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April 2012 Issue 202

INSPIRING BUSINESS SOLUTIONS FOR DEALERS

DEALER SUPPORT APRIL 2012 | ISSUE 202 IDS LEAGUE | EDUCATION GUIDE | ALTERNATIVE WHOLESALERS

IDS LEAGUE 2012 Call for entries for this year’s dealer competition EDUCATION GUIDE Everything you need to know to supply to schools LOOKING OUTSIDE THE BOX After wholesalers, then what?


FROM THE EDITOR

It’s me again management

grow your business

The Mobile Printing

Revolution

page 10

page 54

Bryony Taylor looks at how the idea of mobile technology has changed everything we do, including how we print

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Long-time subscribers to Dealer Support may remember this ol’ face. In a previous life I was editor and am currently managing editor of this venerable magazine, and you may be wondering what I’m doing back. Well, the truth is, I never really left. While I moved on to edit other magazines – in the health and education sectors – I continued an involvement with the world of office supplies, albeit from a bit of a distance. The reason I’m here now is because the lovely Nina Rosandic has decided to step down as editor to pursue a career in freelance journalism. We’ll be sad to see her go and are currently tying down a very suitable candidate to fill her shoes (watch this space), but in the meantime, you’re in safe hands. You’ve got me, and also a new reporter in the shape of George Carey, whose name you will see on a fair few features this month. He has also been covering our news, so if you have any, give him a shout on george.carey@intelligentmedia.co.uk. Speaking of news, you may have noticed that DealerSupport.co.uk had a bit of a makeover. Our new website is bigger and better than ever. Our strategy for the overhaul is to make it belong to the industry through a new and improved comment section, while continuing to deliver daily news articles produced by the Dealer Support editorial team. We encourage members of this industry to make it their own to discuss difficult issues, post light-bulb-moment ideas and leave comments to articles and blogs. To access all areas all you have to do is register to the site (which is free). There you can also fill out a subscription form to ensure you are still getting your printed copy and view the digital version of Dealer Support. 55 By registering to join the UK’s largest online dealer/reseller community, you can use the full range of our site’s features, including posting blogs in the ‘Your Comment’ section and build up a following of industry fans; voice your opinion through news story comments; view back issues of Dealer Support online; and keep up to date with daily news emails. Here’s hoping you have a very prosperous new financial year. Until next time… grow your business

B

ack on 3 April 1973 when Martin Cooper, a Motorola researcher and executive used the first mobile phone, he called his nemesis Dr. Joseph engel of bell Labs. it was a groundbreaking moment, and although neither could have imagined how much the notion of mobile technology would take hold almost half a century later, they knew they’d made history. They also knew it would be lucrative. unbeknown to a world more interested in the rolling stones and Paul McCartney’s first solo performance, or conviction for growing Marijuana, behind the doors of the bell Labs and Motorola offices during the next six months of 1973, a race to design the first handheld mobile device was taking place. it was won by Motorola. while it took a few more years for the first cellular network to be built in Chicago in 1977, it was Japan who created the first nationwide network called nTT in 1984. From then on mobile telephones became one of the first leap-frog technologies; the revolution ran amok at a pace never before seen. Today the race is between Apple and the rest of the industry to produce tablets, or smart tables. As of January, when samsung debuted its smart window at the international Consumer electronics show, it became a race as to which company can convince you to install windows that could give you the view of Central Park – no matter where you lived – while telling you the temperature and headline news. The idea of mobility, of accessing information anywhere at anytime, of wireless connections to a never-ending world that at once can adapt and create, is now normal. so why then would it be different in the world of printing? As such technology takes hold, maybe the question should illicit the shocked response of “Print? Like on paper? Do people still do that?” but as the rise of mobile printing proves, we still do want some things in hard copy, and ready access to the machines able to do it. Mobile printing shouldn’t be new. Cloud computing has been around for a few years, and according to research by Virgin Media business some 62% of the 5,000 employees asked wanted to see the day-to-day software they use transferred to ‘clouds’. why? because it offers a flexible working environment: one could be at the office, at home in bed or waiting for a plane, at all points, as long as one has access to a wireless network, access to the documents and software used for work is easily achieved. “There are a range of products available in the mobile printing market at the moment that allow users to print photos and documents from mobile devices, print to company networks and manage web-connected printers wirelessly,” explains simon Hanly, category manager for consumer products at epson uK. with the prevalence of Apple in the market, some manufacturers such as epson are offering Apple-only printing solutions, in order to help customers print from their iCloud. others, following the rise in use of googleDocs, are focusing attention on solutions to meet this demand. “To sell these innovations, dealers should position them as developments that have taken place in line with

APRIL 2012 www.dealersupport.co.uk

changing working and living habits,” Hanly adds. “For example, more people than ever before are now mobile working, with no fixed office. Having these mobile and wireless printing solutions means you can easily work wherever you need to.” Dealers should definitely take note. A recent Quocirca study revealed that almost 60% of organisations would like to print from mobile devices, with around 25% of them currently investigating mobile print solutions. only five per cent of those organisations questioned have developed such a solution, suggesting there is a large gap which could be an opportunity for dealers. “The changing way that businesses are accessing and printing information presents a huge opportunity for resellers,” says Phil Jones, uK country head and deputy MD, brother international. “Public and private sector businesses continue to look for ways to be more efficient, as well as coping with dispersed workforces. it’s a great door opener to look at mobile solutions as a way of creating a new conversation with your customers.” Jones continues adding that he doubts the market will just be for printing. There will also be room for growth in the mobile scanning market. “Anyone that has a large external workforce, whether that be in logistics, field sales or the public sector will ultimately be looking to streamline processes and allow people to work independent of their location,” he says. The growing use of mobile technology means that a manager or employee no longer needs to wait to get back to the office before sharing or printing a document. They can do it as they walk to their car. but if you’re sending sensitive information to a printer far away, how can you make sure that the right person gets it? “To sell new mobile printing products, dealers need to take a consultative approach and get under the skin of their customers,” explains Daniel seris, solutions Marketing Manager for Canon uK. For some customers security is key, he adds. Therefore solutions which offer the ability to securely print documents, for example via a Pin code entry at the printer by the recipient, should be marketed. “only if dealers analyse their customer’s current print system and discover their print needs, will they be able to offer a tailored mobile printing solution that makes the end users’ print system more efficient,” he says. “Clearly the most important trend in the mobile printing area is the consumerisation of iT. smartphones and tablets have evolved into powerful, versatile devices, making employees want to integrate them into their workplace. This trend is called bring your own device – byoD.” in order to capitalize on selling mobile printing solutions, dealers need to understand the challenges that come with the byoD trend. “byoD is stretching networks and really driving mobility,” says steve Mitchell, group product manager, Kyocera Mita uK. “As a result companies need to beef up their wiFi infrastructure and make significant decisions on their iT policies and document management. This will only increase as the next generation enters the workforce.”

www.dealersupport.co.uk APRIL 2012

“The IDS League remains an important touchstone for the health of the UK OP industry” MANAGING EDITOR Julia Dennison julia.dennison@intelligentmedia.co.uk

DESIGNER/PRODUCTION Peter Hope-Parry peter.hope-parry@intelligentmedia.co.uk

REPORTER George Carey george.carey@intelligentmedia.co.uk

SUBSCRIPTIONS MANAGER Natalia Johnston natalia.johnston@intelligentmedia.co.uk

SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER – MEDIA SOLUTIONS Matthew Moore matthew.moore@intelligentmedia.co.uk

PUBLISHER Vicki Baloch vicki.baloch@intelligentmedia.co.uk

ACCOUNT MANAGER – MEDIA SOLUTIONS Krystle Davis krystle.davis@intelligentmedia.co.uk DESIGNER Sarah Chivers sarah.chivers@intelligentmedia.co.uk

Julia Dennison, managing editor

CONTACT US

intelligent media solutions suite 223, business design centre 52 upper street, london N1 0QH tel: 020 7288 6833 fax: 020 7288 6834 email: info@intelligentmedia.co.uk web: www.dealersupport.co.uk web: www.uspmagazine.com

Annual subscriptions are ABC 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 above address 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 Buxton Press www.buxtonpress.co.uk


INSPIRING BUSINESS SOLUTIONS FOR DEALERS

CONTENTS 46

April 2012

INDUSTRY 6 NEWS AND VIEWS Latest news including Yorkshire’s COS’s new acquisition and Brother’s Phil Jones’s appointment to head of UK business

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10 IDS LEAGUE 2012 Call for entries for this year’s dealer competition 14 LOOKING OUTSIDE THE BOX Options for dealers outside the traditional suppliers route

PEOPLE 20 PURPLE PEOPLE MEETERS Bristol’s Purple Offices goes the extra mile

EDUCATION GUIDE 30 EDUCATION NEWS AND VIEWS The latest goings on in the world of school supplies 34 A CHANGING LANDSCAPE Trends, innovations and inventions in educational products 36 REST SECURED Help schools protect the ones that matter

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40 BIG ASK: TECHNOLOGY TRENDS We find out what a new-found focus on tech in schools means for suppliers 46 EDUCATION FOR THE NATION Why Hetheringtons decided to make education its prime source of income 52 LEASE TO PLEASE How to stand out from the (sometimes dodgy) printer contract crowd

MANAGEMENT 54 GROW YOUR BUSINESS This month: Mobile printing 58 FINAL WORD Roar Marketing’s Karen Nicholls on dealer marketing

Flip over for the April edition of USP magazine


INDUSTRY

NEWS

NEWS Brother appoints Phil Jones to head UK business Marketing guru takes the reins as Miura heads back to Japan Brother’s Phil Jones will take over operational responsibility for the 180-strong Manchester-based company this month from Hiroshi Miura, who is returning to Japan after four and a half years as UK MD. In this new role as UK country head and deputy MD, Jones will lead Brother’s strategy and commercial operations, reporting to the MD of Brother International Europe, who will also assume the UK MD statutory functions. Jones has an 18-year career with Brother, rising through the ranks from selling faxes to his most recent position of sales and marketing director. He was named Institute of Directors’ North West Director of the Year in 2010 and is a regular speaker and blogger on innovation, the environment and business leadership. Commenting on his new appointment, Jones said: “Brother UK operates in a dynamic and ever-changing market where innovation, speed to market and marketing effectiveness are vital to achieve success. With almost two decades of experience with the company, I’ve never had two days the same and it’s kept me fresh and invigorated about the future. I’m looking forward to leading the company with the support of the rest of the team and our customers.”

TeamMate expands to develop new markets New business development manager given two-pronged remit Furniture manufacturer TeamMate has announced the appointment of Duncan Peberdy as business development executive. Peberdy has a long pedigree in AV and IT, having previously worked in IT distribution and latterly for Epson. It was during his time at Epson that Peberdy encountered TeamMate, when he was involved in the joint venture between the two companies to develop the WorksZone Interactive table that integrates with Epson’s UST projectors. His role has two key objectives. Firstly to develop relationships with the corporate market and help companies realise how they can achieve better collaborative environments by integrating the right technology into the correct space. “TeamMate’s technical furniture has a positive enabling effect on this” says Peberdy. His second objective is to be part of the manufacturer’s growth strategy. With Australia and US plans well underway, attention is now turning to mainland Europe, where he will be seeking distribution and reseller partners. Peberdy wants to ensure technology is used well, in the best possible environment: “Organisations need to look outside of the technology, because by itself, it will not solve their problems. They also need to consider their physical meeting spaces, the people and the processes. So that means engaging with interior design companies, getting buy-in from management and will often involve change management. Using a new system effectively usually means working differently.”

