Capturing Alternative Revenues

Strategic Lessons and Compendium of Tactics for Increasing Nontraditional Operating Revenue

Topics: Administration and Finance, Transportation and Parking, Auxiliary Enterprises, Space Utilization, Facilities and Operations, Revenue Enhancement, Alternative Revenues

Imperative #3: Seek Out Stealth Advertising and Leasing Opportunities

Increasing Sellable Space for Advertising

Selling advertisements and leasing space are relatively obvious methods to increase revenue, but both have notable downsides. Increased advertising and commercialization can negatively impact campus culture and reputation, and leasing space to outside third parties can be disruptive to faculty, administration, and students. Imperative #3 focuses on “stealth” opportunities for advertising and leasing, helping business leaders tap into potential revenue without risking these negative side effects.

As an example, several institutions have successfully placed small-scale advertisements across campus that are more tasteful and less noticeable than typical billboards. Three examples are shown here.

Notably, one micro-signage vendor covers all maintenance and equipment costs and provides campus leaders veto power over content, making it a virtually no-risk revenue stream. The vendor also allows the institution free access to a set number of advertising panels for campus-event advertising.

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Maximizing Cell Phone Antenna Lease Contracts

As cell phones become an indispensable part of campus life, they also offer one of the best opportunities for stealth leasing. In fact, the cell phone industry coined the term “stealthing”—the practice of covering cell phone antennae with foam facades so they better blend in with surroundings. Several institutions have used these facades to discretely add cell antennae to building rooftops and tap into lucrative cell leasing agreements.

Going a step further, a few institutions have utilized a cell-coverage broker. These third-party specialists meet with regional radio frequency managers of different carriers to identify coverage gaps that could be filled by new antennae on campus. The broker then proposes the new antennae to carriers, ensuring the institution maximizes the number of stealth rooftop leases.

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Can You Hear Me Now?

Cell Antenna Leasing Revenue for a 10,000-Student University

Through this combination of tactics, cell antennae leasing can add up to significant revenue. Shown here, a 10,000-student university already had seven cell antennae leases. With the help of a broker, the institution added three more, instituted electricity and networking fees, and installed interior antenna arrays, for a total of $354,000 of additional revenue each year.

Importantly, cell brokers advise institutions that they must make decisions and sign contracts quickly. Cell carriers are discouraged by laborious negotiations, especially when colleges and universities do not speak with one voice. Several potential contracts have famously failed because of this, with one example described here.

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Monetizing the Parking Lot

Revenue-Generating Ideas for Both Urban and Rural Institutions

Parking lots and garages offer some of the best and most diverse options for stealth leasing. Several novel approaches are summarized here. There are many opportunities for short-term leasing, often only hours at a time, which pose minimal disruption to day-to-day campus activities. Other tactics such as rooftop solar panels do not impact faculty, staff, or students at all.

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Imperative #2: Bundle Episodic Services into Memberships and Turnkey Packages

Imperative #4: Leverage Scale to Create Beneficial New Markets