Dealer Support February 2023

Page 1

inspiring success

Being the dependable partner in uncertain times

We sit down with ACCO UK’s Mark Wilkinson to discuss sustainable futures and putting dealers and consumers at the heart of its strategy

THRIVING IN CHALLENGING TIMES

Document Data tell us about their impressive growth

SUSTAINABLE PRINT SOLUTIONS

What services can businesses offer in addition to a high quality and reliable print process?

GETTING TO GREATNESS

How one business is taking diversification to new heights

February 2023 Issue 329

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Overcoming challenges

We did it, we got through January! Most of my resolutions didn’t make it to the end of the month, so I hope you’ve managed to outdo my efforts and carry some of yours through to February. Although we are only onto the second month of the year, there has already been some big changes happening in the industry and we open this issue by highlighting some of those stories in our ‘The month that was’ section.

The industry continues to contend with the challenges that have been with us since the end of last year and the looming threat of recession is enough to put a frown on any business owners face, but despite this we are still seeing many businesses adapt and thrive in the face of difficult times, and we speak to three industry figures who all share their stories of business success. Mark Wilkinson, regional vice-president and general manager of ACCO UK, tells us how ACCO Brands achieved further growth in 2022 and is eyeing a sustainable future, with dealers and consumers at the heart of its strategy. From nearly leaving the industry in 2018 to winning the Dealer Excellence award at the most recent Boss Awards, we speak to Alister Hall, Go2 MD, about the fascinating journey he has been on - including the lightbulb moment that changed it all. And David Forsyth, founder and MD at Document Data Group, tells us how his business has achieved exponential growth through multiple strategies.

We also continue with our new editorial strategy and focus on each one of our ‘Four Pillars’. As the labour market continues to be unpredictable, offices need to appeal to potential and existing employees more than ever before, we take a look at what should dealers be selling to make them more attractive workplaces. As well as making the workplace more appealing we also explore the sales opportunities the home office no longer being a temporary workplace, but a permanent one that consumers want to invest in, presents. As customers become increasingly concerned about the sustainability of their print solutions, we discuss what services businesses can offer in addition to a high quality and reliable print process to be more sustainable. We also look at why dealers should be considering mergers and acquisitions as a strategy for diversification.

As always, don’t forget to chat to us on Twitter and let us know your thoughts and opinions: @dealersupport.

All email addresses are formatted firstname.lastname@intelligentmedia.co.uk
firstname@intelligentmedia.co.uk Intelligent Media Ltd c/o Soho Works Unit 4.1 The Tea Building 56 Shoreditch High Street London E1 6JJ Tel: 0203 794 8555 Fax: 0203 794 8554 Email: info@intelligentmedia.co.uk Web: www.dealersupport.co.uk Dealer Support is the leading monthly publication for dealers in the business supplies industry. It provides information on the industry (both in the UK and overseas), information for and about the UK’s independent dealers, as well as information and advice on running a small business. The views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily the views of the publishers. Copyright of all the material published remains with Intelligent Media Solutions Limited. No part of this magazine may be reproduced, copied, stored in an electronic retrieval or transmitted, save with written permission or in accordance with provision of the copyright designs and patent act of 1988. Printed in the UK by Micropress Printers Ltd. www.micropress.co.uk Annual subscriptions are available at a cost of £68.00 for UK and overseas by surface mail, £90.00 for airmail. Subscription enquiries should be sent to the address opposite FROM THE EDITOR EDITOR ELEANOR POTTER HEAD OF SALES Nick Oleskiw CREATIVE TEAM Amanda Lancaster DIRECTOR Vicki Baloch hello@dealersupport.co.uk SOLUTIONS businesses offer in addition to a high quality and reliable print process? How one business is taking diversification to new heights February 2023 inspiring success CHALLENGING TIMES their impressive growth We sit down with ACCO UK’s Mark Wilkinson to discuss sustainable futures and putting dealers and consumers at the heart of its strategy Being the dependable partner in uncertain times
www.dams.com sales@dams.com 0151 548 7111 uk manufacturer | full range supplier | delivering service Seating for the MODERN office task & OPERATOR multi-purpose SEATING conference & MEETING executive & MANAGER Contact us for further details

INDUSTRY

06 THE MONTH THAT WAS The headline news from the industry

08 NEWS EXTRA

Energy bill support to continue at reduced rate

10 BEING THE DEPENDABLE PARTNER IN UNCERTAIN TIMES

We sit down with ACCO UK’s Mark Wilkinson LEADERSHIP

14 GETTING TO GREATNESS

How one business is taking diversification to new heights

18 SELLING THE LUXURY OFFICE

The sales opportunities appealing workplaces present

20 THRIVING IN CHALLENGING TIMES

Document Data tell us about their impressive growth

SALES SUCCESS

24 SUSTAINABLE PRINT SOLUTIONS

What services can businesses offer in addition to a high quality and reliable print process?

27 DIVERSIFYING THROUGH MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS

How about buying a business that brings diversification right to your door?

30 THE HOME OFFICE IS HERE TO STAYHERE’S HOW TO SELL IT

The home office is permanent - and consumers are keen to invest in it

LIVE IT

34 FATHER P. CLIP

The good Father on modernising the warehouse

36 LIVE IT

Take a break and enjoy some lighthearted fun

38 FINAL WORD

Building better businesses through representation

Contents FEBRUARY 2023
18 27 29
“The circular economy is increasingly front and centre of many organisations, as sustainability becomes more of a high-level focus for customers and suppliers alike.”
24

THE MONTH THAT WAS

EVO Group is pleased to announce that, with immediate effect, Adrian Butler will focus on the role of VOW MD. Adrian will focus his efforts on supporting VOW Wholesale customers and will also now cease to have any involvement with the Banner business.

Commenting on the change new EVO CEO Andrew Gale noted, “This

was my first decision as EVO CEO and it was not a difficult call. Ade is VOW and is at his best working with our VOW customers. I want him and the VOW sales team to focus 100% on helping our VOW Wholesale customers grow and win in the marketplace. I believe in getting people in the right jobs, and then

Spicers appoint new development director

Spicers has strengthened its leadership team with the appointment of business development director Adrian Reid. “Spicers has been through a significant period of transition in order to ensure it’s a fit-for-the-future organisation – and one which is ideally-placed to become the industry’s wholesaler of choice,” commented Adrian on his move. “I want to leverage my knowledge of, and relationships with, dealers to help Spicers’ new and existing customers to thrive and be more profitable – by empowering them to trade more easily, and more efficiently.”

Steve Morley, sales director at Spicers, added, “Adrian brings a wealth of relevant experience to our team, having held previous leadership posts as well as a proven reputation for winning new business and growing existing customer accounts. He is passionate about helping dealers thrive in a fast-paced, changing, landscape, delving into customers’ nuances, and providing quality customer service in order to drive sustainable growth – something which is central to Spicers’ commercial strategy for the next three years.”

letting them do their stuff. The Banner sales leads will report into me directly, moving forward.”

Adrian Butler commented, “I have gained a wealth of experience working across the group in the last 12 months that hopefully can help me in my new role. I’m delighted to be appointed as the VOW MD”.

Premier starts the year with Irish acquisition

Premier has announced that Dublin-based GPMI is the latest company to be acquired by the group. Michael Beever, CEO of the Premier Paper Group says, “GPMI is an exciting addition to the group and opens up a new geographical market for Premier. These latest acquisitions are consistent with our strategy of achieving good organic growth, based on our traditional paper merchanting foundations, together with selected acquisitions in new but complementary markets.”

