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November 2011 Issue 197

INSPIRING BUSINESS SOLUTIONS FOR DEALERS

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DEALER GROUP REVIEW What’s new with buying groups

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EDUCATION GUIDE Dealing to schools


FROM THE EDITOR

page 34

page 28

Going for Gold

“What information is extracted from the document? Is custody and security an issue?”

For those of you who like to keep on top of your game, the key date for the diary for December has to be Spicers’ Everything For the Office Show, as the wholesaler promises a show that’s bigger and better than last year (see page 14 for details). However, the stand-out event of the past month was without a doubt the Oscars of the office supplies industry; the BOSS Awards 2011. Not only was it great to see those who have battled the test of dire economic times emerging victorious, it was also a great chance to meet some of the industry’s high rollers. Congrats to all those who picked up a trophy on the night, I’m sure the heavy heads on the Friday morning were worth it! Check out all the winners on page 16. Speaking of winners, BOSS Dealer of the Year (under £5m) was awarded to our very own IDS league’s co-winner Darren Carr of DGOS, who speaks about his phenomenally successful year on page 42. Many thanks to all those who kindly gave up a few moments of their time to add their input to the annual dealer group review (page six). The survey feedback paints a positive picture of the level of service that group members are currently receiving from their respective groups, and there are plenty of sales and marketing initiatives in the pipeline for 2012, showing that the groups aren’t planning on taking their eye off of the ball anytime soon. Earlier this month I had a chat with Not Just Stationery MD Maq Kashmiri, who lists floristry and event management among his company services – he fills us in on the potentials and pitfalls of offering a one-stop-shop solution to customers (page 28). As usual our management section features a number of suggestions to improve your business, including keeping on top of debts (page 38); the pros and cons of employing apprentices to boost your sales force (page 44); looking to document management systems (page 34); and a focus on dealing to law firms (page 24). And finally, turn to the back for our Education Guide, with a whole host of insight into why the shifting education market is a lucrative one for dealers to cash in on.

MANAGING EDITOR Julia Dennison julia.dennison@intelligentmedia.co.uk

DESIGNER Nicki Bamford-Bowes nicki@b-creativedesign.co.uk

EDITOR Nina Rosandic nina.rosandic@intelligentmedia.co.uk

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Sinead Coffey sinead.coffey@intelligentmedia.co.uk

FEATURES WRITER Matthew Jane matthew.jane@intelligentmedia.co.uk

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

COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR Vicki Baloch vicki.baloch@intelligentmedia.co.uk

SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER Dan Price dan.price@intelligentmedia.co.uk

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

PUBLISHER david collingbourne david.collingbourne@intelligentmedia.co.uk

Nina Rosandic, 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


44

Contents November 2011

INDUSTRY 06 Dealer Group Review 2011 What does your dealer group do for you? 14 EFTOS Preview Looking ahead to Spicers’ Everything For The Office Show 16 Who’s the BOss? The winners and antics from the 2011 Boss Awards 20 What we learned this month Facts, figures and banter from across the globe 24 How I buy: Law firms Finding new business avenues supplying to law firms

06

People 28 Not Just another dealer We speak to Not Just Stationery’s Maq Kashmiri about being a Jack and master, of all trades

management 34 Just what the doc ordered Branching out into document management software 38 Out of the red Keeping on top of business debts 42 League of his own We check in with IDS League co-winner DG Office Supplies 44 Fresh faces P1 Training’s Gary Naphtali weighs up hiring raw talent

AnD FINALLY... 48 Taking a seat BMA Nomique’s Lee Rowland sits comfortably

38

Turn to the back for this month’s education guide


Industry

Analysis

Dealer Group Review 2011 In testing times, dealers have to depend more and more on the service and support provided by dealer groups. Nina Rosandic surveyed our readership, and spoke to the group heads to find out how they have fared this year and how heavily dealers are leaning on the ‘scaffolding’ the groups provide

06

november 2011 www.dealersupport.co.uk

Flip round to read this year’s results


www.advantia.co.uk

64 Albion Court, Attleborough Road, Nuneaton, Warwickshire CV11 4JJ

Bob Geens, CEO

1989

7 (6)

55 (55)

£2,500

£120m (£120m)

Yes

440

7,294

Website

Full postal address

Best contact

Established

Paid staff

Number of members

Annual cost of membership

Combined members’ total sales

Group catalogue

Number of pages

Number of SKUs

7,500

424

Yes

£600m+ (£600m+)

From £70 per month

285 (290)

34

1997

Aidan McDonough, MD

Integra House, Vaughan Court, Celtic Springs, Newport, South Wales NP10 8BD

www.integra-office. co.uk

Integra Office Solutions

INTEGRA

10,000 (8,500)

404 (372)

Yes

£563m (£285m)

On request

52 full shareholder members, 174 associate members (56, 82)

5 full-time, 2 part time (4 full-time, 3 part-time)

1986

Kath Slattery, business development manager

Derek Bamford, CEO

125b Long Street, Atherstone, Warwickshire CV9 1AB

www.nemogroup.com

N/A

NEMO

*Red figures denote last year’s information if different to the current figures

N/A

Holding company

ADVANTIA

Approx 5,000

416

Yes

£240m (£240m+)

Varies

260

14

1992

Keith Lacey, business development manager

WD25 9PR

Watford

Bucknalls Lane

www.officeclub.co.uk

N/A

OFFICE CLUB

Approx 9,000

356

Several

£350m (£210.5m approx.)

Varies

355 (341)

13

OP – 1994 OS – 1996 SO – 2006

Marketing and merchandising: Steve Robinson

Business development: Kim Gladstone

Northumberland House, Drake Avenue, Staines, Middlesex TW18 2AP

www.xpd.co.uk www.officepoint.co.uk www.officestar.co.uk www.simplyoffice.com

XPD

OFFICEPOINT OFFICE STAR SIMPLYOFFICE

9,000 (FM: 3,600)

400 (FM: 300)

Yes - Standard and additional FM edition

£350m (£335m)

£2,100

178 (172)

11

1994

Steve Harrop, MD

K House, Europa Link, Sheffield Business Park S9 1XU

www.officefriendly. co.uk

N/A

OFFICE FRIENDLY DEALER ASSOCIATION

8,000

420 (368)

Yes

£280m combined (£250m)

From £249 to £1,800

311 (266)

15

1994

Chris Collinson, MD

Unit 3, Rawdon Park, Green Lane, Rawdon, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS19 7BA

www.superstat.co.uk

N/A

SUPERSTAT/ PRAXIS/ OFFICE BIZ

N/A

N/A

N/A – Alternative of comprehensive marketing programme

(Approx £400m)

Approx £700m

£25 or £99 per month (£1,188 - £99 per month)

698 (654)

11 (7)

2008

Derek Jones, MD

Xpdia Building, Cinnamon Park, Fearnhead, Warrington WA2 0XP

www.synaxon.co.uk

Synaxon AG

SYNAXON (UK)

56,000

N/A

Yes – Two online: one for end users and one B2B

£240m (£180m)

£1,680 + vat - £140 per month

55 (49)

7 (6)

1991

Phylip Morgan, MD

31-33 Chapel Hill, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire HD1 3ED

www.nbg.co.uk

N/A

NBG

N/A

N/A

No

£58m (£60m)

Free

132 (127)

N/A

2001

Tom Rodda, sales director

Sawston, Cambridge CB22 3JG

www.spicers.co.uk

Spicers

SYNERGY


Industry

Analysis

T

he last few years have been a rocky road for independent dealers, and many owe the fact that they have come out the other side to the support they have received from their respective dealer groups. Dealer Support surveyed its readers to find out what dealers think of the service they are provided with and the initiatives and schemes the groups are coming up with to help dealers stay ahead in today’s tough market. The driving force behind the first dealer groups, or ‘buying groups’ as they were known, was to band together in order to negotiate better pricing for dealers, to help them compete with the big boys and retain margins they might not be able to find independently. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that of the 99 dealers who responded to our survey, 46% said that pricing was still the most valuable aspect of being part of a dealer group. XPD member Gerard Stafford of UBE says that pricing is key as, “getting new customers is mainly based on pricing”. Networking and promotional tools were regarded most important by eight and seven per cent respectively. However, 30% said that ‘general support’ was key – a catch-all term for all the services and help that groups provide, which is testament to the fact that dealer groups are constantly finding new and innovative ways to help members, both large and small, that can be of major significance to members’ companies. It is the full-package that counts, as Integra member Trish Smith from Southfields Office Supplies says: “[They help in] lots of ways; purchasing; marketing; the catalogues … the number of times Barbara, my BDM, pitches in and helps with exhibitions, blitz days and staff training.” Office Club member Peter Duncan of Wiles Greenworld lists “bespoke catalogue production; promotional material; customer surveys; industry knowledge and advice; networking with like-minded and trusted people,” among the ways the group has impacted his business. Integra member Colin Fox of Norwich Office Supplies says: “Integra also arranged, through retail consultancy The White Rooms, for the revamp of our stationery showroom, which has resulted in a 100% increase in our sales.”

The stats… Most dealers seem content with the service they currently receive: 26% of dealers awarded their dealer group an almighty 10 out of 10, with 22% giving a high-scoring nine, and 19% rating theirs a fair seven, while 11% gave their dealer group just three or less. When asked if they receive good value for money from their dealer group, 73% said yes, while 10% said they believed they could get more for their fees, and 17% remained unsure as to whether they were getting a good deal. A promising 71% would not consider looking to change dealer groups in the near future, however 10% could definitely be swayed and 19% said they might be open to deliberation with a ‘maybe’.

Opening doors When it comes to growing your business, finding key contacts and building relations with key suppliers is vital. Many dealers believe that the relationship they have with their primary wholesaler is imperative, and that

08

november 2011 www.dealersupport.co.uk


WE’RE GOING A GOOD DEAL FURTHER FOR OUR MEMBERS more business support more marketing solutions more IT systems expertise more networking opportunities more training programmes more buying power more power to sell

You really can expect a good deal more than just buying power from an Integra membership With over 20 years of experience helping independent dealers sell effectively, our market knowledge and the strength of our ongoing dealer support is unsurpassed. Did you know that over 90% of our time and resource is spent helping members sell more to their customers? We think it makes sense for you to consider accessing FREE 1-2-1 consultancy and sales support.

Spend just one hour with a member of our business development team, and evaluate what a tailored Integra membership could mean for you.

