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TechSmart to become more efficient

After a slow launch in fall, new changes to TechSmart are looking to increase the printing store’s efficiency.

The Marshall Student Center (MSC) facility is designed to meet printing, copying and binding needs, as well as provide computer repair and Information Technology services on campus. TechSmart released a new list of prices Monday that are between half and one-fourth of its original costs, and now offers a flat rate for all customers – something Student Government (SG) Senate President Khalid Hassouneh said is the result of SG’s investments in infrastructure to expand printing services on campus.

“(TechSmart) didn’t transition as well as we hoped,” he said. “We knew there would be bumps starting out, but students thought it took too long and it was too expensive.”

Though SG is still spending around the same $250,000 in Activity and Service (A&S) fees it has formerly spent on printing, the new model is more “efficient,” Hassouneh said, with an average turnaround time of 10 to 20 minutes.

When the store first opened, student organizations received an allotted amount of free services, while students had to pay for all printing projects. With the absorption of Helping You Plan Events, H.Y.P.E., a resource center that helped create free posters, flyers, buttons and more for student organizations that now pay at the standard rate, SG invested $60,000 more in Activity and Service fees for staffing, $30,000 in capital investments and added $6,000 in TechSmart services, Hassouneh said.

In addition to the $2.50 per student allotment for free prints instituted last summer, students will now be allotted $4 per semester to create a poster, which range in price from 50 cents to $4 at TechSmart. Poster printing was previously available to students through SG Computer Services, but has been suspended and was only available for free through H.Y.P.E. for student organizations.

IT also helped SG renegotiate contracts with printing vendors like Ricoh and Xerox to lower prices.

Last semester, SG spent about $100,000 on free prints, Hassouneh said, but the expanded services were well used.

Last spring, the computer labs in the Marshall Student Center (MSC) saw about 3,000 visitors a day. This semester, they’ve seen about 30,000 a day, he said.

“We’re not shooting for profits, but customer service,” Hassouneh said. “If we lose money, so be it, but in the end it’s a student service.”

Carl Smith, store manager for TechSmart, the Computer Store and the USF Card Center, said while TechSmart’s primary customers are student organizations, they are working on marketing their services to all students and are collecting metrics about their daily influx.

“When we originally started, we knew this was going to be a learning process,” he said. “We had never done anything of this caliber. We will continually reanalyze our needs.”