Kitchen makeover franchise Granite Transformations has developed an iPad app that enables customers to preview exactly how new worktops, doors, drawer fronts and other elements will appear in their own home.

Rather than just employ stock images of standard kitchen roomsets for visualising a makeover, Granite Transformation’s innovative iGranite app allows users to photograph their very own kitchen then manipulate the image to try out different colour and material combinations.

Using one of the in-built cameras on the latest iPad2 tablet computer, or a digital compact in conjunction with the original iPad version, the customer or Granite Transformations stockist can photograph an actual kitchen, then upload the stills into the application’s image database and overlay new worktops, doors, drawers and splashbacks onto the existing surfaces. So instead of just imagining how a change in décor might look, the customer sees the actual finished result – and it works for bathroom makeovers too.

Danny Hanlon, Chief Operating Officer of Granite Transformations, said: “One of the greatest challenges facing the home improvements industry has always been getting customers to visualise the end product. Well now they can. In one of our recent focus groups, people were saying ‘had I known it was going to look that good, I would have been prepared to pay even more’. So I am highly confident that our exclusive iGranite app will enable our showrooms to increase their level of in-home appointments and improve their sales closing ratios. It’s that effective as a marketing tool.”

Granite Transformations is a kitchen worktops franchise, which has around 170 showrooms across four continents. The company is looking to continue expanding its retail network in the UK by filling in the remaining gaps between existing postcode territories. To this end, it has devised a series of franchise packages at different investment levels to incentivise would-be franchise owners, whether it’s a full retail and manufacturing model, a high street showroom business, an economic in-store concession or a profitable add-on to an existing retail operation.

Hanlon said: “Innovations like iGranite are among the benefits of being part of a worldwide franchise organisation, especially as the six-figure application development budget would be beyond a regular standalone business. Ideas such as this and our recent replacement door programme help to add value to our franchise owners’ businesses, enabling them to generate increased revenue and, should they eventually choose to sell the franchise on, realise a greater return on their initial investment.”

Available as a free download from the iTunes App Store, iGranite is a powerful sales aid, which is already being used by Granite Transformations franchises and their staff, both in the showroom and the customer’s home, where design consultations and measuring up take place. The program itself holds high resolution images of current products, including Italian granite, quartz and recycled glass worktop surfaces, replacement doors in high gloss colours and woodgrains, and a selection of glass mosaic tiles from sister company Trend. With the touch of a fingertip, these can be digitally applied to different areas of a kitchen image, mix’n’matching the various materials and finishes until the desired look is displayed on screen.

Not only that, Granite Transformations showroom and sales staff will be using their iPad2 tablets as mobile marketing tools, holding copies of commercials, YouTube clips of a high speed kitchen makeover, images of previous installations and sequences from Sarah Beeny’s TV restoration project, where Granite Transformations refinishing products were used in bedrooms and bathrooms. Also, having taken and reworked a picture of the kitchen, the franchise can send the image to the customer as an email attachment, together with a quotation for the job and suggested installation date, thereby completing the sales cycle.

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