At the end of 2012, Geelong averaged 4 comrades selling on a weekly basis. As a result of this our average hours were 7 hours a week, and we were averaging 18 sales a week. Rather than looking at ways those comrades could sell more papers, we began to look at ways of increasing the participation rate of the branch in Green Left Weekly selling, in other words getting more comrades out on the streets on a regular basis.
We began with the branch executive. Unlike other branches Geelong has always had a rather large executive for a small branch, and at that time we had 8 people on the executive. Our initial push was to make sure our branch executive was leading by example. Which required that each member on the executive committed to at least one weekly selling spot on a regular basis (barring holidays or family commitments). We immediately began to see an improvement in participation, and consciousness around the role of Green Left Weekly. At the end of 2013 we were averaging 7 comrades selling on a weekly basis, selling on average for 13 hours a week resulting on average 33 paper sales.
We noticed that once the executive became active sellers on a regular basis, it became somewhat easier to convince other branch members of the importance of getting out on the streets on a regular basis to sell the paper and have conversations with people. We then started to notice a layer of older retired comrades taking an interest in selling on a weekly basis in a regular spot, which significantly boosted our sales and over all enthusiasm to sell the paper.
Some things that we try to put in place to make it easier for comrades to sell are:
As a result of trying to make these things regular practice, at the end of 2014 out average number of sellers were 8 comrades on weekly basis selling 44 papers a week on average in 13 hours.
For the last 2 years we have had two people assigned to Green Left Weekly organising, which isn’t just packing stalls and making sure people sell on a regular basis, but also keeping track of how we’re going, and keeping an eye out for new sales spots when they arise.
Of course no branch is perfect and Geelong has problems of its own that we’ve been trying to address which includes a better presentation of stalls and improving the confidence and sales technique of comrades selling on a regular basis i.e. getting comrades to a point where they’re able to approach people rather than waiting for people to come to the stall.
In general we have found that the increased level of activity around Green Left Weekly selling has increased activity more generally in the branch resulting in more people attending branch meetings and monthly film screenings for example. We’re also more likely to pick up new contacts or potential joiners by having a regular presence on the streets.