GPMI managing director Enda Brophy commented, “Being part of Premier will open up many opportunities for GPMI and will allow us to further develop our service offer and product choice to our customers.”

[06] FEBRUARY 2023 www.dealersupport.co.uk INDUSTRY THE MONTH THAT WAS
EVO announce new VOW MD

Xerox acquires Advanced UK

Xerox has acquired Advanced UK to further vertically integrate, continuing to strengthen its presence in the UK. “With its impressive capabilities and heritage in production print, Advanced UK already has a strong local client base,” said Kevin Paterson, head of Xerox business solutions and small and medium businesses at Xerox UK. “We look forward to bringing the industry’s most comprehensive portfolio of services to an exciting new set of Xerox customers.”

“We are thrilled to join the Xerox team and expand our client offering through Xerox’s Print and IT Services,” said Joe Gallagher, Advanced UK’s sales director. “As a long-standing Xerox Platinum partner, we knew that Xerox was the perfect fit to take the business forward and drive differentiated growth opportunities.”

Pukka Pads makes senior appointment

Alex Bonarius has been appointed global sales director at Pukka Pads. The role will see him assume overall responsibility for all sales channels and markets across the business and its multiple brands. This comes as part of an exciting series of recent developments for Pukka Pads, including the acquisition of Party Centric Ltd. and the recent launch of the new Pukka Planet range, which was shortlisted for a BOSS award in November.

Company owner and CEO Chris Stott is more optimistic than ever before.

“We’re delighted to have Alex joining us. With his appointment, we feel Pukka Pads is well-positioned to grow in all channels, specifically overseas where there is much opportunity which we haven’t been able to address up until now”.

Complete Business Solutions acquired by EVO

EVO has completed the acquisition of Complete Business Solutions after the uncertainty at the start of the year. The trade and assets of CBS have been acquired through a pre-pack administration by EVO. The EVO and CBS teams have worked together to deliver the transaction following a challenging period, and EVO are delighted to have secured an outcome ensuring the survival of CBS and securing jobs for all its employees across the UK.

The business has grown rapidly in recent years and, was significantly challenged by the COVID period. “We are delighted to end the uncertainty and bring CBS into the EVO family, which we believe is the best outcome for all,” said Andrew Gale, CEO of EVO. “This was very much a team effort, and I am grateful to – and, indeed, very proud of - the EVO team, our shareholder, Endless, and our banking partners, Breal Zeta and Leumi ABL, who have worked tirelessly to ensure this acquisition was concluded as quickly as possible.

“CBS is a great addition to the EVO group of companies and will operate as a stand-alone business. Our priority over the coming weeks is to restore stability and confidence for CBS employees and, most importantly, maintain excellent service to CBS customers.”

Tim Vance, joint administrator at EY Parthenon, said, “We are pleased to announce the preservation of the entire business following its sale to EVO, along with the retention of all employees.”

THE MONTH THAT WAS INDUSTRY
www.dealersupport.co.uk FEBRUARY 2023 [07]

NEWS EXTRA

Energy bill support to continue at reduced rate

The Energy Bill Relief Scheme (EBRS) will be replaced by an Energy Bill Discount Scheme (EBDS) which will run from 1 April 2023 until 31 March 2024. Businesses which have been receiving help under the EBRS will be eligible for the EBDS, and will not have to take any action –discounts will continue to be applied to energy bills automatically. However, the new rates of support are lower than under the current EBRS scheme.

The new scheme, set to launch in April, will apply a discount to wholesale energy prices but, if wholesale prices rise, it will be the business that takes the pain. From 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024, all eligible non-domestic customers who have a contract with a licensed energy supplier will see a unit discount of up to £6.97/MWh automatically applied to their gas and a unit discount of up to £19.61/MWh applied to their electricity bills.

This will be subject to a wholesale price threshold, set with reference to

the support provided for domestic consumers, of £107/MWh for gas and £302/MWh for electricity. This means that businesses experiencing energy costs below this level will not receive support. Customers do not need to apply for their discount; as with the current scheme, suppliers will automatically apply reductions to the bills of all eligible non-domestic customers.

The government first launched the package last September after prices were driven up in the wake of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Although wholesale gas prices are still three-to-four times higher than their long-term average, they are now below the level they were before the start of the Ukraine conflict.

Bigger manufacturers, which typically have higher bills, will receive a bigger discount, which the government has stated is equivalent to about £700,000 of support of 12 months.

According to the treasury these businesses are set to receive more help because, with competitors around the world, they are less able to pass on

higher costs to customers. However, the British Chambers of Commerce has commented on the new scheme, calling it ‘seriously short’ for firms who are already struggling with prices at a 40-year high.

For businesses looking to save energy on their own premises, turning off lights and switching to LED bulbs can reduce energy costs; setting up cashback rewards, loyalty discounts or payment installation schemes to provide customers with crucial support in a challenging time may also make a difference.

[08] FEBRUARY 2023 www.dealersupport.co.uk
The government has published its plans for the Energy Bill Discount Scheme to replace the present scheme, which comes to an end on 31 March
INDUSTRY THE MONTH THAT WAS
Suppliers will automatically apply reductions to the bills of all eligible non-domestic customers

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Being the dependable partner in uncertain times

Despite the challenges, ACCO Brands achieved further growth in 2022 and is eyeing a sustainable future, with dealers and consumers at the heart of its strategy. We sat down with MARK WILKINSON, regional vice-president and general manager of ACCO UK, to find out more

From humble beginnings in 1903, when Fred Cline founded a paperclip company in New York, ACCO Brands has grown into a multinational giant; today it is one of the world’s largest designers, manufacturers and marketers of premium business, technology, academic and consumer products.

For Mark Wilkinson, regional vice-president and general manager of ACCO UK, 2022 was a year of both challenges and opportunities - notably, the high rate of inflation has steered his decision-making and, as he sees it, this will continue through into 2023.

“Almost all companies - and indeed consumers - will have felt the impact of inflation, so managing for that has been the biggest challenge, and this will continue to be a challenge for all parts of the industry going into 2023.”

Adding to this were difficulties in maintaining margins, as supply input inflation grew to record levels; coupled with the potential for a recession in the UK, this makes for a rather unsettled outlook but that, Mark says, is where

ACCO’s integrity comes into play. “In times of uncertainty you need solid, reliable, dependable partners, and we aim very much to be that.”

Regardless of the challenges faced, ACCO had a strong 2022 - and even managed to grow the business, something that Mark is proud to share.

LESSONS LEARNED

Coming out of a year that has been both challenging and rewarding for the whole industry, 2022 served up its fair share of lessons to be learned for ACCO. Mark notes that agility has been key to what ended up being a successful year for the firm. “Our biggest lesson learned was to be agile, and have a plan. I’m always a fan of having a plan, but don’t stick religiously to it if certain aspects aren’t working…you must be quick to recognise when you need to do something different.”

Going into 2023 ACCO hopes to maintain its positive momentum and also to return to one of its key success strategies from decades before. Ten or so years

INDUSTRY STRATEGY INTERVIEW [10] FEBRUARY 2023 www.dealersupport.co.uk

ago, the dealer channel was a much larger part of ACCO’s operations; now it is looking to grow that again.

“We did really well with our dealer channel in 2022, perhaps surprisingly so given the environment. We want to continue to grow that, and we’ve got the plans and resources in place to do it.”

SUSTAINABILITY FOCUS

As with all contemporary businesses, ACCO is keenly eyeing the opportunities presented by a more sustainable future. More products are being offered with sustainability labels - driven by customer demand - but Mark also wants to ensure that the company continues to have the integrity to back up its green claims.

