Leasing Out Your Independent School's Facilities
Published on 21/12/16
Independent schools are beginning to think 'outside the box' when it comes to generating extra income, and this has led to some interesting ideas being actioned. So many of the Independent schools in the UK are blessed with incredible architecture, picturesque surroundings and vast grounds, all of which combine for a perfect event venue. Independent schools have been used as venues to host weddings, business events, private events, performances and sporting events, with the added extra of many providing catering services and having boarding facilities available.
So if your school could do with a bit of extra cash, whether that's for new equipment, or funding new developments, leasing out your grounds or facilities is a brilliant way of capitalising on your school's bountiful assets.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, a school in Australia made $100,000 by leasing out its grounds to the markets, a car parking space to a music bus, classrooms for after-school art classes and the hall for community dance and music lessons. This is proof that renting out school grounds can be a profitable venture for any school to undertake.
We spoke to Richard Howdle, the Commercial Events Manager at Warwick School Venues & Events (wsvenuesandevents.org) about the benefits of leasing out facilities and what advice he would give to schools who are considering it. This is what he had to say:
What advice would you give to schools who are thinking of leasing out their grounds or facilities?
It all depends on the number of spaces that you have to sell to the general public; if you only have one hall either don't bother or keep it simple and ensure you cover any caretaking and security costs with bookings taken in the school. However, if you have a number of available spaces - you need to decide whether you are serious about opening up your school to the general public for many different types of events.
Before starting up, do a feasibility study. Is there a market for your facilities? Are you already receiving enquiries? Do you have systems in place to offer a quality service? In hospitality, you need the "Can Do" culture and I would say - 'If you can't do it properly, don't do it.'
What key features are beneficial for a school to have to be considered as an ideal venue for events?
You need good sized spaces (venues), with easy access; catering and toilets close by, car parking. Location is obviously very important, you must be close to your market. The school must be clean, well-kept and have a quality feel if you want to win business.
What kind of events have you held at Warwick School?
Weddings, conferences, meetings, car rallies; formal dinners and dances; anniversary and birthday parties; music and drama shows, rugby and cricket festivals.
How do you market Warwick School's Venues & Events?
Our website is key, as well as being a marketing tool, it also contains lots of information and is on par with a Hotel or conference centre website.
I must say that e4education have been fantastic in helping to set this up and are still there to help as I regularly need to update it.
Brochures and pop-ups have been produced. A lot of enquiries have come from within the school foundation through parents and staff, so e-newsletters are important. The school marketing department are also able to help with Facebook and Twitter messages from time to time.
The school has a large sports centre incorporating a swimming pool with a very successful swim school, which also brings many people to the site - leading to enquiries. We also belong to local business forums and have hosted a monthly meeting bringing business people to the school. The local branch of CIPD are due to have a monthly meeting with us, again bringing personnel and training professionals to our school to see our facilities.
- Location: central, good connections via road/public transport, surroundings
- Facilities: restrooms, catering, music sound systems, chairs & tables, capacity
- Grounds: well kept, picturesque, heritage, architecture, sports field, car park
- Equipment: recording studio, computers, video equipment, sports equipment
- Building: classrooms, kitchens, sports halls, concert halls/stages, auditoriums