Posts Tagged ‘Facility Management’

Life Cycle Planning – FOR FREE

You all know I am a huge proponent of Capital Reserve Planning…Life Cycle Initiatives…Facility Stewardship. I am such a huge fan that our company invested thousands of dollars developing the Life Cycle Calculator as part of your eSPACE software suite of Facility Management Solutions. I believe every church should have this tool and should have a plan for the inevitability of the future costs related to facilities and capital replacement costs.

As such, our team has really struggled about how to get this in the hands of all churches with a facility.  How do we get them to use it?  How do we help them plan for the future?  What needs to be done?

Well…we have an idea that we believe is the right thing for any and every church.

MAKE IT FREE!

That’s right, effective immediately, the eSPACE Life Cycle Calculator is now FREE.  No cost.  No set up fee.  No maintenance fee. No need to purchase any of our other applications or services.  Just plain old FREE.

We believe that Capital Reserve Planning is that important. We are so passionate about it that we are actually refunding those churches that paid for it originally.

If your church has a facility…or any physical assets (vehicles, A/V equipment, IT equipment, maintenance equipment, etc) that has a life cycle and expected replacement value, then this tool will be a tremendous asset to you and your organization.

Click HERE to get started.

To help you get started with your Capital Reserve Planning make sure to download our FREE eBook to learn more.

Is Your Facilities Manager the Red-Headed Stepchild of the Staff?

I am really bothered. In fact, I am bothered enough that I have had to walk away from this post several times to make sure I did not spew some ugliness that would not be taken in the manner in which I intend it.

So…what is bothering me? Glad you asked.

I have been preaching for years now on the principle that we must steward what God has entrusted to us, that we need to care for our facilities, and that over a 40 year life cycle, the cost of operations will represent about 71% of the total cost expenditures.

And yet, I get the sense that in most churches the Facility Manager (or the Operations Manager) is the lowest position on the org chart and the first to get cut if the budget gets too tight. I have been in several churches over the past several weeks and visited the FM’s office (if you can really call it that). I have seen “offices” that are large caged spaces (actually, they were fenced in with chain link), boiler rooms, corners of left over space with no windows, basements, storage rooms, etc, etc, etc. This has really bothered me. I would not want my personal office in these spaces. Maybe I am just picky…but maybe not.

Have you gone and spent a day in the FM’s office in your church? Did your clothes feel all dirty when you got out of the chair (the same chair that had paint cans stacked on before you sat down)?

Do we think that the FM is less critical to the success of our ministry as the youth pastor? Are they less critical than the small groups minister? What about the accounting staff? Is their role less critical to the operations of the ministry? If you responded  “no” to any of these, then why do we treat them like the red-headed stepchild of the staff?

Facilities represent a large part of any church’s assets and expenses yet don’t usually receive the same attention that other parts of the organization do. Is it just the necessary evil? I agree that facilities are only a tool, but they are a tool that requires care and stewarding.

I recently saw a blog by Strategic Advisor, a Facility Management consulting firm in Canada. It is entitled “Top Nine Reasons Your Company Needs a Facility Management Professional Like You.” I have modified it to be church-centric, as the principles still apply:

The following are nine reasons your church needs a Facilities Management Professional:

  1. Facilities are one of your church’s largest assets and represent a significant cost of doing operations. A Facility Management Professional has the knowledge to maximize value and minimize costs.
  2. Facilities and the environment they provide staff, members, congregation, processes and systems have a large impact on ministry productivity. A Facility Management Professional understands the church’s mission and the interaction with the Facility necessary to maximize ministry.
  3. Facility accommodations, whether in growth mode or not, require strategic planning to minimize costs and maximize value. A Facility Management Professional provides strategic direction and development guidance to achieve the results the church needs to fulfill the mission.
  4. Sustainability is critical to the environment for the church and its members as well as community image. A Facility Management Professional provides the stewardship required to maintain leadership on the environment.
  5. The environmental and legislative complexity of owning or leasing Facilities represents a huge risk to the church. A Facility Management Professional navigates the requirements and mitigates the risk.
  6. Facilities require an entire team of generalists and specialists to provide services. A Facility Management Professional understands how to make these resources work together to maximize value, reduce risk and minimize costs.
  7. The Facilities that house your ministry can require considerable effort to manage them effectively. A Facility Management Professional takes on this burden and frees up other resources to fully focus on what makes the church successful in delivering its core ministry (Acts 6:1-7).
  8. Managing Facilities with an administrative resource or line manager (i.e. Maintenance person) means it won’t get the attention it deserves and may put the church at risk. A Facility Management Professional has training, background and experience in all areas of the complex issues and services required to provide safe, effective stewardship to the church’s Facility assets.
  9. A Facility Management Professional has the experience and overall oversight for Facilities issues, enabling them to see patterns, track changes and identify risks that may have a future negative impact. Their knowledge enables them to take corrective action now to reduce your risk and costs.

