Spending campus dollars is now more efficient than ever

Corbin Reiter and Noah Pasley

On-campus students may be surprised to find out they no longer need to swipe into dining halls at Colorado State University. This is thanks to upgraded payment systems. 

Housing and Dining Services, including the Lory Student Center’s Dining Services, recently added new payment systems to assist with line length and improve efficiency regarding payment, staff labor, system maintenance and card security. 

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“The Housing and Dining Services implementation team generated a large list of requirements to meet the needs of campus,” wrote Royce Lahman, the meal access coordinator for Housing and Dining Services, in an email to The Collegian. “The requirements were based on current operational needs, market trends, campus stakeholder requirements and future expansion opportunities.”

Lahman wrote that the change was needed because the legacy system previously in effect did not have enough opportunity for growth. 

Dining halls are getting new payment systems installed to make purchases easier around campus. (Skyler Pradhan | The Collegian)

The previous system used by Lory Dining Services no longer met the needs of the businesses that used it. So, the decision was made to find a new point-of-sale system, said Geoffrey Valdez, assistant director of retail operations for Lory Dining Services.

Some of the new system’s features include offline capability and near-field communication reading, which allows students to tap their RamCard to the scanner instead of swiping it. It also includes mobile point-of-sale devices to speed up the entrance into the dining facilities. 

The system has been installed at all of the on-campus dining centers, including The Foundry and Ram’s Horn in Academic Village. On-campus coffee and bagel shops, as well as convenience stores, all use the same system, and each establishment has different needs for the system, Valdez said.

“We have about 20 different registers and about 12 different revenue centers in Lory Dining Services,” Valdez said. “Eight of those 12 are in the LSC, and the other four are in buildings across campus.”

The first establishment to use the new system was Fifty30 Elevated Eats, and it was implemented about a year ago, with other businesses piloting and establishing the payment system later, Valdez said. The adoption was staggered among other businesses in order to test the system and find bugs.

Housing and Dining Services transitioned to a new point-of-sale system May 18, which includes integrated credit card transactions as well as a new RamCash function that was added June 1.

“We wanted to pilot it and learn how to train on it and test some of the functionality before we went live with it.” -Geoffrey Valdez, assistant director of retail operations, Lory Dining Services

Lory Dining Services, the RamCard Office and Housing and Dining Services made changes independently, and now all of those systems need to be able to work together, Valdez said.

“It is very difficult to find a point-of-sale system where one glove fits all when you have very different businesses,” Valdez said.

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This growth includes new facilities, future renovations and collaboration opportunities, and these changes pave the way for new entrance technologies such as biometrics, Lahman wrote. 

Many other stakeholders were integrated into the decision for change for Lory Dining Services, including the accounting department and information technology, to find out what could be done to make the change work, Valdez said.

Dining halls are getting new payment systems installed to make purchases easier around campus. (Skyler Pradhan | The Collegian)

“We wanted to pilot it and learn how to train on it and test some of the functionality before we went live with it,” Valdez said.

The system was tested at several different establishments to minimize the potential challenges of using a new system, Valdez said. Lory Dining Services does not have the resources to address all of those challenges on a large scale, so testing throughout the semester was essential.

“We had a slow integration process with it all spring semester of 2019, which concluded in June with our convenience stores,” Valdez said.

The new system is faster, and the cashiers appear to like it more for its intuitive nature due to its app-based functionality, Valdez said.

The next steps for payment include a higher level of integration with new technologies.

“Apple Pay has kind of exploded, and we were not able to use that on our old system,” Valdez said. “A portion of our customers don’t even bring a wallet to campus. So, if they are going to buy anything, it has to be through the phone.”

This point-of-sale system does not encompass lease partners in the Lory Student Center, including Subway and Panda Express, Valdez said.

Noah Pasley and Corbin Reiter can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.