Archive for November, 2011
The Phoenix Bookstore at University of Wisconsin – Green Bay recently participated in the annual campus event, Batty Bash. By partnering with other departments on campus, the event draws in an array of students with different interests, creating even more traffic for the store.
Halloween decorations of pumpkins and ghosts could be seen around the University Union this past Halloween weekend. To help students get into the Halloween spirit, the University Union hosted its annual Batty Bash.
“Batty Bash gives students the chance to take a little break from the school day, and have a little fun,” said Kyle Wesner, Phoenix Club coordinator.
Batty Bash included day-long events in the Union for students to participate in. With more than 200 pounds of candy available, students were offered the opportunity to do a little trick-or-treating in the Union. The Phoenix Bookstore also provided hourly sales specials for students to take advantage of.
Dining specials and a bat hunt for devilish prizes were also a part of the Batty Bash festivities. Students who found any of the 20 plastic bats hidden around the Union won a prize which corresponded to the number labeled on the bottom of the bat.
Later, the Phoenix Club offered up free games and specials to students from 6 to 11 p.m. There was the Gruesome Game Show, similar to the Price is Right game show.
Anyone who made a purchase at the Phoenix Club throughout the day had the opportunity to spin the Wheel of Terror to win a variety of prizes including, UW-Green Bay apparel, coupons for the Phoenix Club such as free pizza, pool play, CheapSeats tickets, candy prizes and more.
“I think it’s a good opportunity to get people down here,” Wesner said. “Obviously students are going to be going to class, so it’s just another thing to put a smile on someone’s face, and who doesn’t enjoy Halloween?”
Lynn Rotter, ticketing and information services manager for the University Union, said, “Batty Bash is always a lot of fun. In the past years, it’s been a pretty successful day as far as getting a lot of people involved in the different things going on.”
Rotter explained Batty Bash started in 1998 as a means to fulfill the monthly campus event for October. These events help to bring awareness to students of things that are available to them around campus, such as specials going on at the Phoenix Club or services students may not have been aware of before. Batty Bash was also created as a way to get students together to celebrate Halloween.
By offering so many different events throughout the day, there is always something going on that appeals to many students. The program has changed over the years as it is run by students, so it’s created based on student perspectives.
“I hope students at least notice that the building looks a little different for the day with the Halloween theme but I also hope they learn about a service or convenience that they didn’t know we had by taking advantage of the candy in the different service locations or by winning a prize that was donated from a service location,” said Kelly Kramp, manager of programs and promotions for the University Union.
Caitlin Gorhman, promotions and marketing coordinator for the University Union, said, “It’s a fun opportunity for students to celebrate Halloween during the day. We’re playing Halloween music in the Union and it’s a good opportunity for students to win prizes. It’s an out-of-the-ordinary kind of day, so it should be a lot of fun.”
Comments are now open on Foreword Online and we want your feedback! Does your store host any events that involve other campus departments? Tell us about them below!
In the days before computerized technology, our industry ran solely on the knowledge and integrity of those who owned and operated bookstores. Known as ‘bookmen,’ they had to understand exactly how each action would affect their bottom line, learning thousands of titles and prices out of the buying guide without any resource to rely on besides their own memory.
To all that know him, Bob Beck, founder of Beck’s Book Store, defines that term.
In 1945, after spending time in the Armed Forces, Beck returned home to the North Side of Chicago and began to search for work. He found a position as a stock boy at Chicagoland bookstore, Faulkner’s Educational Books, where he eventually worked his way up to a managerial position. It was there he developed a solid reputation in the college bookstore industry.
After 10 years of work at Faulkner’s, Bob and his wife Nadine realized there was an opportunity to open a competitive store servicing Loyola University of Chicago and encouraged their boss to open an additional location. Mr. Faulkner didn’t want anything to do with expansion so Bob and Nadine took a courageous step and opened their own operation, Beck’s Book Store.
The endeavor was undoubtedly a success, growing with each passing year. In fact, over 50 years later, the store now boasts 10 locations, although its most intrinsic values remain the same.
