlink’s main applications, Vector for conservatories and orangeries and Focus for windows and doors, allow installers to create impressive 3D visualisations of their products, enabling homeowners to see exactly what they’re buying. A pricing module allows both installers and end-users to keep track of how much the proposed project will cost – a feature that is dramatically improving the relationship between sales-people and their prospective customers.

“We’ve exhibited at the FIT Show on both previous occasions,” said Windowlink’s MD Mark Dudley. “For us, it’s the perfect opportunity to show off our products – we always find that when installers get to see Vector and Focus in action, they’re very quickly won over by how easy they are to use, and the difference they can make to their sales.”

“Really, what we offer is a versatile, engaging twenty-first century alternative to the traditional sales brochure. We designed our applications to be about ‘showing rather than telling’. Vector and Focus take what would otherwise be a one-sided sales pitch and turn it into a collaboration between the customer and the installer. They immediately bring a sense of trust and transparency to the proceedings – the price of the proposed improvements is always visible, and both parties can work together to design a project that meets the homeowner’s budget.”

“What’s more, they provide abundant opportunities for up-selling. When a consumer can actually see that hardware upgrade, or that more luxurious window or door configuration applied to their own property, it’s much more likely to lead to a sale.”

Windowlink’s stand at the FIT Show  won’t just be about showcasing existing products, however – Mark hints at a number of new innovations set to be unveiled at the three-day event. “We’ve got a few surprises up our sleeve – you’ll have to come and find us at stand 365 in April to find out more, but popcorn and refreshments are a clear definite!”

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