The University Bookstore is undergoing some changes after the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point hired the Huron Consulting Group to conduct efficiency studies on campus.The Huron Studies outlined and proposed efficiency plans in various areas throughout the university. The University Bookstore was one of the things that underwent scrutiny by the Huron Consulting Group and they made the suggestion that the bookstore be outsourced. While text rental, a separate entity from the bookstore, is doing well and is financially stable, the bookstore has suffered some loss of revenue over the past few years. The Huron Consulting Group helps places like UWSP to generate revenue and it is hoped that some of their suggestions will help turn the bookstore around.
“One of the recommendations was that because of some lost revenue in the system that we might want to consider outsourcing. We as a campus have not made decisions on anything. We are exploring lot of options but never once have we said are we going to outsource,” said Al Thompson, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs.
“Huron came in April and interviewed everyone. They interviewed bookstore employees, they looked at the books, they looked at the numbers and that was their conclusion. We are studying their suggestions and try to figure which ones work and which ones won’t.”
The university is currently working to revamp the bookstore to stop the loss of revenue and turn things around financially. One of the things that the bookstore is considering changing is pre-ordering the books for purchase. If a professor orders more books for a class than the students will purchase, the bookstore loses money. One idea to prevent this loss is to only order the number of books that students want.
Apparel is another area of the store that has been brought into question. Some apparel items the bookstore buys may sit on the shelf for years if no one has any interest in purchasing them. If items don’t sell the bookstore has to eat the loss.
“Our goal is to first stop the losses, balance the books, increase revenue down the road and in the next year,” Thompson said. “So the main thing is taking what we currently do and upgrading our marketing approach. Increase revenue with what we do have.”
For now the possibility of outsourcing the bookstore is off the table. Thompson said there are too many things to consider before the university could make a decision like outsourcing.
“If we reach our objectives, we won’t need to outsource. Do I leave outsourcing as a possibility down the road? Yes. If five years down the road we are losing money at that rate, we have to look at all our options,” Thompson said.
Thompson also stated that if it ever came to outsourcing the bookstore it would be down so with full disclosure. Before any discussion was made there would be discussions with the Student Government Association, the University Center employees, and anyone else involved in the process.