“We want to make sure we’ve got the credibility, which means not just creating a shiny, glossy spin - ‘Oh, yes, it’s all carbon neutral. Don’t worry about us, it’s fine’ - but making sure we can actually back that up, making sure we’ve got the right accreditation across all of our sites including offices, warehouses and factories; ISO 9001, 14,5001 EcoVadis, those kinds of things.”

For many companies, being more sustainable can seem unachievable in tough economic times but while there can be a cost associated with going green, Mark is quick to point out that it doesn’t always have to be that way. “Sustainability doesn’t have to be about producing something vastly more expensive just to give it a ‘green’ label. It can be about producing good quality products that last, and making sure that you’re doing that in as low carbon a way as possible.”

FUTURE-PROOFING THE COMPANY

During the pandemic ACCO took the decision to invest in the development and manufacturing of new products. As the workplace adjusts to the new normal, this means the ACCO product portfolio is fit for the future, regardless of how today’s office landscape might look.

“Back in 2020 we took the decision to continue to

keep investing in new products. We now have lots of products and categories that were very relevant during the pandemic, and are now equally relevant in a hybrid post-pandemic return to work environment.”

As a company that’s been around more than 100 years, ACCO remains proud of its heritage of traditional office products. With a portfolio that includes brands like Rexel, Nobo, Derwent, Kensington and GBC, those well-known and loved remain core to the companybut that doesn’t mean it’s stuck in the past, as Mark explained. “We’re constantly bringing out new products in our artisan craft brands, technology and business machines categories as well as hybrid working solutions.

“The investments in brand, the investments in new products, and the investments in acquisitions in more technology and consumer-oriented companies, are really what we’re doing to future proof our business.”

Mark believes that diversification offers huge opportunities for dealers - and not just in terms of products. In this period of uncertainty, having more options open, and more choice, is a safe bet to spread the risk. “It’s really important that dealers diversify their supplier base, their product mix, and their customer base, because you don’t know which of those bets are going to take off.

“Try some different areas, and give yourself a chance, because existing traditional product categories are always going to have some element of leakage. You need something else to fill the funnel, and that’s usually new customers, new products, or new routes to market.”

STRATEGY INTERVIEW INDUSTRY www.dealersupport.co.uk FEBRUARY 2023 [11]
In times of uncertainty, you need solid, reliable, dependable partners, and we aim very much to be that

CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR 2023

While 2023 presents a bright new year full of opportunities, it’s not without its challenges. From the residual effects of the pandemic, to the war in Ukraine - not to mention the underlying issues relating to Brexit - dealers still have some headwinds with which to contend.

Heading into a potentially recessionary environment will make it more important than ever that dealers work with the best supply chain partners - and Mark warns against falling into the trap of having all eggs in one basket. “We’ve seen, time and time again over the last three years, that supply chain uncertainty means that,

being fired back up; as businesses find they don’t work as well as they once did, an opportunity for replacement emerges. As leases are renewed, and many businesses relocate to smaller office spaces, opportunities for furniture replacement present themselves - and, of course, there’s the new and emerging market for hometo-work and domestic office equipment.

“The return to office and hybrid working are still two big opportunities. Don’t forget, hybrid working means multi-location - and the chance to sell stuff for the home and stuff for office. That’s still a very, very good opportunity, and something that served us very well over the last few years.”

Engineering a workplace that allows workers to connect, collaborate and feel a sense of purpose will be key for offices up and down the country to ensure a productive workforce. “It’s about collaboration tools, ease of use, and not having really loud shredders sitting right next to someone’s collaboration space.

sometimes, our customers go out of stock, and they come to us because they want a reliable source.”

In tandem with this he encourages dealers to price their products fairly. Given the effects of inflation over the past year, under-pricing is a real risk that should be studiously avoided.

“Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that cheap is best, and you’ll somehow win the sales war that way. I don’t think you will - or at least, if you do, you won’t win it for very long!”

Mark sees an ongoing need for products that meet new hybrid working patterns. Across the industry, the time spent in the workplace varies between employers but, in almost every case, people are back in the office for at least part of the working week.

This, Mark believes, opens up some interesting opportunities for dealers. For example, machines that have been redundant for months or even years are

“Businesses will invest in products that make them more productive, allowing people to focus on what they want to do when they go to work - collaborate, socialise and feel connected.”

SUPPORTING DEALERS

Supporting dealers is a core part of ACCO’s strategy. A dedicated sales team focuses purely on both sides of the dealer channel. The online shop enables maximum visibility for the entire ACCO catalogue, and provides easy browsing of its many products.

ACCO is also hosting a series of ‘Dealer Days’ in 2023 where partners can visit its Halesowen warehouse, meet the management team and help ACCO to better understand the needs and challenges of its dealer community.

These innovative dealer workshops are due to kick off in March, and Mark directs interested parties to dealer group heads for more information. “Come and talk to us – we’re here for you,” says Mark.

INDUSTRY STRATEGY INTERVIEW [12] FEBRUARY 2023 www.dealersupport.co.uk
The return to office and hybrid working are still two big opportunities
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Getting to greatness

From nearly leaving the industry in 2018, to winning the Dealer Excellence award at the most recent Boss Awards, we speak to ALISTER HALL, Go2 MD, about the fascinating journey he has been on - including the lightbulb moment that changed it all

You’ll realise, as you read on, that Alister Hall is an incredibly energetic and positive person - and his ideas on growing a successful, happy business will certainly help other dealers on their own journeys to success.

CAN YOU START BY TELLING US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY TO BECOMING GO2 MD?

I went for a sales job in 1993 selling stationery. They gave me a Spicers catalogue, a record card box, a Yellow Pages, a diary, and I cracked on. Within five years of starting that job they moved me up to running a telesales team and then, five years after that, I was made sales director there.

At this point I was going out into the field more, meeting with clients, growing the team and growing the business. Even back then I could see that the market needed to diversify, because I was getting asked more and more for different things. The company was leaning towards products

that didn’t really reflect what the client wanted to buy, and we were missing out on opportunities. I felt that we were hitting walls, and we still needed to evolve more, but my boss didn’t really want to diversify to the level that I did so I left when I was 39.

I then went into business with two school friends who already had a successful commercial daily office and events cleaning management business. We created a group company with all the different products and services, and that was very successful - but, again, within a fiveyear period I’d hit the ceiling in terms of the amount of business I could process on my own. At this point it was 2018 - it was a year of hell. I didn’t know where the next pound was going to come from, or whether I wanted to work in this industry anymore.

Eventually I decided I did want to stick it out. I called Office Power and I set up a new company. After the Office Power meeting I was reinvigorated, and I thought, ‘Do you know what - I’m going to have one last crack at this!’ I started off with one lady, that then became two ladies, and we’ve now got about 10 of us!

[14] FEBRUARY 2023 www.dealersupport.co.uk LEADERSHIP DEALER SUCCESS

SO, WHERE DID THE NAME GO2 ORIGINATE FROM?

We supply a big law firm in Wardour Street and in 2018 (the year of doom) I was sitting in the room with the financial director when the IT guy walked in and said, ‘Who do you go to for laptops?’ and the FD said, ‘I go to Al’ and then he walked out.

I said, ‘That’s the name!’ So, I went home and said to my son, ‘Knock me up a ‘Go2’ logo please.’ He came up with a few concepts and we went with the one that we’ve got now!

WOW! IT JUST SHOWS THAT SOMETIMES IN THOSE MOMENTS, WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE GIVING UP, ALL IT TAKES IS THAT ONE LIGHTBULB MOMENT TO CHANGE EVERYTHING!

