|From left, College Store manager Rose Adakai, and staff Lin Comer, Jack Askin and Angie Hood.|
“When I went through the software training, it took a lot of time to figure out how the system works, but from that training I was able to determine steps that weren’t being taken. We needed to do a better job with receiving and invoicing, making sure everyone knows how to do paperwork correctly,” she said. “Most of the loss was because of human error, and that was from lack of training for the staff. Now they know how the system works. That, combined with my background knowledge of running a bookstore, has helped turn things around.”
A representative from Nebraska Book Company, an enterprise that offers contract services for college bookstores nationwide, provided training.
This year, the store closed the last week of June – the end of the fiscal year – so the staff could perform a thorough inventory.
“Usually the inventory was done in a couple of days, but we inventoried every item. Formerly, the staff did bulk counts, but after running my own store, I have learned you need to scan each item. Books come from different vendors, and you have to look at each book in a stack to make sure which ones are used and which are new. It really pays to take the extra time,” Adakai said.
She also watches the purchasing and inventory carefully. Sales and promotions each month have helped reduce inventory, while purchases have been planned to coincide with vendor promotions.
“For instance, you buy for fall at the beginning of the year, and in fall for next spring. The National Association of College Stores and the Albuquerque campus bookstore help us out with vendors, notifying us of vendors who will give us discounts. The challenge is also finding the right merchandise for our students and other customers,” she said.
The store was renovated last year, prior to Adakai’s hiring, and more diverse merchandise was added, as was a snack bar/refreshment area. These changes, along with the improved business practices and better training, have resulted in a more contented staff who, Adakai reports, are proud that things have turned around, and reflect that in improved customer service.
“The staff likes the changes,” Adakai says. “Our customers – the students and the customers who come here to order books and audiotapes – see it. They say the store is nice, the atmosphere welcoming, and comment on how customer service-oriented the staff is. It’s great to hear it.”
Adakai has also introduced more books for a general audience, and is evaluating what sells well as more locals learn that the UNMG store has more than textbooks. Children’s books, she says, sell particularly well.
“A lot of people don’t have access to the Internet and want to come here and order books and audio tapes. I plan to add bargain books for the holiday season this year. All of this money goes toward making a profit,” she said.