To book an appointment or to find out more call us on 0117 917 0219 DS11/2011


Industry

AnAlysis

they have their dealer group to thank for that. Adrian Walker of st. Thomas stationers says he chose Office Friendly Dealer Association (OFDA) “because of the strength of the deal with VOW and the focus on returning profits to members”. He goes on to say that “without the support of the group we would be at the mercy of the wholesalers”. Purchasing is the buzz word when it comes to opening doors and this year nemo has focused on joint tendering with group members, allowing them to engage with new suppliers to negotiate exclusive deals for all members due to substantially increased volumes, while Advantia has teamed up with office2office (o2o) to help dealers. “Pricing is the most crucial as it has become the only criteria our customers use when purchasing from us,” says one anonymous Advantia member, who goes on to say: “As you will be aware, the new Truline deal is about to take place and frankly there are exciting times ahead of us and if it all works out we would be silly to leave the group.” in June this year, Advantia and o2o’s ‘Truline’ business announced an exclusive four-year rolling managed procurement contract that will see Truline supply and distribute on behalf of Advantia’s members, direct to their consumers. This will allow members to benefit from Truline’s warehouse capacity, logistics and last mile distribution. The partnership will operate from January 2012, in conjunction with VOW, which will provide support to both parties in the agreement. synaxon’s channel information and purchasing platform, EGis, has been expanded and currently 19 technology distributors deliver price and product availability data into EGis UK. synMarket is a new service to be launched in the UK during 2012. it will give members the opportunity to sell their products to their peers via the EGis platform. in the new year, superstat is due to launch a public sector programme: “so many dealers want to sell to the

10

november 2011 www.dealersupport.co.uk

public sector but don’t have the resource, confidence or knowledge to do this. We are developing a package where we do the work in terms of getting the contract and the business is then put through the dealer,” says marketing director Karley Haley.

A promising 71% would not consider looking to change dealer groups in the near future, however 10% could definitely be swayed and 19% said they might be open to deliberation with a ‘maybe’

Tools to talk to the customer Marketing support has always been somewhat of a raison d’etre for the dealer groups. As integra member Derek Evans comments: “We don’t have time to look at our own marketing and promotions… By taking the deals that they have put together means that we have more time to focus on sales.” superstat believes that marketing is the core to what sets them apart from other dealer groups, the foundation of which is their One2one sales and marketing programme, which addresses the fact that each dealer member has specific needs. seminar sessions take place at superstat offices to give dealers and their key salespeople a chance to get away from the day-to-day running of the business and think strategically. Haley says: “We don’t create marketing material for the sake of it and leave dealers to get on with it… They are all different: we have some dealers wanting to extend their product range into new markets, such as FM or schools; others wanting to move into the public sector market; and some still facing the challenges and opportunities of online ordering.” Also, the group has found that dealers find it hard to hire marketing people to take care of their campaigns, so superstat is doing it for its members. “We have recruited a marketing placement student...who is dedicated to managing dealers’ campaigns on their behalf,” says Haley. Fox says his company profile has been raised due to the promotional support he receives: “inprint has proved to be very successful for us securing new business.” integra will be launching a new version of


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Industry

AnAlysis

this online print and email solution, with a range of new features – such as enabling dealers to create their own htmls from a library of templates from product promotions to newsletters as well as developing its ecommerce solutions with more flexibility for members to create and manage promotions in the coming year.

seems to have made an impression on its dealer partners this year. One nectere partner, when asked how the ‘group’ has impacted his business said: “simple: three years grown every year. year on year, i have grown my business 40%. need i say more? ... i can go on holiday and my company would still run!” Mark Beresford of Office services has been a nectere partner for nine months and says, in that time, the company has grown by 30%, with an increased margin of 34%. The nectere model is different to that of the traditional dealer group set-up, and the company takes an active part in the day-to-day running of its partner businesses, rather than ‘simply providing tools’. Elsewhere, niche dealer groups, such as iT groups synaxon and nBG can offer a specialist approach for traditional OP dealers looking for support in iCT, for example facilitating understanding of managed print services – nBG has had success with its MPs offering in 2011, and will be rolling out a national lead generation campaign for resellers next year.

Getting web-savvy Whether it be building a webstore, knowing the tricks to Facebook and Twitter, or keeping up with what the new generation of tablet users means for your business, many dealers may feel that addressing the online sphere is a near-on impossible task without funding and technical knowledge. Twenty-five per cent of dealers pointed out the importance of dealer group support with ecommerce and web presence. Fox says: “We now have a strong online offering which we would not have achieved without the help of Evolution and integra.” superstat’s ThesupermarketOnline.com end-user website, which is reporting steady growth and record sales in its second year, has led the way in terms of online strategy. supermarket is now on the first page of Google for ‘office supplies’, allowing dealers to compete on a national level with the big online players such as staples, Amazon, Euroffice etc. Orders are taken centrally through an optimised website but delivered to the customer by local participating dealers (known as regional partners). “For a superstat dealer to achieve this in their own right is pretty much unthinkable,” says Haley. Dealer groups are offering members help with webstores, design, e-marketing, social networking and online catalogues, much of which dealers would otherwise find hard to implement without external support. nemo is launching an “exciting” ecommerce development in the new year, and dealer group alternative nectere will be targeting social media marketing for its partners.

Outside of the box Green credentials remain high on the agenda, as OFDA member Adrian Walker says: “The so Go Eco programme in particular [has impacted our business] – achieving our Carbon smart Gold Award has helped us to defend and win new business.” OFDA has 98 members on the low carbon scheme, and has won the sheffield Environment Business of the year Award and BOss Environment Award 2010. Elsewhere, nBG has said that from 2012 it will be making the costs for resellers around the WEEE directive a thing of the past through the delivery of a waste collection scheme for its members. The retail sector has not been forgotten – synaxon will review and deliver a comprehensive retail offering, during 2012, while integra has further developed the retail programme available to its retail members having opened the ‘initiative shop’ this year. The shop has enabled the group to test its own-brand initiative products live in the marketplace and develop seasonal and promotional point of sale material and planning.

Looking to alternatives When it comes to dealer group alternatives, nectere

12

november 2011 www.dealersupport.co.uk

We are family

15% of dealers addressed the name of their dealer group MD or their BDM, which suggests good personal bonds between group’s staff and their dealer members

Around 15% of dealers addressed the name of the group MD, or their business development manager (BDM), in their survey answers, suggesting good personal bonds between dealer group staff and their dealer members. Office Club member John Wynn of Concita said he based his original decision to become a member on the quality of its representative. it is for this reason that some dealer groups do not actively seek to acquire new dealer members, such as Advantia, as a means of keeping control of the level of personal and bespoke service they can provide. Others go so far as to turn them away: nBG stringently vets its vendors – the 55-member-strong iT buying group has declined membership of 168 companies so far in 2011. Having said that, the larger dealer groups, with more members, seem more than aware of the value of keeping close relations with their members, for example integra endeavours to meet with its 260 members as often as possible. “All of integra’s head office staff, as part of their ongoing development, will visit members to get an understanding of their businesses and to get their feedback,” says integra’s sian Haskell. The group places its annual conference, yearly sales conference and regional forums as highly important for maintaining face-to-face relations. in order to instill trust in dealers who are wary of where they spend their money in tough economic times, it seems a trend has emerged whereby dealer groups want to move away from a dealer group-dealer member hierarchy, and align themselves with their dealers with ‘partnership’ models instead. For example, nemo is keen to highlight that it currently runs a cooperative model, whereby every full member, of which there are currently 52, is an equal shareholder director, which they state “ensures absolute transparency”. This extends to the partnerships and comraderie that exists between dealer group members, with seven per cent citing this as the key most important part of being part of a dealer group. The networking support between members acts as an endless resource, and makes it possible to see how each dealer fares against their fellow dealers. DS


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INDUSTRY

FEATURE PREVIEW

Get ready for EFTOS Spicers’ Everything for the Office Show provides an opportunity to catch up with other dealers and investigate the latest and impending trends and innovations in office supplies

What is EFTOS ? The Everything for the Office Show is a free annual event run by Spicers as an opportunity to unite it’s customers, suppliers and service providers. The exhibition takes place 7-8 December at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry.

What’s new? There are more suppliers showcasing their products than ever before, arranged within categorised areas to help dealers navigate their way around the hall. ‘Spicers category specialists’ will be on hand at the start of each section to highlight to visitors the different suppliers, feature areas and relevant promotions.

How many exhibitors? At least 100 exhibitors from a range of products areas, including business machines, furniture, workplace solutions and core stationery.

How many attendees? Two thousand attendees are expected across the two-day event.

What have exhibitors got to look forward to at this show?  New product launches and ‘show-only’ special offers from a selection of suppliers  Pre-bookable keynote presentations from Sir Clive Woodward  Networking opportunities with over 100 of the leading suppliers and industry specialists  Everything for the Office awards celebrating the best innovations in products and services. The winners will be announced at the gala dinner.

WHAT THE EXHIBITORS SAY... “We’re looking forward to meeting the resellers and sharing our knowledge and advice on ways they can work closely with us to tap into the growth sectors of the market. The show is a great opportunity for dealers to refresh and expand their knowledge of the office products available.”

Phil Jones, Brother

“Everything for The Office will see us unveiling a range of new solutions designed to answer genuine consumer demands to make office life easier.“

Gregg Corbett, Avery

“Everything For The Office Show is a fantastic opportunity for Spicers’ suppliers to meet directly with dealers and give them a preview of the new products and promotional support they can expect in 2012.”

Alex Sinclair, Pilot

14

DS

NOVEMBER 2011 www.dealersupport.co.uk


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Industry

report BOSS Awards

BOSS Industry Awards 2011 The annual BOSS Awards gives an opportunity for industry high-rollers to gather for a night of glitz and glamour in celebration of excellence in the office supplies channel. Nina Rosandic went along for the ride

L

ast month, the BOSS Federation played host to the pinnacle event of the office supplies calendar, rewarding industry excellence against a colourful backdrop of circus-themed entertainment. Five hundred guests gathered for the black tie gala dinner and awards ceremony at the Lancaster Hotel, London on Thursday, 20 October. Ticket holders were welcomed by a circus ringmaster and showgirls laden with lollipops into a funfair-inspired room offering a fortune teller, hook the duck, tombola, snow cone stall and dress-up photo booth. As always, charity was top of the agenda, and once seated, the new BOSS/Comic Relief partnership was announced, encouraging the OP industry to come together to support the cause by donating excess stock that would otherwise go to landfill. The campaign will recover and transport any stock sent into Spicers, where BOSS will arrange for DHL to transport the products to Southern Sudan, where they will be used for those children in need. BOSS’s Stanley Vaughan took to the floor to remind the crowd that charity begins at home. “A lot of our colleagues are on hard times; they can’t dance on the floor, they don’t have enough to heat their homes or have enough to eat,“ he said. Guests were given the chance to

16

november 2011 www.dealersupport.co.uk

“We have had a large number of high quality entries for the awards this year reflecting all that is excellent in our industry” Michael Gardner Chief Executive BOSS Federation

make a donation to enter a charity prize draw in aid of the BOSS Benevolent Fund. The circus ringmaster gave a “music maestro please” and the crowd was treated to a three-course meal and impressive entertainment programme, with can-can dancers, burlesque performers, trapeze gymnasts, and a performance from comedian Bobby Davro, who went on to present each of the awards categories to a host of deserving winners. The outstanding achievement award was awarded to former Office Friendly chairman, Graeme Chapman MBE, who has 43 years of experience in the office supplies industry. Once MD of Acco UK and marketing director of Kingfield Heath until 2003, Chapman has raised enormous amounts of money for six charities, including the BOSS Benevolent Fund. He organised the industry’s annual BBC Children in Need event for 18 years, raising over £450,000, and received an MBE for services to charity from her Majesty The Queen in the Millennium honours. The evening was brought to a close with networking, drinks and celebrations into the early hours. Dealer Support would like to offer all the winners a massive congratulations for their accolades and for continuing to keep up standards of excellence, of which the whole industry can be proud. DS


report BOSS Awards

And the winners are... Brand Awareness Award Black n’ Red – Hamelin Brands

Catalogue of the Year Award Banner – office2office

Dealer Excellence Award Up to £5m annual turnover DGOS Over £5m annual turnover WG Office Supplies

Entrepreneur of the Year Award Michael Girton, Global Office Supplies

Environment Award Manufacturers Esselte Individual dealers, dealer groups, resellers and distributors The Commercial Group

Manufacturer Marketing Excellence Award Fellowes

Product of the Year Award Sigel Artverum Magnetic Glass Board

Reseller Marketing Excellence Award Just Office

E-tailer of the Year Award Irongate Group

Young Professional of the Year Award Kyrsten Halley, Hamelin Brands

Outstanding Achievement Graeme Chapman, MBE

www.dealersupport.co.uk november 2011

17


We bring you everything you need to know about making the most of business opportunities within the education market, together with news, views and analysis on how best to approach your new clientele.


