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The four keys to successfully managing playing facilities or buildings

It's important to make sure your asset doesn't become a burden and often it's the little things that cause the problems.

When we work with groups who are getting a new building or facilities our goal is to pre-empt any problems by forward planning. There are four areas to think about:

  • Strategic issues
  • Legal issues
  • Financial issues
  • Practical management

They are interrelated but can be addressed by different groups or individuals initially to reduce the load on your committee or trustees.

You can download our Asset Management Summariser© which provides lots of detail but here is a quick summary.

Strategic issues

These will link to what you want to achieve as a club or group and sometimes to guidelines from your governing body or the funder or organisation that provided the asset.

First how will you make decisions and run the asset – the same committee or another. It is good to get the structure in place then they can begin to make the decisions about things like charging. Whatever the structure the main organisation needs to also be involved.

Will you give discounts to young people or local people or members? Can anyone use the facilities for free? If you are letting people have discounts how will you prove they are eligible, or limit their access? Will certain groups get priority at certain times – will full paying people, for example, get prime evening slots to maximise your income?

It is critical you make these decisions before you print your price list or do your timetable and everyone needs to understand the rules so whoever answers the phone or talks to someone gives the same reply.

It is good to develop a wider strategy about generating income and this links to what you are happy to have happen in your facilities.

Lastly critical to financial planning and practical issues is your strategy on what you buy, do you look for quality which will last or buy cheap and plan to renew frequently? Do you seek to minimise on-going running costs and maintenance by spending more at the beginning?

Legal issues

Most important is to have a legal structure to minimise the individual liability of your members and if you are thinking about an asset transfer councils will require it.

Then there are a multitude of legal issues from health and safety to performing rights to ensuring you comply with any planning restrictions – this can be particularly relevant if you are thinking about letting the building for parties – there may be time restrictions as well as limits to numbers who can be in the building.

Getting legal issues wrong can be costly or even criminal so check before you act is a good principle.

Financial issues

As well as a budget and cash flow forecast you also need to have spare cash for unforeseen repairs or problems. This links back to the strategic issues – how long will it be before you need to replace key items – you can plan to save for them or begin to look for funding in good time.

Practical management

The biggest change from just running a club to running a building or site are all the practical things that need to be done or thought about. These range from who will be key holder and be willing to come out at 2am if the alarm goes off? Who will open up and lock up at the end of a letting? What phone number gets put on publicity for bookings? How do you manage handovers when key people go on holiday?

Thinking about all of the above will save you time in the long run and should ensure that you avoid any unexpected shocks. It is better to find out in the planning stage that no one is willing to get up at 2am so you employ a security firm and budget for it, or design stronger security.

Sarah Brown, the author, is a director of inspire2aspire, www.inspire2aspire.co.uk. They are experts in helping community groups run assets and generate income and are always happy to have a free chat. Ring them on 01709 810081.