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APRIL 2012 www.dealersupport.co.uk

COS acquires UOP Yorkshire dealer strengthens regional presence Yorkshire-based Complete Office Solutions (COS) has acquired nearby United Office Products (UOP)/Yorkshire Business Equipment. COS bought the £4.5m dealer in February in a bid to strengthen its regional presence in South Yorkshire. The deal takes the dealer’s total annual turnover to £15m. The acquisition of UOP fits with COS’s regional growth strategy and the members of the existing UOP management team are all taking seats on the COS board. COS plans to announce more deals in the coming weeks that will see the company reach a run rate of £20m by the end of 2012, putting them ahead of schedule to reach its primary objective of £30m within five years. COS has also launched a new Synergy Programme, which is designed to boost the value of smaller dealers that are not quite ready to exit. Using COS’s existing infrastructure, partner dealers will be streamlined in terms of back office and logistics which will lead to a higher exit price being achieved for vendors.

COMPLETE IT AWARDED FOR FAST GROWTH Yorkshire’s Fastest 50 rewards region’s success stories Reseller Complete IT Systems was named as one of Yorkshire’s Fastest 50 growing companies last month. The list was researched and compiled by independent economic researchers at Bradford University School of Management and the awards, presented by local law firm Ward Hadaway in association with the Yorkshire Post, were presented at a lunchtime ceremony in Leeds. The Yorkshire Fastest 50 recognises profitable private companies that have seen the biggest annual growth rate in their turnover. To be eligible, companies have to make profits over each of the past three years, as well as turnover growth. Complete IT grew from £3.5m to £8.25m in this period.


NEWS

Westcoast launches Microsoft IT Academy reward incentive UK distributor aims to drive sales in the education market British-owned distributor, Westcoast launched an incentive in partnership with Microsoft for all Microsoft Authorised Education Resellers (AER) at Westcoast to drive the sales and use of Microsoft IT Academy SKU within the UK education market. The Microsoft IT Academy is an educational programme offering tools and resources that equip academic institutions to deliver training to staff, students and the wider community. It can be added to existing agreements or purchased with new open value subscription education solutions (OVS ES) agreements. All AERs purchasing the Microsoft IT Academy either with new OVS ES agreements or adding to their existing agreement will be rewarded £50 by Westcoast until 8 May. Ben Feurtado, Westcoast’s Microsoft business manager, said: “The objective of this incentive is long-term. We are driven to help academic customers adopt computer science to assist academic institutions, teachers, students and the community gain relevant, up-to date and inspiring IT knowledge”.

Nectere opens third dealer delivery hub New hub opens to service three Yorkshire dealers Nectere has opened a third delivery hub. Based in Yorkshire, it will service three local dealer partners – MR Office, TLC Office and Office Choice. Richard Geary, MD for Office Choice, said: “Being part of a hub allows us to save money in expensive delivery operations while also reaping the benefits of driver continuity and having a storage facility.” TLC MD Sandra Lawrence followed: “The opening of the new hub will boost the timely delivery to thousands of Nectere partner customers in the area.” Nectere has hubs in Birmingham, Edinburgh and Yorkshire and will soon be opening another in Glasgow. They are also looking to develop further distribution hubs in Bristol, Newcastle, north and south London, East Midlands and Manchester.

“Being crowned as the fastest growing medium sized company in Yorkshire has been a great honour and the credit for this goes straight to our team, we will use this to continue to build our reputation and would like to thank the organisers for giving us this platform to build on” Complete IT Systems’ sales director Ben Gregg on winning a Yorkshire Fastest 50 award

VOW’s BDP identifies £2.5m in dealer opps Wholesaler’s development programme proves successful for VOW+ resellers VOW has reported that its Business Development Programme’ (BDP), part of the Business Performance Programme run in partnership with the BP Group, has identified more than £2.5m in new business opportunities for participating VOW+ resellers. The BDP helps resellers by supplying them with a ‘prospect feed’ and cleansing their customer data. A telemarketing team analyses resellers’ customer databases and produces a programme of outbound calling for each to qualify target prospects and arrange appointments on their behalf. Keith Boulter, sales director at Ace Office Environments in Bournemouth and participant in the Business Performance Programme, explained why he uses the programme: “We would rather our staff spend their time doing what they are good at – selling Ace Office to customers – than going through data and making qualifying calls.” The BDP has been a success for Ace, winning new customers for its office supplies and furniture divisions. The use of the Business Performance Programme has also proven successful for two VOW+ partners, Brack Office Solutions and Harts Business Solutions, winners of the 2011 VOW+ Partner Awards.

TOTALPOST INVESTS IN CARTRIDGE REFILLING Cartridge supplier invests £40,000 to double the size of its refilling factory Totalpost Services plans to invest £40,000 to double the size of its cartridge refilling factory. One of Britain’s largest suppliers of refilled franker cartridges, Totalpost last year revealed details of a £60,000 development to help meet growing worldwide demand for recycled and remanufactured franking cartridges. This additional investment will see a number of new roles created at the company’s factory in Alston, Cumbria and means the company will have trebled its workforce since December. David Hymers MBE, MD, Totalpost Services (pictured), said: “Over the past 12 months we’ve invested £100,000 ensuring we have the best-in-class equipment and a strong infrastructure in place to meet growing demand for our services. “More and more firms are looking for greener solutions for their mailroom and we pride ourselves on offering the broadest range of products in the market combined with a high quality experience and a quick order turnaround.” Hymers believes attending Remax in Frankfurt this year contributed to this success: “Since Remax 2012, we’ve seen an increase in business requests from customers across Europe.”

www.dealersupport.co.uk APRIL 2012

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INDUSTRY

NEWS

Computer 2000 moves to new Basingstoke offices Distributor leaves Wade Road site after 18 years Computer 2000 has relocated from its Intec site in Wade Road, where it has been for the past 18 years, to a new 48,000 square-foot office building at Chineham Park, Basingstoke, just over a mile from its former location. The company says the new office will provide an improved working environment and better facilities for the its staff and partners and give Computer 2000 the space it needs to match its future ambitions. The Chineham Park building has additional meeting and conferences rooms as well as extensive demonstration, presentation and training facilities. Peter Hubbard, MD UK and Ireland for Computer 2000, said: “Our future strategy is built around sustainable growth and we needed better-quality offices to support those plans. We wanted to stay within Basingstoke to make any move easier for our staff. We also wanted somewhere that would be a great place for us to take our customers and partners and Chineham Park fits the bill in every respect.” The move to Chineham Park was completed over the weekend of the 3-4 March with the new building fully operational on Monday, 5 March.

news in brief... NECTERE ANNOUNCES THIRD SUPPLIER PARTNERSHIP DAY Nectere will hold its third Supplier Partnership Day in Birmingham on 6 July. The theme will be ‘growth’ and how the group can help supplier partners exceed their targets for 2012 onwards. Attendees will get a performance update review and details of current suppliers’ achievements. There will also be insight into Nectere’s catalogue plans for 2014 and a preview of sales tool NecterePoint. Nectere’s Phil Hardwell said: “We want suppliers to understand how working with Nectere will bring success, benefits and rewards.”

Office Interiors show gets the go ahead for 2013

NETGIANT STRENGTHENS SEARCH ENGINE TEAM

Organisers confirm inaugural office furniture exhibition

strengthens its digital marketing team with the

Online printer supplies company NetGiant appointments of Ahmed Bhula and David Trenbath. Bhula takes the position of SEO executive to head up the company’s organic search strategy. Trenbath joins as the company’s first pay-per-click specialist and will manage its six-figure spend on search engines Google and Bing. MD Gary Flynn said: “To remain at the forefront of internet retailing, it’s

Organiser Diversified Business Communications UK has announced the official launch of Office Interiors, the new trade exhibition for the UK’s office interiors industry, to be held at Earls Court on 13-14 February 2013. This follows an advisory panel lunch in London last month, attended by 20 leading decision-makers and other interest groups, who agreed a need for a trade show in the sector. Richard Drew, from furniture firm Flexiform, said: “The office interiors industry has for a long time been in need of a show that is relevant and worth investing time and money in.” Andrew Bentham, at CCT Interiors, added: “An event that recognises the importance of commercial office design and the impact it has on staff, businesses and the economy as a whole is well overdue.”

£2.5m

Value of new business opportunities identified by VOW’s Business Development Programme

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APRIL 2012 www.dealersupport.co.uk

vital we continue to bring talented people in.”

MITSUBISHI PENCIL COMPANY RELOCATES TO MILTON KEYNES The UK and European HQ for Mitsubishi Pencil Company, owner of the Uni-ball brand, is moving from Worcester to Milton Keynes in a bid to ensure greater integration of the

DIARY

UK-based operation with that of its wider

3 May Smart Purchasing Event Brompton Hall, London

the company’s European sales turnover by

8–10 May ISSA Interclean 2012 Amsterdam RAI Convention Centre

European operations. The target is to increase 40% over the coming years. The new site will sit in a region of the UK that Mitsubishi asserts has strong competency in logistics.


OFDA OFFERS MEMBERS HELP AND ADVICE AT OFFICE FRIENDLY SALES CONFERENCE

DOCUMENT PRESENTATION MADE SIMPLE WITH EQUIPMENT YOU CAN RELY ON

OFDA want our members sales teams to increase their earning potential, work closer with customers and learn new skills. More than 100 delegates are joining together to take part at the 2012 Office Friendly Sales Conference, held at the Nottingham Belfry on Friday, 18 May. With leading industry speakers and more than 30 suppliers, this year’s conference is the place to find out about the latest developments, try out new products and uncover new business opportunities. We’ll be launching our New Media Centre - the go-to place for personalised marketing mailers and prospectors and lifting the lid on sales techniques to help them sell more Facilities Management products than ever before. We will also be showcasing Call2Action, the new OFDA lead generation service and interactively working on key sales topics. And to round off the day, we’ll hosting a special gala dinner for them to turn work into play!

‘Your Personal Invitation’

u u u

Free binding machine demonstrations Free installations Free training

From the leading manufacture in document presentation equipment

Z N REN RELY nOfor quality,

Know ability and reli service anufactured nm Germa

CONTACT US IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN SELLING THIS EXCITING PRODUCT RANGE Paul Simpson, Office Machines Sales, Renz

01707 282745 | sales@renz.co.uk


INDUSTRY

IDS LEAGUE

IDS League 2012 The 2012 Independent Dealer Success (IDS) League begins in earnest this month. As ever, there are a number of categories covered, so show us what you’ve got to offer by filling in the adjacent form and proving you’ve got what it takes to shine

T

he IDS League enables dealers of all types to compete in the categories of Dealer of the Year (three awards), Green Dealer of the Year and Web Dealer of the Year. For an online application allowing you to fill in and submit your entry at the click of a button and making it easier than ever to apply, visit tinyurl.com/d22yr67. Alternatively, simply fill in the double-sided application form to the right and email or fax it to our resident data expert. The details are on the form.