Definitely, and it’s been such an exciting journey. We recently won a BOSS Award for Dealer Excellence, which was an amazing recognition of what we’ve achieved and, to be honest, I’m so into my day-to-day stuff that I didn’t take stock of how successful we’d actually become.

I guess that’s also due to my motto which is, ‘Keeping it in the day.’ One thing I’ve found is that a lot of companies in the industry are always looking too far back, or too far forward.

For us at Go2, we keep everything in the day. We have a framework that sits in the background but, ultimately, we keep everything in the day, so we don’t beat ourselves up for a mistake that we made yesterday - we’ll learn from it, but we don’t project into the future and think about things like recession. At the moment the recession presents a massive opportunity - the companies still around are lean and healthy, and I’d like to think we are too. I’m not saying that we’re immune to recession, because we’re not, but we certainly don’t spend all our time talking about it.

SO, ON THE THEME OF ‘KEEPING IT IN THE DAY’, WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?

We’re currently having a brand new website built, which will go over the top of the webstore and will become a mini shopping centre for the company. So, I could say to you, ‘Hi Eleanor, I’m going to show you the Go2 business shopping experience,’ and you could log in, and there will be a dedicated webstore for promotional merchandise, PPE, workwear, print, stationery, business supplies, office furnitureand everything in between. It’s all going to be in one neat little place, and the Go2 platform that you already use will be within that.

The other thing is continuing to focus on diversification. In the summer we went into partnership with an events and waste management business after one of our agents said he was looking at a commercial events management cleaning company to partner with. He wasn’t looking for us, but when I explained to him that Go2 are effectively a solution for procurement and services - and it doesn’t actually matter what the goods are, or what the services are - he bought into it. We set up a meeting with Office Power and from that we set up all of his suppliers, did the recruitment, and we ended up doing the commercial waste management for huge events like All Points East and Summer Series.

We did four events in total, which generated about half a million pounds’ worth of turnover, with a healthy profit margin as well, and we did it all under the Office Power banner. We did such a good job that they’ve already re-ordered, so that half a million is going to come in again, and it might be even bigger this year.

www.dealersupport.co.uk FEBRUARY 2023 [15] DEALER SUCCESS LEADERSHIP
I don’t want to be going on a mad mission to grow the business just to sell it

DO YOU FEEL, NOW YOU’RE DIVERSIFYING TO SUCH A LARGE EXTENT, THAT YOU’RE MOVING AWAY FROM THE TRADITIONAL DEFINITION OF A DEALER/RESELLER?

Yes, but I would say it’s almost the same as what I’ve always done, which is we’ve got a platform, we’re utilising it to the maximum amount, we’ve got the ability to purchase anything from anywhere, at any time, from anyone, and the whole world is open to us in terms of what service we can provide.

Go2 as a brand means that we’re not pigeonholed into any area. When I speak to other dealers and they say, ‘Why is Go2 doing so well?’ I say to them, ‘The first thing is that having the name ‘ABC Stationery Limited’ is not going to help - before you do anything else, change that name and become some sort of brand, and make a big thing about it. Bang the drum and say, ‘We’re diversifying. Out with the old - in with the new!’

We don’t tie ourselves down, and we’re certainly not like a traditional dealer other than we’ve got all the same functionality and access, but our communication is very different.

I say to people, ‘Go2 are effectively Amazon for businesses.’ You can go on and you can get anything you want for your business - the only

difference is that we’re more dedicated to tailoring it to what you want. You don’t have to buy what they sell; you can buy what you want to buy, and we’ll make it happen. You’ll have an account manager that really cares, and they’re going to come and see you every quarter, or every month. You won’t get that from Amazon. So I say we’re like a mini dedicated Amazon for business. That’s my elevator pitch, and people get it.

WHAT ARE YOUR LONG-TERM AMBITIONS FOR GO2?

We’re going to keep moving forward, step-by-step, doing what we’re doing, which means continuing to refine the procurement process, partnering-up with successful trade businesses that support what we’re doing, making sure we are visible, making it extremely easy for the client to order from us, scaling the business up - and, when we hit a certain level, ensuring we’ve got the right support staff in place.

At the moment, like I say, we are keeping things in the day; today is a nice day and we’re all happy but, in the future, I think it would also be nice to have a business that’s scalable, so that the staff who work within the company have the opportunity of acquiring shares and have a career path within the business as well.

I don’t want to be going on a mad mission to grow the business just to sell it; I would rather it be an ongoing legacy so that, when I expire, the right people will grow into it and take over, and the mechanics of the business will be set up so that it happens. I’m quite open about the fact that I want everyone to work together, and that we’re going to do well together. We want the Go2 ship to sail into the sunset, but the destination is genuinely not just my beach.

THAT’S A NICE WAY OF LOOKING AT IT.

Yeah, it’s for all our beaches. That’s the plan.

[16] FEBRUARY 2023 www.dealersupport.co.uk LEADERSHIP DEALER SUCCESS
We want the Go2 ship to sail into the sunset, but the destination is genuinely not just my beach
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DON’T TAKE

Selling the luxury office

what

An attractive office can boost productivity and help with staff retention - but according to a Leesman survey, only 55% of respondent’s feel that the design of their workplace enables them to work productively. For John Livingston, director of sales and marketing at Don Ruffles, an office is like a luxury meal. “Adding salt, herbs and garlic costs peanuts but massively impacts taste, and the same is true when kitting out an office with accessories.”

According to Resume Builder, 88% of companies are offering incentives to get

employees to return following the pandemic, including catered meals, commuter benefits and higher pay; but these incentives can also extend to the office itself – and offering a high quality workplace can show employees they are valued. “Cheap office accessories send out a daily subliminal message; you’re not worth it,” says John.

The demand for high quality workspaces is growing as hybrid working brings increasing numbers of UK employees back into the office. To meet this demand, dealers should consider what products best facilitate an attractive office and how they can educate their customers on the benefits this can bring.

STOCK-UP ON STATIONERY

Having a well-stocked and top-quality stationery cupboard is key to an organised and productive office. Having products that work readily available makes it easier for employees to do their jobs. Faulty equipment - like a stapler that doesn’t work, or pens that run out halfway through a meeting - is counterproductive and can cause interruptions to an employee’s workflow. “According to the Stoddart review, utilising improvements within office environments can boost productivity by up to 3.5%, which emphases the importance of investing in the right equipment in your work surroundings,” says Exaclair’s marketing

LEADERSHIP RECRUIT AND RETAIN
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As the labour market continues to be unpredictable, offices need to appeal to potential and existing employees more than ever before -
should dealers be selling offices to make them more attractive workplaces?

manager, Lawrence Savage.

The demand for luxury stationery increased by a global compound annual growth rate of 9.3% between 2022-2023 according to Lawrence. “This demand has been primarily driven by the emerging trends for personalised and sustainable stationery that we’re experiencing across the industry,” he says. Great stationery can help to maintain a business’s image and establish its reputation through personalised branding, while custom-printed notebooks, pens other related products can boost the perception of company professionalism without exhausting their resources.

FANCY FURNITURE

Another way to invest in staff is with good quality furniture. Comfortable seating prevents employees from getting distracted throughout their working day, helping them retain focus and achieve better results. Ergonomic office chairs cater to different body shapes with design that allows for adjustment to make sure employees are sitting in the correct position to avoid back, shoulder and neck problems, whilst height-adjustable desks can help employees to find the best level of comfort while working. For John, office furniture is better now than ever before. “Manufacturers have invested millions in exciting designs and the choice and quality is fantastic.”

