Persuading faculty to turn in adoptions early can be like trying to turn the Titanic. It often seems like academics exist in a world apart from administrators and retailers. In a way, they do: Many see their work as a last refuge for higher ideals within capitalist society. They take pride in how little they think about things like business and money. So, how can a humble retailer hope to catch their attention?
Despite the difficulties, some stores manage to wrangle a full 50% to 75% of book orders from a faculty before each term’s deadline. As a result, these collegiate retailers are able to increase store efficiencies, purchase more at buyback and ensure students have a wide selection of used books and other cost-saving course material options.
These stores draw on one or more of the three big secrets of early adoption success. They make the process fun, offer informative explanations and keep their communications human and real.
1. Make it fun
Grand Valley State University bookstore created a contest and succeeded in collecting more than 50% of their adoptions a month before deadline. The store offered a pizza party to the department that submitted its adoptions earliest — a very wise move. The contest tapped into departmental pride and academics’ appetite for competition. Book orders flooded in like they never had before. In the end, the contest saved GVSU bookstore hours in labor and overhead while furthering associates’ relations with faculty.
2. Be informative
Faculty often don’t understand why bookstores need early adoptions. Instructors don’t realize submitting orders early will benefit students — and make it more likely that their classes will have all the required course materials on time. Bookstores that provide succinct explanations of the need for early adoptions see greater success, especially if they partner with a department chair when spreading the word. For faculty, administrative email is a lower priority than communication from colleagues, students and superiors. If your adoption request goes out via a department chair, more educators will believe it’s important.
3. Keep it real
We’re all more likely to open an email that seems like it comes from a real human being. Faculty are no different. Administrative communications tend to be formal, distant and cold. If your store follows that model, chances are high that your email will end up in the trash. Instead of sending emails that risk making you seem like yet another piece of the bureaucracy, use a tactic like the Ichabod Shop when you reach out. The Topeka, Kansas store used memes — humorous pics with captions — to communicate with faculty, adding a human touch to their requests and boosting early adoption numbers as a result. Faculty might not be moved by the business-friendly pleas of a bookstore manager, but even the most serious-minded will crack a smile at the sight of an adorable pup holding a coffee cup in his mouth.