Managing and improving
your premises

Managing your premises

You have found the right premises, and are getting ready to move in.  This section identifies the things you need to think about before you take up occupation, and the things you will need to do when you are in occupation.

However, for most groups managing a community building is about much more than just the ‘basic’ management activities.  You need to find ways of making your building ‘work harder.’  You need to find ways of increasing income and driving down costs, and to develop a communications strategy that reaches your target markets.

These resources highlight the key questions, and provide answers through providing original material and links to other information and support.

Some of the key questions to think about are:

  • Which policies, procedures and systems do you need to have in place – e.g. health and safety policies, sustainability policies; licences and permissions, insurances, etc.  How to keep these policies up to date.
  • How do you promote equality, diversity and accessibility, and ensure your building can be used by all sections of the population
  • Are you going to hire or let out space, and if so what agreements are needed
  • How do you ensure that staff, management committee members and volunteers have the skills needed to run the building successfully
  • How to budget – for running costs. maintenance and income
  • Do you need to do any alterations and improvements.  If so, how to fund and project manage them.
  • How can you identify opportunities to increase revenue from your building and drive down costs
  • What market research do you need to do – e.g. who and where is your competition
  • How do you set your prices
  • How to create a communications strategy for your building

BuildingAssets offers expert services to ensure your organisation manages the activities involved in managing and using your premises efficiently and cost effectively.  Please see Our services and you are invited to contact Janet Keighley on to discuss how we can work with you.  We focus on helping you to identify and to make the most of the opportunities available, to overcome any obstacles and challenges, and to help you make your building contribute to your organisation’s sustainability.

We also provide a range of resources on this website to support you with finding and taking on premises.  Our resources, and many of the other resources are available free; some external resources have a relatively small charge.

Resources to help you with managing and using your premises

The Voluntary Action Academy offers keenly priced on-line training courses on topics of interest to people running community buildings.  See especially Health & Safety,   Customer Service,    Information Technology

Letting and hiring out your property is likely to be essential to raise revenue and make collaborative arrangements with other organisations, and this guidance will alert you to the key legal issues to help you to be compliant with legal requirements.  See also our guidance on Changing the occupation or use of your property if your plans are likely to involve changing the use of your premises.

Two guides to help you with the vital job of looking after your customers (your users):

Setting Customer Service standards can help to ensure your organisation is getting the best results and show you how to keep improving.

Customer care for front line staff provides information to assist employees in customer facing roles to learn new skills and techniques for dealing with the challenges of providing excellent customer service.

Guidance to help with getting your cleaning contract right:

Cleaning Service Specification provides a useful template for developing a cleaning specification

Proforma cleaning specification for developing a specification

Marketing toolkit to help you review your marketing and to increase your income from hiring your space

Healthcheck with questions and checklists to help you identify gaps and develop an action plan

It is vital that your community building has the right types of insurance cover, at the right financial levels:

Types of insurance a brief summary of the main types of insurance
A useful guide to types of insurance cover needed by community groups
http://www.southampton.gov.uk/policies/Insurance%20guide.pdf

Explanations of the different types of insurance cover that can be involved in a charities insurance policy:
http://www.ecclesiastical.com/fororganisations/insurance/charityinsurance/charity-hub/charity-insurance-explained/index.aspx

Community Buildings Insurance Inventory   Guidance on how to carry out a building contents inventory from Community Matters (free to members / £2 non members)

Guides to defending & reducing public liability claims  In case it does go wrong.  A guide from Ecclesiastical Insurance supported by the Charity Finance Group.

Please note: providing a link to a particular company’s website, or offering material which names particular companies does not mean we are recommending these companies – simply that we think they have produced some useful guidance.  You are always advised to shop around.

Help with providing a safe environment for your users and staff:
The health and safety toolbox: How to control risks at work  Good guidance from the Health & Safety Executive

Health and Safety Guidance notes produced by the Ecclesiatical Insurance which, though targeted at churches, contain much helpful information for other community buildings, and useful risk assessment pro formas.

Information and model documents can be found on the following websites:

Community Matters has resources on  Building Management,   Finance and Funding,   Activities and TradingQuality in the voluntary sector – a guide to not-for-profit sector quality awards,    Rules and Hire Agreement for a Community CentreMusic in Community Buildings (PRS/PPL),    Health and Safety,   Activities and Trading

Some Community Matters resources are available for free, and some are charged for (typically £2 – £12.50) though they are free to members of Community Matters

The Ethical Property Foundation has resources on Manage a building effectively.

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As well as dealing with all the legal, constitutional, financial and HR issues involved, people running community buildings understand the importance of staying in touch with the changing needs of local people.