If you were to skip ahead three months or so – to your yearbook deadline – our guess is that you would probably be pretty stressed. It’s natural to have some stress come deadline time, sure, but what if we told you that you can save yourself a lot of the stress of that crunch – and a bunch of hours?
Well, you can. And though it takes some time now, it isn’t as hard as you might think it is.
Create a Yearbook Resource Guide
Establishing a yearbook resource guide that can be made available on the school’s website is one of the easiest ways to fend off questions from panicked parents, school administrators and yearbook volunteers.
A yearbook resource guide can save you time when it comes to questions about any number of topics, including sharing photos, personalizing pages and ordering processes. With proper instructions documented, the guide can operate as more than jut a FAQ; it can be a tour guide of the whole yearbook process for those who need it.
Patrick Wallace, the yearbook advisor at Our Savior’s Lutheran School in San Clemente, California, has used this approach to providing information about the school’s yearbook for the past couple of years. It has saved him hours of walking frantic parents through the personalization and ordering process on deadline.
“Each year, I’ve still had a few of those phone calls and emails. Once I hear that, I either copy and paste the instructions or give them a link to that page,” Patrick said. “And once they get that, they write back 15 minutes later, saying, ‘Oh, it was so easy!’”
So, how did he create this seemingly magic solution to deadline pressures? We talked to Patrick about it. Below are some key aspects to consider on why and how to create a yearbook resource guide.
Patrick started the process of building a yearbook resource guide when Our Savior’s School switched to TreeRing, but he did not tackle the entire project at once.
A “one-man band” when it comes to the school’s yearbook, Patrick instead took notes as he worked his way through building the school’s first yearbook using TreeRing. He initially planned to use the notes for himself and for meetings he was holding to instruct parents on how to create personalized pages and order yearbooks. Because of his initial plan, he had a full set of instructions tailored to his needs and the needs of his school community.
Says Patrick: “I was basically just writing down notes the whole time.”
Because of how much work it takes to simply collect the information, build the note-taking process into your workflow. You will capture more details and spend less time doing so.
One of the keys to Patrick’s resource guide is a yearly review of his instruction.
To do that, he goes to each relevant section of the TreeRing software, and tries to follow his instructions. If he is unable to follow his instructions to a “T,” either because TreeRing has improved a feature or changed the wording associated with a section, Patrick adjusts his instructions.
Reinforce the Resource Guide
Patrick has seen success with the resource guide he has built, because parents at Our Savior’s School are required to log onto the school website to see all sorts of school information: there are no homework assignment sheets or school information folders that go home each day; all of that is online.
So, Patrick has an advantage throughout the year: he has a captive audience. He uses that advantage to remind parents of deadlines, of purchasing the yearbook and of completing unfinished pages.
But he also reinforces the yearbook resource guide even when parents approach him through phone or email.
Instead of walking a parent through the answer to a question, he directs that parent to the answer on the school’s website. The easy-to-follow directions make the parent happy, and the time saving makes Patrick happy – especially toward the end of the year, when parents are making an effort to meet the deadline.
Patrick said the yearbook resource guide has helped reduce the overall number of questions he fields each year. As for Patrick’s next goal? He is focused on getting parents to submit personalized pages ahead of deadline. Good luck, Patrick!
Looking for more killer yearbook ideas to reduce stress and create a better book? Check out our Yearbook Ideas page!