They're long, tiring and often stressful, but buyback events are an important part of your end-of-term activities. How do you know if they were successful, and where do you turn to improve?
While measuring your overall earnings is a good place to start, it's not the only way — or your most thorough option — when measuring an event's success at your store. Stores have evolved with a rise in buyback competition over the past few years to measure units returned in edition to money earned. Rental's continued surge in popularity has also led stores to take returns into account when gauging a buy's success.
These are all important factors to consider when measuring the success of your buy, but they don't always offer clues about ways you can improve and make sure your next buy is a big success.
The major key is giving students what they want, and we've got some ways to nail that down.
Ask your students
What better way to determine if your customers liked your event than to ask them directly? That's why the importance of student surveys cannot be overstated. Tools like SurveyMonkey make it easy to generate shareable, trackable surveys for free, with more robust tools for paid users.
A survey is as helpful as the questions you ask. To make sure you have good, actionable information that you can use to see what you did well or areas you could change or improve, ask questions pertaining to your buy, like
- What did you think of the buyback locations? Would you prefer more locations/remote buys in different places?
- Were you aware of the times, dates and locations of the buy?
- Would you recommend selling books back to us to your roommate or friends? If not, why?
- How could your buyback experience have been improved?
There will be some responses you might anticipate that you can't simply snap your fingers and change, like "I didn't receive as much back as I'd have liked" or "I didn't use this 'required' book in my class." But if the overwhelming number of responses factor around these topics, that can tell you it's time to consider pushing more cost-saving options like used, digital and rental, or streamlining your faculty adoption process. Plus, the right questions will help you identify ways you can tweak or improve your marketing, hours or availability, raising awareness and giving students what they want out of your buy.
If participation in surveys is slim, you can promote them on social media, showcasing that answers from surveys can help you continue to improve buybacks and other events or services for students. Offering participants a chance to win a prize can be a major motivating factor.
Host a focus group
Similar to a student survey, a focus group can give you direct insight into what students want and how they see buyback. But while they take a little more work and involve a limited number of students, focus groups lead to in-depth discussion, can help specific ideas as the discussion unfolds and can make your students feel like they have a direct stake in your store.
Focus groups can last for about two hours and involve a dozen or so participants and a moderator looking to discuss a specific topic. Bloomberg writes that the keys to a successful focus group are to:
- Know what you're researching,
- Find people to participate,
- Choose a location,
- Choose a moderator, and
- Analyze your results
In your case, you'll know what you're researching: students' feedback on your buy. Finding people should be easy enough for you as well, as you'll want a dozen or so people who have participated in your buy.
Bloomberg's Louise Lee advises you don't want to host the focus group at your store "to keep the setting neutral to minimize bias in the discussion." Look into using a room in a common area on campus. She also suggests picking a third-party moderator to minimize the perception of bias, although you can host it yourself if you feel comfortable moderating a lively discussion and won't take criticism personally.
Lastly, analyzing your results should involve looking for themes or ideas that stood out during the focus groups and using them to guide your strategy and plan for next year.
While focus groups shouldn't be your only method of student outreach or idea generation, they have helped stores shift their buyback strategy to better appeal to students and achieve demonstrably better results.
We talk a lot about social listening and how it's important for customer relations. Paying attention to what people are saying about your store on social media will also let you see how people feel about your buy in real time.
Whether it's a kudo or a complaint, students are likely to tweet, post and share their feelings. This can let you know if your change to your rental extension policy was a big hit or if you need to staff employees during peak hours to prevent long waits in line almost instantaneously. Using a simple social listening tool can help you keep on top of the action and identify what your students want. If your store has a social presence or you've established your own hashtags, be sure to stay extra vigilant during buyback times — and don't forget to respond!
With the right methodology and a little legwork, finding out exactly what students want out of your buy can be easy to achieve and execute. What methods have you tried that worked? Leave a comment and let us know!