INDUSTRY

WHAT WE LEARNED THIS MONTH

WHAT WE LEARNED THIS MONTH A round-up of office supplies tidbits and trivia from the last few weeks STATS AND FACTS

61% Percentage of employees who think their organisation should be doing more to ensure the secure handling of confidential documents relating to them, their colleagues and its customers, according to statistics from National Identity Fraud Prevention Week.

QUOTE UNQUOTE It’s a great industry and one of the UK’s largest but it’s not always seen as ‘sexy’. Technological products and services have an edge there of course and as the general office supplies industry gradually changes into a business services industry, that will help Gary Naphtali, P1 Training (read more on page 44)

DATES FOR THE DIARY Integra National Conference What: The annual conference for Integra members Where: Forest of Arden Hotel, Meriden, Birmingham When: 24 November Info: www.integra-office.co.uk Everything for the Office Show What: Spicer’s free annual office products show Where: Ricoh Arena, Coventry When: 7-8 December Info: www.spicers-eftos.co.uk Paperworld 2011 What: The largest office products exhibition in the world Where: Frankfurt When: 28-31 January Info: http://paperworld.messefrankfurt.com

20

NOVEMBER 2011 www.dealersupport.co.uk

IN THE NEWS

No Pens Wednesday On 28 September, thousands of pupils put down their pens to focus on speaking and listening by taking part in No Pens Day Wednesday – a unique educational event for the Hello campaign.

Nearly 700 schools have signed up to take part in the coming months. This breaks down to nearly 500 primary schools, 100 secondary schools and 50 special schools, as well as a hospital school, pupil referral unit and even a school in Indonesia. In total, 250,000 pupils are set to benefit from a focus on speaking and listening. Teachers and school staff will use lesson plans and activity templates developed by specialist teachers and speech and language therapists to conduct their lessons without pens. Classroom activities include podcasting, maths games, debating, vocabulary games and ‘talk’ homework, all designed to highlight the importance of language for learning to pupils, parents, carers and school staff.

Cheap tablet gets India’s children online A £30 tablet computer built in Britain could be the solution to India’s rural poverty problem. According to a Guardian report,

the Indian government has been introducing this affordable device to India’s schools and universities in a bid to get more of the country’s children online. A London-based company called Datawind won a tender to sell the computer, called Aakash, Hindi for ‘sky’, to India’s government for about £30 a pop – and subsidies from the government will reduce this price to around £20 for students and teachers. The device has a seven-inch screen and runs a version of Google’s Android operating system. Currently, Datawind is able to make 100,000 units a month, though it will have to step up its production output to reach India’s 220 million children. The firm hopes in future to also sell the tablet in shops in the UK. “This is not just for us. This is for all of you who are disempowered,” commented India’s human resources development minister, Kapil Sibal at the time of its launch. “This is for all those who live on the fringes of society.”


case study Dymo

Feeding growth George Rose Office Products has been going for over 35 years, firstly under the name M&H Business Supplies, and then as a branded arm of the main business. Sales director Martin Gander has been with the company for over 16 years and he believes that the most crucial element for any dealer is driving sales on the ground, and the Dymo Connect dealer website has been a great tool to help the company do just that

How has business been for George Rose this last year? It has been tough but we haven’t sat back on our laurels, we’ve gone out there and chased the business. That is the way forward; the more you can get out there to your customers, through sampling, promotions and mailshots, the better – and that’s what we’ve done. That’s why we embrace the companies that want to work with us in the way that Dymo does with its Dymo Connect portal and training programme, and our business with them has gone up accordingly. So, what is Dymo Connect? Basically, Dymo Connect was set up as a marketing and selling tool to help resellers like ourselves to proactively sell the Dymo products. The Dymo team work with dealers who want to work with their company and we took them up on the offer as we have always been very proactive, plus it’s a free service. The programme has everything I need from marketing support and e-learning, to incentives to drive my sales team. From being able to pull marketing material off of the site, to blitz training days, it enables us to be even more proactive and, by working with our contact Suzanne Tiernan, we have managed to increase business. How has it improved business? The biggest difference is that the guys aren’t just taking the VOW product codes from the customer and passing on the order, they can actually sell the product. When you’ve got an incentive scheme running it encourages the sales guys to actively push a particular product, which has increased sales – you get different points on a variety of different products you sell and can redeem them wherever you want to use them. Just recently I’ve saved them up and we’ll stick it all into a bumper incentive before Christmas time. Is it easy to use? It’s all very easy – it’s very similar to Spicers’ Click and Print, and that is ideal. You can upload marketing promotions and

literature and it’s all editable with your own details. There are more and more companies like Dymo suddenly realising the opportunities of working closely with dealers, and making it easy for us to market to our customers. And how about the e-learning tool? There is training information online, which we can refer to, but we prefer the hands-on and personal contact approach. We probably have a blitz day with Suzanne once every quarter, and she brings in the products for the team to sample. The sales guys get to know her quite well and if they have any queries or problems they can contact her and get the information they need.

“The more you can get out there to your customers the better”

Are the sales team selling more Dymo products than before? Lots of customers know of the product, however labellers are not a commodity or core-list product – it’s just a case of knowing how to approach the sale. I sold one to an accountants, and at the time they didn’t think it would be of any benefit, but I had a clear understanding of how he could put it to good use, and now I hear how often he uses it. It’s just a case of speaking to the customer and letting them know what’s out there, and that’s how you make the sales. With Dymo Connect it’s a three-way thing: it offers up opportunities and knowledge for your customers; it helps with the sales guys, as they go out there and push the product; and, in turn, it generates business for you.

www.dymoconnect.com

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Lighter weight, more eco-efficient.

Discovery: another perspective on looking after the environment. We take a low grammage paper made from a high quality, high bulking wood (Eucalyptus Eucalyptus globulus globulus), made in Europe’s most modern equipment, and you get a paper using up to 37% less wood and producing up to 13% less waste. Not to mention jam-free performance. Discovery – the real eco-efficient paper.

New packaging

Satisfaction guaranteed.

Europe’s best selling 75g.m-2 paper

discovery-paper.com Spicers Show 7/8 December (Everything for the Office Show: EFTOS) voucher promotion and free paper for the first 15 visitors to the stand on each show day.


Environment matches performance Discovery paper, the naturally balanced choice.

New packaging

Why should you choose Discovery over a traditional recycled paper? ENVIRONMENT EFFICIENCY

Lose weight: a lower grammage means less water, energy and wood consumption as well as a reduction in waste. Our state of the art production technology and our sustainably managed raw materials and natural resources ensure Discovery office paper is of the highest quality, guaranteeing better results than standard economy 80 g/m2 paper and traditional recycled products.

SUSTAINABLE CERTIFIED PRODUCTION

Recycled fibres cannot be recycled indefinitely and do not represent a valuable sustainable production solution on their own. Our European forests have FSC and PEFC chain of custody guaranteeing the origin of the wood used in production. By using Discovery paper you are supporting sustainable forest management and therefore contributing to the wellbeing of global climate, without compromising quality and performance.

MADE FOR HIGH VOLUME PRINTING AND EXCELLENT PERFORMANCE - NO JAMS

Recycled papers tend to release more dust and therefore increase maintenance costs. Discovery is made from the fibres of the Eucalyptus globulus tree, whose thicker cell wall results in a bulkier sheet, which is the most important attribute to avoid jams. And of course, releases less dust.

HIGH QUALITY

Recycled fibre quality downgrades each time it is recycled. In addition, traditional recycled office papers are off-white and are not the best choice for colour printing. With Discovery paper you can make a positive environmental statement and still obtain a high quality product that matches your office needs. Raise the bar. There’s no need to settle for less. Efficiency pays off and makes a real difference to the environment.

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Europe’s best selling 75g.m-2 paper

discovery-paper.com E-mail: sales-uk@portucelsoporcel.com - Fax: 1 372 729 944 - Phone: 1 372 728 282


Industry

Advice

Legal dealing Legal firms present the possibility to sell an array of tailored high-end products aimed specifically towards the legal office. Jonathan Hills looks at some of the prospects open to dealers

L

aw firms can provide a fantastic base for expansion when trying to specialise your dealership or explore an additional avenue to supplement the product list and clientele of your existing business. Legal businesses generally require more specific, higher-quality products than the standard office and provide the opportunity to sell some niche gadgetry specific to the lawyering profession. The potential to sell more luxury office supplies is more established in legal firms (often used by the solicitors and barristers themselves) which often include monogrammed luxury stationery products as part of their arsenal. These higher-quality products may be less consumable than traditional office products, but still allow for that one-off profitable sale that you will be hard-pushed to find in such bulk within more traditional industries. Furthermore, more modern equipment, especially for such products and software solutions required in fraud prevention, is in prevalent use within law firms, and if it isn’t, it should be. Remember that information given to the law firm falling into the wrong hands is not just a question of financial security; the information accumulated in association with criminal law is a question of safety and protection.

Filing Filing is a large part of dealing to law firms. The huge amount of information required to be kept in physical form on-site means that there is considerable potential to sell filing systems and solutions. Ensure that your client is aware of the security implications of filing and encourage the sale of higher-quality filing solutions with security features.

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Industry

AdvicE

Files held at law firms can often require significant protection against loss or damage, therefore law firms provide a fantastic opportunity to sell fire- and waterproof safes and filing systems. iterate to your client that the possibility of fire and water damage can be just as detrimental to the company as stolen information – furthermore, in the case of law firms, there is the added requirement of keeping information intact until a trial is over, meaning that some data may need to remain protected for several years.

Fraud and security The office supplies requirements of a legal business will also vary form the norm as there remains huge scope to sell fraud protection office supplies such as high-end shredders, safes and anti-fraud software. Higher-spec fraud-prevention equipment should also be presented to your client. The better quality and higher din-level shredders, which other business may have little use for, can be sold to legal firms on the basis of preserving their reputation and the safety of their clients.

Quality and brand The higher quality office supplies will likely consist of personalised notebooks, pens, luxury personal files and other quality stationery accessories. Make sure that you push for the sale of such items (bring samples when liaising with your client) as these are the sort of product that is more likely to be desirable once it’s been shown-off. Similarly this is true for brand marketing, as law firms need to purport to their marketing as much as possible and have sufficient supplementary income to ensure that they do so. Watermarked paper, mouse mats, bespoke envelopes, pencils and pens are commonly brand-

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“Ensuring that information given to the law firm does not escape in to the wrong hands is not just a question of financial safekeeping; the information accumulated in association with criminal law is a question of safety and protection”

marked. However, other paraphernalia such as mugs, files and even umbrellas can be sold on the basis of brand power as firms are more likely to buy such objects for their office if it has their company logo on it.