“The key to our success was personal service,” Beck said. “We treated both professors and students professionally, had a very liberal return policy, and paid more than anyone else for used books. It all went back to being nice to people and it paid off!”
His family, who now maintains the legacy of Beck’s Book Store, would most certainly agree.
“His attention to customer service is what built the business and it’s what we still pride ourselves on today,” described Linda Olson, Beck’s daughter and C.E.O. of the stores.
Grandson Patrick Olson, who heads marketing & development, also believes it’s this quality that truly differentiates the store from others in the area.
“He’s cultivated a personality in a company that you just can’t find other places,” he said.
Fueling that dedicated service, Beck also understands the value of an unwavering work ethic.
“I was definitely a workaholic,” he admitted. “Most days, I’d work 6 am to 12 am but I didn’t care; I loved everything about it! This isn’t a get-rich-quick kind of business but I was devoted to it and kept my nose to the grindstone.”
Growing up with that example, Linda has had the opportunity to learn from this philosophy.
“I’m very lucky to have both lived and worked with someone so dedicated to their career,” she said. “He was willing to work hard for the money he made, but, above all, he did it with honesty and integrity; he’s truly a diamond in the rough.”
Beck’s influence extends far beyond just family, however. His employees and business associates uphold the same high opinion of him, too.
“He’s one of the most driven people I know. He was always there and knew exactly what needed to be done, because he understands the industry inside and out,” added John Mazar, longtime friend and general manager at Beck’s Book Store. “But, most importantly, he’s good-hearted and generous, and those are two qualities that don’t always accompany success.”
Pete Clark, longstanding MBS territory manager for the store and friend of the Beck family, would say the same.
“He’s one of the greatest guys in the world,” Clark stressed. “He’s always been committed to doing his job to the best of his ability and with honesty; that’s something you just don’t see very often.”
According to Linda, that respect is one of the many qualities her father embodies that has made a lasting impression.
“He’s taught me so much, but one thing I’ve always admired is how he’s treated his employees,” she said. “He’s always said that the store is only as good as the people that work there and he treated them like family because of that belief. He’s my inspiration!”
Now retired, Beck has high hopes for the younger generations as they move forward with the business.
“They have a big challenge ahead of them with the way the industry is changing, and they’ll have to be on their toes, but they’re already very good at that!” he said.
His family holds similar aspirations for the future of the store.
“Our goal is to stay up to date with the needs of students and continue to meet them as the industry progresses,” Linda added.
Their main mission, however, is to maintain the same qualities that Beck himself ingrained in the company.
“Our biggest hope is to continue to service higher education with the personal touch that my grandfather taught us,” Patrick said. “We hope to evolve with the times, but we’ll always keep our roots.”
“It got me fired up!” said Kevin Steele, manager of Auxiliary Services. “We learned some absolutely fantastic ideas and, within just a few weeks of the webinar, we were able to make relevant changes in our business!”
For instance, to spread the word about all they have to offer, the store recently integrated a new advertising campaign based off the suggestion of Stacy Elofir, Battle for Books presenter and director of University Store at Towson University.
During the webinar, Stacy discussed how she was currently working to integrate those that represent the true faces of Towson University, including faculty, staff, students and alumni, into the store’s marketing materials.
“People like to go online and in the store to see their friends’ faces so it’s been great for traffic and for goodwill! We post these pictures to Facebook, use them in our catalog, and put them on everything we can,” she explained. “I mean, who better to promote the store than the people that are already there?”
Seeing the potential value this concept held for his own campus, Steele pursued transforming that idea into a reality after the webinar. It didn’t take long, either! Last week, the store debuted their first Faces of TCTC banners on campus with great success!
“The response has been phenomenal!” Steele said. “Since the campaign rolled out, we’ve even had faculty volunteer to participate by being featured on future banners! And, when do you ever have that happen?! It’s been really great!”
In fact, even the college President took notice, visiting the store to check out the new campaign.
“I got a chance to talk with him about why we’re doing what we’re doing and he was thrilled!” he added.
As for Stacy, she’s just as excited that TCTC has been able to share in the idea’s success!