MAKE IT FUN

Whilst office spaces must be functional, they can also be fun. The recent trend of ‘hotelification’ is defined in CBRE’s 2030 Global Outlook Report as ‘a reinvention of the workspace based on inspiration from the hospitality industry’. By using luxury

accessories, businesses are creating high quality working environments with creative and inspirational design - but bringing ‘hotelification’ into the office doesn’t have to be expensive.

“Although the initial outlay for luxury items can seem a tad exuberant sometimes, in the long run, their quality and longevity can pay dividends in relation to both maximising budgets and employee wellbeing,” says Lawrence.

Designing products with a pop of colour, or providing fresh (or fake!) plants are both ways to help make office accessories fun for employees. “Make workers’ experiences enjoyable,” John advises. “Let them feel valued with everything they touch, see and use.”

GIVE THEM A TREAT

Employees are, increasingly, going into the office for incentives such as free breakfasts, lunches, teas, coffees and treats and, according to Indeed, almost 38% of employers now offer free refreshments. Having food and drink in-house can lessen the time spent by employees venturing outside to get coffee or lunch, and boost employee wellbeing. Surveys have found that 67% of employees who have free food at work class themselves as ‘extremely or very happy’. Whilst you don’t need to worry

about providing a luxury lunch every day, employers can start by offering a regular supply of fresh fruit, tea and coffee - and providing a coffee machine with high quality drinks, whilst simple to do, can really help to make employees feel appreciated.

Supplying luxury goods to customers to meet the needs of their increasingly demanding existing and potential employees in the new wave of hybrid working is imperative for dealers, and it is up to dealers to ensure their customers are aware of the benefits these workplace adjustments will give their companies – such as:

● Productivity: according to Gensler’s Workplace Performance Index, a good office design can boost employee productivity by 20%.

● Recruitment and retention: businesses with appealing office designs, and sufficient flexibility in scheduling, are better at retaining key staff and recruiting new talent.

● Wellbeing: benefits such as stationery, furniture and in-office treats boost employee wellbeing.

To get customers on board, John suggests mixing up your sales strategies. “Try offering a special, one-off, price to kit out a new employee with quality accessories,” - or, like Lawrence, focus on communication. “In addition to our B2B product sales training and promotional events, we are enhancing our product and marketing collateral to support efficient communications across a variety of in-store and online channels.

“This allows us to highlight product features and benefits in a more effective manner that can then be adapted and conveyed by specific resellers to match their desired end user.”

RECRUIT AND RETAIN LEADERSHIP
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A good office design can boost employee productivity by 20%

Thriving in challenging times

What did you want to be when you grew up? For David Forsyth, founder and MD at Document Data Group, his dreams were pretty much in line with most young boys.

“At first, I wanted to be a footballer, or a golfer, or an F1 driver, like everybody else my age.”

However, for David, realising that this wasn’t a feasible method of making his way in the world was a rapid wake-up call. Moving into sales was his first big break; this is where he learned the skills that would eventually see him succeed on his own. Setting up a business is always a daunting prospect but, at the young age of just 28, he decided to go for it.

Although this venture started life as a subsidiary, David bought out the company five years later, and Document Data was born. In the past ten years it has gone from a headcount of just five employees to 36 today, and is still on a growth trajectory.

Growing the business hasn’t always been easy, and David admits to his fair share of mistakes in the past. Central to this was trying to do too much too soon, and steering away from the core business of

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Taking a grassroots business by the horns and growing it exponentially isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible either, as we learnt from speaking to DAVID FORSYTH, founder and MD at Document Data Group

what they are good at. “We have to say, ‘Let’s just take a step back; what are we really good at?’ - and what we’re really good at is print, IT and document management - with software in between - and we are really good. We’ve got a team built-up for it.”

As much as we were all sold on the paperless office in years gone by, there is still very much a need for print - even now David’s company handles some 65m prints per year! And that’s not all that Document Data Group handles; it now specialises in software, IT and document management - diversity in solutions is key as far as David’s concerned. “In general, if we get a new client, after the initial sale we then talk to them about what else we can do in other areas of their business to add value.”

This holistic approach has made Document Data more than just a print management company. To its clients it has an impressive amount of agility to seek out solutions to problems business owners didn’t even realise they had.

SURVIVING COVID

Despite describing the pandemic as a ‘seismic rock,’ David says that Document Data has been incredibly stable throughout the crisis. He puts much of this success down to keeping his cool, avoiding the news and not getting caught up in the social media storm.

Nevertheless, lockdowns did have an effect on the business, although maybe not as much as some of his competitors - indeed, he explained that the positive, can-do attitude of his team served to win new business when rival companies were struggling. “We’ve never had to make anyone redundant; we’ve never had to do anything that way, we’ve put the pedal on the metal and, from that, we’ve found opportunity. A lot of suppliers were struggling with service delivery…a lot of people getting really poor service, and we were picking up business on the back of that.”

Putting customers first is at the heart of everything David does in his business, and that’s served him well through the years. His mantra is simple. “There are two things you need to do in business and that’s make profit and keep your customers happy. Pretty much everything else follows those two things.”

Sticking to that ethos has brought great results and a rapidlygrowing customer base. Despite adding new customers week in, week out, Document Data retains a huge number of past customers too. “We’ve stuck by them, they’ve stuck by us. We offer a good service and we retain over 96% of our customers.”

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We’ve put the pedal on the metal and, from that, we’ve found opportunity

This growth has been augmented through various mergers and acquisitions, particularly in the past couple of years. As a naturalborn salesman, David didn’t wait for these opportunities to come to him; rather, he went out to get them. “I’ve worked hard on the business. We’ve done three acquisitions, one just before lockdown and two last year; it’s a nice way of building up.”

The company is very much focused on IT as a growth area but, despite its rapidly expanding customer base, David has made sure that it still retains that personal touch that keeps clients coming back time and again.

MANAGING A BROAD MIX OF CLIENTS

Something Document Data does very well is managing an incredibly broad range of clients. A brief perusal of the many case studies on his website reveals clients in industries as diverse as industrial machinery, human resources, housing, banking and even pre-school nurseries.

David sees an ideal client as an experienced business with legacy systems or a fast-growing startup that is yet to think about the back office. Today, Document Data Group has around 1,500 clients and growing, and David attributes that to the passionate team he has built up who are always looking for new opportunities and have a can-do attitude to all the challenges that may come their way.

David’s team keeps abreast of all the industries they are involved with because it makes good business sense to do so. For example, a simple legislative change was affecting one of his clients and, by being in the right place at the right time, he was able to source them a software solution that took all the pain out of compliance.

LOOKING AHEAD

While the worst of COVID is, happily, fading from view, 2023 has brought with it its own set of unique challenges. So far, David has weathered supply chain issues fairly well, but he’s clear that there are still obstacles to be tackled, from the war in Ukraine to Brexit to the cost of living…but, as is his character, he remains incredibly positive.

“The agility we’ve got, and that we’ve shown you just need to be positive and say, ‘Listen, if we’ve got through that last couple of years, then look at what we can do.’”

Still, David sees plenty of opportunities going into 2023, and is keen to maximise the value available to his firm. Aside from direct sales, David is keen to explore more opportunities in relation to acquisitions and selective partners, should they present themselves. He also wants to bring in more people, with a focus on promoting from within and then getting trainees to back-fill vacant positions.

Despite clearly having a lot on his plate, he applauds the worklife balance both he and his management team enjoy. “We’re pretty content, and we’re happy, but we’re constantly looking at growth, constantly looking at new business.

“I think, as long as we’re doing that, we’re going to do okay.”

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We’re constantly looking at growth, constantly looking at new business
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Sustainable print solutions

As customers become increasingly concerned about the sustainability of their print solutions, what services can businesses offer in addition to a high quality and reliable print process?

