Property Acquisition 101: Free Assessment Tool

“We got such a great deal on this ___________!” (You fill in the blank)

I have heard these words far too many times, and 9 times out of 10, the “deal” was anything but. Yes the purchase cost was less than market, but the cost of development was astronomical.  Things such as:

  1. Poor topography
  2. Odd shaped parcel
  3. Lack of public water and sewer (if you build more than 300 seats, you need a fire sprinkler system)
  4. Lack of Three Phase Electric (needed for most commercial applications)
  5. Utility easements slicing through the property
  6. Wetlands
  7. Deed Restrictions
  8. Zoning restrictions
  9. Poor road visibility
  10. Located outside the target market you are trying to reach

I have seen first hand how the “deal of the century” actually cost a church MORE than acquiring a site for market value.  Don’t misunderstand…I am not saying that you need to be prudent with the acquisition price of any property.  What I am saying is make sure you ask ALL the right questions BEFORE you purchase.

If you are considering purchasing an existing facility, there are similar “horror” stories I can share related to:

  1. Zoning limitations
  2. Lack of fire sprinklers
  3. Low ceiling heights
  4. Inadequate parking
  5. Handicap/ADA issues
  6. Inadequate Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC systems
  7. Excessive deferred maintenance
  8. Cost of renovation
  9. Incongruency of the facility compared to the vision and “story” of the church…and
  10. Located outside the target market you are trying to reach

To help you get started in this process, we have an invaluable tool on our website. This tool is a simple tool that allows you to create a grading system to evaluate multiple site.  This is in an Excel format, so you can customize it to meet your specific situation.  This is a FREE tool that has morphed over the years by several friends of mine.

Download your free copy of the Potential Church Facility Assessment  (scroll down to CHURCH LOCALITY RESOURCES)…and make the wise choice!

The Offering Moment

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are currently over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States. Each of these organizations, including your church, has at least one thing in common. They are all working hard to engage their giver base.

Nonprofit organizations survive or die based on the engagement of their giver base, or the lack thereof. Because of this fact, nonprofits are currently getting more and more creative in their attempts to “get in front of” their givers.

Most nonprofits are expending huge financial resources to gain an audience with their givers. In their fundraising efforts, these organizations rely on direct mail, email, and relational connections. These methods can be very hard to maintain. This, however, is an area where churches have an advantage.

“The church has a unique moment, 52 times per year, to engage with their givers in a real and meaningful way.” What is that moment? The 90 seconds during the typical offering.

However, churches rarely handle this moment well. They most often fail to make the most of those 52 opportunities. In many churches, the offering is treated almost as an afterthought. It’s clear not much planning or time has gone into this opportunity. Instead of using this time in a manner that would excite and engage their givers, they allow tradition, routine, fear of the “money conversation,” and other baggage dictate how these 90 seconds are handled.

What if you could use this moment this precious 90 seconds to stir the hearts of your givers and galvanize a life of generosity? Our friends at Generis created this resource for that very reason! Download The Offering Moment: 90 seconds to engage your givers and begin engaging the hearts of the givers at your church today!

Thom Rainer Interviews Tim Cool

It was such an honor to sit down with Thom Rainer and Jonathan Howe to talk “shop”…at least “shop” from my perspective and paradigm. But even more than the honor of doing the interview is the fact that top level church leaders are seeing how critical it is to steward the ministry facilities God has entrusted to them.  I have been beating this drum for over 9 years and it thrills me to see the attention churches are now giving to the life cycle and capital reserve initiatives needed to properly steward their ministry tools.

Take a few minutes and check our this interview.  It covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time…such as:

  • Everything on earth has been entrusted by God to us to care for.
  • Stewardship in the church isn’t just about money.
  • The expenses needed to take care of a facility are not an optional thing, they are an inevitable thing.
  • We know facility issues will come up in the church, it’s prudent for us to plan for them.
  • Facilities won’t save souls. They are tools for us to use to see people saved and to disciple the saints.
  • Churches need four master plans—ones for ministry, finance, facility, and sustainability.
  • Church utility costs should average between $1 and $1.50 per square foot annually.
  • Effective facility usage can lead to more effective ministry because you’re able to put more resources into ministry.

Click the image below to listen…and then apply what you hear!


Bloomfield Hills Schools + eSPACE = WOW Experience

Many of you who follow us or read our blogs, generally will associate our products and services with churches and Houses of Worship.  For the most part you would be correct.  However, what many of you may not know, is that we also have a large consortium of private schools, colleges, universities and yes…Public School Districts.

Let me introduce you to one of these public schools – Bloomfield Hills Schools

According to their listing on Google, they are “one of the best public school districts in Michigan for students ages 6 weeks to graduation.”