“I’m going to tell you a secret; I go online to stalk what many of you are doing so that I can borrow your ideas and make them work for us!” she admitted. “I suggest everybody do that; steal ideas from the best of your peers. Feel free to steal whatever you’d like from us!”
Steele and his team didn’t stop with just that one idea, either. In just over a month, they have integrated price comparison software and created a new way to promote the program, using information from the webinar.
“We saw an example of a Dare to Compare marketing piece and just loved it,” he said. “It’s such a clever way to position the program, so we created our own with that slogan.”
They also are in the process of implementing a rental program and completely updated their website, too.
“Seeing how successful other stores have been with these initiatives is great motivation!” he added. “It inspired me to take action and get started on these projects we’d been thinking about for awhile!”
As for the future, the store’s staff has no plans to slow down anytime soon! They’re already considering hosting a Fashion Show this spring, based on the success that presenter Jon Neil, director of The Skidmore Shop, discussed in the webinar!
“I’m not going to lie; we stole a ton of ideas!” Steele added. “It offered us the chance to hear how others are succeeding and then tailor those concepts to our own store. It’s brilliant!”
To those who missed out on the first Battle for Books webinar, Steele has just one suggestion.
“Don’t make the same mistake again! These webinars are an amazing resource for information; we can’t wait for the next one!”
Ready to Join the Rally?
Battle for Books is back by popular demand with Part 2! Hear how two industry-leading retailers are reclaiming student business, to help you better combat the competition on November 15 or November 16 at 2:00 p.m. CST!
•Challenge DotComs: Staying Competitive with Strategic Pricing
•Expand Your Options: Satisfying Student Demand with Rental
You’ll hear from:
•Jason Lorgan, director of UC-Davis Bookstore at University of California – Davis
•Sean McDonough, general manager of ACES Campus Store, Alfred State College
The deadline to register is November 14 at 12:00 pm CST; don’t miss out!
MBS Systems Users Symposium 2011 was an exciting experience for all in attendance; but for one person in particular, it had even more of an impact as it was her first time at the event!
“I didn’t really know what to expect when I first arrived,” Liselle Duncan, customer service technician at MC Books & More, explained. “But, as soon as I walked in, everyone made me feel right at home! It was such a friendly atmosphere and I learned so many new things!”
For Liselle, one major highlight was being able to network with other collegiate retailers from across the nation.
“It was great to learn from others in the industry and hear both their successes and struggles,” she said. “We’re all facing similar issues and it helps to see how others are approaching them. Exchanging ideas really gives you a different perspective!”
Most of all, however, Liselle enjoyed the opportunity to attend interactive class sessions.
“I learned so many new things,” she added. “From our system to social media, we heard a lot of really great suggestions at Symposium and I was so excited to go back and share them with the rest of the staff at our store.”
Because MC Books & More just started a rental program in the spring, Liselle’s favorite training session was the Textbook Rentals Workshop.
“It was so helpful to see a demonstration of all of the different procedures within the Text Applications,” she said. “Since we’re just getting started, there are certain processes I didn’t realize we could do and, now that I better understand them, we can streamline the process even further!”
Liselle wasn’t only studying bookstore related material during Symposium, either! Although she’s worked in the bookstore for ten years, she is also currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Homeland Security Management and spent some of her free time at the event studying for an upcoming midterm exam!
“I moved to the United States from Trinidad when I was a teenager and the bookstore was my first job here,” she explained. “I’ve worked my way up from a temporary position to full-time staff and I absolutely love my job, but I hope to one day work for the FBI!”
With lots of evening entertainment, studying during Symposium was no easy task!
“It was tough because it meant I couldn’t stay out too late at all the fun events MBS had planned for us, but I made it work and still went to each one!” she added. “I’m a very driven person and having a lot of work only motivates me to do more!”
Despite having a lot on her plate, Liselle wouldn’t change a thing about her experience.
“I met so many amazing people and learned so much invaluable information; it was great!” she said. “I came back to the store with lots of new ideas to share with my co-workers and we’re very excited to implement them in the near future!”
For other considering attending Symposium in the future, Liselle recommends the event without hesitation!