WHAT’S UP FOR GRABS

“Dealer Support’s IDS League remains an important annual test of the health of the UK office products industry, and can show how independent OP dealers are able to thrive in these turbulent times. And as in previous years, IDS will again track dealer innovations through its Web Dealer of the Year and Green Dealer of the Year categories. Once again I am delighted to be a part of IDS and am looking forward to seeing yet more success stories from the UK OP dealer community.” Martin Wilde, MWA

Dealer of the Year – 1st, 2nd and 3rd place This is the overall championship prize, picking out the top three independent dealers in the UK and Ireland. The categories analysed are top-line sales growth, direct costs, overheads, and gross profit. By comparing year-on-year growth, the playing field is leveled so even the smallest of dealerships can compete for first place.

Green Dealer of the Year Growing in popularity alongside the increased awareness of green issues, this category examines an independent dealer’s overall attitude towards the earth, their business’s environmental impact, and what kind of actions they’re taking to cut their carbon footprint. We will be looking at what environmental schemes dealers take part in, what products they’re selling and other eco programmes they may have.

Web Dealer of the Year This benchmark looks at independent dealers that are taking a proactive approach to the internet, using marketing techniques like SEO and embracing a web 2.0 approach to their sales. We will be measuring how much of their turnover comes from internet sales, numbers of site visitors and conversion rates, together with the proportion of online orders that are repeated. DS

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HOW TO APPLY Email: martin.wilde@ntlworld.com Fax: 01223 704347 Web: tinyurl.com/d22yr67 DEADLINE CLOSING DATE FOR ENTRIES IS 23 May 2012. All figures supplied are in absolute confidence.


IDS LEAGUE

DETAILS Name: Company name:

Application form Application for the 2012 Independent Dealer Success (IDS) League

Financials

Address:

2010

2011

Turnover

£

£

Average gross margin

%

%

Less

%

%

Sales & admin %

%

%

Distribution costs %

%

%

AFFILIATION

Establishment costs %

%

%

Are you a member of a dealer group?

Hence

%

%

(No/Yes)

Operating profit %

%

%

If yes – name of group?

Net profit %

%

%

Telephone: E-mail address:

Operations 2010

2011

Total number of people in sales * Field sales Telesales Other sales Total warehouse & delivery staff Delivery Warehouse Total other staff * IT Management Other (specify below) Overall total Please e-mail your completed form to martin.wilde@ntlworld.com or fax to 01223 704347 by 23 May 2012. Alternatively, visit tinyurl.com/d22yr67 to apply online. All figures and information are supplied in absolute confidence. Any queries, please contact Julia Dennison on 020 7288 6833 or e-mail editor@dealersupport.co.uk.

*Broad category – just use these if you cannot break down by subcategory

Do you operate your own warehouse? If yes

2010

2011

Number of warehouses Total sq ft Average stock value

Sq ft £

Sq ft £

www.dealersupport.co.uk APRIL 2012

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INDUSTRY

IDS LEAGUE

GREEN DEALER OF THE YEAR

Sources of product

What environmental schemes are you a part of (i.e. ISO 14001, Carbon Smart etc)? Please list‌

What proportion (%) of your total spend is with each of the following?

What percentage of your cut paper sales is recycled, FSC or PEFC accredited? ____% What percentage of your printer cartridge sales get reclaimed for recycling? ____% What percentage of your packaging waste is reclaimed for recycling? ____% Please list any further environmental initiatives you may be undertaking: (Please specify)

2010

2011

Direct from manufacturers

%

%

Office products wholesalers

%

%

Dealer group warehouse

%

%

Computer consumables distributors

%

%

Paper merchants

%

%

Furnitre wholesalers

%

%

Importers

%

%

Others (specify below)

%

%

Total

100%

100%

WEB DEALER OF THE YEAR What percentage of your annual sales value is captured via an e-commerce enabled web site? 2010: ____%, 2011 ____% What percentage of your internet business is made up of repeat orders? 2010: ____%, 2011 ____% How many visitors, on average, visit your site per month? 2010: ____%, 2011 ____% What is your conversion rate (percentage of visitors who make a purchase)? 2010: ____%, 2011____% What percentage of this is traffic from search engines? 2010: ____%, 2011 ____%

Please e-mail your completed form to martin. wilde@ntlworld.com or fax to 01223 704347 by 23 May 2012. All figures and information are supplied in absolute confidence. Any queries, please contact Julia Dennison on 020 7288 6833 or e-mail editor@dealersupport.co.uk.

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Which office products wholesalers do you use, and what share of your total spend with wholesalers do you spend with each of them? 2010

2011

VOW

%

%

Spicers

%

%

Others (specify below)

%

%

Total

100%

100%


INDUSTRY

MARKET ANALYSIS

The market is changing and new distribution channels are becoming more important than ever. George Carey weighs up the alternatives open to dealers outside the traditional wholesaler box

I S

T H E

G R A S S

G R E E N E R ?

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INDUSTRY

MARKET ANALYSIS

We don’t stock 20,000 stationery products, so there is a better focus on what we do sell, with account managers who don’t deal in part numbers, but in products. We understand the products we are selling

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W

ith the tough times that dealers have endured in recent years, many have been forced to re-evaluate every part of their businesses to ensure that they are running as smoothly and cost-effectively as possible. With that in mind, some are starting to look at their supply chain and weighing up other options. If dealers do want look outside the traditional channels, what options are there, and do they offer a better deal?

New breed Like end-users, dealers are looking for the right mix of cost and convenience when they consider their options for sourcing products. One relatively new service which claims to offer the best of both worlds to its customers is Truline, part of the Office2office group of companies. After a 15-month negotiation with Advantia, the two parties have teamed up and Advantia has now replaced its use of the Spicers’ wholesale model with Truline. The company is working with Advantia’s existing 40 members and aims to help drive-up its membership as a result of the working relationship. It is an end-to-end service, meaning that Advantia members have been able to discontinue their use of warehouses and no longer have to see the product, as it goes straight to the customer. The contract is a minimum of four years and aims to generate revenues in excess of £25m per annum. Simon Moate, CEO of Office2office, said: “Our aim is to have a business that looks nothing like Spicers or VOW. We looked at both businesses operationally and financially and we didn’t feel then, and don’t today, that the model is sustainable from a wholsale perspective.” He continued: “We’ve created a supply chain service business rather than a wholesale business. Nobody knows the SME market better than us and our partner Advantia. People we work with have transferred drivers and closed warehouses in favour of us doing it for them. They know their markets far better than us, so our job is just to help them reduce their costs, provide fantastic service and give them the products they need to go out and compete in the market.”


INDUSTRY

MARKET ANALYSIS

Commenting on distributors generally, Morris said: “Increasingly, distributors can direct shipments to dealers’ customers, which is indicative of the fact that they can get into new markets without having to take on extra stock. What we’re saying is: ‘We’ve got this great new projector, we’ll sell it to you for £200, you need to sell it for £250, we’re here to help you to promote it to your customers. We’ll e-shot them good products at competitive prices and if you get an order, we’ll ship it direct.’ By the end of the week, you’ll find yourself in a new market, and have sold your first printer to someone who has never bought one off you – and you’ve not even had to touch the product, throughout the whole process.” In addition to the service levels that distributors can offer, they have traditionally promoted themselves on pricing levels. On the subject of pricing, Alex Tatham, sales and marketing director of Westcoast, said: “When you’ve got a distribution business like Westcoast with a gross margin of three per cent and the office supplies wholesalers are still trying to live off 20%, it’s just not going to work.”

Wholesalers

Distributors Dealers have been dealing with distributors outside the wholsale structure for a long time and the often specialist nature of them means that they do not necessarily offer a complete replacement for traditional wholesalers, but can provide excellent pricing and product expertise in specific areas. Many distributors are now attempting to change that though, by expanding their product ranges and offering dealers far more options. Nimans is traditionally a comms distributor but is now trying to compete for business over a much wider range. Purchasing director Andy Winfield says: “Our product range covers lots of different areas, many in the traditional office sector, from fax machines and copiers to label machines, consumables and projectors. I think the boundaries between the comms and office reseller markets are definitely blurring, with plenty of cross-over. Converged technology where ‘voice’ is now part of a data network is inspiring a new era in office communication.” Another distributor claiming to offer a better deal is Beta Distribution and marketing director Nigel Morris is keen to point out the benefits that it can provide to resellers: “We don’t stock 20,000 stationery products, so there is a better focus on what we do sell, with account managers who don’t deal in part numbers, but in products. We understand the products we are selling.”

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We’ve created a supply chain service business rather than a wholesale business

Of course the wholesalers aren’t lying dormant while all this change is occurring and have made many changes in reaction to market conditions. Spicers and VOW hold up their levels of service as their USPs and the changes they make are normally with customer service in mind. After the Spicers buy-out there has been a raft of changes that are reportedly aimed at streamlining the business and improving service levels. In addition to a major management reshuffle, the change that has arguably had the most instant effect on resellers is the restructuring of its sales team. Spicers sales and marketing director Tom Rodda commented on the change: “We now have a team totally aligned to focus on working with all of our accounts managed within the newly created three UK regions,” he said. “With the introduction of the full internal sales team each of our customers has a named contact that can provide them with the support and service they need from a sales angle.” In January this year, the VOW+ programme celebrated its first birthday and the company reflected on what it considered to be a successful year for the new venture. It offers a host of services to resellers, the number of which is constantly expanding; one that has proven to be particularly successful is an MPS (managed print services) scheme in partnership with M2. Simon Wallis, VOW business development director and coordinator of the VOW+ programme, said: “The foundation of delivering wholesale excellence remains unchanged. However, focusing on delivering tangible benefits to supporting resellers is extremely important to us. All of the services we have launched or are researching have been endorsed or suggested by our resellers and our goal is to continue to develop initiatives that help secure relationships and grow profitable sales for our resellers.” With the huge range of independent dealers in the UK, all offering varying product ranges and seeking different kinds of support, it would be foolish to apply a one-size-fitsall approach to procurement. Some may want the low prices offered by distributors while others will want the guidance and extra service that comes with the wholesaler experience. The best way to ensure that you are taking the right course for your business is a regular review of the service that you are using and the others that are available. DS


PEOPLE

DEALER INTERVIEW Purple Office

reign George Carey talks to Mike Peklivanas of Purple Office Supplies about customer service, new business ventures and eye-catching delivery vans

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DEALER INTERVIEW Purple Office

What background do you come from and how did the company start? I started with Ross Office Supplies, part of the SET Group, and I did four years there. Then I worked for a little company in Haverford West, but that’s probably not worth mentioning because they went bust about two months later. After that my business partner, Steven Tyler, and I decided to start Purple office; that was nearly 12 years ago. Was there a particular reason that you decided to strike out on your own? I had a good base of customers and I’d been working in the Bristol area for the best part of five years, so I just thought why not? I was working with a good bunch of people, so we decided to go for it. What have been your highlights since starting up? It’s been one long highlight, to be honest with you, nothing really sticks out. We’re a pretty steady company, really. We’ve been in the same unit since day one and we’ve pretty much got the same staff that we started with. Obviously we’ve taken on more drivers since then but we’ve had an almost non-existent turnover of staff. Actually, a recent highlight is that we started another company this year call Zoom Retail that we set up with a web marketing company called Fanatic Design. They claimed that their e-commerce was so good that it couldn’t be beaten, so we set a company up together and it’s been going very well. It’s all been done with our existing staff, so it’s meant a bit more hard work, but we’re not scared of that.

