School’s out for summer!

Sponsored: Deborah Homshaw, MD of Brookwood, the independent education division of CH&CO, looks at generating additional income over the summer months

The long summer break is a cause of excitement for pupils. It should also spike anticipation and enthusiasm for school management teams and their caterers, as they seize the opportunities to raise the profile and revenue of the school outside of term time.

Many independent schools are housed in the most beautiful buildings and grounds. Whether they’re oozing with heritage and history or nodding towards the quirky and unique, they are ideal locations for income-generating events such as weddings, corporate parties, private celebrations, summer concerts…the list goes on. By bringing the public in, they instantly increase their reach to potential new customers.

Caterers have a very important role to play in the success of ‘extra-curricular’ activities. What’s at the heart of every celebration and social event? Food! Us caterers are experts at creating memorable, uplifting food and hospitality experiences that people will be talking about for all the right reasons.

It’s vital that schools trust their catering team and work in partnership with them. If you think their expertise is limited to feeding pupils, think again. Brookwood is part of the independent and diverse catering business, CH&CO, and we have at our fingertips valuable knowledge, creativity and flair in event catering, production and management. 

My operations colleague, Helen Stockwin, gives an insight into a school that’s making the most of its distinct character. “The spectacular Kimbolton Castle in Cambridgeshire is home to Kimbolton School. Its splendour and history create a real statement so it’s no surprise that it’s also a well-known, popular venue for weddings, private parties, history tours and concerts,” said Helen. “The setting lends itself to an array of styles, from the traditional to the contemporary. It’s important that we listen to each client to make sure we bring their personal vision to life through the menu to the styling.”

It’s not all about aesthetics. The exceptional facilities at independent schools also have profit potential, as fellow operations colleague, Paul Blacker, explains:

“Box Hill School in Surrey has extensive playing fields, tennis courts and a state-of-the-art sports hall, which have proved a great source of income hosting summer training camps for sports teams. A lot of thought goes into their menus and we work closely with our schools’ nutritionists to ensure we’re supporting the athletes at every meal occasion. The same applies to everyone. From athletes to overseas students here on study leave, and even the police who used the school as a base when controlling the London 2012 Olympic Games cycling routes, our chefs develop tailored menus to suit all diets, requirements and palates.”

Nicola Hawley, the commercial manager at Box Hill School added, “It’s great to have confidence in our catering team who continue to deliver high-quality meals across the holiday period. This allows us to maximise the commercial use of our facilities all year round.”

Deborah Homshaw

Everyone wins

As well as increasing schools’ income, profile and reputation, events have tremendous benefits for the catering teams. Event catering is different to everyday school catering, but the skills developed are transferrable. You will see a difference in the kitchen and at the counter as the teams put their new skills into practice.

Variety, as they say, is the spice of life. By enabling people to experience the different dynamics of catering, develop new skills and work with other teams within the business, they stay motivated and enthusiastic. It also helps attract great talent, which naturally continues this positive cycle of learning and creating exceptional food experiences that push boundaries. Good news for everyone!

A word to the wise

It’s clear that if planned well, events outside of term time and especially during the summer months can be highly profitable. The secret to success is finding the right mix of activity that maximises the opportunities whilst also giving everyone a period of rest – we all know too well how quickly September comes around!

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