“I’m very grateful to my boss, Susan Kryszak, for the opportunity to attend Symposium this year and I would definitely encourage others to, as well,” she said. “It’s the best way to learn to use your system to its fullest potential and connect with your peers at the same time!”
Creating an original event that interests your students is no easy task. That’s why Iowa State University Book Store decided to get creative. As a way to encourage their students to have some fun, they recently hosted a Duct Tape Fashion Show.
“The bookstore often gets an evil, bureaucratic label placed on it because students see us as the place they come to spend too much money on textbooks; but that’s just not the case,” explained Amy DeLashmutt, marketing manager. “We’ve been trying to offer more student-driven events as a way to change that perception and this is just one example of how we’re reaching out!”
To spread the word, the store implemented a cross-channel marketing strategy.
“We put an ad in the newspaper, hung flyers near apparel merchandising classes, asked faculty to plug the event before their classes, advertised on our website, and posted about it on our social media pages,” she said.
They also received extra advertising from a dedicated student employee.
“We have a student that’s responsible for visual merchandising in the store so this event was right up her alley,” DeLashmutt added. “She did a great job of both generating positive PR for us and increasing awareness about the Fashion Show by posting to her personal Facebook page, sharing our posts, and even talking to students in the store!”
Making it easy for interested students to register, University Book Store directed them to a form on their website where they had the option to enter as an individual or a two-person team. For a ten dollar registration fee, participants also received six rolls of duct tape, an X-ACTO knife and a free t-shirt.
“We wanted to give them some materials to get started but when we first crunched the numbers, it was going to be more expensive than we’d anticipated,” she said.
In an attempt to make the promotion less costly, Shandra Van Berkum, UBS art and supply buyer, reached out to 3M who agreed to sponsor the event, donating the funds to reimburse the store for the supplies.
“It was wonderful!” DeLashmutt added. “The event was meant to drive exposure, rather than revenue, so our goal was to incur minimal cost to both the store and our students; I think we really achieved that!”
The store then organized a pick up day for participants to collect their supplies.
“They had a chance to select the color duct tape they wanted on a first-come, first-served basis. It created a sense of urgency and brought them into the store,” she said.
Their extensive promotional efforts paid off in the end with nine teams submitting entries for the Fashion Show.
“There were some really impressive garments; our students are very talented!” DeLashmutt added. “One of them used twenty rolls of duct tape!”
Once they were turned in, the garments were displayed in the store as a way to both drive traffic and offer recognition to the participants. Although judges determined a first, second and third place winner during the actual show, the store created a special People’s Choice category that could be voted for both online and in store.
“We set up a station in the store where students could vote for their favorite garment,” she explained. “Plus, we posted pictures of each outfit on our Facebook page and collected votes there, too!”
With over fifty attendees at the Fashion Show, participants strutted down the aisles of the bookstore in their duct tape garments and the winners were announced at the end of the event!
“Students loved it,” DeLashmutt said. “Quite a few even asked me when the next one was going to be, so it’s obviously not going to be a ‘one and done’ event!”
In fact, the store’s staff is considering expanding the idea into a bi-annual event, with a show both in the Fall and Spring.
“It’s a great way to get students involved and make them feel like they’re a part of the store,” she added. “It was a great success and I can’t wait to see how it grows in the years to come!”
Back by popular demand, Battle for Books is all-new with even more defensive strategies in Part 2!
Competitors are pulling out all the stops to steal your market share; but don’t raise the white flag just yet! Learn to level the playing field in the second installment of our exclusive webinar. You’ll hear how two more industry-leading retailers are reclaiming student business, to help you better combat the competition.
•Expand Your Options: Satisfying Student Demand with Rental
•Challenge DotComs: Staying Competitive with Strategic Pricing
You’ll hear from:
•Jason Lorgan, associate director of UC Davis Stores at University of California – Davis
• Sean McDonough, general manager of ACES Campus Store, Alfred State College
Ready to Join the Rally? Register today!
We value our partners’ input so when you offer suggestions we listen! That’s why we’ve enhanced the MBS Rental program even further with new features that offer your store an even simpler way to give students what they want!