Gadgets and paraphernalia Lawyers also utilise an array of computerised accessories for their work, such as dictaphones, electronic dictionaries, projectors, conference recorders and a multitude of other hi-tech products when liaising with clients and putting together a case. A selection of software solutions specifically programmed and aimed at lawyers and law firms is available that allow dealers to expand into a very specific field. This is not something in every dealer’s interest, as a great deal of research needs to be conducted before purchasing and trying to sell such products – however, if you already have an established relationship with a legal firm then you can ensure that this diversification is not in vain.

Back to basics don’t forget that in addition to all specialised products, law firms obviously require a great amount of conventional office supplies, as they operate in much the same way as any other business. However, the more traditional or ‘classic’ of products, such as seals, registers, legal corners and document straps are examples of office supplies that have been almost entirely removed from the dealer’s conventional repertoire are still in use and demand from a majority of law firms due to their ability to set them apart. Lawyers require a great deal of assistance (and often law firms are financially competent enough to provide them with it) so even with out specialising, dealers who are on the lookout for a new area to sell to should have legal firms on their list. DS


Do you sell into the Public Sector?

Public sector price support is available now Contact your Brother Authorised Distributor today

01752 330 044 www.jgbm.co.uk

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people

dealer interview Not Just Stationery

Not just another dealer

Following a broadening of its extensive range of products and services, Not Just Stationery is planning a rebrand to ‘Not Just’ in January. Nina Rosandic talks to MD Maq Kashmiri about providing a one-stop-shop solution

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dealer interview Not Just Stationery

M

aq Kashmiri’s career in business supplies began as a natural manifestation of a genuine passion for stationery products. “I love pens, I love paper, I love stationery – my aim is to one day be rich enough to have a little traditional English old pen shop in a little alley-way in London, kind of Harry Potter style, mahogany wood and red carpet, that’s me. And I would allow cigar smoking as well – it would be fabulous.” Love at first sight Kashmiri dedicates this deep-rooted passion to two separate events that took place when he was just 15 years old. The lightening-bolt moment came after falling in love with a technical pen set in a stationery shop. “It was a Faber Castell pen set and I’ll always remember this: it had a 3, a 0.8 and a 0.5 nib set, with a pencil, eraser and a ruler. As you opened it, the tray slid up to showcase the different parts. I was in awe. The shop was like Aladdin’s cave and it was a piece of gold that shone more than anything else and I couldn’t put it down. I was thinking: ‘Oh my god, £35, what will I have to do to get that?’” The owner of the shop saw the look on Kashmiri’s face and offered to give it to him for free in return for organising his warehouse. Two days later, and 750 square feet of warehouse space gutted and re-set, Kashmiri was the proud owner not only of his beloved pen set, but also a new job. He went on to work for the dealer for nine years. “I ended up doing operations, I would go into new branches and set them all up and then he’d get a manager in and have them up and running,” he says. “I also did a lot of merchandising, which I loved.” About one month prior to the pen set incident, a school friend had stabbed a Pilot v5 hi-tec into his left hand as part of a ‘game’, erupting a vein and tattooing Kashmiri with a blue ink mark he bares on the back of his hand to this day. Coincidence? Perhaps, but Kashmiri attributes his passion partly to having the ink in his blood.

CV Turnover: £750k Gross margin: 35% Number of staff: 5 VANS: 1 dealer group: Superstat BACK OFFICE: Prima

Storming sales Kashmiri jumped from the world of an independent retailer to boasting record sales figures in the corporate world with an appointment at Office Depot. In his two years there, Kashmiri was ranked number two salesman in a sales force of 1,000. Following this recognition, it was clear Kashmiri had a talent for generating business in the industry, but Office Depot did not appear to offer any foreseeable career development. “I needed more, and they couldn’t offer it. So I looked to other avenues.” From right back when he first started working at the original stationery group, Kashmiri flagged up to his then boss that there was a range of ways in which they could expand their offering and their business. “He didn’t want to listen. I had the name ‘Not Just Stationery’ in my head from back then, but when I worked for Office Depot, it really compounded it – they were happy to supply a client a Pilot pen but they weren’t happy to sell another brand if it wasn’t in the catalogue. The special order procedure was so lengthy it wasn’t worth it. It would take two weeks.

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people

dealer interview Not Just Stationery

You’re balancing plates now and if one goes, they all go. As they say, buy cheap, buy twice!

My customers would source some products from me, and some elsewhere, and I thought: ‘That’s wrong, I’m not getting everything they’re ordering and I should be.’” Next chapter He decided to go it alone, and Not Just Stationery was born on (Independence Day) 4 July 2002. “I knew the suppliers; I knew the trade; I had a good idea of how it worked, I knew I was good at sales, so I felt confident I would be alright.” However, even experienced people make faux-pas – Kashmiri laughs as he recalls his first move: “I thought Jiffy bags were ‘the thing’ at that time, and packed the whole warehouse with them. What an idiot! It took me two years to sell them!” But Kashmiri lists learning on the job as part of the deal: “You have to learn and you have to learn fast – listen to advice from other people, and question that advice, because if you don’t, you’re not learning, and if you’re not learning you’re not progressing, and if you’re not progressing you’re not developing, and if you’re not developing you’re standing still, and if you’re standing still you’ll drown.” The intention was always to go that bit further and offer a one-stop-shop solution for clients. Today the company lists floristry, branded promotional gifts, event management, facilities management, IT support, concierge services, call answering and catering supplies among its catalogue of services. With such a diverse offering, and a five-man team, it would be unrealistic to manage all those services inhouse. Kashmiri insists that the only way this type of model can work is if you can be assured of streamlined processes and quality guarantees from your affiliate companies, which comes from thorough and responsible outsourcing: “It’s nice to say, ‘I can get you a special order in three days’, but how realistic is that? We’ve kept that in mind with every single decision-making process, as the quality of customer service is the bottom line.” Kashmiri has found that going out on a limb, and launching into new territories has enabled Not Just Stationery to retain customers and increase their average spend. “You have to listen to your customers. You have to offer not just what’s in the Spicers catalogue, and ask:‘What else do you order?’ You need to find out from your customers: of the product areas they get off you, what products do

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they not get off you? For example, we had a corporate customer; before we got their catering account, they would buy some tea and coffee from us now and again, which accounted for about five per cent of their spend. I asked them if I could quote against their existing catering supplier. We quoted them cheap enough set of prices, took control of their catering supplies and subsequently it has become 70% of their spend with us. It’s amazing.” Quality is key Kashmiri insists that quality must take precedence over margins when outsourcing efficiently. For example, a client of his requires a large order of cakes and pies at Christmas every year. “We’re not going to cook 200 pies, we’re not bakers, that’s not our expertise. However our expertise is delivering a quality product, and monitoring the quality of that product all the way to the end-user. We trial the suppliers for a period of time, and we’ll run a few suppliers side by side to see how they fare, with a back-up source as well. We look at their flexibility, pricing structure, how they fare in the market, etc. All that’s really important. You’ve got to have good sourcing procedures and good quality control management,” he says. Many companies that outsource flower delivery services go to Interflora, whereas Kashmiri uses a trade distributor to ensure quality is kept to a premium. “Most use Interflora because they get bigger margins,” he explains. “The local florist is given the catalogue picture and tries to match it. They don’t necessarily have those exact flowers, or they may have a few that are dying, and you’ll never know, because you’re not the end-user. You have no say about quality control whatsoever, all for an extra 10%. That’s bad decision-making. Our guys buy the flowers at auction, specific to the sales catalogues. We know they’re getting the right flowers, they’re kept in a fridge and don’t see daylight till they go out. And that’s backed up with a service guarantee that ensures that if anything is wrong they will be redelivered that same day or next day. Yes, we miss out on the extra margin, but we have a quality guarantee – and that’s how you outsource responsibly.” He continues: “There is no point looking for high margins as when you are supplying so many services, you have a bigger responsibility to make sure you


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advertOrial

TEA FOR TWO North West Teas has launched NWT Direct, an online service for small orders and third party delivery. Dealer Support speaks to business development director Ryan Torrible to find out more

Q. What is NWT Direct? A. NWT Direct is an extension of our extremely successful website online ordering system. Q. How does it differ to the standard website? A. It’s targeted at smaller, stockless dealers or those bigger dealers that want third party delivery. This gives a dealer the ability to order one bag of tea and have it delivered direct, or to a third party, anywhere in the UK. Q. Was that not possible through the standard website service? A. NWT has traditionally targeted the larger companies who stock lines and have the ability to hold these lines until they are ordered. Our minimum order on the main system is targeted at full packs or pallets. Through NWT Direct, much smaller orders can be made. Q. But there will be an extra cost for this? A. Obviously for the extra work involved in both warehouse and admin there will be an extra charge, but the cost will be significantly lower than our competitors as an overall package and with no hidden percentages. Q. How will the third party delivery work? A. We will not be adding an extra charge for third party delivery, in fact there will be no charge for any deliveries with over seven single items. So, ideally a customer of NWT Direct can simply total up the daily sales in the FM sector, order through our system, and have free next day delivery. If they want it delivered to a customer then they simply fill in the details as they order, and if it’s a regular customer these details are saved. All orders are dispatched on a next day service with UPS. Q. Are all of NWT 500+ SKU’s now available in single units ? A. 95% are now available in singles; obviously there are some we couldn’t make cost effective such as one kilo of sugar! But we have tried our best to work costs with overheads to make this as easy and cost effective for both NWT Direct and our customers.