While I cannot confirm or refute this claim, I can tell you that they are passionate about serving their community and the students (and their families) that attend their schools.

Bloomfield Hills School district is located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. They are highly respected for their teachers and staff, commitment to creating opportunities for their students, encouraging them to explore a variety of unique experiences, providing hands-on activities, and having a diverse set of course offerings to help each student achieve their own unique goals.

This school system is comprised of 3 Preschools, 4 Elementary Schools, 3 Middle Schools, a High School and a variety of other programs, buildings and opportunities to meet the needs of their community.

Early last year, Shira Good, Director of Communications & Community Relations, reached out to our team to learn more about our eSPACE Event Scheduler, as they wanted to make a change from the “dude” they were using. They were frustrated with the lack of support, customer service and development initiatives. After an extended vetting process, Shira pulled the trigger and moved all of Bloomfield Hills event and facility planning to eSPACE.

Since that time our team has collaborated with the school district to develop several features and enhancements that have benefited not only Bloomfield Hills but many of our education and church clients.  It has been a great partnership. But…don’t just take our word for it.

Here is what Shira has to say about us!

“Oh. My. Gosh. We could not love eSPACE more!!!! You all ROCK!”

Moving to eSPACE has been everything we’d hoped and dreamed it to be.  Their staff is extremely responsive and supportive of our unique and growing needs.  They are flexible, thoughtful, and the best company we work with hands down.  We only wish the team at eSPACE would take over the internet world and build software for everything so we could work with them on every digital need we have!  Their customer service is far superior to anyone we’ve ever worked with!”

Do you want this same kind of WOW Experience? CHECK US OUT

Church Facility Staffing – How Many Do You Need?


Several years ago our team did a survey of the number of Church Facility Staff needed to properly maintain a facility and keep up with the natural rate of physical deterioration (1-4% annually) as well as the day to day activity of keeping a facility functioning effectively to meet a church’s ministry objective. As part of that survey, we contacted approximately 200 churches and received some incredible information.

Now, Cool Solutions Group is partnering with Vanderbloemen Search Group to update this research and develop an eBook on the topic. In light of  this, we would love to get feedback from you all.  If you are game, here are some questions we are looking for responses:

  1. How many Square Feet of buildings are on your campus(es)?
  2. How many full time and part time facility staff do you have? Please identify employment status (PT/FT)
  3. Of those staff members, how many commit more than 75% of their time in housekeeping/janitorial activities?
  4. Did you include your Facility Manager in the total count?
  5. If so, how much of their time is spent on “managing” the staff and facilities vs. actually performing the physical work?
  6. What is your average weekly attendance?

We would love to hear from you…then we will share our findings. Click HERE to submit your responses.

Also, don’t forget to download your FREE eBook on Capital Reserve Planning.

Why Church Buildings Matter – RE-RELEASED

I am so excited to announce the RE-RELEASE of – Why Church Buildings Matter: The Story of Your Space

I want to thank Sam Rainer and the team at Rainer Publishing for their support, diligence, editing and re-releasing this book with its updated content.

As we have discussed prior, the church campus tells a story. Stories are all around us, in virtually every aspect of our daily experiences, which means that our church and ministry facilities also tell a story. This book offers a unique perspective on the importance of church buildings. These buildings are vastly more important than most understand. The church campus and the story of the people in the church go hand-in-hand and are interwoven into each other. We cannot neglect the power of story and how our church facilities communicate a story. In this book, several key questions about church facilities are answered: How does church space support the story of the people? How does the church space prime the heart, minds, and emotions of your guests? How does your facility bring people into the story of the church and the story of your vision and mission?

Church facilities will not save a person from a life of sin and frustration. But the lack of attention to the church campus can indeed be the road block to reaching those people that need to hear the gospel message the most. Don’t minimize their impact. “Why Church Buildings Matter will reveal how to maximize your church facility enabling you to share the greatest story ever told…the gospel.

Get your copy today.

Thermostats: The Future is Here

Thermostats are the ever-present overlord of humanity’s day-to-day comfort. Think about it – there is hardly an American citizen who does not own and operate a thermostat in their own home. And yet, few people think about this little piece of technology past the annoyance of the Building Manager stubbornly locking the A/C at a crisp 65 degrees.

Once upon a time, people had a much harder time regulating their home and business temperature. In the early 20th century the majority of facilities had manually operated furnaces. These furnaces, usually located in the basement, required frequent coal-stoking and physical adjustments of valves, draft, or dampers.

The progression of the “thermostat” (if you can call the early versions a thermostat) is fascinating…if you have the time, read THIS or THIS.

We have come a long way baby!

Thermostat technology continues to evolve…and will continue to do so. Think of a thermostat as another piece of technology (like your smart phone) that will continue to do more and communicate with other devices and systems. The technology keeps getting smarter, and as it does, the benefits to your organization continue to increase.

