SchoolHire currently has 1,626 venues listed on its portal with 13,920 individual facilities ranging from classrooms to sports halls. Users simply type in their postcode, select the facility they need and a list of facilities in the users’ desired radius is displayed. Making enquiries direct to the schools is then quick and simple.
Brentwood School has a long history of working with clubs and has been open for community use since 2002. It has a purpose built sports centre with excellent facilities available for community use including:
- 25m indoor pool
- Learner pool
- Fitness Suite with 40 stations
- Sports Hall – seven badminton court-sized, generally dividing into two with half used by a trampolining club and the other half for badminton, basketball or 5-a-side football
- Traditional school gymnasium – used by an NHS group and Martial Arts
- 4 glass-backed squash courts
- 2 exercise studios
- Fencing Salle
- 2 All Weather Pitches – used by a local football club and hockey club.
Type of community users
The Sports Centre at Brentwood School offers a mixture of community club bookings and a membership programme. There are three levels of membership; gold membership includes access to the fitness suite, pool, exercises classes, badminton courts, squash courts and table tennis. The dryside membership excludes the pool and there is also a pool only membership.
Parents and ex-pupils receive reduced membership costs and staff at the school receive free membership in order to encourage healthy lifestyles throughout the school community.
The sports clubs using the facilities generally have long standing relationships with the school and include trampolining, martial arts, badminton, hockey, basketball and football clubs.
Community use is operated by Brentwood School Enterprises Ltd, which also manages the school shop. This company is owned by the school and the managers report directly to the School Governors.
The Sports Centre Commercial Manager oversees a team of around 30 staff including part time staff and some freelance exercise instructors.
The facilities are marketed by the school’s communication department. The main financial outgoings are salaries and utility costs, any profit made is returned to the school.
The SchoolHire offer
SchoolHire provides a simple website service to promote school facilities. The basic package is free and allows a school to simply list their facilities and a contact for people to make an email enquiry. The enquiry will go direct to the listed contact's email address.
For £179.99 per year, a school can upgrade to the enhanced package, which includes photos of each facility, rates and key features for each facility (for example showers, air conditioned etc.) and a text box for the school to add a description.
SchoolHire actively gets in touch with enquirers who are looking for venues and promotes schools on its enhanced package. A school can access data about their listing such as how many page views and enquiries each facility has received.
Currently SchoolHire is offering four month free trials of the enhanced package. The enhanced package rate is also negotiable where a group of schools are subscribing.
Enquiries through the site go directly to the key contact identified within the school on an email enquiry form, which includes the full contact details for the enquirer and their request information. It is then up to the school to follow this enquiry up. SchoolHire simply generates leads and there is no representation or liability involved. A community user also has the option of rating the facility on the SchoolHire website and these are monitored.
SchoolHire’s team of three have been busy working on search engine optimisation to help generate more leads for schools as well as encouraging sports organisations to utilise the site, such as London FA and the National Association of Dance Teachers, whose thousands of members are always needing local sports facilities.
Despite the process being quick, easy and simple, the SchoolHire team is happy and available to talk schools through the signing up and facility listing process and help them with selecting the facilities and uploading photographs.
Making it work
Brentwood Enterprises have been using SchoolHire for around five months to promote their facilities. During this short period they have received around six or seven new community club enquiries per month via the SchoolHire website service. This has resulted in a new booking from a Netball Club requiring a long term let of the outdoor netball court. Brentwood School has found SchoolHire very helpful to work with, and keen to gain feedback on the process to improve their service.
- SchoolHire can find it difficult to engage with schools, in particular Business Managers as they are so busy
- SchoolHire finds schools are wary of companies selling products. The approval process can also be lengthy
- Brentwood School Enterprises find it a challenge to balance a membership scheme with club bookings – members are often difficult to please and want to have access to all the facilities all of the time so this limits the availability for club use.
- Using the services of a dedicated facility finder can be a cost-effective way of advertising your school facilities
- SchoolHire facilitates enquiries from organisations a school may not have received directly. For example, a Language School in Rome used the site to identify a school to run classes in over the summer (a 5 week booking of 6 classrooms resulted in additional income of £5k for the school involved).
- Consider which operational model is right for your school and your facilities – are you looking for a third party to manage your facilities or do you just want to generate more leads that will generate more bookings?
- Brentwood School Enterprises would recommend considering carefully your community users and whether you are targeting organised groups and clubs or individual membership – their experience suggests that clubs can be much easier to please than members.
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