Q. When does NWT Direct launch? A. We are up and running as of 1 November; just in time for the Christmas rush. Any customer who has an account with NWT can use both systems with the same logon details. We are also offering a free pack of biscuits with all NWT Direct orders until the end of the year, whether direct to a dealer or third party. Q. What about dealers who don’t have a standard NWT account, can they still access the system? A. The service is for anyone who wishes to use it. If you’re quite happy to stock or meet minimum orders, then stay in the standard system. If you want smaller orders or third party use, use NWT Direct. Dealers can use both. If you have accounts with us now, your details will already be loaded into the new online system for ease of use. We have decided that as this is potentially third party delivery, we will only take orders for NWT Direct through the online system – this ensures the correct details are input by the dealer and not left to chance on a telephone call with one of our sales operators. Q. How do I access the NWT Direct system? A. Simple, go to our standard website (www. northwestteas.co.uk) and a red tab is available on the top bar – clicking this will let you access the NWT Direct system. Simply put in your registered email address and password as you would on the main system, then proceed on to the single unit ordering system. Our IT team will be happy to talk through any difficulties you may have.

www.northwestteas.co.uk


Fieldmaster Ltd is powered by...

dealer interview Not Just Stationery

03_CompanyName_Head

dealer bookmark

Yes, we miss out on the extra margin, but we have a quality guarantee – and that’s how you outsource responsibly John O’Gorman Managing Director Fieldmaster Ltd

Speciality:

deliver on all of them – one bad order means losing the client. You’ve got to maintain the customer service levels you offer currently – if not, don’t do it. You’re balancing plates now and if one goes, they all go. As they say: buy cheap, buy twice!” Not Just Stationery’s range of offerings naturally creates a varied customer base. “We deal with everyone and anyone. If it’s a school or charity, we have special pricing profiles for them. We have a range of small, medium and large businesses that we deal with from retail to the NHS and schools,” says Kashmiri. “We have one van at the moment and a set of couriers that we use. But next year, we’re getting another van as it’s all happening now.” As a proud member of Superstat, the company majors with Spicers. “I think that Alan Ball is going to revolutionise Spicers,” says Kashmiri. “They’re going through change at the moment, but the outcome will be revolutionary – well hopefully, if not we’re all damned!” Promoting the brand Last month, Not Just Stationery exhibited at Office, the show for office managers and executives at London’s Earls Court. This marked the company’s first ever experience in terms of advertising or marketing. “We’ve grown organically and through word-of-mouth. We have never placed advertising anywhere. We don’t cold-call either, other than when I first started.” The show proved a great success and generated a number of leads for the business. As for targeting existing customers, Kashmiri

started running email shots in the spring. “People are buying diaries at the moment – people never buy diaries in October, only November and December – it’s unequivocally as a result of our emails,” he says. “You can see from the statistics that people have clicked through the day the email has gone out. Seasonal promotions work.” Along with email shots, the company is due to revamp the site for January, complete with a rebrand. “We’ve expanded so much, that we’re not really considered a ‘stationery’ company anymore,” says Kashmiri, who has just bought the domain ‘Not Just’ and is planning to use that as a catch-all brand for the ever-growing range of divisions. Wise words Although Kashmiri is always looking to expand the business, with another 10 ideas in his head to bring to market, stationery still constitutes the largest percentage of his business. For those dealers looking into expanding their offering, he warns not to get too over-excited and forget about the foundation of the company. ”We got heavily involved in our event management area a while ago and I found it’s very important not to take your eye off the ball when it comes to your bread and butter. I think some people get fed up of stationery. That’s what brings you the money and allows you to breathe – don’t resent it.” He continues: “And while I’m offering advice to dealers, someone once said to me: ‘Always buy the freehold,’ and another thing I would say is: ‘Listen to your wife!’” DS

We continually invest in well trained and motivated staff, to provide our customers with innovative products, a service which will satisfy all their office products service requirements, delivered and supported with efficiency, courtesy and the highest quality customer service.

CV:

My office product career started in Waterford back in 1976. With a short break to qualify as an accountant, I have led our team to become the No. 1 office product dealer in the South East of Ireland.

Winning moment:

Breaking into the office furniture market and winning some substantial orders.

Catchphrase:

‘Our field may be stationery but we are always on the move’

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www.eci.eu


management

GROW YOUR BUSINESS

Just what the doc ordered There is still a huge amount of potential in document management solutions for dealers to explore. Matt Jane looks at some of the latest innovations and why companies would want to invest in this area

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GROW YOUR BUSINESS

A

s companies seek to improve their processes in a range of different areas, one option that continues to be popular is document management systems. There are a wide range of associated benefits involved with having improved document management processes, such as reducing environmental impacts and improving workplace efficiencies. Also, companies are realising the improved security that is associated with having electronic document management, all of which can be key selling points for dealers looking to promote equipment in this area. According to Sabine Holocher from Fujitsu, businesses could gather a whole range of efficiencies by automating and streamlining through using scanners to digitise documents. “Too much time is squandered in companies on filing paper documents and looking for them,” she explains. “The earlier and the more seamlessly paper-based information is integrated into the digital process chain, the greater the potential for creating business value.”

A number of businesses see a return of their investment within just six months by implementing document management software, directly impacting their bottom lines One advantage of investing in electronic document management is the cost savings, especially during these frugal times. Julian Buck from Version One suggests this is one of the key benefits. “By moving from paper-heavy manual processes to automated processes, organisations cut their stationery, postage, photocopying and third party archiving costs,” he says. “A number of businesses see a return of their investment within just six months by implementing document management software, directly impacting their bottom lines.” There are also the improved efficiencies that can be enjoyed through electronically managing documents, by removing the need to manually file records. “By automating the capture of purchase invoice data from images invoices, for example, organisations can cut manual data entry by up to 80%,” says Buck. “Physical document storage space can also be freed-up using document management systems as there is no longer a need for costly off-site storage facilities and rooms full of filing cabinets.” By freeing up space that was previously used by physical documents, businesses can better utilise areas that were previously wasted. While it may not be on the top of every company’s priority at present, there are considerable environmental benefits to be gleaned from electronic document

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management

GROW YOUR BUSINESS

management. “The environmental benefits of document management software should not be ignored,” explains Buck. “Document management supports organisations’ green agendas by enabling reduced paper use and carbon emissions.” In terms of establishing an effective document management process, Holocher suggests the logical first step is ‘scan-to-process’. “Costs for manual data processing will go down, processes will become leaner, business professionals will have better access to the corporate knowledge base, and interdepartmental or intercompany collaboration will improve,” she explains. “Scan-toprocess will pay whenever different users regularly receive information on paper that one or more persons have to process at different locations. To leverage that great potential or efficiency, more and more organisations are opting to feed paper-based information into the digital process chain.” She adds that in turn this brings down costs of copying and generally limits the use of paper. PROMOTING THE SOLUTION

Market studies have shown that only around 10% of companies currently use document management systems and document scanners in a comprehensive way, which spans over departments and sites. Holocher says this in itself presents dealers with an enormous “untapped” market of opportunity, especially given the continuing innovations in the scanning market that have seen a shift from their use at the end of the work chain to earlier integration in business processes. “Formerly, scanners were used mainly for archiving, so at the end of a workflow,” she explains. “Today, scanning comes at the beginning of a business process, marking the entrance into document management [DM] and enterprise content management [ECM], with DM and ECM being a seamless sequel to the scanning process. Electronic representation is now quickly becoming the preferred way to handle paper documents.” Buck believes that, at a time when companies are having to scrutinise every cost, document management is the perfect solution. “IT solutions that can provide a fast return on investment, such as document management, are proving the most popular organisational investments,” he says. “It is therefore an ideal time for dealers to look into reselling document management.” Stefan Schnidler, director of document software solutions provider Docuware, adds it is most important to “figure out a time and cost saving workflow that will be beneficial to all. In the end the ‘how much’ and the ‘when’ of an ROI is what is convincing.” MAXIMISING THE POTENTIAL

Dealers could benefit from a huge range of additional benefits of document management solutions, provided they approach the sale correctly. Buck suggests dealers work closely with the document management vendor. “The vendor should be providing the dealer with ongoing sales, marketing, technical and services support,” he says. “The dealer also needs to ensure that the communication channels with the vendor are kept open so that document management opportunities are maximised.” Furthermore, selling scanners could potentially open the door to other opportunities, as long as dealers ask the right questions. Holocher suggests asking about what clients will do with documents once they are digitised and in what part of the company these solutions will be employed. “Because scanners are the interface between the physical and the virtual worlds, there is plenty of room to talk about document management systems and enterprise

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IT solutions that can provide a fast return on investment, such as document management, are proving the most popular organisational investments

content management further down the document value chain,” she explains. “The beauty about using the document scanner as a door opener is that it represents the only physical touch point of the digital ECM. IT presents an opportunity for the user to literally comprehend the DM system.” Schindler points out that with some DM systems (DMSs), by building relationships with the customer, the dealer can gain ongoing income with updates and add-ons to the software. “Just the DMS licenses updates alone result in sales for the dealer. That is best done by regular seminars, news publications to users and administrators informing them on new features and new versions that can increase their workflow speed even more. Also, continuous support keeps rapport and a genuine caring approach with expert knowledge on DMS will have customers calling the dealer first. Then there are software updates as well. Docuware, for example, offers very regular updates and new software versions with hundreds of new features and time-saving features that automatically attract demand.” It is important that dealers carefully consider their pitch when promoting these technologies to clients. “Dealers need to ensure that they pitch the right document management systems according to the customers’ needs,” says Buck. “There are many different document management systems on the market with different levels of functionality. The most basic systems are standalone and deliver simple functionality, such as the electronic storage of documents. The more advanced systems are integrated into organisations’ corporate software systems, such as accounting and/or human resource systems and provide comprehensive document management functionality from the electronic delivery and storage of documents through to the automated capture of invoice data.” He adds that the more sophisticated solutions provide far greater cost and efficiency benefits in the long term, emphasising the importance of knowing the clients’ needs from the outset. Docuware’s Schindler insists: “When pitching a proposal, one needs to figure out what the management really needs by asking the right questions and speaking to the individuals in different departments, before making a presentation.” In order for any document management solution to work effectively, it is essential that dealers involve all relevant stakeholders from the start. This will ensure a better understanding of the level of solution required and also give the customer an opportunity to discuss any concerns or questions they may have. Holocher also suggests that dealers should note the different needs and agendas and be willing and able to give a range of options, and to convey a cost for each option. “Review the goals of the content management software deployment,” she says. “What information is extracted from the document? Is custody and security an issue? What is the cost of failure?” These are all key questions that dealers should take into account in order for the implication and acceptance of a document management solution to be successful with clients. If dealers can comprehensively convey the benefits and produce an effective bespoke solution to the clients’ needs, then document management solutions could prove a beneficial investment for customers and, more importantly, a profitable sales area for dealers. DS


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management

ACCOUNTS

Out of the red Keeping on top of debts is critical for any small business. John Davies sets out key advice on chasing up bad debts

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ashflow has traditionally been an issue for many businesses and the recession has only intensified the problem. The Federation of Small businesses surveyed its members in January 2010 and found that 41% of them dipped into personal savings, 43% used overdrafts and 21% used their credit card to stave off the recession. Although there are signs of recovery, this is juxtaposed with a barrage of news reports suggesting a double dip is on the cards – either way, access to finance remains a challenge for business. So if external finance is to remain in such short and expensive supply, businesses will need to be extra careful in their management of working capital and all reasonable care needs to be taken in the management of trade credit.

mINImISINg The RISk

The overall purpose of sound credit management practice is to minimise the risk of a business being landed with bad debts. businesses must ensure that, wherever credit is extended to customers, the amount of the credit offered, and the terms on which it is given, are appropriate, given what is known about the customer’s ability to pay. At the outset, any business, regardless of size, should consider taking these elementary steps to protect itself against the risk of bad or late debts (bearing in mind that it invariably costs less to preempt them than to try to recover them by legal means): ■ Consider what methods of payment you are happy to accept from customers. Retail businesses, more than other types of business, need to be flexible on this point, but credit and debit card systems offer protection to the seller which is not affected by subsequent changes in the customer’s circumstances.

