All posts by Yazeed Peters

Yazeed Peters was our business-development manager till April 2014. He worked directly with our printing outlets, identifying and connecting business opportunities for the network.

Another bookseller signs up, and we face some inertia

Caxton books, a top bookseller of academic books in the southern suburbs, registered with Paperight. They purchased a small printer as a pilot project and asked me to train their staff. I visited the store several times to discuss Paperight and train their staff. Caxton books advertised the Paperight service to their customers via e-newsletters.

I had a meeting with the CPUT Library Services board regarding a possible Paperight partnership. The head of the Library Services was especially interested in Paperight but, was unable to attend the meeting. The board was very pleased with Paperight but, similar to UWC Library Services, needed to determine how paying for top-ups would work and how monitoring purchases would be done. We’ve discovered that bureaucracy tends to have a strong impact on slowing down the progress and flexibility of an institution.

Riso sponsored Spine Road High in Mitchell’s Plain with past exam papers for Mathematics. I attended the handover to take photos for the press release. A few weeks prior to this, Arthur and I attended a meeting with the school H.O.D.’s alongside Riso to present Paperight and our part in the Riso partnership. The meeting was successful and discussions continued around the possibility of the school obtaining one of the Riso machine. Arthur and I also noticed how different our pitch is compared to that of the old-school corporate salesperson and how uncomfortable we were with that style.

We weren’t achieving what we set out to achieve which was for outlet staff to take more pro-active roles with Paperight. Instead, outlet managers continued to keep their staff uninformed

After several months of running the salesperson of the month competition we decided to cancel it before schedule. We weren’t achieving what we set out to achieve which was for outlet staff to take more pro-active roles with Paperight. Instead, outlet managers continued to keep their staff uninformed which meant that most outlets’ staff didn’t know Paperight let alone the competition. We had no power or incentive to offer to change this.

Good relationships with Minuteman Press, Riso and Blitsdruk

In July I was invited by Minuteman Press head office to attend their Gauteng regional meeting to present Paperight and to discuss Paperight with their marketing team. The Paperight presentation was the most well received of the presentations on the day, probably because it was the only presentation that was interactive and offered something new that they haven’t seen many times before.

In my discussions with the marketing team it was decided that they wouldn’t force all of their outlets to register with Paperight but would consider putting a set price in place to standardise the pricing across their outlets. This has had the positive result of Minuteman Press outlets offering a positive Paperight experience to their customers, as only those outlets who take an interest in Paperight took the time to learn how to register and use the model.

Riso Africa was interested in forming a relationship after meeting Arthur at a conference and discussing Paperight. Riso offered a machine that could print and perfect bind books in colour at a price far below their closest competitor. Effectively this turns a Riso Comcolor machine into a much cheaper version of the Espresso Book Machine, when combining it with Paperight, at less than half the price. We put a Memorandum of Understanding in place and I attended Riso training to understand their machines better.

Blitsruk in George contacted us to contribute to our sponsor a school project. I identified a previously disadvantaged school in a township in George and determined their needs. I collated this with the budget which Blitsdruk had given me and sent through the final order to Blitsdruk who printed, bound and delivered them. We contacted a journalist from the local newspaper who accompanied the store manager to take photos and cover the handover of the materials.

Outlet and pro-bono marketing wins

Juta … was the first major bookseller to join the print-on demand distribution channel that Paperight offers

We trained Juta managers to use the Paperight service and met with the Marketing Manager at Juta to plan our marketing. Due to Juta not specialising in printing and binding, they sold the past matric exam packs at relatively high prices. We were still very happy to welcome Juta into our network of outlets as it was the first major bookseller to join the print-on demand distribution channel that Paperight offers.

this is also where my increased interest in socially relevant work began. Joining paperight ignited the spark but, the sponsorship at Silverstream Secondary caused a shift in my personal aims for the future

Minuteman Press Cape Town printed, bound and delivered the sponsored materials to Silverstream Secondary. Minuteman Press and Paperight sent out a press release around the event and the Paperight Sponsor-a-school project was born. From a personal point of view, this is also where my increased interest in socially relevant work began. Joining paperight ignited the spark but, the sponsorship at Silverstream Secondary caused a shift in my personal aims for the future.  We encouraged this among each other at Paperight.

Zoom Advertising contacted us to offer a free marketing consultation. This opportunity to have our communications judged by a third party of professionals in the industry was something we couldn’t pass up. We learned that we were doing very well and needed to polish our plans only slightly and become more organised.

After this meeting Marie-Louise was tasked with drawing up a marketing plan for the foreseeable future that we would align all our activities to. At Paperight we’re a very passionate bunch but, we needed to be more focused and learn to let go of things that were taking more time than they were worth.