I have not totally left the reservation and I fully realize that costs and budgets are a real part of our everyday life at home and at our church facilities. But taking note of our entrusted responsibilities will make us better stewards of these tools.

The Church Facility Stewardship e-Book is a great primer to get you started on the road to understanding the basics of an intentional and proactive Facility Stewardship (i.e Facility Management) initiative for your church or ministry.

Does VBS Impact Facility Costs?

We recently partnered with Lauren Hunter from Church Tech Today to do some research on the operational impact to church budgets related to the use of the facility for Vacation Bible School. I had not given much thought to this and so when Lauren asked the question, I kicked myself since I didn’t already know the answers.

You can find her entire post HERE…but here are a few points that really stuck out to me.  Most churches…

…did not see a rise in insurance costs

…had some extra trash and water expenses

…had some carpet cleaning and facilities wear and tear that wasn’t optimal but was tolerable

…were willing to pay for background checks to ensure the safety of children

…a few of the church polled no longer offered VBS due to expense or other ministry objectives

But here was the big one for me…most, if not ALL of the churches that our team interviewed that still provided VBS as a church function, felt that the facilities costs involved were more than worth it to share the Gospel with children.

While I am a big fan of operational and budget efficiency…at the end of the day, our ministry facilities are still meant to be a tool to further the gospel and minister to people. Period!

Planning every church event, including Vacation Bible School, involves a myriad of details, including coordinating with multiple departments, reserving rooms and/or services, managing expenses, and communicating the event to potential attendees. Here we provide a simple and effective guide to understanding all the factors the influence event success and how to be INTENTIONAL and IMPACTFUL.

 

Facility Stewardship Requires Creative Thinking

I have been reading a book by John Maxwell entitled How Successful People Think. It is a short and easy read…you should pick up a copy.

One of the sections of the book is on Creative Thinking. I have always thought of myself as a creative thinker and so this section really interested me and I could not wait to dive in.

When I turned to the first page, the top quote was from legendary head football coach, Vince Lombardy…and I must admit, it ticked me off as I read it:

“The joy is in creating, not maintaining.”

That just felt wrong within the world of Facility Stewardship and Management.  If you look at the Total Cost of Ownership of a facility (see pie chart) over 40 years, 71-85% of the total cost of ownership is committed to operations (maintaining, as it were) and not in the “creating”. I almost put the book down thinking that this was going to go against all that I teach, write about, consult on and beat the proverbial Facility Stewardship drum. How dare he!

However, I caved in and decided to continue reading…and man, am I glad I did!

What John Maxwell went on to explain was the need for Creative THINKING. Now that is a concept I can clearly get behind and one that I do not think is encouraged enough in the realm of Facility Stewardship and Management. While “maintaining” our ministry facilities are critical to the financial and operational viability of our organizations, that does not mean that those of us entrusted to steward these facilities are to put our mind in neutral or in a stagnant nor complacent “maintaining” state. May it never be!

In fact, I would contend that you need to super-size your creative thinking. Most facility church staff that we meet with are dealing with significant facility issues and have to become experts in creative thinking that leads to intentional means and methods to accomplish what is required with shrinking budgets, depleted staff and ever growing deferred maintenance issues.