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management

ACCOUNTS

■ For non-retail transactions, consider whether you should identify a monetary threshold beyond which you will make the extension of credit conditional on a new job passing a credit reference check. ■ Decide in advance what your firm’s policy is to be with regard to late payment of amounts owed to you. Many firms incorporate interest clauses in their payment terms that provide for interest to be charged on debts paid late. Regardless of whether you do this, any business that is paid ‘late’ (which means beyond the contractual payment period) is entitled to charge statutory interest (eight per cent above the prevailing base rate) on top of the amount owed. ■ Ensure that you send out any invoices promptly, with the name and address of your business clearly and accurately stated along with your payment terms. If you intend to take advantage of your statutory entitlement to charge interest on late debts, you do not need to formally announce this, although doing so may act as an additional incentive to the customer to pay promptly. ■ Keep an eye on your outstanding invoices and chase debtors up if your payment fails to turn up when it should. Resources permitting, it makes sense for a business to liaise with its debtors prior to the payment date and not just after. Collecting your debts

If despite your efforts you still have not been paid, what are your options? ■ You could ask your solicitor to send a letter to the debtor, stating or implying the consequences of a continuing failure to pay. A well-worded letter will often produce the intended outcome. ■ You could sell your invoices to a factoring company or approach a debt recovery firm to chase the debt for you. This will relieve you of the debt and save the embarrassment of direct confrontation, but you will have to pay a fee for the privilege. A list of recovery agencies can be found on the website of the Credit Services Association at www.csa-uk.com. ■ You can take action to recover your debt through the courts. For debts of value up to £15,000, you will go

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through the county court. The court will allocate your claim to one of three streams, according to the value of the debt – claims of up to £5,000 will go through the small claims process, popularly known as the ‘small claims court’. Should you win your case in the small claims court, you may be allowed to claim costs, including legal costs, against the other side. Claims can be filed in person at your local county court or alternatively can be made out online via www.moneyclaim.gov.uk.

Resources permitting, it makes sense for a business to liaise with debtors prior to the payment date and not just after

■ If all else fails, then, depending on the size of the debt owed, an unsatisfied creditor can initiate action to make the debtor insolvent. Where the outstanding amount is at least £750, an unpaid creditor can serve on the debtor a statutory demand for payment – if the demand is not paid within three weeks, you are entitled to present a petition for the debtor to be made bankrupt (in the case of an individual) or to be wound up (in the case of a company). This route is not dependent on the exhaustion of other recovery options and very often, the presentation of a statutory demand concentrates minds and causes the debtor company to pay up. Stuck in the middle?

Managing cash flow will always involve juggling receipts and payments, and businesses will very often be debtor and creditor at the same time. Firms can find themselves in a difficult situation like this through no fault of their own – very often, smaller firms in particular are kept waiting for payment by a major debtor and as a direct consequence of that can struggle to pay their own creditors. Where you are debtor and creditor to the same party at the same time, then you can negotiate the set-off of one of the outstanding amounts against the other. Otherwise, the fact that you are awaiting payment yourself does not affect your liability to your own creditors and they will be entitled to exert pressure on you to pay up and, if necessary, resort to recovery procedures. This situation requires careful management, especially if the creditor is a person or business whose custom you value and with whom you wish to continue doing business. Cash-flow problems are an on-going challenge for businesses. As with anything, it is easier to prevent problems than resolve them, so it would be prudent for any firm to discuss the adequacy of their credit and debt management practices with their accountants. DS


management

ids league

Head Boy With a successful rebrand and grand plans for multi-city expansion, Nina Rosandic talks to the second of our IDS League co-winners, Darren Carr of DG Office Supplies

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his year, it seems fair to say that DG Office Supplies’ Darren Carr is the man to beat, with the 2011 IDS League and BOSS Dealer Excellence Award (up to £5m) wins and Trafford Entrepeneur of the Year all under his belt in the last 18 months. No stranger to accolades, Carr began in the business when he was 18 and later started up his own business supplies company. In the first month the company invoiced out £748, a number etched on Carr’s mind. Fast-forward another 11 years and last month DG invoiced just shy of £348,000. With an impressive growth rate of 37% between 2009 and 2010, the company is set to turnover £3.8m this year.

No ‘I’ in team Carr dedicates the success of his business to old-fashioned hard work, and the strength of his team: “Everyone knows their position and it just works.” It was this devotion to his dedicated team that contributed to the relocation of the company to a new swanky waterfront location in Salford Quays last year. Carr explains: “A lot of it was to do with staff morale. I’ve got a great team, they’ve been with me a long time and in our old base at Altrincham, it was a bit depressing and there was nothing in a mile

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It’s a kind of franchise model I’m looking into, built up around the DG brand

radius. I wanted to give my staff a lot more; my company’s only as good as the staff that are out there on the ground everyday.” The warehouse and office sits alongside the new BBC and Granada studios, just 200 yards from the magnificent Lowry outlet centre, with a garden area and waterside views that overlook the Manchester city skyline. “There are plenty of break-out areas,” he says of the new office. “Part of the plan to move here was to give the staff plenty of outlets to channel the build-up they need to expel when bonding with clients and they’ve really responded well.” Having been rejected by VOW back when he started the business, Carr channels in excess of £1.5m a year in wholesaler spend with Spicers. Former Spicers executive Paul Chappell gave Carr a £1,000 credit limit and 20 plain catalogues. “He gave me one bit of advice: always pay your bills and keep your nose clean. “I have a strong allegiance with Spicers, they’ve been superb – a source of support and advice, from the people on the ground to some of the senior and financial directors that I’ve grown relationships with. They’ve helped me sustain my business through some rocky periods to be where we are now.”


ids league

Location, Location

Artificial intelligence

Carr’s success is also down to a diligent approach to market research, and DG has invested heavily in commissioned surveys of local business spending habits and what companies look for in a supplier. “We ran a survey in Altrincham and found out that there is £4.5m of office supplies business coming out of the area, and we looked after about a third of it [£1.4m]. We were able to market very successfully to a small market area, and we found that familiarity and location were key.” Carr wanted to expand his sales by appealing to the city centre of Manchester. “There’s about £60m worth of SME business coming out of the city centre – if we tie in Salford Quays and Trafford Park, it’s about £100m a year coming out of Manchester. We thought that if we could align ourselves nearer to that marketplace, and do a similar thing that we did in Altrincham, which was local people serving local people, rather than a third of £4.5m, we could aim for a third of £100m.” As part of his marketing plan, Carr commissioned an independent survey of businesses in Manchester last year, and found that the 500 companies surveyed in a two-mile radius of the city centre, bought office supplies from 91 different resellers, “which meant that not one company was doing it properly,” says Carr. The company has since undergone an £80,000 rebrand to address the need for a ‘local’ and ‘friendly’ supplier, which went live in January. The company has pushed out the local brand with vans and literature featuring the new ‘DG bods’ and iconic Manchester landmarks [shown top-left], and “attacked” the area with external and internal sales, mailshots and emails. Prior to the move, the company had about £25,000 worth of business from the city centre. In just 12 months, the company has acquired £1.2m from the area. The wider plan is to roll out the same model in other city centres, with Leeds next on the hitlist. “It’s a kind of franchise model I’m looking into, built up around the DG brand. The head office will take care of mailouts, systems, accounting, with sales and delivery ports in each of the designated areas. Spicers plans to bring out little satellite ports and we can then piggy-back on the back of those, with same-day deliveries on the top-selling 7,000 SKUs in the city centres, but under our brand.” According to Carr’s research, there is no natural big competitor hitting Leeds at the moment. “In Liverpool you’ve got Penkeths, Heatons, and Jenkinsons, so it’s best to go somewhere where we know we’ve got free run,” says Carr, as he enters negotiations with acquisitions in the Leeds area. “It’s important we have Leeds people dealing with Leeds, the same as we have here: Manchester people dealing with Manchester people.”

All in all, DG has acquired 824 new accounts in the last 12 months. However, a giant leap in customer retention rate has added to the predicted £3.8m turnover for 2011, partly owing to £100,000 invested into software development, tools and mechanisms. Carr has used his customer research to design bespoke software to address holes in the Vision and Sales-i packages. “It allows us to predict when an account is likely to leave us, with a traffic light system,” he says. “All of our external sales guys have iPad 2s, with a twice-daily alert telling them which customers they should be addressing.” Since the software went live in June, DG has had a 15% rise in client spend, and reached a 50% retention rate of new business. Last year, the company let go of 20% of its staff, as the team went from 24 to 18. “We had to get rid of the people who were lethargic, who weren’t willing to go forward with the company, in order to create a tight squad,” says Carr. However, with the sky seemingly the limit, he is on the lookout for four new sales staff, which should be easy: “Now we’ve built the brand awareness, in such a sought-after spot, not a week goes past where I don’t get approached by a recruitment rep.” For 2012, along with the expansion of the business, DG looks to ramp up the brand awareness with radio, billboard and bus adverts to get the company on the road to £7m by the end of next year. DS

We were able to market very successfully to a small market area, and we found that familiarity and location were key

Out with the old The new DGOS HQ: Below: Darren Carr

www.dealersupport.co.uk NOVEMBER 2011

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management

AnAlysis

Fresh faces Last month, Spicers went into partnership with P1 Training to launch the New Talent Academy, to assist dealers in recruiting new talent. With employee budgets tight and some dealers fearing the cons of taking on ‘raw’ talent, Nina Rosandic speaks to P1’s Gary Naphtali about the importance of nurturing new staff making their debut in OP sales

Does taking on an apprentice, or starting up an apprentice scheme mean a lot of work for an employee? We have been in the planning for the new Talent Academy for over two years and our research tells us that there is a definite appetite for taking on an apprentice or trainee. The cost of doing so is not actually the biggest hurdle, but actually the time and resources needed to get the trainee up to speed. This is not restricted to smaller companies either as larger businesses, despite having more in-house resources and support, are also running a much tighter ship since the recession, meaning there is simply not enough spare time to give for trainee development. Very large employers have the ability to create their own in-house development programs of course but you are talking only a small number of organisations right now. How about taking on graduates? With such a wide pool to choose from, is it a case of sorting the wheat from the chaff? Graduates definitely are a healthy source of talent however our clients are telling us this is not a prerequisite especially for sales roles; an appetite and desire for success with a reasonable level of education and an engaging and positive personality is needed and that opens the talent pool even wider.

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What the ‘new’ talent should have is a drive, desire and hunger to be successful. That can compete with most things


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management

Analysis

I was with the market-leading copier/MPS manufacturer this week and they would tell you some of their most successful and highly paid sales people are not graduates. The sourcing process is actually a tough one; we typically sift 100-plus cvs for one good candidate. Job boards and job websites have made it much easier for potential employees to apply for multiple jobs at once and there is definitely a ‘let’s throw enough mud at the wall and see if it sticks’ attitude from many applicants. The other thing that is very important is speed of reaction by the employer; if you find a good candidate then the employer has to be as reactive and flexible as possible as the good ones are being snapped up pretty quickly right now. In certain parts of the country, even though we have high unemployment right now, we often have five ‘good’ vacancies per ‘good’ candidate. The candidate though is drawn to an employer that can demonstrate a good training and development programme, so if you can show them that it will position you positively. Is there a danger that in the current climate, graduates desperate for jobs are finding themselves in markets they’re not entirely passionate about? Yes, for sure. I’ve met lots of great people over the years, but many of them, even the most successful ones, stumble into the industry rather than choose it. We’ve got to work hard at changing that and I do think the image of the industry is changing for the better. I always start my ‘Welcome to The Office Products Industry’ course by congratulating people on choosing such a great industry and then explain why it is and why they are fortunate to have become part of it. It’s a great industry and one of the UK’s largest, but it is not always seen as ‘sexy’. Technological products and services have an edge there, of course, and as the general office supplies industry gradually changes into a business services industry, that will help. In the meantime we still have to ‘sell’ our industry to potential candidates. From an employer’s perspective we can help address this through the New Talent Academy. The selection process includes an evaluation and assessment centre and a two-stage interview process so we are comfortable we can identify the ‘I’ll take anything’ if it exists. I also truly believe that the office and business supplies market is a market people should and do get passionate about and if you can demonstrate that as an employer then you will attract the right people. Marrying the right employer with the right employee is multifaceted, however it is important that the employee has to feel they are going to be part of a progressive environment.