CV ANNUAL TURNOVER: £1.2m MARGIN: 42% NUMBER OF VANS: 3 NUMBER OF STAFF: 6 BACK OFFICE: Prima

What’s an average day like at Purple Office? We have three vans that cover the Bristol area, with one covering the east of Bristol and one covering the west. We get a drop every morning from Spicers and VOW although our main supplier is Spicers. We’ve only been with Superstat a year but we’ve always favoured Spicers because they seem more efficient and a bit keener. The vans go out at seven, eight and nine o’clock so that they don’t get in the way of each other. We’re in at eight o’clock because we take orders from eight to half past five. We take a lot of online ordering and probably average about £5,000 a day. In the office it’s just the three of us; I do the sales while Steve does all the purchasing and organises the drivers. Jen puts the orders on and deals with all our admin; she worked for Trafalgar for 18 years and she’s worked with me for 13. What she doesn’t know about this business isn’t worth knowing. So are you very hands-on with the sales? Completely, I’m the only salesperson. I’m out most of the time because, in our experience, the only way to get a customer is face-to-face. We’ve found that marketing and sending out emails and flyers doesn’t really

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PEOPLE

DEALER INTERVIEW Purple Office

represent a good return; you need to get yourself out there in front of the customer. I do a lot of cold calling. Do you have a typical client and is there a particular sector that you target? We work across all sectors but try to go for customers that aren’t too small, because they simply don’t spend as much. We try to operate on a healthy margin because if we’re not profitable, we’re no use to our customers. Last year we operated at 42%. So you’ve been with Superstat for a year, was there anything in particular that marked them out? We looked at a few of the groups and they just seemed to have some good deals with Spicers. Also a few of the dealers that we’re friendly with are members as well, so we decided to go with them. It’s paid off as well because I won a trip to Paris at last year’s Superstat conference, so we were very pleased with that. There’s been a fair amount of upheaval recently, with Spicers being sold and then renegotiating with suppliers. Do you think that the current dealer channel is sustainable? I think there are going to be big changes, Alan Ball seems to be tightening the reins a bit. The emphasis has switched to concentrate more on profit rather than simply providing a service. I don’t see that as a bad thing at all though, it’s what I’d prefer. Without a strong wholesaler making money, all independent dealers will struggle. If one of Spicers or VOW goes under then we’re all in trouble. Do you operate purely in Bristol? No, we have nationwide accounts. We tend to get the customers in Bristol, so if their head office is here I’ll get them on-board, and then all their branches around the country. Alternatively if it’s not their head office down here, then I’ll try to get a recommendation for head office. Our customers are normally very happy with the service we provide, so they will tend to recommend us. After that I’ll go to see the big wigs and do my bit, so that we can get the account on a nationwide basis.

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So do you travel around the country much? I’ve done a fair bit, we’ve supplied furniture all across England and Scotland. We’ve had jobs where we’ve replaced computers in 24 branches for one company which was fairly spread out around the country; that was a £70K job. We also won a job exporting computers all over Europe for Robert Half, a specialist finance recruitment firm. Is there an account that sticks out as your biggest? We had the NHS contract for the South West for a while, back in the early days, which was pretty lucrative. Nowadays I think our biggest client is probably Hydrock contracting. They’re based in Bristol but they’ve got branches all over England. We do everything for them, from laptops to their janitorial supplies. Do you get much ad hoc business, or does it tend to be regulars? Generally we don’t get much one-off business. The only exception to that would be the new furniture website. That’s purely an online venture and of course furniture doesn’t tend to be a repeat purchase. On the stationery side, it tends to be purely long-term customers. Education and FM are two areas of business that dealers are pursuing more now than ever, do you do much with either sector? Yes, but for us that’s nothing new; we’ve always done a lot in education. We supply a lot of schools in Bristol with their stationery and I’m always trying to upsell a bit of furniture when I can. Having said that, FM is something that we’re just starting to get into properly. We sell a lot of tea and coffee but, with the exception of Hydrock, we don’t do very much business on the janitorial side of things. That’s something that we need to make a big push on this year. Have you got any big plans in place to make that happen? We’ve taken order of the new Spicers FM book, which is due in a few months and we’ll use that in order to expand in the sector. I’m always in dialogue with my customers about their needs and anything new that we’ve got, so

APRIL 2012 www.dealersupport.co.uk

We will go out of our way to get what our customers want, no matter what it is. If they want a weird product we’ll google it and import it, whatever we need to do to keep them happy


PEOPLE

DEALER INTERVIEW Purple Office

the new catalogue should be a bit of a conversation starter and a way to show them that FM is something we’re serious about. Although to be honest, I don’t normally need too much of an excuse to start chatting. On your home page there’s a prominent video championing your green credentials. Is that a big priority, and how does it affect the way that you work? It’s a huge priority for us, we try to be as green as we can. We recycle all of the toners that we send out and operate a free collection service for all of our clients. We then give them to a charity that recycles them and resells them. All the money gets divided up amongst charities in Bristol, last year they raised £36,000. Here in the office we recycle all card and paper, which we’re very vigilant about, and any furniture or metal gets recycled as well. Have you looked into using alternative fuels for your vans? No, although we have replaced our vans over the last couple of years to make sure that they are the most efficient ones we could get. It’s something that we’ll definitely look into in the future, cost permitting. We also plan all of our delivery routes to ensure that we’re not covering any extra miles that aren’t necessary. I’ve heard that your delivery vans have got a memorable slogan on the side, what is it? Yes, that’s right. They say: “Stationery to you faster than you can say: ‘Where’s my bloody pen?’” What kind of reaction do they get? I must admit that we’ve had a few complaints in the five or six years that it’s been on there, but never from customers. Most of them just

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smile and laugh, which is obviously the response we’re aiming for. We’re quite a comical company and we do try to entertain our customers. Is that evident in other areas of your marketing? If we send an email out or a flyer, it will usually have a cartoon with a picture of my face on it. My business card also has a caricature of my face on there. What else do you do in terms of marketing; do you get involved with sponsorship? We’re thinking of sponsoring the Mathematics and Eductaion Conference this year, because they’re one of our customers. Usually our marketing is pretty standard, we use the Spicers flyers. We do make our own as well because we buy some things direct. For instance we are a Xerox reseller, so we stock their full range. What do you think sets Purple Office apart from the crowd? Our service – it’s top-rate and we’re very proud of it. We will go out of our way to get what our customers want, no matter what it is. If they want a weird product we’ll Google it and import it, whatever we need to do to keep them happy. Any big changes on the horizon? We’re planning a few more e-commerce websites for various products. It seems that there’s a big market share at the moment being picked up by the right websites with proper marketing and pay-per-click campaigns. Zoom Office has been going really well so far. We’ve only been going for a few weeks and we’re ranked three and four on google for a lot of the products that we’ve got on there. I think we’ve got exciting times ahead. DS


Please contact one of our Authorised Distribution Partners or contact Konica Minolta on below Tel 01268 644200 konicaminolta.co.uk/printer Hardware:

Micro-p and Midwich

Consumables:

Advent Data, UFP, Westcoast and Vow.


guide

April 2012 WHY EDUCATION? We map out opportunities in schools

REBRANDING How can dealers attract education buyers?

EDUCATED SUPPLIES Dealer case study: Office Supplies Now


A

s schools continue to become more autonomous, it becomes more important for dealers to get their foot in the door when it comes to supplying them. As editor of another magazine we publish for the education sector, I know how loyal schools can be as buyers and how keen they are to try new suppliers now that the iron fist of the local authority no longer rules. However, they are also looking for suppliers that are experts at what they do and can help steer them towards the right purchases. They have been burnt by situations, such that have been reported in the media, surrounding dodgy copier deals that cause them to owe thousands on haredware without realising what they’re getting themselves into. Therefore, the independent dealers certainly have a chance to impress, but that chance will close soon. So here’s where our latest guide to supplying to the education market should come in handy. We want to hear about your experiences of supplying schools, get in touch on editor@ dealersupport.co.uk and share your stories. Enjoy!

EDITOR

CONTENTS 30 EDUCATION NEWS AND VIEWS The latest goings on in the world of school supplies

34 A CHANGING LANDSCAPE Trends, innovations and inventions in educational products

36 REST SECURED Help schools protect the ones that matter

40 BIG ASK: TECHNOLOGY TRENDS We find out what a new-found focus on tech in schools means for suppliers

46 EDUCATION FOR THE NATION Why Hetheringtons decided to make education its prime source of income

52 LEASE TO PLEASE How to stand out from the (sometimes dodgy) printer contract crowd


EDUCATION GUIDE

NEWS

NEWS Pupils design apps with new Microsoft GCSE New technology GCSE developed with manufacturer and major exam board Students will learn how to develop mobile apps as part of a new GCSE developed by AQA and supported by Microsoft. This is the first time the technology giant has partnered directly with an exam board to create a GCSE. The syllabus for the new computer science GCSE is unique, as in addition to learning computing theory and essential programming skills, for the first time students will put this learning into practice and design, make and test their own applications. The course covers programming fundamentals such as how to interpret and create simple algorithms, develop prototypes and code solutions to a given problem. The practical element of the syllabus gives students the chance to create an appropriate software solution, which could take the form of a gaming, web or mobile application. The qualification has taken 18 months to develop and will be taught from September. The course is designed to address the demands of the IT industry and other employers, and will give students the opportunity to gain a high quality qualification and then progress onto A-levels, vocational courses, industry-recognised IT courses, or employment. This announcement follows the February launch of a low-cost computer that is available to schools as a programming aid and Education Secretary Michael Gove’s recent call for schools to teach ICT qualifications which are relevant to employers. Geoff Coombe, director of general qualifications development at AQA, said: “Our new computer science GCSE gives students the chance to gain the latest computer programming skills and will stand them in good stead when competing for jobs in the future. “Computer literacy still has its place, but we hope this innovative qualification will help take students’ abilities to a whole new level. The syllabus we’ve created is designed to take the growing importance of mobile and web technologies into account and ensure that students aren’t left behind.” Steve Beswick, director of education at Microsoft, commented: “As a business, Microsoft needs British school-leavers with programming and design talents not just for the jobs we need to fill now, but also to future-proof against careers which don’t even exist yet. Working with hundreds of schools and thousands of talented teachers through our IT Academy programme and Partners in Learning network, we know that computer science lessons have the potential to be experimental and genuinely engaging, but schools need the right type of curriculum to get results. “Over the past 18 months, we have worked closely with AQA to develop a fully tested and considered qualification which develops the skills to help to inspire the next generation to build careers in the creative, programming and media sectors.” The new AQA curriculum is aligned with the existing Microsoft Technology Associate Qualification, which means that in addition to having the breadth of understanding needed for further and higher education, students are also set up to achieve an industry-recognised qualification which will bridge the gap between full-time education and the business world.