Maxwell outlined 5 principles that I believe apply to the creative thinking that facility, operation, and administration professionals must embrace:

  1. Creative Thinkers Value Ideas – They are reading, asking questions, studying, and looking for new and better ways to get the job done.
  2. Creative Thinkers Don’t Fear Failure – Be open to failure and fail forward. You can’t learn from mistakes if you don’t make any. If you you never try new things, you will never have the chance to fail (which leads to learning and success).
  3. Creative Thinking Adds Value to Everything – Maxwell stated, “Creativity is being able to see what everybody else has seen and think what nobody else has thought so that you can do what nobody else has done.”
  4. Creative Thinking Draws People to You and Your Ideas – Creativity is intelligence having fun! Do you ever notice how people gravitate to those having a good time and enjoying what they do?  Be contagious!
  5. Creative Thinking Challenges the Status Quo – There are 7 words of a dying organization…“We have always done it that way.” – Break the mold.  Think and act outside the box. Creativity and innovation always walk hand in hand.

If you have been entrusted to steward your facilities, you owe it to your “boss”, your team, your leaders, and YOURSELF to be creative in your thinking. Surround yourself with others that will join the process.

THINK CREATIVELY…BE INTENTIONAL!

The Church Facility Stewardship e-Book is a great primer to get you started on the road to understanding the basics of an intentional and proactive Facility Stewardship (i.e Facility Management) initiative for your church or ministry.

If It’s Phase-able, It’s Feasible

We have just wrapped up a 2 part series on the 5 Consequences of Too Much Building As part of that series, we scratched the surface of the issue of building too big from the get-go. We noted that this is generally done when proper planning is not performed or when the “build it and they will come” mentality replaces reasonable thinking.

When I talk about “proper planning”, I am referring to the fact that every church that plans to build a new facility has a budget; and as such, there is only so much they can afford as part of the next project. (PS:  If you have an unlimited budget, please call me immediately as I have 3 kids in college!) What I have seen far too often is the project team plans and designs a facility to meets the churches desires, wishes and “perceived” needs; it is a grand plan and every component is thought through.  The plan has the right amount of seating, incredible kids spaces, “Google-ish” office space, and world class commons.

What could go wrong?

It costs HOW MUCH?!?!?! – Yep, that is what can go wrong.

This is not the end of the world and it does not have derail the process…unless, there is no way to phase the project.  As stated above, I am yet to find that one church on planet Earth that has an unlimited budget. As such, 99.9% of all projects have to be done in phases…sometimes many phases.

Welcome to reality.

I was recently with a friend of mine, Bob Bergman, when he made a statement that completely embodied the methodology of planning, design and construction I have been preaching for 31 years – “If it is Phase-able, it is Feasible.”

BOOM. BINGO. EXACTLY. THAT WILL PREACH!

Let me explain.  This may seem intuitive and simple, but I have seen millions of dollars of design and building plans sitting in the corner of a pastor’s study with an inch of dust on them…for a project that was well intended, but not feasible.

As I describe in my book PLAN 4 IT, churches need to establish a Financial Master Plan before they start on the Facility Plan. By doing so, you will know your financial capability.  If you, as the project team, start to develop the programming based on the church’s desires and needs, you will need a comparable benchmark (financial feasibility).  If the budget capacity falls short of the programming needs, then you will be in a phasing scenario.  As such, you need to prioritize the programming needs into financially feasible phases, then design with those phases acutely in the forefront of the teams mind.

Now…I fully believe that God can intervene and provide more funds than any of us can perceive.  That is GREAT, but don’t plan the project with that as the basis for the project size and scope.  Instead, plan your PHASING to take that into consideration.  There is no law that says you can not build Phase 1 and Phase 2 at the same time if the funds are available. There is, however, a spiritual, physical and financial law that says you cannot build Phase 2 if you only have funds for Phase 1. Pretty simple…but hard to implement without proper planning and diligence.

Plan wisely…and phase-able.

For assistance on Life Cycle Planning, download your free copy of the eBook, Capital Reserve Planning.

5 Consequences of Too Much Building – Part 2

In our last post, we started to explore the 5 Consequences of Too Much Building.  We spent all of our time with the first consequence:

#1: – The Money Pit

  1. Higher Utility Costs
  2. Deferred Maintenance
  3. Deferred Maintenance SQUARED

This week we want to look at the other 4 issues:

#2 – The Debt Trap – This is the consequence that burdens churches when they build too big, usually maxing out their borrowing capacity (which generally is not prudent). In these cases, the church is then strapped with mortgage payments that can strangle the funds needed for ministry and/or it can elongate the debt term, as a church may opt for a 20-30 year amortization in an attempt to reduce the monthly payment.  While I must admit that I have encouraged churches to do this, it has only been when a church is in a significant upward swing related to attendance AND giving.  Otherwise, this is a slippery slope.