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Should dealers looking to get sales and logistics staff consider the relevance of the graduate’s degree subject? Definitely. Of course depending on the role, but any sales trainee with a business-related qualification would have an advantage, for example.

The candidate is drawn to an employer that can demonstrate a good training and development programme so if you can show them that, it will position you positively

How can young ‘new’ talent compete with experienced staff who know the ins and outs of the industry? What the ‘new’ talent should have is a drive, desire and hunger to be successful. That can compete with most things. As for knowing the ‘ins and outs’ of the industry, that will only come with time and experience and their manager should make particular effort in managing realistic expectations and targets to avoid demotivation. Those new to the industry bring fresh eyes and can be quick to see the bigger picture, plus the younger generation offer a wealth of online and technology skills that may not be in your current staff skill set. For the last year I’ve been coaching a young trainee who has gone from raw talent to being comfortable and capable in presenting and negotiating to FDs and MDs of large corporate businesses. That has involved a fair amount of hand-holding and management from his business, not just me, but he now regularly pitches to people spending over £100k a year and is very good at it too. For the first six months he went through an incredible learning curve but all ‘basic’ stuff: systems; processes, products; services; proposition; work rates; cold-calling; rejection; you name it. The second six months was focused on rounding off general commercial skills. He will never stop learning, of course, as the market changes all the time, but his growing understanding of how now to identify, create and deliver a commercial solution for his and his clients’ businesses has been a joy to see. The best solution, and one we advocate, is to provide a buddy system for trainees with somebody already in the business who is experienced. Combine that with relevant skills training and positive ‘hands on’ management then the trainee will progress much quicker. What are the pros of taking on raw young talent? You can mould them into what you need them to be, to be suitable to your business culture and dynamic. It’s very much a blank canvas. The start-up costs are normally lower too and you will get a great deal of satisfaction in helping create a successful employee. You have to have access to a skills development programme though, internally or externally, or you will increase the risk of high staff churn rates. DS


FINAL wORD

Taking a seat Discomfort from the neck down to the legs can be triggered by ergonomically-poor seating and related absenteeism can have a severe impact on businesses

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Lee Rowland, business development manager, BMA Nomique

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he modern office is a dynamic environment. Technological advances have dramatically redefined the landscape of contemporary workspaces, fuelling the evolution of an increasingly prevalent mobile working culture. However, the office still remains a pivotal fixture to consolidate corporate communication. With a defined pressure to maximise the way in which space is used, it is imperative that the workplace is both agile and functional. The application of good ergonomic practice in office design is an element that should not be overlooked, and one that directly contributes to workplace functionality and employee productivity. Any object, system or environment designed for use by the human form should always incorporate rational, well thought-out ergonomic principles. As the most important factor in any business, its people should be empowered to conduct day-to-day tasks to the best of their ability. An investment in providing the correct ergonomic tools, and subsequent interface with office surroundings will enable employees to increase concentration levels, reduce the amount of time absent through physical illness and, ultimately, be more productive throughout the working day. Arguably the most important item of furniture within the workplace is the humble office chair. The vast majority of us sit at our desks for up to eight hours per day – but the human form was simply not designed to remain sat in the same position for these extended timeframes. Studies have shown that sitting at a workstation conducting daily tasks for prolonged periods of time is a major cause of multiple ailments within the modern office. And although the most common, it’s not just the back that takes the strain either. Discomfort from the neck down to the legs can be triggered by ergonomically-poor seating, and absenteeism related to these problems has a severe impact on businesses. Choosing the right ergonomic task chair will improve postural awareness and encourage users to adopt better working habits. Investment in seating that promotes a better interface with the immediate environment has a proven, dramatic effect on employee comfort and wellbeing. As the brainchild of a physiotherapist and a mechanical engineer, BMA Nomique has pioneered concepts on improving the interaction a user has with their surroundings and has designed seating to focus on supporting the pelvis, rather than lumbar region. We have developed a patented split-seat mechanism that translates our theory into practice. This pelvic-centered methodology offers the very best ergonomic support to users while they conduct daily tasks at the workstation. DS


november 2011

NEWS INSPIRING BUSINESS SOLUTIONS FOR DEALERS

Commercial wins two eco awards

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ffice services company, Commercial Group has added two accolades to its list at the 2011 GreenFleet awards. This latest coup brings the overall total of gongs won by Commercial for its fleet management to nine in the last four years. Commercial’s logistics manager, Rob Paddock, was delighted to receive the latest awards on behalf of the company for Private Sector Fleet Manager of the Year and Private Sector Fleet of the Year (below 250 vehicles) during a special ceremony hosted by GreenFleet at Twickenham Stadium. “To continue receiving recognition for our fleet management is an absolute honour,” explained Paddock. “Our motivation to continue improving our impact on the environment remains at an all-time high and we have some exciting plans to make even greater environmental savings in the future. Commercial started to address the environmental impact of its fleet in 2006. Since then, the company has implemented a dynamic routing system (DRS), which has enabled the company to take three vans off the road, and commissioned and installed its own biodiesel tank with a real-time blending system. These initiatives have saved over 172,050 tonnes of carbon and led to annual savings for the company of £150,000.

Second impressions: Alistair McGowan (left) presents Commercial’s Rob Paddock (centre) with two GreenFleet awards

DEALER SUPPORT NEWS IS SPONSORED BY... OFFICE FRIENDLY DEALER ASSOCIATION AND XEROX OFFICE SUPPLIES News printed on Xerox Colorprint 90 gsm


DEALER SUPPORT NEWS

Green means Gold for Ofda members

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reen-thinking members of Office Friendly Dealer Association (OFDA) enjoyed a golden moment at the company’s 15th annual conference last month. A group of environmentally-friendly dealers were honoured for their work on OFDA’s award-winning So-Go-Eco scheme, run in conjunction with London-based Carbon Smart and designed to help small businesses cut carbon and costs. Gold awards were presented at a gala dinner to 26 of 98 OFDA members on the three-year programme, for making collective savings of £190,000 and 550 tonnes of carbon. “As a collective we’ve reduced the equivalent of 550 tonnes of carbon – the same as a large UK blue-chip company,” said Steve Harrop, MD of OFDA. “The focus of carbon reduction has long been on larger companies but the majority of businesses in the UK are SMEs - we’re showing them you can get greener and more profitable at the same time.”

After earning a local victory at the Sheffield Business Awards, So-Go-Eco has now earned OFDA a nomination in the sustainability categories at the 2011 National Business Awards and the British Chamber of Commerce Business Awards – both to be held in London this month. As well as an awards dinner and supplier exhibition, more than 220 delegates heard guest speaker Ruby Wax discuss reinvention during her career, before Harrop set out the new challenges facing dealer groups, insisting they would remain “significant players” in the UK office products market, as long as they are more innovative with their buying and marketing strategies.

Multisys marks 20th birthday

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ultisys Computers, IT systems developer and back office system provider to the business supplies industry, is celebrating 20 years of business with two long service awards. Director Jim Keable (pictured centre), is rewarding the reliability and achievements of his second in command, Philip Holmes (left), who has worked for Multisys for ten years, and Chris Riley (pictured right), who has been with the company for five. “Philip and Chris have played, and continue to play, a key role in the day-to-day running and development of the business,” said Keable, who heads an eight-strong team at Multisys’ headquarters in Buxton.“Both do an excellent job and exemplify the can-do, customer-focused ethos that we have established over the past two decades. We’re very proud of the fact that our clients have come to see us as their friendly, approachable external IT department,” he continued. Looking to the future, Keable concluded: “We get a lot of satisfaction from knowing that we help them overcome their day-to-day IT problems to enable them to adapt, change and succeed in a fast-moving, ever-changing commercial environment. Over the next 20 years, our mission will be to continue to develop cutting edge technology that meets the constantly evolving needs of a wide range of businesses, both locally and across the country.”

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Avery covers demand for multipurpose labelling

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very has extended its MultiFunction Labels range in response to an increasing consumer demand for a multipurpose labelling solution that can be used across a range of applications and printing technologies, including laser, inkjet, multifunction devices and photocopiers. The comprehensive range of labels is now available in seven different sizes, in packs of 100, 40 or 10 sheets. The labels are designed for use in whatever printer is required for the job, with consumers benefitting from sharp-printing results, excellent label adhesion and a jam-free guarantee that ensures no printer jams. Multi-Function Labels are ideal for a range of jobs: from mailing out letters and parcels to labelling folders, documents, office items and products. Free online software and templates are available online, ensuring that consumers

can easily personalise their labels. The labels are also FSC-certified, meeting consumers’ environmental expectations Consumers can also take advantage of the Big Carrot Reward Scheme, further incentivising purchases of Multi-Function Labels with shopping voucher rewards of up to £12. For more information visit www.avery.eu.

Antalis McNaughton wears it pink

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aper manufacturer, Antalis McNaughton has raised over £2,500 for Breast Cancer Campaign during national Wear It Pink Day. The funds were raised on 28 October through a variety of fundraising activities, including a raffle, pink ‘booby’ cake sale, dressing down, a leg waxing session on a male member of staff and a customer sales promotion.

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Vow doubles fm offering Beginning in 2012, VOW’s facilities management product portfolio will nearly double in size, with an increase to over 5,700 lines. VOW resellers will be able to order over 4,100 products for next-day delivery and the remaining 1,600 on 72-hour delivery.

Superstat date change

Superstat Group has announced an amended date for the Superstat Conference 2012. The conference, which was due to be held on 2123 June at Whittlebury Hall, near Silverstone, has now been moved to the weekend of 28-30 June 2012. The dealer group decided to change the date after discovering a clash with dealer group Nemo’s conference. Superstat members who have already booked for the 2012 bash have been contacted regarding the date change, and the group will continue to keep everyone up-to-date with news and events planned for the weekend.

HDD stocks

As the Thailand floods continue, businesses must prepare for a severe shortage of hard disk drives (HDD), impacting the entire global ICT supply chain. The flooding that began in July has already claimed more than 380 lives and continues to impact the country’s HDD production lines. The flood-hit area is responsible for producing around 70% of the world’s HDD demand and the leading factories are set to be out of action for some time yet. Companies should prepare for shortages and price increases of up to 25% for hard disks, which is likely to impact finished products down the line as well.


