Deciding on a yearbook company is a big decision for every school in America. National yearbook company, Entourage Yearbooks, shares some industry inside information to help yearbook advisors make the best decision for their school.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of schools across the country decide on the yearbook company that is best for them. In a recent interview with the Director of Sales from yearbook company, Entourage Yearbooks, Judy Jo candidly discloses industry insights that will help any yearbook advisor while shopping.
According to Judy Jo, the easiest way to choose the best yearbook company is to evaluate the yearbook project based on the following criteria:
- Technological needs
- Customer service needs
“Believe it or not, even if we put cost aside, the big companies that offers all the bells and whistles are not always the right fit; and honestly Entourage Yearbooks isn’t the right fit for everyone either," says Jo. “Doing an honest evaluation of needs, and learning to ask the right questions of the yearbook companies being considered will lead any yearbook advisor to the correct company for them."
Look At Their Yearbook Technology First
Jo suggests looking at technological needs first. “Technology is an area where it’s really easy to spot the differences in yearbook companies," says Jo. “Advisors should first consider what they have to work with and how they like to work."
For example, if there are a lot of parents or students working on a book, a big, robust design software may be the best option. Yearbook advisors may even desire an online yearbook software so that the entire group can work together. For those who work individually on a project, a simpler software is beneficial in efficiently completing the project.
Not all companies offer the same technology solutions either. Some yearbook companies, like Entourage Yearbooks, offer additional perks like Smartphone Apps, e-yearbooks, and integration with other popular websites like Facebook and Instagram. Jo recommends that advisors pay attention to what the technology offerings are from each company and evaluate how likely they are to take advantage of them.
A few key questions for advisors to keep in mind while interviewing yearbook companies about software are:
- What are the requirements for this software to run on my computer?
- How long does it take the average user to learn how to use the software?
- How long does it take the average user to create a yearbook page?
Not All Customer Service Is Not The Same
After deciding which yearbook companies match their technology needs, Jo recommends advisors focus on customer service. The top yearbook companies all offer different service models to their customers. It’s important to find one that will work well with the customer service needs of the advisor and school.
When evaluating needs, Jo stresses that a yearbook advisor should consider level of comfort with technology, experience creating a yearbook, and personality. “If a yearbook advisor is really lacking in experience either with technology or with yearbook experience, they are going to want to find a company that will help fill that lack of experience with the services provided."
Most yearbook companies offer some level of customer service, but not all yearbook companies offer in-depth training materials. “Entourage Yearbooks, for example, offers webinars and books with basic and advanced yearbook training, plus a knowledgeable staff that is available to the customers as they are creating their books," explains Jo. “This is the type of model that would work well for an advisor that is new to yearbooks, looking to further their yearbook knowledge, or is someone who will value having the opinions of lots of yearbook professionals while they work."
Some questions advisors should keep in mind while interviewing yearbook companies about service model include: Does your company provide technology training? Does your company provide yearbook training? Will I have the direct number of someone at the company that I can contact? If I don’t reach someone immediately how long should I expect to wait before I hear back?
Only after researching yearbook companies based on technology and service does Jo recommend considering a budget. “I talk to so many customers that are just looking for the lowest price on yearbooks without considering what type of experience they are going to get for that price," says Jo. “Working with a yearbook company that doesn’t meet the technology or service needs may end up costing schools more, even if the price is a little lower to begin with."
The Secret To Negotiating The Best Yearbook Price
Jo disclosed a huge industry secret; “Customers should not shy away from openly discussing the budget. Many yearbook companies including Entourage Yearbooks have programs in place to help schools afford yearbook projects even if the initial price is over budget." The best way to get the best price is to just ask your yearbook company to match the best price you get from other companies.
When it comes to yearbook price, Jo stresses that yearbook advisors should make sure that they are comparing the same products from company to company. “Many yearbook companies call the same type of book by a different name. Make sure that you are comparing apples to apples, not apples to oranges," says Jo.
Questions for advisors to keep in mind when discussing price include:
- What is the industry standard name for this book type?
- How much will it cost to add or remove pages later on?
- Are there any additional fees for any services not included in the contract price?
- Is there anything we can do to make this package work with my budget?
Finally, Jo recommends evaluating how much time is needed to complete the project. “Scheduling is a huge issue for a lot of schools," says Jo. “It’s important to take a look at the school schedule and see when the last event that needs to be in the book will take place, and identify the date that the books will be delivered."
Evaluate Yearbook Production Time
Not all yearbook companies provide the same turnaround time. “Working with a yearbook company that can turn the yearbooks around in three weeks, like Entourage Yearbooks, can help schools who have events late in the school year, plus the extra time makes the process a bit less stressful, " shares Jo.
Questions advisors should keep in mind when evaluating the timing of the project: What is the standard turnaround time? Are there options for a faster turnaround time? Up until what date can I add content/make changes to the yearbook?
Not all yearbook companies are the same. Putting in a little time to determine the needs of the school, and evaluating the services offered by each yearbook company will lead any yearbook advisor to a more satisfying yearbook experience.
About Entourage Yearbooks
Founded in 2006, Entourage Yearbooks provides yearbooks to over 3,500 schools across the US and in 18 countries. Entourage’s unique collaborative yearbook technologies and industry leading production times has made the company one of the fastest growing in the country. Entourage was recently recognized by Inc. Magazine as the 10th fastest growing private education company in the US. For more information about Entourage Yearbooks, visit http://www.entourageyearbooks.com.