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STAT

25%+

Percentage of schools in the UK still using legacy tape systems for backup purposes

UK SCHOOLS ‘COULD DO BETTER AT DATA SECURITY’ Sensitive pupil and staff data is left exposed by many UK schools, according to research The study carried out by a software provider shows that securing the storage of UK school pupils and staff data has become an urgent issue. Despite this, many schools are still using out-dated information backup systems. The survey reveals that although most households switched from tape to digital over a decade ago, more than 25% of schools in the UK are still using legacy tape systems for backup purposes. Data storage on tape can present security risks as someone within the school still has to be physically responsible for the tape and for backing-up data to it. Also, the fact that tape is typically transported from one location to another poses added risks. Petrus Human, technical director at Attix5, which led the study explained: “Research shows that of the schools that are still using tape, 30% take the backup tape home and 35% leave the tape in storage at the school. Obviously this isn’t ideal as it opens up the risk of the data being lost or stolen.” Typically, tape is protected by just one password, making the data on it quite easily accessible if it falls into the wrong hands. Just like other enterprises, UK schools and education institutes could be at risk from fraudsters and hackers Some schools outsource the storage of the tape, but this also comes with significant risk. Human continues: “The fact that the tape has to travel to and from the storage location is one problem. I’ve also seen situations where, for data recovery purposes, the incorrect tape has been sent back to the wrong client, meaning the data has fallen into the wrong hands.” A possible solution to data storage issues is to use cloud based backup, said Human: “The magnitude of vulnerability of storing data on tape is enormous. UK Schools cannot afford to not switch to cloud based backup.”


NEWS

BESA director wins lifetime award Achievement award reflects ‘significant fundamental contributions to education’ Ray Barker, director of BESA, was presented with a Lifetime Achievement award by Dominic Savage, director general of BESA, at the annual Education Resource Awards. The award honours an individual who has made significant fundamental contributions to education that have had a lasting impact on the sector and has demonstrated a lifetime commitment to support the improvement of standards. It is saved for those people who have demonstrated a continued and truly outstanding passion for their work. Presenting the award, Savage said: “Starting his career as a teacher, Ray is also an author, has worked in education publishing, ran the Docklands Education Project for the London Docklands Development Corporation and managed an education action zone before moving on to his position as director of BESA. There are very few people here tonight who have not experienced Ray’s drive in the nurturing of their careers and their businesses. Quite simply, supporting everyone’s aspirations within education is in Ray’s blood.” Earlier in the week, Barker confirmed that he will be leaving his position at BESA in June. Savage commented: “No one believes this is a retirement and Ray will undoubtedly still be heavily involved in the education sector.”

Virtual classrooms offer a solution to places crisis Council considering radical solution to major school places shortage

Half of schools get ICT stolen Data reveals extent of ICT-related thefts suffered by education establishments New data from Lapsafe shows that 45% of education establishments had mobile devices, such as laptops, netbooks, MP3 players, tablets and gaming devices, stolen between 2009 and 2011. More than a quarter of institutions (27%) had mobile ICT equipment stolen in 2011. Laptops were the most common device to be stolen over the three year period (42%), with 11% of institutions victim to netbook theft since 2009. Fortunately, only four per cent of establishments had MP3 players stolen, with tablet computers being taken from the same percentage. Gaming devices were stolen from one per cent of institutions between 2009 and 2011, which could be down to the fact that hand-held games consoles are not yet commonplace in UK classrooms. Although 83% of those surveyed claim that their organisation has an ICT security policy in place, almost a fifth of these policies do not include guidelines for physically securing devices to prevent them from being stolen. In addition, almost two-thirds of education establishments questioned have not been given training on how to protect their mobile ICT devices from theft. The data also reveals that a staggering 56% of education establishments do not encrypt their laptops. This was despite half of respondents stating that they were aware that their school, college or university could be fined up to £500,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) if unencrypted laptops containing sensitive pupil details were lost or stolen. Laptop theft from education establishments can be costly, inconvenient and, potentially, dangerous. Not only could learning be disrupted if ICT equipment is stolen, but laptop theft can lead to increased insurance premiums if an institution has to claim for its loss. What is more, students’ safety could be seriously compromised if laptops containing the details or photographs of vulnerable children fall into the wrong hands, not to mention the damage likely to be caused to the responsible organisation’s reputation. Denise Crouch, director at LapSafe, believes that the findings highlight the need for educators to take greater steps to physically secure their mobile ICT. She said: “Our research suggests that theft of laptops and other mobile ICT devices from UK schools, colleges and universities is on the rise. Although the exact reasons for this increase are unclear, it is likely that the economic downturn and the fact that education establishments are often hotbeds of technology is somewhat responsible. “It is vital that educators have sufficient plans in place to reduce the risk of mobile ICT theft. This should include measures for physically securing laptops, netbooks and tablets, and should be supported by regular IT security training to help avoid the negative consequences of having devices stolen.”

Brighton and Hove Council is considering providing a virtual secondary school in response to a soaring demand for school places. Seventy-two of the 79 secondary forms in Brighton’s schools are full and the situation is expected to worsen by 2020, according to a report in The Argus. The urgent need for more classes, combined with a shortage of space and funding has led the local authority to put forward a plan to have children learn online from home, as well as at a communal hub, the newspaper reports. A small number of pupils in the area are already being educated online as part of their teaching and learning, and the LA hopes to expand this number. This could see virtual secondary schools opening in Brighton as early as September 2013. Mick Landmann, a founder of Digital Education Brighton, told The Argus that digital learning was the “future of education”. “The council are considering this not so much because they are wholly enlightened but because there is a problem of space,” he said. “This looks like it could be a resolution to the problem. From my point of view it takes the education system in the right direction.”

Diary 26 April

Enhancing Education through ICT and Innovation Central London

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EDUCATION GUIDE

SECTOR UPDATE

The education market is continually changing and now all maintained schools, as well as academies and free schools, will be responsible and accountable for procurement. George Carey looks at the opportunities for dealers

I

n the current economic climate dealers are constantly looking for new sectors to target and education is one that is widely viewed with optimism. Despite concerns from some over the stability of government spending, education remains a potentially lucrative market. So what new challenges does the education sector raise and how do dealers establish themselves in it? Now that government-maintained schools have joined academies in having far more spending autonomy, there are huge opportunities open to dealers. Education supplier frameworks were known for being tricky to get involved with and ultimately proved unpopular with schools because they led to a less competitive marketplace. Now that the myriad of obstacles involved with frameworks have been removed, the market is wide open for dealers to take full advantage. Despite the demise of supplier frameworks, local authority purchasing consortia can still provide stiff competition for those looking to work with schools. However, as with other sectors, independent dealers can distinguish themselves from competitors with the standard of service that

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they provide. While consortia offer very low prices, because of their size, they are not able to cater to schools’ individual needs in the same way that dealers can. Many have a three-month delivery period, which means that schools must make huge orders to ensure that they can stay well stocked in the meantime. If you can compete with these juggernauts on some prices initially, it is likely that your level of service will ensure that they would rather deal with you, even if you are more expensive on certain items. Product range The good news for dealers is that the product range necessary for schools is very similar to traditional commercial customers. The main areas to concentrate on include IT equipment and the corresponding support and consumables; stationery; maintenance and property services; and student books and equipment. While it has long been a USP of independent resellers to acquire whatever a customer asks for, where schools are concerned, this should be done with caution. Once you have developed a customer network of enough schools, it may well be time to start offering


SECTOR UPDATE

products outside your comfort zone, but for now it may be better to leave those products to the experts. One area that schools can always be guaranteed to spend in is ICT and with recent curriculum changes advising that it should be integrated into most if not all lessons, the demand for up-to-date equipment will be stronger than ever. Schools are conscious of not being left behind by their peers so the need to keep up will ensure that spending remains high. Also with the exception of some specialist equipment and software, in general the product range should be quite similar to your traditional customers.

While consortia offer very low prices, because of their size, they are not able to cater to schools individual needs in the same way that dealers can

Money to burn An obvious benefit of academies in particular is the size of their budgets, with schools being given lump sums on completion of a successful academy conversion. In general schools pay quickly and because they receive funding, there isn’t the same risk of debtor schools going out of business as there would be with commercial customers. February and March are particularly fruitful months to be involved with government-maintained schools; as with any other public sector organisation if they have budget left at the end of the year, next year’s budget will be reduced. Therefore schools will regularly have money burning a hole in their pockets during these months. Many will replace certain items annually for this very reason. On the flipside, April marks the time when schools receive their new budgets, so those coffers that ran dry last month will have been replenished. Forging relationships As a statement of intent, many dealers are creating a dedicated education department. It’s this sort of attention to detail that can make the difference with schools. It seems an obvious point that accurate marketing is essential but despite the existence of school business managers there can often still be more than one point of contact. For example, you may also have a facilities manager; a reprographics person; teachers with a budget; or an ICT manager. Therefore, ensuring your marketing reaches the right people is essential. If you rely on information to be forwarded, you may be disappointed. With that in mind, it’s important to be constantly upselling and trying to get in contact with as many decision-makers as possible. If you are just starting out in the education market, purchasing contact lists for schools in a particular catchment area can be a great way to start. Providing that they have the details of all the relevant decision-makers, it can be an excellent way to get to grips with new customers. Reputation is everything when dealing with schools and academies. The amount of networking that goes on among headteachers and school business managers, means that news of one errant order could travel far and wide and take a lot of work to rectify. The benefit of this close-knit community is that a good job done with one school could lead to multiple opportunities elsewhere. With adequate planning and an appreciation of the intricacies involved there is definitely money to be made from schools and academies. Once again the key is to emphasise the convenience that you can offer as a friendly one-stopshop that can save them time and hassle. DS

