Students walking to class with backpacks

How FIU modernized Its campus retail printing and mail centers

by Renaud Rodrigue

For institutions of higher learning, pressures to control costs while offering “best in class” campus services can seem irreconcilable, but one university did just that – and is generating additional revenue, too.

Many higher education institutions are rethinking and revitalizing on-campus experiences by modernizing dorms, dining halls, libraries and student common areas to meet the expectations of their always-on, constantly connected campus communities. But meeting those expectations, while not breaking an already-tight budget, can be complicated. Retail printing and mail centers often depict this challenge – not keeping up with offsite competition or modern expectations. With the right approach, these centers can exemplify how to better serve the campus community in a way that’s on-brand, on-trend and profitable.

With that said, when many higher education leaders are looking for ways to improve, they often overlook retail printing and mail centers. But why is that?

Sometimes it’s because they don’t understand the role technology – or, perhaps more importantly, technology they can justify an expenditure for – can play in improving campus document services, especially automating copy, print, pack and ship operations. And other times it’s because they haven’t experienced the right partner who works closely with them to identify the strategies and techniques to streamline their on-campus print and mailing needs while decreasing operating costs. Without an experienced voice in the mix, it can be easy to assume such a turnaround is out of your budget’s reach. However, these kinds of improvements – in both a campus’s level of service and its bottom line – often help decision makers see the opportunity these types of challenges present.

Take, for example, Florida International University, which empowered its students to print quickly and conveniently from anywhere, via any device, while also transforming two underperforming, uninviting retail print and mail centers into exemplary, revenue-generating copy, print, pack and ship centers.

Revamping campus document centers into efficient, effective retail operations

FIU is a top-five university based on enrollment, as well as a high-ranking doctoral and research university with a strong reputation for helping its students redefine the cutting edge of progress. FIU leaders wanted to offer a more professional retail environment for print and mail services, in addition to offering stocked merchandise, more services, quick turnaround and overall positive campus community experiences, in stark contrast with its current meager shops. These shops were often passed over by the campus community in favor of off-site retailers. At the top of FIU’s priority list was finding a partner that could deliver on its vision.

In addition to spending time with FIU decision makers and evaluating their operations, Ricoh went a step further to speak with faculty, staff and students to learn more about their specific concerns. In the end, we were able to demonstrate to FIU that we had the expertise to overhaul and improve services at document centers, a capable staff to take over day-to-day operation of the centers, a clear path to implement student and guest printing at all five campuses, and the technology to enable mobile printing.

​"With the right approach, printing and mail centers can exemplify how to better serve the campus community in a way that’s on-brand, on-trend and profitable."

While the overhaul of these copy, print, pack and ship centers had a lot to do with improving quality, a lot of work also went into making sure these new facilities looked new and modern (instead of drab and underused).

The centers have become an integral part of the FIU campus service offerings. The increased volume of visitors to the document centers shows. By the end of 2013, the centers had served 42,000 visitors. In 2014, that number shot up to almost 60,000 visitors. At the beginning of 2015, 12,000 visitors had already used the center to print, ship or take advantage of the many other services offered—photo kiosk, notary services, passport services and promotional banner printing. 

FIU, like many higher education institutions, is continually looking for ways to enhance the experience of its on-campus community. During a recent quarterly strategy meeting, we demonstrated technology to FIU that can enable students, faculty and staff to send information into their Blackboard Learn™ account. We also discussed our managed IT and cloud services to help keep the university’s systems up and running and resolve IT issues quickly.

By partnering with a team of experts and embracing information mobility – getting information to those who need it anytime, anywhere – FIU was able to achieve their goals, generate additional revenue and reduce operating costs.

Case study: Campus printing & mail services

See how we helped FIU transform their campus printing and mail services.

Renaud Rodrigue, Vice President, Higher Education at Ricoh USA, Inc., is responsible for developing and executing go-to-market strategies with a primary focus on creating educational services and solutions. He has held a variety of sales, sales management and leadership positions throughout his career, most recently serving as National Director in Higher Education.