If you’re like me and you want to make a difference, there is no business more rewarding than campus retail.
Guest Author: Terri Mitchell
Terri Mitchell directs Navarro College Bookstore’s three branch stores and the Beautique & Books/Proudly Serves Starbucks Café in Corsicana, Texas. She organizes bookstore events for the community works with the Navarro College Foundation to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarship funding. Ms. Mitchell earned an associate degree from Navarro College before attending Texas A&M, where she graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s in business management.
I am passionate about my work, because I know what Navarro College means to our community. In our county, only about 25 percent of adults hold college degrees. The percentage of higher degree-holders for the country is 33.4 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. We want to do whatever we can as a bookstore to help more people in our county complete college.
7 Habits of a Highly Valued Campus Store
Director Terri Mitchell works with her entire team to generate campus store relevance. Here are a some of the Navarro Bookstore habits that foster community loyalty.
- Empower students
When you market your store or plan your event, consult with the experts: other students. Help them bring their ideas to life.
Reach out to other departments and campus support services. Discuss ways you can help each other reach shared goals.
- Deploy ambassadors
Look for volunteer influencers among your student employees. Task them with spreading the news about the store and its events.
- Contribute to committees
Get involved with campus committees. Awareness of community goals helps foster support for your store.
- Show up for big events
Attend student games, concerts and award ceremonies. Students notice.
- See the big picture
Find out how your store’s services fit into the school mission. Talk to higher ups; review the strategic plan.
- Share your mission
Remind customers that when they shop with you, they’re helping the school, the students and a vital cause. Your services make excellent higher education more attainable for all.
Your school’s mission is your campus retail mission
Navarro is committed to becoming a nationally recognized two-year school. Our bookstore hosts events and promotions that help the college meet its mission. In partnership with the Navarro College Foundation, we organize an annual Dances for Our Stars. In the last three years, it has raised over half a million in scholarships. Our bookstore’s holiday event has become so popular, we now host it in the largest venue on campus, the Cook Education Center. Everyone from the marketing department, to enrollment, to our college president turns up to celebrate. Navarro College invites local high school students for their first taste of college life along with daycares, businesses and community organizations.
A college bookstore’s relevance to its school and community is only as limited as your imagination. Think about those students coming through your doors now — those just leaving high school. Many of them grew up during the recession. Some had dads and moms that lost jobs. Imagine what your college will do for them. Consider what that does for your community.
Campus retail has a vital role in higher education
The Navarro Bookstore events allow me to help students who don’t have enough money for course materials. I can invite them into my office. We can discuss scholarships.
But there are smaller ways to make a difference every day. If there is confusion about which materials a student needs for a class, I will call that department to find out exactly what’s required. If necessary, I walk the student over to the department. Otherwise, they might feel so frustrated that they get out to the parking lot, get in their car and leave. You don’t want to lose them between doors!
Students are very smart and savvy. They only need a little support. Trust me. If you take the time, they’ll remember. When students know they’ve found a person on campus who cares, they come back. They return to the source — and that’s a win.
* Thank you Terri Mitchell for sharing your point of view with us. Please note that this post was written earlier this year before March.