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EDUCATION GUIDE

GROW YOUR BUSINESS

R S E EC

S UR T ED

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GROW YOUR BUSINESS

A

Schools have a duty of care for the people within their walls. Health and safety is paramount for the education environment and this provides an opportunity for resellers to supply any product schools will need to protect their staff and pupils – from antibacterial hand gel to CCTV cameras and document management solutions. Whether protecting themselves from theft or illness, it’s important schools have the best solutions for their security needs

lthough we are seeing more and more schools being innovative with technology in the classrooms and integrating state-of-the-art technology into their lessons, you would be surprised at how little of this has filtered down into the back-office systems and day-to-day running of schools. A study carried out by a software provider this year revealed many schools are still using out-dated information back-up systems to store sensitive data. The survey revealed that although most households switched from tape to digital over a decade ago, more than 25% of schools in the UK are still using legacy tape systems for backup purposes. Petrus Human, technical director at Attix5, which lead the research, explains: “Research shows that of the schools that are still using tape, 30% take the backup tape home and 35% leave the tape in storage at the school. Obviously this isn’t ideal as it opens up the risk of the data being lost or stolen.” Quite often, tape is protected by just one password, making the data on it quite easily accessible if it falls into the wrong hands. Just like other businesses and enterprises, UK schools and education institutes could be at risk from data being accessed by fraudsters. If schools are still using decades-old methods in areas as important as data storage, what other security aspects are in need of modernising, and how can you as dealers step in to help? Going digital Many schools are now in the process of changing over from paper to electronic filing, leaving behind a plethora of old paper documents that need to be shredded and disposed of securely – not to mention a scanner that is efficient enough to scan in all the paperwork. When faced with an archive room full to the brim with dusty, badly ordered files (we’ve all seen it), the last thing you want is a slow scanner that produces grainy, barely-legible images. Why not offer a package solution: providing the school with better hardware to store their new electronic files more securely and a scanner and shredder to process the old documents. Dean Woolliscroft, sales and marketing manager at scanning solutions company ImagingXtra, believes that data and document security is more important to schools now than ever and dealers can take advantage of this by helping schools to update their processes: “Duty of care relates as much to the individual as it does to the documentation pertaining to them… Teachers are employed to teach and nurture students not to spend hours wading through admin tasks. Any system that can help refocus individuals back towards their given roles will reduce security threats and failures regarding duty of care.” Handy hygiene Another issue schools face, especially primary schools, is implementing efficient hygiene procedures. Although children are taught to wash their hands after going to the toilet it doesn’t hurt to have extra hygiene measures

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EDUCATION GUIDE

in place, especially when handling food. Antibacterial hand gel can be a godsend to teachers of early years where they might be dealing with cuts and grazes on a daily basis. Having easily refillable and accessible dispensers saves time when dealing with a screaming child who needs a plaster. Antibacterial wipes and sprays for computers and work areas also come in extremely handy to keep work stations clean, limiting the spread of colds and viruses and in turn, the amount of absences. Figures from the Department for Education show that 450,330 children were absent from school for 15% or more of the autumn 2010 and spring 2011 terms; the equivalent of missing a month’s worth of lessons a year. Keeping lookout CCTV is something that more and more schools are employing, and can be vital in securing convictions against criminals, as a case in January of this year demonstrated: An IT manager at a school in Bury Port, Wales had been systematically stealing ICT equipment, which was later found at his home harbouring over 400,000 indecent images of children. The computers were being delivered to the school and signed for by the IT manager but were then loaded into his car and were never installed at the school. There would have been no evidence to say the equipment had ever arrived had it not been for CCTV footage of him signing for the deliveries. Security cameras can also act as a deterrent to crime; could improve pupil’s behaviour and also safeguard staff against false accusations, so is something that schools are generally positive about. Lock down Simon Ruggles, UK marketing and business development executive at SentrySafe UK has had six years’ experience in education procurement, so is acutely aware of the security pressures on schools – “be it keeping exam scripts locked away from cheating eyes, or locking up and labelling prescription medication, security and child protection is paramount”. He believes that schools need educating about existing solutions, as many are completely unaware of the trouble they could be saving themselves: “More often than not, schools and colleges aren’t aware of the options available to them when it comes to security storage… Many a time I have watched pained faces opening a standard filing cabinet, subject to another flat roofing leak disaster – or witnessed a digital backup (including the work of thousands of students) stored in a basic lockable container, open to all other elements. Fire and water protection tackles many of these situations, keeping paper and data safe in many forms.” Schools often don’t think of implementing these sorts of security measures until it is too late, recalls Ruggles: “St Felix Middle School in Newmarket, Suffolk was victim to an arson attack in 2008 which destroyed the building and its contents – a chilling reminder that procurement managers should consider more than the basic security protection.” You might find that many schools haven’t even given using water and fire proof safes a second thought, so highlighting the issue could really pay off. Showing that you can provide solutions to a combination of issues will help to build a good relationship with the school and you might become their go-to person for health and safety supplies. DS

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GROW YOUR BUSINESS

Showing that you can provide solutions to a combination of issues will help to build a good relationship with the school


EDUCATION GUIDE

BIG ASK

How is IT changing in schools? With a change in the ICT curriculum, schools will be expected to integrate technology into most, if not all, of their lessons by September. We asked technology leaders why ICT is important in education and what opportunities this could open up for the independent dealer channel

Graeme Davidson Category manager, Epson “The PC is at the heart of the ICT revolution, enabling educational professionals to create presentations and other visual aids easily. Digital cameras provide a real bonus here, making it easy to capture and incorporate pictures and video created by teachers and class members. It’s also possible to share drawings, handwritten notes or even an out of print textbook, by using a document scanner. PCs also make it easy to save and re-use display materials and share them with students and staff members. If hard-copies are needed there is a wide range of efficient and cost-effective inkjet and laser printers available, capable of producing high visuals in volume. “The PC isn’t without its limitations however, as any teacher will know if they’ve asked a class to crowd around a PC screen to watch a presentation. For normal size classes and bigger audiences,

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therefore, the weapon of choice has become the digital projector, capable of throwing a PC display onto a wall or custom projection screen at many times its original size. “Short-throw projectors for use with interactive whiteboards are another option. Some models can project onto any flat surface (including downwards onto table tops) and come with a digital pen, enabling classes to benefit from interactivity without the need for heavy, bulky and expensive electronic whiteboard hardware. “Inevitably there’s a lot more going on in the classroom AV market including specialist applications designed to exploit the devices we have mentioned. There is bound to be more to come which in turn means a whole host of opportunities for dealers looking to provide solutions to this important sector.”


EDUCATION GUIDE

BIG ASK

Neil Hartigan Channel director, NEC Display Solutions “Today’s children are immersed in technology – the internet, tablet devices, laptops and smartphones – and this digital experience must be incorporated into the classroom if it is to engage children effectively. At all key stages, other than KS1, there are statutory requirements to use ICT. By looking at the manner in which student’s communicate and function in today’s deeply digital era, teachers are beginning to take note of how much of what they use outside of school is intuitive and often highly integrated between a range of devices from laptops to games consoles. Teachers must make full effective use of the AV tools available to them as this is a common learning style amongst learners. “Schools can make the most of technology pupils may already have at home or mobile devices they may carry with them and link this technology with systems within the school. A school portal allows access to various homework support resources and links to curriculum based resources. Use of available on-line learning resources within schools helps to monitor

student’s progress and the results can be accessed by parents via the school portal. Use of memory sticks can help transfer work between home and school with classrooms equipped with a projector offering a USB reader enabling work to be projected without the use of a PC. “The trend towards collaborative learning spaces in schools will mean more emphasis on smaller group learning and interaction. Larger LCD touch devices allow interaction with creative animation and video work with annotation capabilities to compliment the group learning ethic. “For the dealer channel, it is important to maintain a relationship with your customers making you the trusted supplier of AV equipment and a school’s first port of call. The dealer can advise that quality, durability and innovative features may not come cheaply, but schools must invest wisely by considering long term running costs, upgradability and future proofing.”

Martine Dodwell-Bennett Sales and marketing director, Steljes “It is said that in today’s knowledge economy, education is the new currency by which nations will maintain their economic competitiveness. Therefore we need to provide a 21st century learning environment that will equip our students with the knowledge, experience and skills necessary to compete in the 21st century working environment. This is why the proposed changes in the ICT curriculum are really good news for the dealer channel as it opens up increased revenue opportunities in the education market and will help the UK remain competitive in an increasing global economy. “The UK is at the forefront of using technology to improve learning outcomes and there can’t be many classrooms that do not already have an interactive whiteboard installed in them. Many schools are now at a stage where they have to refresh their interactive whiteboard and projector estate. This is a tremendous opportunity for the dealer channel as it enables them to demonstrate the advances in touch technologies and upgrade schools to the latest solutions that encourage an even greater degree of collaborative learning. “Peripheral devices – such as visualisers and voting systems – are proven to increase student

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engagement and can easily be integrated with the whiteboard to further enhance the learning experience. One of the areas that schools often overlook is audio. A worrying statistic is that over 73,000 teaching days and £15m are lost every year due to voice strain-related illnesses. That’s the equivalent of 30,000 new iPads in classrooms or 375 new teachers! Providing a high quality sound system could help eradicate this problem. “Another important new advance in technology is 3D. It is set to become an integral part of teaching as schools start to realise the improvements in learning outcomes and pupil engagement. But schools haven’t forgotten their green credentials and are looking at how technology impacts on this. Some projector manufacturers have responded to this with projects that have an energy efficient way of adjusting to different brightness settings. This type of technology can prolong lamp life by up to 80% and reduce energy consumption by up to 50%, virtually paying for itself within three years. Projector manufacturers are also producing lampless projectors that have a laser lightsource so you never have to replace the lamp.”


EDUCATION GUIDE

BIG ASK

Alex Tatham Sales and marketing director, Westcoast “What more important skill can a school-leaver possess than a thorough grounding in the practical uses of ICT? It is the most important skill that any employer looks for and is critical to their future career progression. As Michael Gove has stated, ICT isn’t about another Microsoft programme, but rather using IT to enhance any audience’s understanding and improve the process for all. As students bring their own devices to school/

college, the opportunity for self-discovery in the way that a student wants to learn should prove exciting and inspiring for teachers and students. “Local proximity resellers must be able to help schools implement IT strategies that enable such an ICT environment – device agnostic, secure and good value for tax payers. Get to it – Britain needs this to happen now! No quicker than that!”

Phil Jones UK country head and deputy MD, Brother International “Technology plays an integral part in the lives of young people, so it’s a natural evolution for ICT to take a leading role in the classroom. This is a chance for educators to embrace innovative learning tools, used to engage all children. “These changes offer a unique opportunity for the independent dealer channel to assist schools with providing the most up to date and useful technology. Educators will be looking for new solutions and dealers can take the initiative to suggest products which will best meet the needs of schools.

“Virtual learning environments (VLEs) are a key way in which educators can engage young people with topics as well as helping to lower print costs. A multifunction machine can be used to upload students work onto VLEs, making it easier to share work between students. Dealers can emphasise the value of this purchase, as the machine can also be used for office functions, such as printing brochures, parent newsletters and mail outs. Dealers could create samples of what can be produced using these machines to demonstrate possibilities to smaller, local schools.”

Shaun Marklew Sales director, Sahara Presentation Systems “The focal point of all classrooms has always been the blackboard which has developed into the interactive whiteboard. With many children using interactive devices and gaming at home it is only natural that they would expect the same or ideally better technology in the classroom. “In addition, the developments in other areas such as document cameras, interactive tablets,

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voting systems and software have improved enormously over the last few years. However, the important thing is how technology engages with students and teaching.” DS


EDUCATION GUIDE

DEALER INTERVIEW

Education for the nation 46

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DEALER INTERVIEW

Four years ago, Rochdale-based dealer, Hetheringtons decided to make education its main source of income. George Carey talks to sales and marketing director, Brad Wilson about his approach to the market and his dealings with academies

How long has Hetheringtons been in business and what’s your background? About 23 years I think, although I’ve only been with the company for seven years. I was with another dealer in Bedfordshire called Springfield and before that I was the sales and marketing manager for a buying group.

