Old-school campus mailroom guidelines and practices, with manual sorting and hand-written notes indicating a student has a package, have been replaced at some colleges and universities with technology and methods that make staff time more effective and provide a better experience for students.
Mailrooms are also being moved out of dark below-ground spaces and into more visible and vibrant areas of campus.
For many institutions, however, a mailroom overhaul is still very much a work in progress.
At the same time, staff struggle to keep up with the extreme upsurge in package deliveries in this age of Amazon Prime.
Here are some tips for what to do and what not to do in upping the game of your own campus mailroom.
Campus mailroom partner and provider options
- DO find a way to work with what’s available. Eliminating individual physical mailboxes has helped many colleges free up thousands of square feet of space for other mailroom activities.
- DO organize the space with flexible furniture. One school replaced old metal immoveable shelves with wheeled, bar code-labeled shelving units for better organization of incoming packages.
- DO have a spot available for oversized packages. Mailroom administrators have also found it helpful to designate a place, away from the hustle and bustle, for packages not picked up in a timely manner.
- DON’T forget to set aside more space for the move-in rush. Today’s students are more likely to order dorm necessities online for on-campus delivery than haul all of those items to school at the beginning of the year. One mailroom administrator rents a truck for a few weeks and has it parked at a nearby loading dock for easy access.
- DO consider how to maximize the number of people being helped at once. By using intelligent lockers rather than individual mailboxes—allowing students to use their ID to access a package from a locker bank’s specific door—mailrooms have been able to open up more windows to assist customers and cut down on wait times.
- DO branch out by offering fee-based services. Mailroom revenue boosters might include outgoing mail prep, address printing, digital copies or even passport services.
- DON’T overlook outsourcing opportunities. Mail services can be seen as outside of a higher ed institution’s core business of learning, so some colleges choose to outsource all or part of operations.
- DO adopt an efficient technology-based system for streamlining package receiving, notification and tracking. Processing packages should involve automatic notifications to students, who should be able to scan a student ID or use a mobile app to pick up packages.
- DO consider the value of automated pickup options. Smart locker systems not only save staff time at the mail room window, but also save students the aggravation of having to wait in lines or go only during business hours.
- DON’T plan major system overhauls for the middle of the academic year. Administrators at one college made big changes over a single winter weekend and regretted that compressed timeframe, even though it was ultimately a successful transition.
- DON’T worry about losing jobs in the transition to tech-based systems. Greater efficiencies create many possibilities for new services and functions, making the mailroom an even more vital place.
Read the original article on campus mailroom management.
Melissa Ezarik is senior managing editor of UB.