Why do the University of St. Thomas Campus Stores offer a robust inclusive access program, digital textbooks, print and used textbooks, as well as a strong rental program? Because students want options. We spoke with Course Material Manager Tami Steinke about the store’s rental program and benefits it offers the campus store.
“Our in-house rental program gives students options aside from purchasing textbooks or using digital. Our digital sales have increased, and we have a robust inclusive access program. However, it's about offering students as many options as possible. We want them to shop with us, and options give us a competitive advantage,” Steinke said.
For the in-house rental program, Steinke assesses what adopted materials they can get a rental rebate on, which materials she might be able to sell online and she identifies the materials that are likely to be adopted again. Using her own personal formula, she calculates how much she will be able to sell the books for.
“I have a formula that I use and everything in a certain percentage, and then I just add the titles that fit into my parameters as a rental,” Steinke said. “It's been pretty successful. There are some titles that we don't rent, but we are able to offer a wide array of rentals which makes the program more visible to students. It's nice to have that option and offers students lower prices.”
Over the years, Ms. Steinke has become an expert at working with MBS rental quotes to maximize the store’s rental rebates.
“As soon as it’s available, I send in a rental quote. I sent ours for fall as soon as MBS started accepting fall lists. I always submit right away, even if I only have one adoption. I will rework my rental list throughout the term as I get new adoptions or just to see if anything else on the list might get picked up as a rental. It takes less than a minute to submit the rental list, so it doesn’t hurt to just keep reworking it because you might get that title picked up as a rental that wasn’t originally — which I've actually had happen with summer classes,” Steinke said. “I had a couple late adoptions and there were a few books on there that we had sent previously that we didn't get a quote on. Then I submitted again, and we did!
“I probably rework my rental list at least once a week — if not more. It really depends on how many new adoptions I have gotten. I don't stop when the semester starts. This is a continual thing. We have classes that start later, and people are still buying books. I also make sure to do a rework toward the end of this semester because sometimes there are increases in the rental prices and we want to maximize the amount that we get back,” Steinke said. “It’s so easy. It takes seconds to rework and transmit. Then I just wait for the email from MBS that the quote is ready. Once I submit the list, my part is done, and I can move on to other things. It is definitely worth it. I don’t know why everyone doesn’t do it.”
If you are planning to start or restart a rental program in your college store, Ms. Steinke shared her three best practices.
- Work for early adoptions because it will help drive rentals
- Submit your rental list early and rework often
- Don’t have a stopping point
“I suggest trying to have as many adoptions in as early as possible and then submitting your list on the first day that it's available. Keep sending it in — even if you don’t have new adoptions. If it has been a week, just send it in again. You never know what might be added. MBS deals with a lot of schools throughout the country and in Canada. As stores start submitting their want lists and rental quotes, the demand increases,” Steinke said. “Also, don't stop when the semester starts. I don’t have a specified stopping point. Considering all the things that we have to do in our day in the bookstore, this is one of the easiest and quickest things to do. It takes just a moment. Maybe I am sending in a want list, so then I just send in a rental quote, too. I have the same philosophy around want listing. Even if we haven’t gotten a new adoption in, I just keep reworking it. And if you have the MBS system, it’s quick and easy. There’s just so many advantages.”