CV ANNUAL TURNOVER: £1.4m

And what are the biggest changes you’ve seen during your time in the Industry? I suppose it’s become a lot more competitive, there’s not a great deal of customer loyalty these days; unfortunately it’s very much a price driven industry now.

MARGIN: 26% NUMBER OF VANS: 4 NUMBER OF STAFF: 10

What’s your approach to the market? We predominantly work with education these days, we took the decision about four years ago to move across from the commercial side, because we saw the recession coming and just felt that education was probably a safer area to be in. We’ve changed the emphasis of the business in terms of our marketing, how we target that market and the product range that we offer as well. We don’t do any field sales, everything is done over the telephone now. Our sales people have designated areas, so they will target existing customers with promotions and we do a lot of national email marketing aimed at education as well.

BACK OFFICE SYSTEM: Horizon

Is it purely education that you supply now? I would say that it’s about 80 to 90% education, we still have a hard-core of commercial customers that we’ve had for years and years, so we look after them but in terms of new business, we concentrate on education. How does the product range that you offer differ from what you’d supply to commercial customers? We sell a huge amount of paper. In my experience the education market is very paperdriven, and that tends to be a good way to get your foot in the door. Schools seem to be quite obsessed with the price of copier paper and if we can compete on the price of that then it opens things up to the full range of products that we can offer them. Our biggest sellers are laminating pouches, copier paper and arts and crafts. Furniture is an another product range that we’re doing very well on. What made you decide that schools would be a safer bet? From the budget side of things it’s safe money. We don’t have to go through account opening forms and if you get an official order from a school then you’re guaranteed to get that payment because it’s a school, so it’s backed by the government. The greatest challenge for us is the margin erosion that we have to deal with. The biggest competitor we have in this area is the Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation (YPO) which is government funded and we’re constantly up against them and their pricing. I would say that 90% of the time we can compete, but to do so we have to operate on very low margins. Whereas the average margin for a dealer is probably 28 to 30%, ours is significantly lower than that. We manage that with product mix and one thing that we make good margins on in education is furniture. It’s where we do quite a lot of business and we use the high margin we make on that to compensate for the single digit margin that we make on paper. I assume you have to market pretty far and wide for furniture because it’s not a product that schools will purchase regularly, is that the case? That’s actually where education customers differ from commercial ones because they will buy furniture quite regularly. At the moment it’s silly season because it’s the end of budgets. You’ll get schools with £5,000 of budget that they need to get rid of so they’ll change all their chairs and classroom tables, which obviously get a lot of use and abuse during the school year. We tend to get schools that are loyal to us and will come to us every year with their furniture

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EDUCATION GUIDE

DEALER INTERVIEW

requirements. Having said that, we do still market to new customers nationwide. What percentage of the schools you deal with are academies? We’ve seen a big growth with academies this year and I’d say that now they account for about 30% of the schools we deal with. It’s quite funny, because it’s coming up to the end of the financial year, we’ve recently been notified of about 10 schools that will be academies when the new year begins. There are a lot of benefits for the schools if they convert, because they have more control of their budget, and it’s better for us as well. What are the biggest differences that you’ve noticed in dealing with academies? The academies tend to employ school business managers who come to the job with commercial experience, so their job is to come in and start to run it like a business. It’s great for us as an organisation because it means that we have one point of contact to pitch what we can offer above the YPO. Before that we were dealing with teachers who we found virtually impossible to get in contact with directly. Now we have one focal point and we can show them the full package and emphasise the benefits to them of reducing 30 suppliers to two or three, who can offer them the same range of products. We can offer them large discounts if they give us enough business and it’s a chance for us to highlight the service that we offer. Normally if a school places an order with the YPO it can be three months before delivery, but they don’t want that. Because delivery takes so long they were having to place huge orders, which in turn took up a massive amount of storage space. They would rather have regular orders from us for the amount they need, rather than stock-piling huge amounts of supplies. So we free-up a bit of space for them, and it’s great for us because we’re getting regular orders. How is marketing to schools different from traditional commercial clients? With a commercial business you tend to have one stationery buyer who you can deal with for most things, but traditionally it’s different with schools. You have to deal with an ICT manager for computers; a reprographics department for paper; an office manager who will look at general stationery and then the head teacher will look at bigger projects like school furniture. Because of that it’s important that your database has the right contact information and of course your marketing to those different people will vary hugely. Do you supply schools with ICT and how much of your business with them does that account for? It’s a growing part because we’re becoming more focussed with how we target them. In the past we would just try to go through the office of a school, and that information would very rarely reach the right person. Now the team make sure that they’ve got all the right contact details so that, when they send out emails and make phone calls, they’re talking to the right people. Once you’ve got a reputation for a good service and price, they tend to be very loyal. Schools don’t have the time to phone around comparing prices so, if they find a supplier who’ll offer the right price with a good service, they tend to stick with you.

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In my experience the education market is very paper-driven, and that tends to be a good way to get your foot in the door


L

T! R E

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A ER

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Following the February launch of it’s dealer-direct website www.ghndirect.co.uk G.H.Neville Ltd have been extremely pleased with the increase in dealer orders. Director Dave Neville says “We are very happy with the uptake of sales from dealers purchasing on-line and calling us with regular weekly orders. The feedback is very positive on pricing, product quality and product range.”

Giving us a go…can you afford not to have a look? We are seeing an increasing number of pro-active dealers purchasing outside of their normal wholesaler channel and they keep coming back due to the huge savings and very reasonable minimum order level. In a market where it’s difficult to make good percentage profit on office products switching to a direct purchasing model with us has got to be worth a look. Special offers Visit www.ghndirect.co.uk on a regular basis for special offers, new products and check out the very top-end, unique Keba filing products from Sweden. A big thank you to all dealers for your positive feedback and business, we appreciate your support. Please be aware that former Emgee catalogue codes will be fulfilled with alternative brand products. Please be careful and inform your customers.

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MANAGEMENT ADVICE EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO RUN YOUR BUSINESS

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DEALER INTERVIEW

DEALER Do schools insist on eco-friendly products? We’re starting to look into that more these days. I was talking to an eco-school today who want recycled paper, but at the moment the quality of the it still isn’t quite good enough. A lot of clients don’t tend to re-order it once they realise that it’s cream rather than white. I think it’s something that schools would like to do, but because of budget constraints it’s not a priority at the moment. Do you sponsor any schools? Yes, we sponsor events and open days as well as school plays. We’ll often do advertisements in their in-house school publications. That tends to just be in the North West and we’ll normally have ten schools that we get involved with every year. Are you part of a dealer group and do they offer much help with the education market? We’re with Integra and to be honest at the moment they don’t do that much. I’m fairly involved with them in terms of regional meetings and working with other dealers and there’s been a lot of publicity about the opportunities for dealers in education. I’m working with Integra to help other dealers find the right suppliers and work on their marketing. They are doing something but it’s just moving a little slower than we’d like at the moment. What have been the biggest changes in the education market during your time? I think that schools have become more astute. It’s because of the introduction of school business managers; they have a goal in terms of what they want to achieve and we can work with them closely to do that. Are there any big changes coming for Hetheringtons? At the moment we’re looking at developing a furniture catalogue, because we think it’s something that is required. Apart from that we’re just looking to keep moving forward and picking up new accounts. How do you go about expanding nationwide? Our core region is the North West, and we’re doing quite a lot in the south Yorkshire region at the moment. When we market further afield we buy databases with email addresses and telephone contacts. We’ll saturate that area with special promotions on copier paper or something similar, just to get our foot in the door. Are schools generally receptive to cold calls? Yes, much more than commercial clients. On a typical day we’ll probably pick up seven or eight schools just ordering out of the blue, and the beauty is that we don’t have to worry about credit checks. It’s normally always paper-driven, so once they’ve received their order we’ll put in a call to ask if they’ve been happy with the service and offer them quotes on other products. If you could give on piece of advice to dealers who want to start working with schools, what would it be? Watch your margin! That’s been our biggest problem, and it’s easy to underestimate how much that can hit you. We work on a single-digit margin for paper, but we can only do that because we get through so many pallets every week. DS

At the moment it’s silly season because it’s the end of budgets. You’ll get schools with £5000 of budget that they need to get rid of

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CV

I started at 18 as a service engineer and worked free-ofcharge for two years. I then moved on to join my father at this business and have been here ever since, thankfully dad is still here with me.

WINNING MOMENT

Winning a large furniture supply and installation job for the local authority and delivering on time and on budget.

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EDUCATION GUIDE

ADVICE Copier contracts

Contract killers There has been scandal after scandal in the news of late

surrounding schools inadvertently signing up to dodgy photocopier and ICT lease agreements, tying them into contracts worth thousands of pounds that they can’t afford. We look at the situation at hand and help dealers rebuild trust with potential school customers. Carrie Service reports

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ADVICE Copier contracts

This one-size-fits-all approach is one which independent office resellers do not have to embrace and will turn to their advantage

U

ntil recently, MPS and ICT leasing had always been viewed as a low risk solution for schools to make use of new technology without having to fork out the costs upfront; a win-win situation for all. But this has all been put into question since an investigation carried out earlier this year by Radio 5 Live’s Adrian Goldberg, exposing a serious issue within the leasing industry involving schools signing misleading contracts, duping them into thousands of pounds of debt. Some schools were being charged up to ten times the value of the equipment they were leasing, with laptops that were worth £350 being marked up to £3,500. Glemsford Primary School in Suffolk was told it had been selected to receive 100 laptops free of charge as part of a promotional scheme, only to find they then owed £500,000 in bank loans and the company had gone into administration. Some have blamed inexperienced staff for the scandal, while others blame a combination of pushy salespeople and heavy workloads preventing those who sign the contract from having enough time to read the small print. Many schools are now understandably anxious about signing up to MPS contracts and dealers will have to work hard to rebuild trust in the industry. So how can you as a dealer ensure that you are not tarred with the same brush and prove you are a trustworthy and conscientious supplier? Don’t push it Steve Torbe, head of business sales at Epson, believes the best way to convince a school to choose your services is actually to resist doing the hard sell and provide schools with real choice: “Never force a solution on the school. The best dealers will have a toolkit of options to take to their prospects which will include, for example, laser and inkjet technology; a proposal on centralised v. decentralised print and a set of service offerings to suit the school’s budget and support requirements.” He also recommends being as flexible as you can with contracts: “Schools do not want to be tied into long-term contracts, especially if they have not signed up to MPS before.” Although you might think it in your interest to get the deal signed off as quickly as possible so that you can move on with other things, it is worth taking the time to ensure that the school fully understands what it is signing up to. Bill Simmonds, chief executive of the National Association of School Business Management, says: “It should be expected that a serious amount of time must be taken to review the procurement process. The headteacher and governors are ultimately accountable and responsible

