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MBS Rental Series:Reacting to the Need for Rental

Posted by admin on 5/1/11 11:00 PM
Topics: textbook rental, college store stories, MBS Rental

At MBS, we continually strive to provide you with superior products and services to simplify your store’s essentials. But, our innovative solutions aren’t born overnight. Over the next two weeks, we will give you an in-depth look into our company’s journey with one of the most popular textbook options today, in our four-part Rental Series. See firsthand how we took this trend to the next level, from conception all the way to the announcement of our latest MBS Rental enhancements!


“Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity - not a threat,” Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple Inc., once said. And at MBS, we feel the same way. Putting this mentality to work, we recognized early on that many stores were struggling under the pressure to provide lower-cost text options, yet hesitant to risk the hassle and financial burden associated with rental. Adapting to the obvious need, MBS stepped in to create a solution our partners could feel confident about.

“There were a few stores that were offering programs, but many weren’t pursuing the option,” explained Sarah Shiflett, Vice President of Customer Services. “We reacted to the very early stages of the rental trend, and were one of the first to create a fully integrated program, both in the brick and mortar store and for the stores’ e-commerce sites.”

Placing a high value on the input of our partners, MBS turned to stores such as University of Central Missouri, who were already offering rental, to gain insight on how to better develop a program that included those aspects most relevant to retailers. “We understood the concerns that went along with the rental process,” said Shiflett. “So, we created a focus group as a way to determine what stores would need to support an effective program in their stores.”

Bringing multiple years of experience with the rental trend to the table, Charlie Rutt, Director of University Store at UCM, offered several ideas for MBS to focus on improving while creating their program.

“Rental has been a part of our institution’s culture since the 1940s, but it’s more than reasonable to say that before we became an MBS customer our program was strictly manual and extremely labor intensive,” Rutt explained. “We were basically managing rental on index cards, so our system was wrought with filing errors, because data was recorded by hand, and transactions were very slow at the register. Everything about it was labor!”

Using Rutt’s ideas, as well as other group members’ feedback as a basis, MBS set out to create a program that would meet the needs of the collegiate retail store. “Our system serialized rental which provided a way for stores to manage and control their inventory, tracking it all the way through the system,” Shiflett added. “The focus was always on streamlining the process so we could offer a considerably higher return on investment with significantly less effort.”

And the results have transformed the marketplace, not only reducing countless stores’ hesitations toward implementing a program, but also converting many into rental advocates.

“I have the absolute highest regard for MBS as a company,” added Rutt. “Not only do they ask their customers what they need, but they deliver. Our system now has high integrity with secure and accurate data, and we’ve seen a great return on investment given the efficiency of the program.”

Another benefit the store has experienced is the ability to more effectively use temporary employees, at a lower cost, according to Rutt. “Our original program was very prescriptive and required memorization to complete transactions,” he said. “But with the MBS program, the process is much more intuitive. The application prompts each required step, so it’s much easier for new employees to follow.”

Even with its success, MBS was by no means finished with rental after the program’s original release. “They view rental as a work in progress because they are committed to improving it, as with any MBS program,” said Rutt.

He added, “I think another great example of that commitment is their annual Systems Users Symposium. They offer the event as an opportunity for their users to interact directly with the company, face-to-face. It’s a collaborative relationship, and evidence that they want their customers to become stronger retailers; that’s why I see them as solution-providers.”

For more information on the MBS Rental program, talk with your MBS Representative.

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