Navarro College Bookstore Director, Terri Mitchell, has a saying that reflects her commitment to students: “When you invest in students, you’re investing in the future.”
For Ms. Mitchell, it’s critical that all Navarro Bookstore’s choices work for students. That rule applies to everything from textbook and general merchandise sales to fundraising events that bring hundreds of visitors from campus and the surrounding Texas community.
It also applies to her choice of MBS as a system and wholesale partner. For her, a critical feature of the system agreement was that it made Navarro Bookstore an MBS Premier Partner. This status provides VIP access to the one of the largest inventory of used books in North America. It brings savings on shipping, freight, last-minute orders and other services. It provides bookstores with expert assistance during events like rush, buyback and adoptions.
Ms. Mitchell wanted more than a typical college store partner. She wanted to work with a company that would provide superb, unwavering service that helps her save students money and streamline back office tasks. MBS representatives went out of their way to build a personal relationship with her, she said. That service made the company stand out.
“When we were changing over our POS system, the personal relationships with [MBS reps] Field Marketing Representative Kerry McCorkle and Senior Systems Sales Consultant Rick Curtis and the others from MBS made a difference,” she said. “They really worked hard to build the relationship, and they haven’t abandoned us.”
Customer service at the fore
Ms. Mitchell sets a high bar for customer service. In her community, she’s famous for efforts to recruit new Navarro students and help them stay in school. She markets bookstore events throughout the county and beyond, which raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in student scholarships each term.
“When I go into town to post flyers for events, everyone says, ‘Here comes Terri. Here comes Navarro Bookstore,’” she said.
This personal touch helps her win collaborators on and off campus. For a Grinch-themed holiday event, she partnered with the cosmetology department to give participants Whoville hairdos. When the bookstore collaborated with the Navarro College Foundation for a Dance With the Stars night, the event raised over $200,000 in scholarship funds.
MBS has offered the kind of above-and-beyond service Navarro bookstore provides students, Ms. Mitchell said. If it didn’t, she would find a different partner.
“It’s just like it is with students. If they didn’t get good customer service from us, they’d go somewhere else. We absolutely expect the same level of service from our partner.”
Bookstore management tools that serve the whole community
The expertise MBS brings to its system and wholesale partnership streamlines Ms. Mitchell’s management duties and gives her more time to devote to students.
“I want to spend my time making a difference. I don’t want to be in an office all the time,” she said.
Ms. Mitchell said she values the sophisticated bookstore management resources the company offers. MBS designed these services and tools to further campus store revenue and relevance. They give directors and managers more freedom to expand their influence on campus.
“Now, campus store people have to be everything. We must wear many hats, and we cannot forget that. We have to utilize all our resources.”
Her MBS system gives her a robust easy-to-use retail management application suite, Arc, that simplifies office-based tasks. It includes inSite, an online retail service that gives students 24/7 access to the store.
InSite also facilitates student loyalty, she said. One of her favorite features is a price comparison tool that allows students to purchase the lowest-priced course materials on the market directly through the Navarro Bookstore site. Even if a student purchases an option from another retailer, Navarro can still benefit from the sale when the student is using inSite.
“On inSite the students can see whether other sites offer a lower price. That builds trust. But, because the program lets us be the ones navigating for the student, some of that money goes back to our school.”
Meanwhile, the MBS wantlist management tool, SimpleSource, has helped her get more used books for a lower average cost, she said. This, in turn, lets her cut costs to students and offer competitive prices. That reduces her back-office workload.
“It helps me to be able to have someone else who can do the tedious time-consuming things like having to search for affordable options,” she said. “So, yes, the MBS partnership has certainly been beneficial to us.”
A partner in campus store evolution
For Ms. Mitchell, the future of campus stores hinges on creativity and collaboration. Her MBS system and wholesale partnership give her the freedom to leave the back office and devote time to tasks that ensure her store is known for its focus on students and the community.
“Obviously, campus store directors must have some office time,” she said. “But that old business model is changing. If you’re not out working with the community, you’re going to miss opportunities to make a difference.”
Navarro’s partnership with MBS helps Ms. Mitchell redefine the role of the campus store director. As a result, the bookstore’s relevance is likely to soar for years to come.