For Specialty Coffee Trader, less paperwork means more time for perfecting Queensland’s coffee

Jean-Paul Sutton loves his job as much as he loves coffee. 

After spending his career immersed in the art and business of specialty coffee, he now runs Specialty Coffee Trader (SCT) and partners with cafés across North Queensland to provide barista training, equipment, specialty coffee and café products. 

“I love coffee. I think it brings people together,” says Jean-Paul. “It’s also always changing and, professionally, it’s a challenge to make a great cup of coffee because there are so many variables involved.”

Those diverse challenges and connections to people run parallel to his work at SCT. On any given day, Jean-Paul can be found fixing a broken grinder, working in his espresso bar, training baristas, trialling new equipment and working with café owners to develop their own businesses. He’s a busy guy and so are his clients. 

But, with so many different services and partnerships, Jean-Paul often found himself getting bogged down with paperwork. Worse, it could be a hurdle for new wholesale partnerships, with busy café owners struggling to find the time to review and sign agreements and contracts.

Switching to DocuSign has delivered major benefits to both Jean-Paul and his clients. Here’s how the solution is freeing them from paperwork and keeping them focused on that perfect cup of coffee—and a more balanced work-life. 

Facilitating connections between business owners and their new supplier

SCT takes coffee quality very seriously and only partners with customers who share their high standards. This can be a tricky process since most of their clients are time-poor, and switching suppliers can be daunting for those who’ll be introducing a change to long-time patrons and coffee aficionados.

Before DocuSign, it was even trickier. With wholesale customers spread out across vast distances, getting stacks of paper to prospective partners was a challenge.

“A wholesale agreement can be seven to ten pages long. A lot of times, I’d deliver it in person, which could mean driving for hours,” says Jean-Peal. “Then you have to hand them a bunch of paper and ask them to read all of it and sign it.”

Jean-Paul is no stranger to using technology to work smarter—he and his team constantly trial new tools to produce faster, better and more consistent cups of coffee. DocuSign was a natural fit for the operational challenges of taking on new wholesale customers.

Now, Jean-Paul can load agreements and email to his client, who can then sign it from their mobile or laptop. 

“Everyone gets a copy, and it’s usually done in a few minutes at either end. An entire wholesale agreement can happen in just 15 minutes.”

Not only does it save both parties time and energy, but it also makes changing suppliers less intimidating. Jean-Paul says a smooth start can help clients feel they’ve made the right choice and keep the business relationship moving. 

“Some are just too busy to think about change. But this sort of experience can convince them that coming on board will be easier than they think.”

Giving time back to busy employees and owners

Cumbersome amounts of paperwork can be frustrating no matter where you work or what sort of organisation you’re dealing with. But, because they’re involved with so many different aspects of their business, small business owners tend to feel the costs of inefficient processes more severely.

Both Jean-Paul and most of his clients are small business owners trying to manage a demand that often transcends economic downturns or major shocks. 

“The thing that's purchased most in the world is petrol, but coffee comes second,” says Jean-Paul. “Even when times are tough, a lot of people still find four or five dollars for that cup of coffee. So things tend to stay extremely busy.” 

Coffee is grown all over the world, with countless nuances between seasons, temperatures or rainfall. But the operational side of making sure people can get great coffee is a little less exciting and a little more static—like most businesses, it typically involves a fair bit of paperwork. By moving to digital agreements, SCT has been able to save precious time employees as well as clients. 

“Whether that’s generalised wholesale agreements, letters of offers or equipment lists, we’ve gone totally digital,” says Jean-Paul. 

“I love my work and seeing my clients’ businesses grow, but I do have a young family and other passions besides coffee,” says Jean-Paul. “My work-life balance has definitely improved by using DocuSign. It’s saved me so much time, even just in wholesale agreements alone.”

Beyond that, Jean-Paul says that businesses of all sizes are moving in a more digital direction.

“That’s where we want to be as a company. I think if you want to succeed in business, DocuSign is the way it’s going to go.”

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