With the economy in flux and enrollment down at many schools, business offices are looking for creative ways to increase cash flow. One way is to rent out the campus.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? Why not make use of spaces that sit idle when your students aren’t using them? You can rent out your chapel for weddings, your auditorium for conferences or presentations, your gym for exercise classes or adult sports, your pool for the local retirement community’s residents, or your exteriors for fashion or wedding photo shoots.
Besides raising cash, facility rental has a side benefit. It gets people to your campus who might never visit otherwise. Sure, they won’t all have school-aged children who might want to attend, but they might have relatives, neighbors, and colleagues who do. Make sure that there's a pile of your viewbooks or search pieces where visitors will see them (and can pick one up). You want every visitor to come away saying, “Wow. I had no idea this school had such a nice campus.” And you want the people who rented the facility to say, “Those folks at Leaf Academy were great to work with. They really took care of us. I’d go back in a heartbeat.”
A summer camp, whether run by your school or an outside entity, is another great way to get your brand out. Families who didn't think that private school was for them may change their mind after being on campus. Grandparents who pick the kiddos up (and who may be able to help with tuition) may also be swayed. Parent-interaction opportunities like the carpool line or a talent show are great times for your current parents to toot your horn to these potential school parents.
Be visible and proactive. Distribute your enrollment materials to camp parents, and have the director of admission give a short talk before a play or other event.
If you make an effort, summer families may spread the word for you. They might talk about how well they were treated, how beautiful and well-maintained your campus is, and how polite and mature your current students are. You’ll garner name recognition and interest through this word-of-mouth marketing.
Take a Look at What Your Peers Are Doing
We’ve gathered links (below) so you can see what schools who rent their facilities do to promote themselves. The first step in making a good impression is to have a good rental microsite. Give renters everything they need to know: available facilities, dimensions, capacity, catering options, a/v capability, accessibility, etc.
Is renting your facility profitable? Good marketing? Is there a downside? Please share your thoughts and your school's facility rental web page in the comments below.
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Hotchkiss School (organized by need)
Dawson School (with pricing)
Georgetown Day School (with FAQs)
The Hill School (with pricing and facilitating by "School Dude")
Ethel Walker (Weddings at Walker's Pinterest board)
St. Anne's Belfield (with pricing)
St. Andrew's School (with student produced drone views)