As part of the UK government’s effort to meet net zero by 2050, businesses must address the environmental impacts of their actions, and implement sustainable measures to support their customers through their net zero journeys.

“Businesses carry a huge responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” says Konica Minolta head of indirect sales, Cameron Mitchell. However, according to Lisa Hainsworth, business development manager at Static Control, “within the print industry there is a wide range of customers all at different points in their sustainability journeys - having a solution that fits all is extremely challenging.” In light of this, dealers should be considering how to offer alternative solutions across the printing process.

ECO OR RECYCLED PAPER

Paper fibres can be recycled four or five times in their lifecycle and the process of creating recycled paper uses 31% less energy than the creation of virgin fibre paper, and 35,000 fewer litres of water. Or, eco paper alternatives can include agricultural residues, wild plants and cordage wastes.

SCANNING

Incorporating document scanning into workflows can significantly reduce paper usage and waste; digital copies reduce paper consumption and save energy by eliminating the financial and environmental costs arising from the use of ink and toner. For businesses choosing documents scanners, it is crucial to choose sustainably-manufactured products and to properly communicate all their responsible end-of-life recycling practices to customers.

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MANAGED PRINT SYSTEM

Managed print systems offer sustainable solutions for printing processes with larger environmental impacts. They can monitor toner levels to ensure the cartridge is not changed until it needs to be, and provide advice on the most efficient print practice, such as whether or not to use full colour. “This accountability is reportable, and this encourages users not to be wasteful,” Steve Clayton, MD, CTS Toner Supplies, says

REMANUFACTURED OR BIODEGRADABLE INKCARTRIDGES

For businesses looking to offer sustainable solutions to customers in search of toner and ink cartridges, they can look to remanufactured cartridges as an option. According to Steve, their remanufactured inkjet cartridges are “more environmentally friendly than the single use OEM versions due to less waste, packaging and their ability to expand the lifespan of products by re-using the same printhead up to three times.” In the same vein, biodegradable cartridges are a sustainable alternative which Peter Cowan, group chief operations officer at Data Direct, says are continuing to develop. “We have gone way beyond simply cramming more toner into a cartridge to make it a ‘jumbo’ or similar description. We now promote a range of biodegradable toner cartridges, for example, and we will continue to develop this technology with our manufacturers.”

BUILDING A CIRCULAR ECONOMY

According to Cameron, “the circular economy is increasingly front and centre of many organisations, as sustainability becomes more of a highlevel focus for customers and suppliers alike.” Reusing and regenerating materials and products prioritises sustainability and build quality over price advantage as the products must be reliable across multiple lifecycles.

“One of the benefits of this reliability is additional life, both in terms of less frequent replacement of machines on customer sites, and also a second user opportunity, as devices are refurbished and returned to the marketplace,” said Cameron. But, for Steve, the challenges of a circular marketplace lie outside the print process. “Our major challenge that affects us and our partner dealers is the cost and infrastructure of collection.”

LOOKING FORWARD

Cameron believes sustainable print solutions are continuing to develop and improve across the industry. “We will see continued demand to build a circular economy, enabling the reuse and recycling of materials as many times as possible thereby minimising waste and consumption of natural resources. The market will see increased demand to utilise second user devices to meet environmental targets.” However, according to Lisa, sustainable print solutions should already be in place. “With the plastic tax coming in for 2024, companies should already have plans that are underway to compensate for additional costs. In the majority of cases, it can’t be sustainable to maintain existing plastic packaging with the additional costs that will bring. Moving forward sustainable print solutions will be an absolute requirement, rather than a nice to have that they are today.”

But sustainable solutions are not cheap. “The cost of sustainability is much higher,” says Lisa, “and whilst it is wanted by customers, the majority don’t want to pay extra for it.” One option is, according to Lisa, to “work the additional costs into the pricing of the product so it is not deemed as an additional hike and it already covered.” But for Peter, working with manufacturers to minimise costs is key. “We deal with manufacturers that actually re-work technology so that products delivered to site can achieve much higher yield,” he says. “Offering kits so that dealers can remanufacture drum and fuser units on site can reduce two-way transport costs and related carbon waste.”

Whilst offering sustainable print solutions that meet customer demands is essential, communicating the benefits of these solutions is crucial. “Education is the biggest hurdle,” says Steve Weedon, CEO of Printrite. “Resellers need to understand the features and benefits of their products and offer them to their end-user customers to sell value rather than win orders on price alone. We invest in innovation and use our patented technologies in our product range to provide the features and benefits that customers need and marketing, social media and trade advertising with our authorised distributors helps to get the message out and offer training to their salespeople.”

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Businesses carry a huge responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas emissions

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Diversifying through mergers and acquisitions

Whether to diversify a dealership’s focus or product range is not the question. What we should be asking is, can we buy a business that brings diversification right to our door?

hould we diversify?

SIt’s a question asked on a perennial basis in many offices and boardrooms, as leaders seek new ways to enhance their company’s bottom line. Diving into a new business area can open doors to new customers and new opportunities, but it often

comes with new headaches as well. Who will manage that new workstream; who has the right skills and, more importantly, time to do so? Can we justify the capital expenditure to set it up? How will we market to this new stream of customers? These questions are just the tip of the iceberg - but there is an easier way.

While the phrase ‘mergers and acquisitions’

might conjur up visions of the playground of bluechips and FTSE 100s, they can be just as relative to even the smaller dealer when it comes to achieving diversification. Imagine the office furniture supplier who wants to get into printing - does it make more sense to invest in machinery, management, workforce and training, or to simply buy a company that already specialises in that field?

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Sian Haskell, director of marketing at Integra Business Solutions, is enthusiastic about the benefits to dealers of considering M&A as part of their plan. “M&As can play an important part in a diversification strategy, plugging the gaps a dealer has in the market. Adding a specialist, niche business with the right product or service offeringand the skillset required to sell it - can be a quick win.”

WHO’S MERGING NOW?

When the headlines are screaming about the cost of living, and workers are striking for better pay, thinking about acquiring another business can seem like a fool’s game, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Indeed, the pressures of recession and economic slowdown can serve to make acquisitions even more appealing.

According to MergerMarket, 2021 was a year of ‘unprecedented’ M&A deal activity. Last year things settled down into a more familiar pace, but that doesn’t mean it’s coming to an end. PwC’s annual global CEO Survey showed that, despite economic challenges, the M&A market for 2023 is looking very promising.

Acquisitions are something we’ve seen a good deal of in the industry in recent years. Consolidation of smaller brands by the biggest players in the market has been rife, not least the notable takeover of troubled UK dealer Complete Business Solutions by EVO at the start of the year.

Tim Beaumont, managing director at

Nemo Office Club, thinks that, while major mergers might not be on the horizon any more, there are still opportunities for smaller companies to merge and be merged. “I think that era is gone, but a lot of the smaller ones may well sell locally - or give up the ghost at the end of their careers.”

DELIVERING BUSINESS GROWTH

Acquiring another business can be a daunting prospect, but dealers shouldn’t be shy about exploring the opportunities - Sian has a list of the ultimate benefits to dealers willing to take the plunge, “Economies of

scale, lower operating costs and increased revenues are probably the main benefits of a successful merger or acquisition. As the market continues to contract, M&As are a quick way to grow a customer base and market share.” That all sounds deliciously positive and Tim from Nemo is also a fan of the potential beneficial outcomes.“It’s a quick way of increasing the size of your buying power which, ultimately, translates into getting better deals.”

One of the hardest elements of any potential M&A deal is settling on a sale price. Almost every business owner will

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Adding a specialist, niche business with the right product or service offering - and the skillset required to sell it - can be a quick win

consider their company to be worth more than it is but, ultimately, it’s what’s on the profit and loss sheet that counts.