Now, you can access over 110,000 titles approved for guaranteed pricing, allowing you to boost your selection and better compete with online retailers! Plus, with unlimited quantities you don’t need to worry about renting over the guaranteed amount!
There’s no hassle, either. With the option of non-serialized rentals, your students can return their books right at the buyback counter!*
Best of all, you still benefit from the highest guarantee in the industry at up to 46% of the retail price! With no restrictions and no contracts, the new and improved MBS Rental keeps the sale in your store and your students happy with the easiest program available!
You can submit your list as early as November 21! Just email Rental@MBSbooks.com to get started!
*Take advantage of this option in May 2012
That’s Not All, Either!
Find out even more exciting details about our new and improved rental program by visiting our website!
South Central College recently held this amazing event as a way to help the local community. Inspired by the determination of the supervisor of the college bookstore, Erin Kupier, the day raised awareness of both poverty and the need for shoes, making quite an impact! Learn the details in the following excerpt from the article SCC Blisters the Pavement for a Shoe Cause, written by Robb Murray the local newspaper, The Free Press.
As the barefoot legions paraded by, feet dirty from a outdoor jaunt around campus, one passerby wondered aloud.
“Are they protesting athlete’s foot?” he joked, “or the high cost of shoes?”
Answers: no on the first, and mostly no on the second. A few dozen students as well as a handful of faculty and staff at South Central College made a symbolic gesture in hopes of raising awareness to a little heralded charity.
During the past few weeks, they’ve been collecting shoes for the community’s needy. By Tuesday they’d raised 192 pairs of shoes. With the collection period open until Friday, they predict they’ll be well over the 200 mark by the time they deliver the shoes to their recipients.
The program’s genesis: Erin Kuiper, manager of SCC’s bookstore, attended a conference for college bookstore operators where she heard from a shoe company CEO about the mostly undocumented need for shoes. And not just for children. Adults in poverty-stricken families often need shoes as well.
So Kuiper came back to campus inspired to be part of a movement known as One Day Without Shoes. Communities across the nation Tuesday saw a scene similar to the one on SCC’s campus: barefoot people walking, hoping to be asked why they were doing so.
Andrew Gould, president of SCC’s Student Senate, led the march around campus. He said his goal was a simple one.
“We’re just trying to raise awareness that there are kids out there without shoes,” he said.
Kuiper said she and Gould, after deciding to go ahead with the idea, decided they wanted the shoes to remain local. Kuiper called the United Way where Executive Director Laura Bowman put her in contact with Al Roehm, who runs the Connecting Kids program.
Connecting Kids helps disadvantaged children get scholarships so they can attend summer camps or programs at the YMCA. Roehm often comes into contact with children who could use a pair of shoes.
“I told Erin, ‘If you want to give them to Connecting Kids, I’ll get them to people that can use them,’” Roehm said.
Students Kellie Jansen and Allyson Mead, lingering in their bare feet in the student lounge after the walk was over, said they just came to help.
“It makes people more aware that one person can make a difference,” Jansen said.
Added Mead, standing next to nearly 200 pairs of shoes: “And we all came together to do this.”
QR codes are an easy way to engage with your customers. But when implementing these 2D barcodes, your goal should always be to create a more interactive consumer experience by providing added value. Consider these tips, written by Diane Devine, before creating your own
- Provide added value: QR codes lend an air of excitement. Consumers are expecting something that is not available elsewhere, is worthwhile and even somewhat surprising— i.e.: a special mobile website with rich media and contextual relevance such as exclusive content, interesting demos and/or exclusive offers. The QR experience should add value to the user and to your brand.
- Make it mobile: Be sure to use a mobile-enabled and optimized site. Do not just redirect to your website and/or link to a non-mobile-optimized site. Especially avoid any links to pages containing Flash or other slow-to-load programs. You must connect with the user on their terms within the communication channel they choose and respect the needs of that medium.
- Make it fast: Speed is of the essence. If you are showing a video/testimonial and/or demonstration, think well under two minutes, and that includes loading time.
