Should You Rent Your Theatre for Events? Part 2 – Staffing

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You’ve decided to make your theatre available as a rental!  You’ve developed contracts, rules and policies. Now you can move on to addressing the question of special event staffing. It’s best to plan this out before you have your first event booked. Let’s walk through the rental process as if we were considering renting the theatre for our own party.

The first thing we’ll want to do is talk to someone who can give us information about renting the space, and answer questions we might have. You need to decide who will represent your organization in this process. When will they be expected to show the property – on demand or on a set schedule? Will they have the authority to reserve dates for a client, or will rental dates have to be approved by another person or committee? How will rental dates be communicated to others who work in the space, such as Technical Directors, Janitors, and other staff. Who will this person report to?

A business manager may be ideal for fielding these inquiries, and it may be possible to add this to their existing duties. If you don’t have a business manager in your organization you’ll need to find someone to act as your event rental coordinator. You’ll also need to decide whether this person will work as a volunteer, as an hourly employee, or on a commission basis. As with any position in an organization, a Job Description with clearly defined Performance Expectations will be helpful in making sure the chosen person represents the organization correctly.

Now it’s the day of our event. Who will we interact with before, during and after our event? Typically, you’ll want to have a representative of the organization on the premises for the duration of each rental. In addition to holding the keys and being responsible for unlocking the space and securing it after the event, this person will be the go-to-authority for clarifying Do’s and Don’ts, and ensuring that rules and policies are being observed. They may also need to act as “Security” for the interests of your organization.

Again, decisions must be made about whether this is a volunteer or paid position. How much authority will this person have to act independently? Who can they turn to for help in unforeseen situations? As I suggested before, writing a Job Description and Performance Expectations will be useful. With these you can develop and implement a Training Program so that everybody involved in theatre rentals handles events according to the same criteria.

Once our event ends and we leave your space, we’ll want to know when to expect any refunds we’re owed according to the terms of our rental contract. How this step is handled will color the overall customer experience. You’ll want to take special care that your customer leaves happy. Do this by determining in advance, who will be responsible for authorizing the refund? Who will conduct the actual transaction – write and mail the check, refund the credit card, etc.? How soon after the event will the refund be processed?

This is also the time to ask for feedback from your renter. What worked well? Were there any problems? Consider using a customer satisfaction survey to identify strengths and weaknesses and ways you can improve the customer experience of your renters.

With a well-organized and implemented rental program, your theatrical down-time can provide a welcome source of additional revenue.

Please return for part three of this series where I’ll be discussing how to “sell” your space for events.

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Katie Strickland

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