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Resellers attend Konica Conference

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onica Minolta held its European Leadership Conference 2011 on 14 October in Munich, Germany. In total 1,200 dealer partners from across Europe, including a significant number from the UK, attended the event, where they learned about the Konica Minolta managed print service offerings, a range of new products and green credentials, along with its range of professional and consultancy services. In the associated exhibition, covering an area of 1,500 square metres, new products, applications and services were displayed, The focus of the exhibition followed information technology mega-trends such as cloud applications and mobile IT and showcased Konica Minolta’s Optimized Print Services (OPS) launched in 2010. The event slogan – ‘Twogether for Tomorrow’ – referred to a further business principle of strategic cooperation and distribution partners playing a central role in implementing the business model. Ken Osuga, president of Konica Minolta

Business Solutions Europe, said: “More complex IT structures and flexible working processes always require new combinations of system technology, software and applications. Apart from internal solutions and software, we also require specific partner know-how in order to react precisely to the individual requirements of various different projects.”

Cartridge Line gains Brother repair status

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ffice stationery and equipment supplier, Cartridge Line has become an official approved repair centre for Brother UK in the south west of England. Cartridge Line was awarded the status after meeting certain criteria set by Brother, including location and appropriate experience. Its employees were trained by Brother engineers to carry out repairs in order to meet the necessary specifications to become an approved repair centre. Cartridge Line, which was founded in 2002, will carry out all Brother printer repairs from its Exeter and Plymouth branches by its fully-trained engineers. As part of the approved status, the company will be given access to updated service materials and a full support

system by experienced Brother staff. Cartridge Line MD, Craig Collins said: “As an approved repair partner of Brother UK, we will now be able to target resellers in the South West and work with them to carry out warranty repairs on a more local basis. In addition, it will enable us to offer a more complete service to our customers.” Rob Bridges, head of reseller sales at Brother, said: “Adding Cartridge Line to our list of approved repair centres means that we can continue to offer our customers a better choice in their service process – ensuring that the work is done by trained personnel. This will help to increase customer satisfaction levels in the South West region, as well as the overall customer experience with Brother.”

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mill closure to impact recycled paper market

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ollowing months of sales negotiations, Finnish paper giant M-real has closed its Alizay paper mill in Normandy, France, significantly affecting the European recycled paper market as a consequence. The mill, home to the company’s Evolve recycled paper range, was reportedly losing over €3m a month. The closure followed several failed attempts to sell the mill to Thai company Double A and French turnaround company Fin’active. M-real approached over 80 companies in an attempt to sell the mill and of these at least 18 demonstrated a preliminary interest. Despite entering into “serious negotiations with the two remaining candidates” it was found that none of these companies could turn the paper mill in to a profitable business and therefore the decision was made to shut it down.

M-real currently owns a quarter of the European market share and on 15 September implemented a European-wide paper price increase, at a rate of six per cent per ton due to the increasing cost of key raw materials like pulp, energy, starch and other chemicals. Edmund Rück, marketing manager at M-real, said the closure was likely to have “repercussions on the European paper market”, quoting the 300,000 tons of paper the mill was producing each year, primarily in Evolve recycled paper – the equivalent of roughly three per cent of Europe’s total annual uncoated fine paper capacity. The impact on the market is yet to be seen. M-real is also set to close the Gohrsmuehle mill in Germany after failing to find a buyer. The closure of both mills will reduce M-real’s sales by roughly 15%, though will increase its operating result by €€70m.

United acquires ASG office

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ffice supplies dealer United UK has acquired ASG Office, based in Milton Keynes, a £1m dealer that focuses on office interiors and office product supply to the middle market. Darren Lloyd, United’s sales and marketing director, commented: “Following recent acquisitions, ASG is the perfect addition to our growth strategy. ASG has a great service culture and will now

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benefit from our enhanced range of products and services to their established client base.” Andy Gasson, MD of ASG, said: “There has been a seamless transition for our customers and the employees of ASG. We are excited and confident about all the benefits our customers will now enjoy and are very much looking forward to a positive future.”

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SimplyOffice has announced a new venture with VOW, to bring a greater range of publications to SimplyOffice members. The new VOW-coded 356-page catalogue is set to launch in January. The Simply Business Catalogue will provide members with the opportunity to showcase approximately 7,500 products, all in one net-priced catalogue, with a choice of over 20 cover options and a bespoke option available.

VIP RECRUIT

IT distributor VIP Computers has recruited Sara Plunkett to the role of account manager. Reporting to new sales manager Anthony McKenzie, Plunkett is currently dealing with managed accounts and generating new business. Prior to joining VIP, she worked at Lasertech as an account manager selling office supplies and hardware. She also brings a wealth of experience in the banking, telecoms and utilities sectors to VIP. The company has recently been listed in the Sunday Times Top Track 250 for the second year running.

Midwich

AV distributor Midwich has announced the launch of two new divisions. The company has recently launched an accessories division, to stock IT and electronics consumables and accessories by leading brands. The second is an interactive technology division, due to open by 2012. The range will feature several interactive solutions, including those aimed at the education market. The company recently won AV distributor of the Year Award and made the Sunday Times Top Track 250.


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New announcements at Nectere

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ectere has announced the opening of its second distribution hub in Scotland and the launch of its first furniture catalogue. The new Edinburgh distribution hub (EDH) will boost the timely delivery to thousands of Nectere partner customers in the area. MD Paul Musgrove said: “We are extremely proud to open our second distribution centre. It’s a true reflection of Nectere’s continued growth and illustrates our ongoing dedication to partners and our determination to offer them the best possible tools to provide their customers the ultimate, local service. With three Scottish partners and ongoing talks with further dealers in the area, the next step for Nectere will be to open a Scotland office.” The first deliveries from the EDH will be for Nectere partners Riverside Stationers and BOSS Limited. Nectere is now seeking further distribution hubs in Glasgow and Newcastle. Nectere has also launched its first comprehensive furniture catalogue. Branded as ‘furniture by red’, it features more than

3,500 products. The catalogue will help Nectere partners drive sales through a selection of “stylish yet affordable” furniture. Dawn Kirby, marketing manager for Nectere said: “Nectere’s number one priority has always been to provide our partners with the best possible tools to help their businesses stand out from the competition and increase sales. With the new furniture catalogue, I believe we have exceeded this aim. This is very exciting times for Nectere partners as we plan to release further new and exclusive publications throughout 2012.” In other news, Weston-super-Mare dealer 4 Office has signed up as a Nectere partner. Director Gary Thorne said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be a Nectere partner. These are difficult economic times and we felt we needed the right partnership that gave us the opportunity to continue to grow and become the area’s leading office supplier. With Nectere’s help I’m positive we can increase accounts and broaden our customer reach.”

Office Club regional round-up

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ffice Club has returned from a tour of the country, hosting a series of regional networking opportunities for members across the UK. From Belfast, Glasgow and Manchester, through to Birmingham and Bristol, before finishing off in Watford and Reigate, members pooled together to share details of how their businesses are performing. The opportunity to network with other dealers has long been a highly regarded benefit of membership, even moreso in the current economic climate. As dealers discussed what really works for their business, there was said to be a sense of unity, inspiration and invigoration as Joe Frangiamore of Sprint Stationers summed up the event: “a refresher course in good business practice”. The regional road trip also saw the launch of Office Club’s 2012 retail point-of-sale offering, introducing new themes and elements.

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asanta, parent company of wholesaler VOW, has reported a turnover of £385m for the year ended 31 December 2010, with an earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) figure of £3.8m. This marks a return to profitability, compared to the £0.8m loss recorded for the short reporting period in 2009, and a like-for-like improvement of more than 20% on the full prior year figure. The 2010 operating loss was £1m, compared to a pro-forma profit of £3.1m in 2009, due mainly to a £6m adverse movement in negative goodwill amortisation. Net cash inflow from operating activities was £4.7m for 2010, a £10m turnaround from the short reporting period in 2009.

The business is well invested, with £65m of net assets before funds provided by shareholders and £15m of cash headroom. Robert Baldrey, Vasanta Group CEO, noted: “The key accounting measures that we focus on in the company are EBITDA and operating cash flow, before any adjustments for technical accounting issues. On both these key measures, Vasanta’s performance improved in 2010 and the £10m turnaround in cash flow is a great achievement after the difficulties of 2008/2009. [Last year] was a period of stabilisation and recovery, setting a solid base for 2011. We also saw the start of some significant sales growth across all channels, and in particular from VOW, which has gathered momentum in 2011.”

Nemo appoints new commercial director

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emo Marketing and Purchasing Group has appointed Tim Beaumont as new commercial director. The role will see Beaumont support CEO Derek Bamford in achieving increased group benefits and driving new membership. Beaumont has a strong commercial background, previously

running the marketing programmes at SCC, Europe’s largest independent IT group. Nemo chairman Michael Morgan said: “This is a significant move for us, bolstering an already successful team,and we are confident that Tim joining the management team will bring new ideas and a fresh approach to the group.”

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Vasanta releases promising figures

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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. Highlighting an often overlooked, yet crucial aspect of how businesses and brands function – and the design and expertise that goes in to it – is an exciting and very welcome prospect Andrew Bentham Head of communications, CCT Interiors

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Office Interiors show to launch

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ffice Interiors, a new trade exhibition set to provide an annual platform for the UK’s office interiors industry, is to launch in 2012. The event will be held alongside the office* show at London’s Olympia Exhibition Centre on 12-13 September. The office furniture market alone is estimated to be worth £635m, according to AMA Research, and expected to grow to a total value of £735m by 2015. The event will also include suppliers of office lighting, storage, relocation, design and fit-out. Aware that other shows targeting this sector in the past have often been branded too elitist, Diversified UK’s new launch aims to attract a far wider, critical mass of decision makers. Ali Mead, Office Interiors’ event manager, said: “Our research confirms that we need to get to a broad audience, ranging from

architects and interior designers, to office managers, operations managers, procurement managers, CEOs, CFOs and FDs. With our strap line ‘Interiors For Offices That Work’, we intend to put the spotlight back on the importance of inspiring, creative work environments and to create a highly effective platform for this important industry.” Andrew Bentham, head of communications at CCT Interiors, welcomed the launch, saying: “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. Highlighting an often overlooked, yet crucial aspect of how businesses and brands function - and the design and expertise that goes in to it - is an exciting and very welcome prospect.”

Westcoast rewards resellers

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T distributor Westcoast is set to whisk three resellers off to Monte Carlo for a trip to the Monaco Grand Prix as part of the Microsoft Millionaires incentive scheme. The company is rewarding its Microsoft resellers with a monthly competition to give dealers the opportunity to ‘live like millionaires’. The other two prizes are: a spending spree for two in Harrods followed by a night in a top London hotel; and a West End show followed by dinner and a night in London. The main prize, which three lucky resellers will win, is tickets for two to visit Monte Carlo and watch the Monaco Grand Prix aboard a luxury yacht with full hospitality. Ben Feurtado, Westcoast’s Microsoft business manager, said: “For their chance to win one of the monthly prizes, resellers have to achieve their targets. This will give them a ticket into that month’s draw, with over-achieving their target giving them more tickets.” To win the main prize, every month a reseller hits their target, they get one ticket into the main draw. They can also increase their chances of winning by attending one of the Westcoast and Microsoft events, sitting an MLSS or MLSS lite exam or requesting material from the Westcoast and Microsoft Gym to use free marketing material. The incentive is running until 16 December.

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Dealer Support November 2011