Member Article

How education lettings can help schools to financially recover in 2021

Leading third sector consultancy firm, Oaks Consultancy, has joined forces with social enterprise School Space to provide academic organisations with their top tips on how to successfully lease out school buildings and leisure facilities. With new research finding that £377m of additional income generated by education-based lettings has been lost during the past 12 months, a lack of government funding and the impact of the pandemic has left many fearing for the long-term future of the sector.

To ensure that your lettings income, customers and reputation are protected, Katy Baker – Director of Services and Education Lettings Specialist at Oaks Consultancy – and Frances Holgeth – Senior Business Development Manager at School Space – have compiled six key tips on how to form a successful and profitable partnership with an education lettings service during 2021 and beyond.

1. Take your time

After months of lost revenue opportunities, you might feel pressured into signing new contracts. However, whether you’re looking to lease school buildings for the first time or seeking a new lettings partner, Katy advises taking a more cautious approach.

“Do not feel rushed into making a decision about working with a partner, especially now there’s been a sudden flurry of activity with the sector recently reopening. Before any serious conversations, be sure that you are clear on what you can expect to achieve together.”

2. Shop around

Speaking with multiple agencies will paint a fuller picture of what you’re looking to gain from pursuing the education lettings market. From communication to team integration, there are several factors to consider. Katy explains:

“We’d always suggest meeting with multiple partners to get a feel for what is important to your school or Trust. As well as being able to compare price points and service differentiations, this should give you a better idea of what to expect with a lettings partnership; from the logistics of crisis management to day-to-day communications.”

3. Get references and testimonials

Even if you’re sold on a prospective lettings partner, don’t forget to do your homework and ratify any testimonials and reviews that are shared with you. Katy comments:

“Testimonials can help to reassure that any potential providers genuinely share your values and can align with your own ways of working. As well as those provided directly by the company, see if you can make contact with another school who use them, ideally in your local area.”

4. Understand the financial mode on offer

There are a variety of financial models currently offered by lettings management companies. Take time to consider which will be the most convenient and profitable for your organisation. Frances explains:

“The main distinction between different models is whether they require a set payment on a monthly, termly or annual basis or if they work on a revenue share basis where the amount paid is based on the success of any lettings activity. Understanding which financial mode works best for you and your institution is crucial to a successful long-term partnership.”

5. Read and negotiate the contract

After you’ve found your ideal lettings partner, take the time to read and re-read your contract. As well as reviewing essential details such as contact information, billing and progress reporting, you’ll be creating a foundation of mutual trust and respect. Katy adds:

“Always make sure to thoroughly read any contracts. Important topics to keep in mind include laying out clear lines of communication and timescales for regular check-ins: we would recommend scheduling a call or meeting every 2 weeks at a minimum.”

6. Get external help if needed

If you need assistance benchmarking the commercial success against local competition, reviewing your pricing and expenditure and other aspects of community lettings, you could consider seeking external support from expert organisations.

“If you lack the confidence or capacity to commission a provider – or aren’t sure about outsourcing – you could consider commissioning an external agency, like Oaks, to support you through the process. Having supported over 140 schools and academies in the last 12 months, we can offer a wealth of experience and an objective view of good practice suggestions,” Katy concludes.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Lucy West .

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