Juta Booksellers sign up

In May 2013 we published everything that we had learned about outlets which included the results of the survey taken at the start of the year on our blog. I also met with several schools in the southern suburbs of Cape Town to introduce Paperight to them and discuss the possibility of Paperight-edition publications being made available at the schools. I attended the Africa Print Expo at the CTICC to gain a better understanding of the equipment that outlets use.

Juta, a very popular publisher and bookseller, was based just two floors below our office. I had a meeting with Charmaine at Juta to discuss the possibility of Juta’s bookstores becoming Paperight outlets. They were specifically interested in selling our past exam papers via their bookstores. The following month they registered several of their stores nationwide.

Pitches, sales, dead ends, and a soccer match

In April I attended my first SABA (South African Booksellers Association) meeting with Arthur. At this meeting I learned what was happening behind the scenes in the bookselling industry and how necessary it is for a distribution channel like Paperight to exist. Booksellers are no longer making enough money to remain profitable enough to hold on to their investors and were switching to e-books out of desperation instead of innovation. A Paperight-like model may well end up being the only way for consumers to get their hands on hard copies of books.

I took my first ever trip to Johannesburg where I had meetings with Minuteman Press, Jetline, Postnet and Konika Minolta at their respective head offices. We managed to strengthen our relationships with them. Postnet had agreed to go ahead and register all of their branches nationwide with Paperight. Sadly, the person who had the meeting with us left Postnet soon after this meeting, which resulted in this process being postponed.

Tarryn and I also had a meeting at UWC Library Services after the bindery service registered as a Paperight outlet. In order for the bindery service to top up their accounts, we need to be a registered vendor at the University and they would need to determine how much of their budget would be allocated towards topping up. The bureaucracy of the process that needed to be taken by the bindery and the Library service in general seemed to have slowed the process down to a standstill.

After delivering the past matric exam packs to Pelican Park High, there was a significant interest in the exam packs from those students and parents who didn’t purchase them earlier in the year. Within two weeks, I was contacted by Pelican Park High and requested to collect a second order form for exam packs which was duly paid for, printed and delivered to the school.

Publishers were giving us low quality products to sell, with the intention of testing out our system before giving more high-value products. And outlets’ staff was turning away Paperight customers.

Meanwhile we realised that we had two big problems with our distribution model. Publishers were giving us low quality products to sell, with the intention of testing out our system before giving more high-value products. And outlets’ staff was turning away Paperight customers. To remedy this we began a competition which granted R1000 for the top outlet sales person every month. The aim was to incentivise the system for the outlet staff.

We also determined that by building closer relationships with Publishers they would perhaps be more willing to trust us with their more high value publications. We proposed an indoor soccer match against Random House Struik to build rapport with them. Paperight lost the match (in the dying moments!) but, we managed to take some time to relax (something which we struggle to do) and work at the same time.

Big month, and a big sponsorship sale

In March I exhibited and presented Paperight to matric students and teachers of Cravenby Secondary School alongside leading publishers, such as MML and OUP. The students were very interested in my exhibition and showed a keen interest in my presentation on the Paperight Young Writers’ Anthology.

After months of correspondence, I managed to arrange a meeting with the Head of the Cape Town Library Services alongside Arthur. The aim was to see how Paperight could work with the Library Services with the possibility of integrating into their SmartCape internet service. The meeting was a success in that we impressed them but, the process has come to a standstill due to bureaucracy inherent in government institutions. The possibility of a partnership remains open for the future.

Nick and I had worked closely on many tasks and we reached a stage where we required someone to bridge the gap between Nick’s position and my own. The aim was to improve communication to outlets, customers and the public at large. Having learned many lessons from our experience with the PR Consultant, we had a relatively clear idea of what we could achieve PR-wise.

Seeing her become, what I consider to be, the most productive member of the Paperight team has been amazing to experience.

The discovery of Marie-Louise Rouget is one of my proudest moments at Paperight. Marie-Louise had no marketing or PR experience to speak of but, she demonstrated a clear passion and drive to contribute positively towards society – something we could all relate to at Paperight. Seeing her become, what I consider to be, the most productive member of the Paperight team has been amazing to experience. I believe that Marie-Louise has discovered talents within herself that she may not have realised that she had fearlessness and a determination to get things done.

When I realised that we required more creative ways of selling Paperight products, Arthur gave me the opportunity to enrol in an “Effective Selling Strategies” course by LMI and facilitated by Chalwyn Vorster of TMF. The course allowed me to improve my time management, organise my sales pipeline and most importantly to give me the confidence to sell whilst maintaining my own morals and values.

