Follett Features

Building Impactful Relationships to Lower Costs for Students


WESTCHESTER, IL, Apr 23, 2018

Follett campus store managers across the U.S. and Canada know that one of the most impactful ways to save students money on course materials is through strong faculty relationships and communication.  Why?  The simple action of faculty submitting their course material adoptions on time can ultimately provide students with the widest variety of low-cost options – sometimes up to 80 percent off the purchase price of a new book.

As a manager at one of Follett’s 1200+ campus stores, Tim Pichler quickly learned this unique element of campus retail.  Now one year into his role as the store manager at the Blackhawk Bookstore in Janesville, Wisconsin, Tim reflected on his mission to build campus relationships and spread the word about the importance of timely adoptions.

“One of the first things I did was attend faculty in-service days.  Each academic department had its own breakout, and I had a fifteen-minute window to talk to instructors, assistants and deans.  The biggest piece was sharing a lot of the ‘whys’.  I talked about why adoption dates are what they are.  I explained why the dates impact our sourcing strategy and pricing for students,” Tim explained. 

Among his cost-lowering tips, Tim suggested faculty steer clear of ordering books with online access codes if they don’t plan to use that component. 

“A lot of eyes were wide open,” he added, recalling the moments when faculty and staff members fully understood their impact on student savings.

Ultimately, Tim’s outreach translated into real results for the store and students.  The store reached 100% faculty adoption compliance two months earlier for fall 2017 classes compared to fall 2016.  With adoptions in hand earlier than the previous year:

  • Tim was able to identify the appropriate quantity of course materials needed to cover enrolled students and therefore increased inventory sell-through by nine percent.
  • Tim had more time to source low-cost options, which led to increased used text sales compared to fall 2016.

With course materials affordability and access top of mind, Tim and the Follett team introduced a new tool to the Blackhawk campus near the end of 2017.  Follett DiscoverTM – a suite of tools designed to enhance the course materials journey for faculty and student – was implemented right before the spring term. 

In addition to streamlining the adoption process for faculty, Follett Discover has a positive impact on student affordability.  The tool makes it easier for faculty to submit adoptions on time, so the bookstore is better prepared to source the lowest-cost options for students - like used and rental editions.  Faculty also have the ability to adopt affordable non-traditional formats like Open Educational Resources (OER).

“I was learning right along with the faculty and students,” Tim said of the Follett Discover integration and training.  “I set up appointments at each campus we support and made myself available for the staff to learn how to use the new system.” 

At first, the faculty and staff seemed apprehensive about using the new tool to find course materials and submit adoptions.  But, as Tim recalled, their hesitation disappeared pretty quickly as they learned how to use the tool. 

“They couldn’t believe how easy it was,” Tim said.  “I’m excited to see how much earlier those adoptions come in.”

Although Follett Discover will no doubt improve how and when faculty select their course materials, Tim still relies on that personal interaction to maintain strong relationships with faculty.  Whether he’s following up with department assistants via phone, stopping by an instructor’s office to discuss options or hosting a faculty/staff appreciation event in his store, Tim recognizes the importance of making himself available to his campus partners.

“I think that being able to go to their meetings, letting them put a face to the emails and just being available makes a big difference.  They know I’m willing to come to them.”

As his first year at Blackhawk wraps up, Tim can’t help but recall his first few days on the job.   “When I first came to the school, I attended my first Bookstore Advisory Committee meeting.  The store had been without a manager for several months, and during the meeting the campus expressed its doubts about the bookstore.”

Now, Tim can confidently say those doubts have faded and the relationships he’s built have helped drive success for the bookstore.  “Everyone’s been very receptive,” he said.  “The most important thing I can pass on to another campus store manager is to just get out there and meet who you can meet.”

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For more information on the impact of early adoptions, check out this Follett Insight article: Lowering the Cost of Textbooks through On-time Adoption Submissions.

For more information on Follett Discover, visit follett.com/discover.


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