#3 – Guest Perception – Have you ever gone to a function, event, or public place expecting to see lots of people only to be under-whelmed by the lack of attendance?  This is not just true in a church that is too big for the attendance, but any public setting.  I remember going to a Charlotte Hornets game when the team was doing poorly (it was the only time I could afford tickets).  The arena had no energy and it felt like I was at a funeral wake instead of a vibrant event. Guests are going to judge a portion of their experience by how the worship space “feels” to them.  Does it feel crowded or empty?  If empty, will they wonder if the church is dying? These perceptions will play a significant role in their decision to attend again.

#4 – “Wrong Sizing” – In keeping with the above, not only are guest perceptions impacted, but the overall feel of the room can have an emotional and functional impact on even your regular attenders experience.  Have you ever been to a church service that was sparsely attended and people are spread out all over the room – one over here…2 over there…a couple more in the back right corner? Then comes the time for offering; the ushers have to go down half this row to get to the first person sitting in the 7th seat who, in turn, has to stand up and walk the plate to the next person 5 seats away. If your pastor is one that says, “Tell your neighbor XXX“, but you have no neighbor; in fact, no one has a neighbor…that is awkward.

#5- Worship Impact – Worship is a personal act but when in a worship “service” it is intended to be a group activity. However, when you have too much building in your worship space, congregational worship suffers.  If you can not hear those singing around you, you are less likely to sing out.  If there is no energy in the room, you will be less likely to express yourself.

SUGGESTIONS:

For #2 above…be smart…don’t over extend…have a plan to pay off debt sooner than later.  I know, it sounds simple.  But too many churches fail to get this right.

As for the other 3 items, there are several things that could be done:

  1. “Right size” the room – this could be done with permanent walls or partitions or pipe and drape.  Getting the room to feel full will add to the guest and member experience and it will add energy. If you do it with fixed walls, you might actually save money in utility costs.
  2. Shrink Seating – If you are not inclined to “right size” the room, then consider shrinking the seating. This can be done by increasing the size of the platform as well as removing seats from the space.
  3. Rope it off – If neither of the above are acceptable solutions, then consider at least “roping-off” the back rows and closing off the balcony.  This is a hint to strongly encourage people to move closer.
  4. Use another room – If your attendance has reached a point that none of the above would help, then consider moving your service to another part of your facility. Do you have a space that is large enough to house the current attendance that you could occupy?  Again, this not only makes the space and services feel better, it can save on utilities and other operational expenses.

None of these consequences are pleasant to deal with, but deal with them you must.  Do not stick your head in the sand and pretend that these issues do not exist.  Facing reality is the first step to developing a solution and moving forward.

For assistance on Life Cycle Planning, download your free copy of the eBook, Capital Reserve Planning.

 

5 Consequences of Too Much Building – Part 1

In the past few weeks, I have been exposed to a couple of interactions that have really impacted me. The first was two days of workshops that I was asked to lead for the Center for Congregations in Indiana. Many of these churches are dealing with aging buildings and a declining attendance/membership. The second was a Podcast by Dr. Thom Rainer (What to Do When You Build too Big). Both of these shone a light on many issues churches are facing when they find themselves in a situation with more building than they need.

This issue is generally caused by a couple of factors:

1. The church has declined in attendance and facility use, and as such, the previous facilities are too large for the remaining membership and programming.