Pelican Park High informed me that they would like to place an order for their learners who wish to purchase past exam packs. I collected the order form, delivered it to Minuteman Press Cape Town and received payment from Pelican Park High. When the books were printed and ready, I collected four learners from Pelican Park High to accompany me in collecting the books from Minuteman Press Cape Town.

Nick met us there to take photos for a press release that we had planned. The press release was circulated in the Minuteman Press internal franchise newsletter which led to several Minuteman Press outlets in South Africa signing up with Paperight. Upon collecting the books, the owner of Minuteman Press requested that we assist him in identifying a needy school in the Western Cape that he could possibly sponsor in some way.

When I got back to our offices, I googled “worst matric results in cape 2012.” I found a newspaper article that identified Silverstream Secondary in Manenberg as a poor performing school in 2012. I contacted the school to find that the principal had left the school and an H.O.D. was acting head of the school. I met with the H.O.D. to discuss the situation of the school and their needs in order to determine if this is the type of school that Minuteman Press Cape Town would want to sponsor.

I determined that they are a needy school and deserving of assistance, so I contacted the owner of Minuteman Press Cape Town and arranged for him to meet with the H.O.D. at the school personally. After this meeting took place, we determined which books would be sponsored and how many according to the budget that was available for the sponsorship.

Slow start to the year

I spent the most of my time in January 2013 completing the outlet-wide survey which I had started in December. December and January are very quiet months for books sales, not only at Paperight but also traditional bookstores.

We collaborated with an entrepreneur from the Eastern Cape to arrange for Paperight branded-signage to be fitted to his outlet. Our correspondence with him lasted several months because, he wanted signage according his own design. I feel that our goodwill was abused during this correspondence and we subsequently decided to halt our plans to assist small businesses by supplying them with Paperight branded signage.

Children’s book cost too much, and in unrelated news we take a break

After Arthur and Tarryn met with The Shine Centre, they asked us to explore the possibility of purchasing books from Revprint Claremont. The Shine Centre is an NGO that caters for foundation phase readers and their budget required that we have books printed in colour at very low prices. Revprint was unable to assist as the books’ prices would need to be below cost.

With the year drawing to a close and most businesses and customers who work with outlets going in holiday, Paperight went into admin mode. I started an outlet-wide survey to determine the demographics of the outlets that had registered with us. I also wanted to ensure that the information we had was correct. The survey took nearly 2 months to complete due to outlets being notorious for dodging telephone calls.

We also did what we all struggle to do naturally, we took a break. We had our staff picnic at the edge of the freezing Pacific Ocean at Oudekraal. What we learned from this was that we all loved food and that we really need to learn to take a break every now and then. We still struggle to take it easy.

Signage, photos, and a great school contact

In our efforts to produce positive stories from communities that need them most, we decided to sponsor Paperight-branded signage for small copy shops. The aim was to help them attract more business to their stores by increasing their visibility and creating some publicity around the project.

paperight_minuteman-press_press-photo_20131113An entrepreneur from Mdanstane in the Eastern Cape was featured in a Daily Dispatch article. We had hired a PR consultant to assist us with our publicity and to learn from her. A photo shoot was organised at Minuteman Press Cape Town for stock photos. I arranged for my younger sister and her friends to wear their school uniforms and drove them to the venue. The stock photos gave some of our design work a more professional quality.

In November I was also contacted and met with Mr. Cader Tregonning, the principal at Pelican Park High School. Mr. Tregonning had recently been appointed as head of the school and had a vision for turning it into an academically competitive school. He heard about Paperight and wanted to have Exam Packs printed for all his matric students the following year. Mr. Tregonning was so determined to have past exams for his learners that he added it into the budget which is given to all the parents, in order that they be prepared financially for the following year.

We’re on TV!

In October I had my first opportunity to train a staff member at Paperight, when Abdul-Malik requested training from me. This was as much a learning experience for me as it was for him. It also allowed me to practice and improve my training ability.

October was also the month when we made our first television appearance since I had joined. I accompanied nick along to HecticNine9 studios and watched him from behind the scenes as he introduced the Paperight concept to South Africa. We watched the number of visitors to our website spike to a then highest number of visitors to our site.

The television appearance and other publicity we received led to a sharp increase in private individuals registering for the Paperight service. We made a decision to screen those who register as outlets even more deliberately and to be more specific in our messaging, getting the B2B point across.

It was at this time that I suggested that we add a sub-accounts capability to the Paperight website. This would make it easier for an owner of an outlet to monitor the activity of his staff and for a franchisor to monitor the activity of franchisees. This feature was later added to our website.