We all know that price is essential to winning student business. And, convenience is the key to keeping it. In order to gain continued sales from any customer, you have to ensure that your store’s processes are simple and seamless for both your staff and your students; which is exactly why Stacy Elofir, director of University Store at Towson University, decided to create an after-hours drop off option for rental returns.
“I actually thought of the idea at the MBS Systems User Symposium a couple of years ago,” she explained. “I kept talking to people about rental because we had just started our program, and I was trying to think of a way that a drop-off return could work. And then it occurred to me: it’s just like a bank deposit slip! If we serialized our rentals, then the process would be like a simple library drop."
And, it worked! The store now has a drop box, just like a library, with “deposit slips” similar to those at a drive-thru bank. A student simply fills out their name, ID number and the name of book on the form, and places it in the store’s designated location.
“We then collect the books and manually return them through the MBS system. Easy!” she described.
“The MBS Rental return module is easy to use and the results are good; students really like the option,” she continued. “It also makes less work for us. This fall, we had 40,000 rentals outstanding and the room in the picture was completely filled with rental books. Had all of those been returned through buyback it would have been a nightmare. Through our rental drop off option, however, we were able to offer a convenient service to the students and reconcile as the resources became available.”
Overall, the service has been an effective solution for University Store and one Elofir recommends others explore. To those considering such an option, she shared a few pieces of advice:
“First and foremost, establish what you are trying to accomplish. Ask everyone and look at all of the possible problem areas when you begin, but remember to keep it simple,” she advised. “Don’t be afraid to make changes if something is not working. Originally, I thought we would make the slips with a carbon copy so students could have a receipt and then we decided, why take on the expense? Students opt for electronic receipts now and it’s just one more piece of paper to throw away. The bottom line should always be ‘what does your store need to make it work?’”
Although the option did take Elofir and her staff some time to plan and implement, she now believes the benefits far outweighed the initial effort.
“We’re offering convenience to students, increasing return percentages and spreading positive PR. It goes a long way when speaking to someone about how they couldn’t get in to return their books because we were closed or the lines were too long,” she said. “I LOVE IT!”