2. The church is built too big to start with, mainly because of:

  • Miscalculation of projected growth
  • Improper planning
  • A “build it and they will come” mindset

Regardless of the “cause”, the “effect” is serious business. In light of that, I want to address the 5 consequences for “too much building” and provide some possible considerations:

#1: – The Money Pit

1. Higher Utility Costs – An often over looked consequence of too much building is the cost of utilities to heat, cool and light a facility that is larger than needed. Many churches just keep paying the bills…because…well…”we have always done it that way”. But it does not have to be that way. If you do not need all of the space, then shut some of it down and stop paying for unneeded utilities. Other options may include:

  • Selling the facility and obtaining a “right sized” facility
  • Leasing, renting or sharing a portion of the facility, even it only covers the cost of utilities, maintenance and repairs
  • Merging your congregation with another. This trend has saved many congregations and provided facilities for others that may have only been renting (for more information read “Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work” by Jim Tomberlin and Warren Bird).

2. Deferred Maintenance – This is very sad to me, but due to poor planning for the inevitable costs of natural physical deterioration (1-4% annually of the current replacement value), many congregations with aging facilities (over 25 years old) find themselves in a precarious situation. Many, if not most of the churches we serve that are 25 years or older have millions and millions of dollars of deferred maintenance with no capital reserve fund or a plan as to how it can/must be addressed. In many instances this causes a catch 22…you have deferred maintenance…but the congregation is shrinking…so the income is depleted…now what? Steps that are needed here include:

  • Understanding the situation – meaning you need a Facility Assessment to understand your deferred maintenance and capital reserve needs
  • Implement a proactive plan to address the above

3. Deferred Maintenance SQUARED The above issue of deferred maintenance is compounded when adequate attention is not given, thus more than doubling the impact of the natural rate of physical deterioration. This situation will force many, if not most, churches to face other considerations such as whether to close the doors altogether or just continue to let the congregation (and the deteriorating facility) die a slow death. I have worked with one church recently that was spending 70% of their operating budget to pay for the operations, maintenance and repairs of their 80+ year old building. In my opinion, they are no longer a ministry/church but rather a group of people donating to a property management organization. Sad!

There are four more, and we will hit them next time. In the meantime, make sure to get your free copy of the eBook on Capital Reserve Planning.

Outlook and Google and Pencils …OH, MY!

The eSPACE team meets monthly at a great office space in the Charlotte area called The Launch Factory. During a recent meeting, we discussed the friendly (and healthy!) competition that we, as a business, must take time to assess. But who (or what) is our competition? Is it other facility management or event scheduling software? Is “competition” a perception or is it a trait of the actions of the people we desire to assist?

To get started, we began asking some poignant questions:

  • What problems are customers trying to solve?
  • What tasks are they trying to get done?
  • What tool(s) are they using to accomplish this task(s)?

Surprising to some, we discovered that event management is often still attempted through Google or Outlook platforms (or worse, done with a pencil and paper).

Even the smartest and most competent staff will have trouble juggling details of an event effectively and efficiently. Here are 6 reasons why Google Calendar and Outlook are not effective tools to schedule your facility:

  • Neither Google nor Outlook offers conflict detection to avoid double bookings.
  • Neither Google nor Outlook supports multiple levels of approvals.
  • Neither Google nor Outlook offers a robust reporting capability.
  • Neither Google nor Outlook allows resource/inventory management.
  • Neither Google nor Outlook offers multi-site or location management.
  • Neither Google nor Outlook lets users filter what they want to see on their calendar by all of the available event criteria.

And do I REALLY need to list 6 reasons why you should NEVER use the pencil and paper method to manage your facility and events? (I’ll save that for the next blog!)

Hey, we love our “competition” and recognize their importance in this world! I still jot reminders on Post-It notes, keep a journal with memorable Scripture verses and, occasionally, stare at a paper calendar hanging from a bulletin board in my office. I even use a Google calendar every day to schedule meetings and personal appointments!

But if you’re managing your facility through an ineffective system, you’re going to have an ineffective workflow that produces ineffective results.

If you are using another tool from which you can create a .CSV file or have a URL that we can access, the process of making a change to an INTENTIONAL solution is EASY and FREE.

You’ll have to click HERE to try something better or drop us an email at info@eSPACE.cool. I promise we won’t “pencil” you in. 😉

Jennifer “I did not write this blog with a pencil” Erwin is eSPACE’s Onboarding Specialist. You can schedule a 15-minute demo with her by clicking here or write to her at jennifer@coolsolutionsgroup.com

 

 

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!

 

Church Facility Staffing – How Many Do You Need?

I NEED YOUR HELP!

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.

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