for the school’s financial management.” Cover yourself by being sure that you are speaking to the right person and that the most senior member of staff involved with procurement has agreed the to the contract terms before anything is finalised. Stand out – for the right reasons On the bright side, exposing the problems highlighted in the Radio 5 Live report has brought about greater awareness of how the procurement process in schools is managed and will hopefully bring about more transparency in future, building schools’ confidence in MPS. The key is to get the message across that schools shouldn’t be frightened off by horror stories, but can instead learn valuable lessons about how they go about procuring services and which dealers and suppliers they use. It might even be worth highlighting the issue yourself with schools to emphasise the fact that you are one of the good guys. Get your priorities right Simon Wallis, business development director at VOW, believes one of the best ways to make yourself stand out as a dealer is to show that your loyalties lie with the school and their needs, not to particular suppliers or brands: “Many MPS providers favour one manufacturer’s equipment, imposing a ‘rip and replace’ culture – all existing printers are replaced with new devices, all of a single brand – which conflicts with the premise that managed print solutions are based firmly upon the user’s needs, printing habits and budget restrictions. The market to date has been driven by the vendors selling direct or forging partnerships with MPS providers who together have a vested interest in deploying their devices with the subsequent prize of securing consumable toner sales. This ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is one which independent office resellers do not have to embrace and will turn to their advantage.” Greg Wilson, MPS and strategic development manager at Canon, agrees that the needs of the school are what should come first and demonstrating this is what will differentiate you from the rest: “Resellers play a vital role in selling MPS to schools and they must fully understand and be able to convey the benefits of MPS specifically for the education sector… To stand out in a crowded marketplace, dealers need to make sure they are delivering more than just a competitively priced solution. While price, proximity and prior relationships are all key factors for schools when looking for a supplier, it is vital that a reseller can add extra value to the sales process, which is best achieved by taking a truly consultative approach.” DS

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MANAGEMENT

GROW YOUR BUSINESS

The Mobile Printing

Revolution Bryony Taylor looks at how the idea of mobile technology has changed everything we do, including how we print

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GROW YOUR BUSINESS

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ack on 3 April 1973 when Martin Cooper, a Motorola researcher and executive used the first mobile phone, he called his nemesis Dr. Joseph Engel of Bell Labs. It was a groundbreaking moment, and although neither could have imagined how much the notion of mobile technology would take hold almost half a century later, they knew they’d made history. They also knew it would be lucrative. Unbeknown to a world more interested in the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney’s first solo performance, or conviction for growing Marijuana, behind the doors of the Bell Labs and Motorola offices during the next six months of 1973, a race to design the first handheld mobile device was taking place. It was won by Motorola. While it took a few more years for the first cellular network to be built in Chicago in 1977, it was Japan who created the first nationwide network called NTT in 1984. From then on mobile telephones became one of the first leap-frog technologies; the revolution ran amok at a pace never before seen. Today the race is between Apple and the rest of the industry to produce tablets, or smart tables. As of January, when Samsung debuted its smart window at the International Consumer Electronics Show, it became a race as to which company can convince you to install windows that could give you the view of Central Park – no matter where you lived – while telling you the temperature and headline news. The idea of mobility, of accessing information anywhere at anytime, of wireless connections to a never-ending world that at once can adapt and create, is now normal. So why then would it be different in the world of printing? As such technology takes hold, maybe the question should illicit the shocked response of “Print? Like on paper? Do people still do that?” But as the rise of mobile printing proves, we still do want some things in hard copy, and ready access to the machines able to do it. Mobile printing shouldn’t be new. Cloud computing has been around for a few years, and according to research by Virgin Media Business some 62% of the 5,000 employees asked wanted to see the day-to-day software they use transferred to ‘clouds’. Why? Because it offers a flexible working environment: One could be at the office, at home in bed or waiting for a plane, at all points, as long as one has access to a wireless network, access to the documents and software used for work is easily achieved. “There are a range of products available in the mobile printing market at the moment that allow users to print photos and documents from mobile devices, print to company networks and manage web-connected printers wirelessly,” explains Simon Hanly, category manager for consumer products at Epson UK. With the prevalence of Apple in the market, some manufacturers such as Epson are offering Apple-only printing solutions, in order to help customers print from their iCloud. Others, following the rise in use of GoogleDocs, are focusing attention on solutions to meet this demand. “To sell these innovations, dealers should position them as developments that have taken place in line with

changing working and living habits,” Hanly adds. “For example, more people than ever before are now mobile working, with no fixed office. Having these mobile and wireless printing solutions means you can easily work wherever you need to.” Dealers should definitely take note. A recent Quocirca study revealed that almost 60% of organisations would like to print from mobile devices, with around 25% of them currently investigating mobile print solutions. Only five per cent of those organisations questioned have developed such a solution, suggesting there is a large gap which could be an opportunity for dealers. “The changing way that businesses are accessing and printing information presents a huge opportunity for resellers,” says Phil Jones, UK country head and deputy MD, Brother International. “Public and private sector businesses continue to look for ways to be more efficient, as well as coping with dispersed workforces. It’s a great door opener to look at mobile solutions as a way of creating a new conversation with your customers.” Jones continues adding that he doubts the market will just be for printing. There will also be room for growth in the mobile scanning market. “Anyone that has a large external workforce, whether that be in logistics, field sales or the public sector will ultimately be looking to streamline processes and allow people to work independent of their location,” he says. The growing use of mobile technology means that a manager or employee no longer needs to wait to get back to the office before sharing or printing a document. They can do it as they walk to their car. But if you’re sending sensitive information to a printer far away, how can you make sure that the right person gets it? “To sell new mobile printing products, dealers need to take a consultative approach and get under the skin of their customers,” explains Daniel Seris, Solutions Marketing Manager for Canon UK. For some customers security is key, he adds. Therefore solutions which offer the ability to securely print documents, for example via a PIN code entry at the printer by the recipient, should be marketed. “Only if dealers analyse their customer’s current print system and discover their print needs, will they be able to offer a tailored mobile printing solution that makes the end users’ print system more efficient,” he says. “Clearly the most important trend in the mobile printing area is the consumerisation of IT. Smartphones and tablets have evolved into powerful, versatile devices, making employees want to integrate them into their workplace. This trend is called bring your own device – BYOD.” In order to capitalize on selling mobile printing solutions, dealers need to understand the challenges that come with the BYOD trend. “BYOD is stretching networks and really driving mobility,” says Steve Mitchell, group product manager, Kyocera Mita UK. “As a result companies need to beef up their WiFi infrastructure and make significant decisions on their IT policies and document management. This will only increase as the next generation enters the workforce.”

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MANAGEMENT

GROW YOUR BUSINESS

It’s a great door opener to look at mobile solutions as a way of creating a new conversation with your customers

The Education market is a significant sector, adds Mitchell. “Most students own tablets, laptops and smartphones and they need the flexibility to print without being logged onto a network.” Mobile printing is achieved with the help of an application, which can be seen as a possible drawback for a dealer. Users can download these from their respective device’s application store. There are as many applications are there are devices, but some cover more than one and can connect to multiple printer types. The functionality of each application can also change with some coming with support for the ‘cloud’ with document storage and management. “The fact that the application is the facilitator for mobile printing means there is no real involvement needed by the dealer and therefore no real revenue to be gained,” says OKI’s senior product marketing manager, Alan McLeish. “However, the dealer, in helping the end user with the solution, can improve the relationship with the customer.” “Over the next few years, the differentiation between what you can do with a mobile device and what you can do today with a networked desktop device of laptop will be negligible,” McLeish adds. “Therefore the proliferation of smartphones and media tablets and the explosion of mobile applications will converge to drive demand for mobile printing.”

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Recent statistics from Infinite Research found that global tablet shipments will increase from 16.1 million units in 2010 to 147.2 million units in 2015, says Epson’s Hanly. “Moreover, employees increasingly want a BYOD policy, where they can use their consumer devices in the workplace. Again, dealers need to be aware of these trends so that they can position mobile printing solutions as being an answer to those changing behaviours.” “A fully integrated mobile printing solution also opens up attractive sales opportunities for resellers in specific vertical markets, including education, hospitality and transport – basically in every market where users have the need for mobile and flexible printing, such as guest printing, ad hoc usage, mobile printing as a service; and internal or department usage,” says Canon’s Seris. As the new tablets are launched with ever greater capabilities, these devices will change how many customers conduct their business. Convincing them that your mobile printing offering can make these changes smoother and more efficient is the key way dealers can turn mobile printing into a revenue stream. And the easiest way of doing that, is by clearly understanding a customer’s needs and then working closely with a chosen manufacturer to meet them. DS


FINAL WORD

Go on, stick your neck out Karen Nicholls, director, Roar Marketing

Business owners and managers can be guilty of putting a great deal of time and resources into product knowledge, buying, logistics and internal systems when they have little idea about what their customers actually want

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e work with mainly small and medium sized businesses across different industry sectors including office products. However, regardless of the industry they are in, we find a large number of businesses don’t have a clear understanding of what marketing is and how it can help them grow their business. Business owners and managers can be guilty of putting a great deal of time and resources into product knowledge, buying, logistics and internal systems when they have little idea about what their customers actually want – so are these resources being used effectively? Spending time on marketing will allow dealers to understand their customers and create the business models and sales messages that will appeal to them and how they want to do business. We work in a world that is constantly changing and relying on what has been done in the past to market a business is just not going to cut the mustard any more. You’ve got to do things differently. The way customers engage with dealers has changed dramatically. On-line purchasing is increasing year-on-year, where effectively the customer serves themselves. This is now becoming true of customer acquisition too. A prospective customer is more likely to want to find out information themselves, at a time that is convenient to them, through personal recommendation, on-line searches and via low-pressure engagement with a dealer. Cold telephone calls and unsolicited visits are becoming less effective. Making sure you have a good local presence and a good website that can be found easily is a must. But this doesn’t have to be expensive. Most local businesses will search on the internet for “office products” or “stationery” and their town to find their local office products dealer. So as a minimum, dealers should make sure they are registered on Google Places, which is free and listings come up on the first page of Google. To a large extent marketing in the office products industry is seen in terms of catalogues and mailers. That’s fine as long as it isn’t the only marketing dealers are doing. There are a large number of marketing tools available from dealer groups, wholesalers and suppliers designed and priced to appeal to different types of end users. Switched on dealers are carefully choosing which of these off-the-shelf marketing tools they can use for specific customer types or seeing how they can adapt them for their needs. This can be as simple as different overprint styles for different customer types through to bespoke covers, products and pricing. A marketing plan drawing together a dealer’s own marketing, off-the-shelf, face-to-face, printed, email or on-line is essential. So, next time you order a catalogue or mailer don’t just send off your standard overprint as you’ve always done. Do something different and make sure you really appeal to your target customers. To quote American businessman Lou Gerstner: “Watch the turtle. He only moves forward by sticking his neck out.” DS


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Dealer Support April 2012