“Today’s climate is not going to let anyone overprice or overpay for a business,” says Sian. “Both parties have to understand the need to work together to achieve a solution.”

Given the current economic climate, businesses might be concerned about freeing-up capital to invest in new ventures but Mark Heath, managing director at Office Power, believes that money doesn’t have to be seen as a block to doing business.

“The assumption is often that cash reverses are required to achieve M&A, but this does not need to be the case - at least, not in all cases. Increasingly, where the acquiring dealer can add strength and value to the acquired business, generating cash, the results can and should be positive.”

CAUTIONARY ADVICE

Whether a dealer is looking to acquire, or be acquired, dedicating the time to planning out the process properly is essential. Sian’s work with Integra has given her first-hand experience of guiding dealers through M&A activity. “An acquisition or merger should be carefully budgeted and planned for, and not a knee-jerk reaction. A business owner needs to have their house in order before starting the process.”

Indeed, a business that is well-run, clean and efficient will be a more attractive prospect, and will attract the right buyer for the company. Similarly, the business doing the acquiring should be ready to leverage the efficiency benefits of the merger, and prepared for full integration. “The only way it works if you’re looking to buy lots of companies is to put them all on one system,” advises Tim. “Get rid of the pain points, get rid of some of the offices, and then you can run the whole operation for less. That’s how you make it work.”

Finding a buyer doesn’t have to be a painful process either, particularly when dealers are willing to make the most of the resources they have at their fingertips. “The opportunities are broad and exciting. Key

to any deal is the right support and advice,” says Mark

But where to go for that advice?

Dozens of consultants, specialists and other experts will happily bite a dealer’s hand off to help them find the right buyer, but is that always the best option? For a start, these services don’t come for free, and one has to wonder - do they really have the dealer’s best interests at heart?

A good first port of call is the dealer group. Rarely do dealer groups charge a fee for bringing a buyer and seller together - after all, as Tim points out, it’s in their interests to keep the turn over within the group, and to ensure both businesses have a successful outcome. “If we can get somebody else in the group to buy the company, it’s good for the buying group - so dealer groups will work hard to try and find you a suitable partner and, of course, we know the dealers very well.”

Aside from dealer groups, Tim also highlights the importance of sticking within the industry and making the most of networking events to put the feelers out in the early stages.

M&A can seem a formidable rainbow to chase, but the potential pot of gold at the end makes it worth the effort.

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It’s a quick way of increasing the size of your buying power which, ultimately, translates into getting better deals

The home office is here to stay –here’s how to sell it

The home office is no longer a temporary workplace, but a permanent one that consumers want to invest in - how can dealers capitalise on this sales opportunity?

Since COVID the number of people working from home has spiked dramatically; that’s no big surprise, as business owners realise the benefits of allowing employees more flexibility, and grow increasingly confident that their workforce is, indeed, productive in the home office. In fact, 50 of the biggest UK employers have said they have no plans to return all staff to the office full-time in the near future.

Working from home is proving to be good for

the employees too, with an ONS survey revealing that more than three-quarters (78%) of home workers say they have an improved work-life balance; other widely-reported benefits include fewer distractions, improved wellbeing, and the capacity to get work completed more quickly.

While both employees and employers are happy with home working, it looks like it’s here to stay. This presents an opportunity for dealers to sell to a new segment, as Simon Howorth, marketing and design manager at DAMS, explains. “We expect the recent growth in the home office furniture market to continue to increase throughout 2023.

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“This provides new opportunities for dealers and office furniture specialists to address the needs of home workers, not only with compact, quality, office furniture designed with ergonomics and well-being in mind, but also with helpful advice on how best to create a healthy and productive home working environment, whatever people’s circumstances or space limitations.”

WHAT ARE THE TOP PRODUCTS IN HOME OFFICE THIS YEAR?

Those space limitations that Simon alluded to are something home workers are dealing with every day. According to a recent survey by Currys, fewer than a third (28%) of home workers work in a dedicated space. Almost the same number are working in the living room, with 17% working in the bedroom – kitchens, dining rooms, and even a bathroom also featured in the responses.

It’s important that dealers position products for the home office market that don’t necessarily look like industrial, functional, equipment. Nobody wants the corner of their bedroom or lounge to look like a miniature WeWork; rather, they demand stylish yet functional pieces with smart storage solutions to keep the clutter at bay.

Mark Galliano, managing director at Teknik Office, says that his company has enjoyed strong performance from the home office segment and highlights that, given the differing nature of people’s home office setups, products that are both functional and good-looking are key. “We are finding increasingly that a stand-alone workstation, whilst fine for many consumers, isn’t enough for all, so matching associated products like bookcases, filers and sideboards are also important - some of these even lean more towards domestic furniture, which helps them blend into the home.”

In addition to working well in the space available, home office products need to cater for the health and wellbeing of the worker too. Simon says consumers are starting to realise the benefits of investment in ergonomic seating. “When people first started working from home we were selling more of our budget office chairs but gradually, over the last two years, people now appreciate the value and importance of an ergonomic office chair to help prevent bad posture and back issues. They are now seeing it as a long-term investment for their health.”

Jeremy Cooper, marketing manager at Fellowes, agrees that health and wellbeing remain priorities for the home office market, noting that compliance with risk assessment regulations, and other requirements, are key. “Hybrid working solutions that help their employees remain in peak condition, and comply with regulations, have continued to sell well, especially ergonomic desk accessories, smaller shredders to meet GDPR requirements, monitor arms, sit-stand desks and air purifiers.”

It’s quite the challenge to offer products that work in compact spaces, offer healthy, compliant functionality and still look attractive - but there’s another barrier for many dealers to break down, and that’s all about reaching the buyer.

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People now appreciate the value and importance of an ergonomic office chair to help prevent bad posture and back issues

GOING FROM A TO B (TO C)

One of the biggest challenges for dealers is making the transition from a focus on B2B to selling B2C. Traditionally, these two markets have very much existed in silos, with the B2B dealers having littleto-no visibility with the domestic consumer, and B2C largely existing as high street retailers. Online shopping began to blur these lines some years ago, but the pandemic has seen a rapid acceleration, as Mark explains, “The pandemic hastened this ‘blending’ - consumers went scrambling for products and subsequently broadened the type of place they would purchase from. We noticed some of our B2B dealers really capitalised on this by successfully pivoting to the domestic consumer at just the right time…to huge success in some cases.”

So how can businesses that traditionally focus on the business-to-business market begin to reach the consumer? Dedicating an area of the website to home office products is one of the fastest and easiest ways to begin targeting the consumer market. Jeremy stresses the importance of having an online presence. “It’s really all about content. Get the content right, get found, build reviews and make buying the product easy.”

Dealers shouldn’t be scared to reach out to this demographic - for the most part, these are business-lite customers, and can be dealt with just as easily as the businesses they’ve traded with for years. These are savvy customers, familiar with online shopping, so potential risks of coping with

items delivered flat-packed should be considered minimal.

“I don’t think traditional commercial dealers like to sell to Mrs Smith in Scunthorpe, or Mr Jones in Reading, as they feel it’s more trouble than it’s worth,” says Mark. “In reality, these are often business people, and so should be treated as B2B. Most will pay up front and put a claim through their businesses for the products.”

There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to breaking into the B2C market; much will come down to what suits the individual dealer. The product range available, resources for marketing and, ultimately, the unique goals of the business will all influence the manner in which dealers choose to reach out to the consumer - but even small steps can yield great results.