This is where eSPACE and our COOLSPACE solution come in.  We have have released our integrated WiFi thermostats that are an EXCELLENT way to increase energy and operational efficiency…especially when integrated with the eSPACE Event Scheduler.

See what some of our clients are saying:

Centralized control through an easy to use web portal and mobile app make management easy. The motion sensors then allow for great flexibility without the need to spend tons of time making changes to programming. This system allow us to keep our focus on ministry and spend less time making changes to accommodate events. JONATHAN SMITH, Faith Lafayette Church

LOVING THIS SETUP. I love having the text messages when power goes out on the unit and being able to read the temp from the duct sensor. I appreciate all the hard work you guys did to help me get it up and running. It will pay off! BRYAN CHITTENDEN, Woodridge Church

Easy to use with simple installation. JEFF KELLY, Turning Point Church

Want to learn more?  Click HERE to review our FAQ’s about the stats or click the image below get even more information.


10 Questions To Ask BEFORE You Buy Facility/Event Scheduling Software

In today’s world of web 2.0 applications, cloud computing, and web based solutions, it can become confusing as to what is the right application for your church/organization. What are our needs (always a good place to start…identify the “pain” then resolve it)? What will meet our needs? How much will it cost? Will it be easy to implement?

The following need to be asked and answered as you navigate through the selection process:

  1. Is your software web based? In today’s ever changing world of technology, web based software is the most effective, efficient and accessible.  No more software to  download.  No more servers to house and maintain.  No more updates to buy. No more issues between PC’s and Mac’s.  NOTE:  We recently performed some research and discovered that our biggest competition is not other facility/event scheduling applications, it is “paper/pencil”, Outlook, Google Calendar and wall calendars.  SHOCKING!
  2. How many users can have access to the system and do we pay extra for each user? Many software solutions tether subscribers to the number of “users” that have access to the software.  This can be inconvenient and frustrating…who should be included? Who is left out?  It also puts an undue burden on certain staff members to not only be the gatekeeper of the schedule but also serve as the data entry person for everyone that wants to schedule an event or reserve a space. On top of that, to add more users can cost more.
  3. Do we have to maintain multiple calendars?  Can you imagine having coordinate multiple schedules for the use of your facility?  One says this and another says that…PULL MY HAIR OUT.  You need a single source for all your facility and resource scheduling…all in one easy to use solution.
  4. How often do you add features? If the answer is “occasionally”, then you have reason for concern.  Look for a solution that is constantly releasing enhancements, features and improving the system.
  5. We don’t want to break the bank to have software…how much should we pay for a room scheduling solution? The cost of web based solutions continue to improve.  That is a real benefit for your ministry.  Let me give you a prime example…Bellevue Baptist Church is one of our clients and is loving our eSPACE solution (as well as our Work Order Management).  We did a quick price check of another popular web based Event application.  If they were to sign up for all of the “users, resources and viewers” that Bellevue needed from this other Event system, the cost would have been well over 3 times the cost of eSPACE.
  6. What kind of support will you offer? You should never feel alone or on your own.  We believe that the best web based solutions provide multiple levels of support including website tutorials, Knowledge Base, e-mail, web demos/training as well as a real person on the phone.
  7. Will you listen to us?  Ever make a purchase and then feel like you have fallen into the “customer service abyss”?  I know I have.  The suppliers of services and goods need you (even if they don’t think they do)…they need to hear from you…and then they need to actually HEAR you and not just listen to your words. What are you really saying and how can we (your solution provider) adjust to meet your needs and make YOU successful? After all…it is your ministry.
  8. Can rooms be double booked? Why would you want to pay for a software solution that allowed you to double book rooms or resources?  Frankly, one of the main reasons for having a room scheduling solution is to avoid these issues. We would suggest that you steer clear of any software that would not address such overbooking.  It is one thing to double book a classroom…but can you imagine double booking a wedding??? This is clearly a shortfall of some of the applications mentioned in #1 above.
  9. Does your software integrate with HVAC solutions? Without a doubt, the most asked question of the eSPACE onboarding team is about integration of the scheduler with HVAC systems.  I wish this was an easy question to answer, but HVAC systems are complex.  What you do want to know is IF they even have options to integrate. That can get the ball rolling.
  10. Can we use our calendar on our Website? As our world becomes more reliant on the internet for much of our basic communication, more organizations are utilizing websites as the common repository for most of their communication…including the church calendar.  If this is important to your church, then you need to make sure that there is a component of your event/facility scheduling software that will allow for this function.

There is no doubt many more questions need to be considered…but these are a great starting point and should be explored in detail before proceeding. For more information on our web based solutions, visit our WEBSITE.