- Provide a compelling call-to-action and clearly communicate it: Make the offer worth the effort and clearly communicate it near the QR code so your audience immediately knows why they should bother scanning your code (e.g. “Scan to Win”).
- Brand your QR code design: Use every opportunity to own the user experience, while still adhering to best practices for functionality. Make the design of the QR code embody your brand image. A good example is how Macy’s brands its QR codes using its star image.
- Test, measure and improve: This technology affords ongoing opportunities to test, learn and continuously improve. Conduct initial tests to ensure the bar code works as planned and a communication test to see which messaging and/or landing page drives the best results. Most importantly, you can measure and track responses, such as measuring the number of times people snap the code, tracking where they go after they hit the landing page and determining what they do after they have viewed a video.
Fueled by unanticipated winds and unseasonably dry wood, a lightning strike sparked a blaze in northern Minnesota’s expansive forests this August, creating one of the largest wildfires in the state’s history. Engulfing nearly 100,000 acres, the unpredictable Pagami Creek Fire left Erin Heep, new manager of Vermillion Community College Bookstore and Public Information Officer for the U.S. Forest Service, battling more than just her first textbook rush this summer!
Looking for a change of pace, Heep began managing the bookstore in mid May.
“I had been a botanist for the past 13 years and, as much as I loved it, I felt like I needed a job that gave me more responsibilities,” she explained. “When the position at the bookstore opened, I thought it would be a good fit!”
She didn’t have much time to make a complete transition to her new career, though! Shortly after the start of the school year, Heep was mobilized as Public Information Officer during the forest fire in Ely, Minnesota.
“I’ve been active in this role for about six years through the U.S. Forest Service,” she said. “My responsibilities are really twofold: to convey information to the public about the incident and to communicate updates internally.”
Although those two tasks may sound simple enough, they add up to a lot of effort! For instance, to ensure the community stayed up to date on the latest news regarding the fire, Heep and her team often communicated with the media.
“We wrote news releases, held community meetings, and offered camp tours to provide the public with a synopsis of the progress that was being made,” she added.
With the fire spanning nearly 100,000 acres and crews from across the nation helping to manage the flames, internal communication was just as important.
“It was our job to maintain the information boards located around camp and to ensure all personnel had access to the relevant updates they needed each day,” she said.
Heep was also tasked with preparing crews before they left the camp.
“Because firefighters were in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, many would paddle out to remote lakes and camp there for up to 14 days with no break,” she added. “There’s no cell reception out there, so it’s very isolated. We made them packets of newspapers, crossword puzzles, and anything else we could think of to keep them occupied during the evenings when they were back at camp.”
Along with these responsibilities, she also maintained a full schedule at the bookstore!
“It was crazy! I would go to the incident command post around 6:00 am and work till a half an hour before the store opened,” she explained. “Then, I’d head over there and work a full day, usually in my fire clothes because I didn’t even have time to change! After I closed up 2:00 pm, I’d head back to the fire and work till about 10:30 pm. It definitely kept me busy!”
To most, maintaining such a hectic schedule would seem nearly impossible! But, it’s all in a day’s work, according to Heep.
“I’m a very organized person and go into each day with a plan of my priorities,” she explained. “I knew there was no room for wasted time so I just kept myself extremely focused on my goals and what I needed to do to achieve them.”
After two long weeks, Heep was finally demobilized from the incident, although she continued to volunteer occasionally as management of the fire continued.
“It was nice to have my life slow down to a more manageable pace,” she admitted. “It gave me a chance to relax a bit and get settled in at the bookstore.”
Never one to relax for long, however, she keeps herself busy year-round with other interests!
“My fire assignments aren’t what keep me busiest during the year,” she explained. “My time is usually split between managing the college bookstore and my freelance copyediting business, The Bee’s Knees Editing. I also regularly volunteer as the chairperson of the Ely Area Food Shelf.”
For others trying to balance chaotic schedules, Heep has one simple suggestion.
“Keep yourself focused on where you are at that moment,” she advises. “If you can completely focus on work while you’re there, and do the same for personal activities, you’ll be so much more productive. You have to be able to quickly change gears mentally.”