So, making the home office a core part of your 2023 business plan could open doors to new opportunities.

[32] FEBRUARY 2023 www.dealersupport.co.uk SALES SUCCESS THE CHANGING WORKPLACE
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We’ve been advertising for a couple of positions within the company recently, mainly due to some folk retiring, but also because old George decided he wants to work from home, and we found this impossible to accommodate. He is in charge of the warehouse and doesn’t know how to use a computer, so what would he do in the house? It’s a pity in a way because George has been with us since the early thirties and was present when we took delivery of the first electronic calculator, the first fax machine and the first electronic typewriter. The problem is that George was still using these up to the start of the lockdown, when he was forced to stay full-time in the home.

Now, though, it’s time to modernise

the warehouse, so we’ve advertised for a dynamic person who can use computer software and is able to lift things. The candidates have been very good so far and our interview process has been polished over the years to find the right person for us. We ask them all sorts of pertinent questions, like how much experience they have had with software and logistics as well as the most important question of all, ‘Can you lift things?’

Some of them start the interview by stating that they won’t be carrying boxes of paper up any stairs, which kind of makes that question redundant, but we usually keep going to see if they are the type who can be organised and manage the warehouse staff properly.

To be honest, they don’t need a lot of managerial experience as there is only one other person in there - making the

tea and sweeping up. Most of the product is couriered nowadays, so we don’t have a clue when it will arrive, or even if it’s the right order, and the warehouse these days is used mainly for furniture and storing products which we have bulk bought over the years for our unsuccessful promotions.

We don’t want to do away with it altogether though – it’s important to have a wander around and marvel at how things used to be when the drivers used to come in and load their lorries full of the early mornings supplies, lots of hustle and bustle and the noise of the old dot matrix printer churning out the day’s orders...

It might not have been modern, or up-to-date, but the customer stood a fair chance of getting their order which is now a distant memory for most of them – and for us.

LIVE IT FATHER P. CLIP
The good Father reflects on how the warehouse used to be as he recruits for a new one
[34] FEBRUARY 2023 www.dealersupport.co.uk
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Dissolve some Lenor scent boost in warm water and pour the mixture into an old spray bottle and then spray onto your sheets.

CAPTION COMPETITION

Fruit for all

Hundreds of fruit trees are being planted to help tackle climate change, say BBC News.

Gloucestershire Orchard Trust has given away 450 trees to individuals and community orchards, free of charge, to replace ones that have been lost to ash dieback disease in recent years. The trust says that, even though the project is in its first year, it is already fully-subscribed. The scheme is part of a Woodland Trust rewilding project to encourage wildlife and give people access to fruit. Martin Hayes, from Gloucestershire Orchard Trust, said the minimum number of trees people could apply for was five, but some had asked for 50!

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“They’re not just for the obvious things that you see as a result of climate change. Animals moving north can shelter under the trees so they’re not in the scorching sun, and humans can use them too,” he said.

Quote of the month

The road to success is always under construction. Lily Tomlin

[36] FEBRUARY 2023 www.dealersupport.co.uk
LIVE IT TEABREAK

Did you know?

Armadillos swallow air to become buoyant when they swim, according to the Library of Congress. So, when armadillos go swimming, they don’t need a flotation device to keep them from sinking—they are the flotation device!

?

Bleating heck!

Ewe won’t believe the trouble Wales’ roaming sheep can land themselves in! RSPCA Cymru inspectors have been called out repeatedly over the past year, with sheep common among the rescues, BBC News has reported. In one, inspectors made bleating noises in order to get a ewe to respond so that they could pinpoint its location after it fell and became stuck in brambles by its fleece. Four days earlier, the animal had tumbled about 20m (65ft), and ended up in a tangle but unhurt. RSPCA inspectors had to cut through bracken for over an hour while making bleating noises to encourage it to call back so they could find it on Conwy’s Mynydd y Dref, also known as Conwy Mountain.

“To our relief she replied,” said Insp Andrew Broadbent. “We kept ‘talking’ to her, getting closer and closer all the time and, eventually, found her sheltering on a little ridge surrounded by thick brambles. After cutting her free, and checking for injuries, we then followed the path we had just come down, both of us part carrying, part pushing her back up the mountain so she could re-join her flock.”

1. How many permanent teeth does a dog have?

2. What is the most sold flavour of Walker’s crisps?

3. What is the full postcode of the Houses of Parliament?

4. What does the Latin word tempus mean in English?

5. How many chukkers are there in a polo match?

Knock me down with a feather

THAT’S BANANAS

As reported by Sky News, a frog that travelled more than 4,000 miles on a bunch of bananas was among the RSPCA’s most ‘weird and wonderful’ animal rescues of 2022. The RSPCA was called in September after a Hispaniolan common tree frog travelled 4,300 miles from the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean to the UK on a bunch of bananas. Iain Holloway, from Tamworth, Staffordshire, said: “We were unpacking the shopping in the kitchen and my wife turned to me and said ‘Look, there’s a frog in the bananas!’ and I said ‘Sorry, there’s a what in the bananas?’” Rescuer Jonny Wood said the frog was in good condition despite the long journey.

www.dealersupport.co.uk FEBRUARY 2023 [37]
PUB QUIZ
Answers: 1. 42 2. Cheese and onion 3. SW1A 0AA 4. Time 5. 6
TEABREAK LIVE IT THUMBS UP!

Building better businesses through representation

In all functions of our industry—across sales, marketing, supply chain, ops, and finance—there is certainly no shortage of women. Over the years I have had the pleasure of working with, and forging connections with, many of them - but something strange happened when I reached director level. As I looked around, I often found myself thinking that there were very few of us.

Overall representation in the industry isn’t an issue, but the higher you climb the fewer women you’ll see. Almost 40% of UK FTSE 100 board positions are held by women, placing the UK second in international rankings for board representation, so why isn’t this trickling into our industry quite as quickly?

As my 18-year-old daughter prepares to head to university, and begin charting her own path, I have found that my role has changed from ‘mother’ to ‘mentor.’ She does not need me to remind her to do her schoolwork or micromanage her time. What she needs most is my advice, my support, and my encouragement as she carves out her place in this world.

I realise that we need to take a similar

approach in our industry. There is so much young, bright, female talent coming into the business, bringing new ideas that have the potential for positive change and driving growth - but for that to happen, we need to create more opportunities and working environments where those insights can be shared.

people to make their valuable voices be heard. We must create cultures of communication and collaboration that empower every member of the organisation. We need to encourage female teammates to share their ideas - and take time to listen to them.

I have spoken to many women in the industry at various events about their challenges and, most often, there is still mention of feeling unheard or unsure. Many women in office products still struggle to speak up or voice their opinions, wondering if their managers or their wider team will listen, meaning that we are not realising their full potential and adding maximum value to the business.

What do we do about it? It falls to us, female leaders at senior levels, to empower our

To the women in leadership out there - look around. Be a mentor or a listening ear and help others climb. Create an environment of encouragement and support that helps others reach their full potential. Grab their hands and lift them up because the industry and your businesses will be much better for it.

At ACCO Brands we are about to launch a global women’s network, which I have been involved in since it began a year ago. Its mission is to empower, develop and support the continued success of our female employees. I am very much looking forward to putting into practice what I preach, and supporting my female ACCO colleagues on their journey in the company.

ELISABETE WELLS, regional marketing director at ACCO, discusses the importance of representation for businesses, especially in leadership roles
Encourage female teammates to share their ideas, and take time to listen to them
[38] FEBRUARY 2023 www.dealersupport.co.uk LIVE IT FINAL WORD
Elisabete Wells Regional marketing director at ACCO

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