Check out this quick video to learn more:


Getting Started: Church Facility Management

Over the past several years, I have had numerous church leaders approach me with the question,”How do we get started with a Facilities Management initiative?”  My guess is that there are many of you out there asking the same question…or possibly trying to re-evaluate your current facility management program, processes, budgets and staffing.

Those who have asked this of me have been looking for guidance in a number of areas…the ones that seem to be the most common include:

  1. How much should we budget for facility management and operations?
  2. How do we staff for our current or new facility?
  3. How do we plan for future capital replacements?

These are a great place to start, but to answer these questions without more information and context is getting the proverbial “cart before the horse.” We need to first step back and ask more strategic questions before we can address the tactical.

With regards to setting up a Facilities Management initiative, I would suggest that there are a series of questions that should be asked before you dive too deep. Let me give us some things to think about:

  1. How much do you plan to outsource? This is fundamental and clearly will impact the size and skill set of your internal team and budgets.
  2. What functions do you expect them to do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis?
  3. Will they also be responsible for set-up and tear down of rooms?
  4. Who will directly manage the daily activities of the staff?
  5. Are you planning to have a full time facilities “manager” or instead, a “maintenance” person? There is a huge difference between the 2 skill sets – click HERE to dig deeper into the difference.
  6. What is our plan for developing Capital Reserves?
  7. How much deferred maintenance do we need to address?
  8. Do you plan on using an Event Scheduler software program (other than Outlook, Google Calendar or paper and pencil)? If so, will it be web based? What do we want the tool to do for us?
  9. Do you plan on using a Work Order Management program? If not, how will you track work orders, historical data, vendor management, reoccurring preventive maintenance, etc.?
  10. What is the Current Replacement Value of your facilities?

I would suggest that your systems and processes should be defined before you determine how to staff. Your systems/process and methodologies, coupled with the costs associated, need to be the foundation of any facilities management program…then staff accordingly. As part of that process, you need to determine the type of Preventive Maintenance you plan to perform in-house or outsource. To help you get started I have posted a draft of “best practices” for a preventive maintenance program. Click HERE and download for your use. This is not an “end-all” list, but will help get you started.

There are several things to consider as you explore these questions. To help answer many of them, I would suggest the Facility Stewardship Manual. This will give you some good guidelines to get started.

I realize that I have thrown a lot at you and may have actually raised more questions than provided answers. The fact is that you are preparing to care for a complex commercial building…that God has ENTRUSTED to the care of your church…and I applaud you all for being proactive to prepare for this process.

Delegation and Outsourcing: The Acts 6 Principle

How many of you are familiar with these names: Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas

Let me share a story with you from a number of years ago so I can show you what a profound impact the names of these men had on me and helped shape the course of my vision, passion, drive and WHY.

As I started Cool Solutions Group, I was sharing my desire to assist church staff, leaders and volunteers commit their time to focus on people, ministry and their passions. I shared how I wanted to free up pastors and church staff to do the things that only they can do…minister to their church. During one of these discussions, Frank Norwood, Business Administrator at First Baptist Church, Matthews, NC (who we are currently leading a renovation project for) pulled out his Bible and read the following:

ACTS 6:1-7

1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.
2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.
3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them
4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.
6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

He then shared a story about a conversation he had with their pastor when he was new to the church. He asked the pastor what he felt his calling was and and his passion for serving the church. The pastor indicated that he wanted to preach, teach, shepherd and lead the people of this church…his flock. In his wisdom, Frank told the pastor to write these items down on a 3×5 card (this was before Evernote and Moleskins) and to never deviate from them. That was great advice.

He went on to share that he sees his role, as business administrator, to enable the pastor to not have to worry about the day to day business associated with running a large church…to free up the pastor to fulfill his passion and goals. Now, that sounds like a servants heart…and it is exactly what was happening in Acts. The Apostles could no longer address the granular issues of running the “church”. It had grown to a level that they could no longer be the “go to” guys for every detail. They needed to entrust some of these duties to other capable people. The Apostles realized that they were the only ones qualified…and called…to give “attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”  This function within the church had to be theirs…no one else. So, the formation of a supporting cast was birthed. Each a qualified part of the body using the gifts God had entrusted to them to further the development of the church and to free up those called to preach, teach and shepherd their flock.

And what was the result? Re-read verse 7: “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.” The church grew…people accepted Christ as their Savior and people became disciples. The church did not suffer because it delegated or “outsourced” certain functions…it THRIVED!

For those of us/you that serve the church, either as a support staff within the church or as an outsource partner such as our firm, we have been called to a very special part in the Body of Christ. We are called to use OUR gifts, skills, expertise and experience to allow those called to preach and teach to fulfill their vision and calling.