Posts Tagged ‘Facility Management’

Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Facility (and Team)

WOW…is it really December?  Where did 2016 go?!?!

With Christmas right around the corner, now is the ideal time to be thinking about that perfect gift for your Facility Manager…or facility team…or your facility (yes…our facilities deserve “gifts”).

In light of that, allow us to be Santa’s helper and give you some great ideas:

  1. Facility Stewardship Manual – This nearly 300 page resource tool is the perfect gift for any facility professional or any person tasked with stewarding their facility. Check it out HERE.
  2. WiFi thermostats – Looking to save money and increase efficiency?  Then your facility (and team) deserve to have WIFI thermostats.  There are 2 added bonuses to this gift…it can integrate with eSPACE Event Scheduler to increase efficiency and it has a mobile app.  BOOM…3 in one gift!
  3. Work Order Management Mobile App – If you are a subscriber to the eSPACE Work Order Management application, there is now a mobile app that is FREE.  Who does not love free?
  4. Facility Assessments and Management Assistance – If you are intentional about sustaining your facility for generations to come, then you need to consider a detailed assessment of the condition and life cycle of your facility as well as proactive facility management best practices.  Check out our SUSTAIN services.
  5. The Only 3-in-1 Facility Management Software – If you are not using eSPACE for your Event and Facility Scheduler and Work Order Management, then this is the gift that will have an incredible return on your investment. See why HERE.
  6. Books, and Books and Books – If you or your team are avid readers, then give them the gift of knowledge.  We have several books available HERE that will help your team look at church facilities differently.  This is ideal not just for your facility team, but if you are considering an expansion or construction initiative, then these are must-have tools.

As if that were not enough options, stay tuned for a new “gift” in January…the Life cycle Calculator.
If you have been looking for a great tool to establish your capital reserves as well as track depreciable assets, you will want to get this!

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Are you cleaning out the closets when you have guests coming for dinner?

If you have been reading our blog for any period of time, you know that my wife, Lisa Cool, has written some of the most insightful blogs over the years…and today is another example of her skills and insight.  She shared this story and it really resonated with me to the point that I have adopted this little question as a metaphor when trying to help our clients be INTENTIONAL with their facility stewardship and development.

Let me know if you can relate…thanks Lisa:

Recently, I was retained as a consultant for a travel management company and recruited a new Vice President for their sales and customer service department.  While we were going through her on-boarding process, two major clients indicated that they were looking at changing travel management firms, but would still give this firm an opportunity to re-bid on their business. This required a full court press effort to prepare for the presentations to avoid losing these valuable accounts.

As the new Vice President and I were reviewing the tasks to get her started in her new role, it was clear that she was very preoccupied by many details related to the general operation of the company and systems that needed attended to, but she was missing the big picture and pressing issue that their firm was on the verge of losing two major accounts.  I surprisingly blurted out,  “ Tracy, you are trying to clean out the closets when you have company coming for dinner.”  Yes, there were many projects to tackle and many processes to implement, but she was missing out on the most pressing tasks at hand…saving these accounts!

I am sure we all have moments when our focus is misplaced. That happens. However, as we approach this busy season, make sure you aren’t cleaning out the closets when you have company coming for dinner!  INTENTIONAL!


9 Reasons Your Church Needs a Facility Management Professional

Over 4 years ago I wrote a blog asking “Is Your Facilities Manager the Red-Headed Stepchild of the Church Staff?”  I have had numerous facility managers tell me that is exactly how they have felt and even some are still considered that way.  However, I am encouraged to know that some church leaders are embracing their Facility Manager equally as other ministry leaders…especially when they adopt the theology of Facility Stewardship and see it as a spiritual and ministry endeavor just like small groups, missions, youth and the like.

Do we think that the Facility Manager is less critical to the success of your ministry as the youth pastor?  Are they less important than the small groups pastor?  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 the Facility Manager like the red-headed stepchild of the staff?  Facilities represent a large part of any church’s asset base and annual expenses, yet doesn’t usually receive the same attention that other facets of the organization garner. Is it just the necessary evil?  I agree that facilities are only a tool…but they are a tool that requires care and stewarding…and in most cases, a tool your church would not want to be without.

I was asked this last week, by a Facility Manager, what “case” can he make to his leadership to emphasize the importance of his role as well as how to enlighten their understanding as to how critical it is to have the right number of staff and capital reserves.

The following are 9 reasons your church needs a Facilities Management Professional:

1. Facilities are one of your church’s largest assets and represents a significant cost to operations. A Facility Management Professional has the knowledge to maximize value and minimize costs.

2. Facilities and the environment they provide staff, members, congregation, as well as processes and systems, have a large impact on productivity. A Facility Management Professional understands the church’s mission and the interaction with the facility necessary to maximize ministry efficiency as it relates to the use of the facility.

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 vision and 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 identify and assemble these resources to work together to maximize value, reduce risk and minimize costs.

7. The facilities that house your ministry activities can require considerable effort to manage 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 and expertise 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 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.

Now…with that all said, we are really going back to an earlier conversation about the difference of Management vs. maintenance. Both are important…but they are different tasks and require very different skill sets. Don’t be lulled to sleep thinking you have a Facility Manager just because you gave them that title. Skill sets, expertise and performance make the role…not the title.

What are you doing to enhance and to further your Facility Stewardship plans? If you do not have a Facility Management Professional on your staff, you may want to contact us to explore your options. As I suggested last week, you may need a COOL SOLUTION.

BONUS:  If you need more ammo to enforce this point, check out this insightful article from Church Law & Tax, a Christianity Today newsletter.


Do You Need a “COOL” Solution?

I just love our company name…COOL SOLUTIONS GROUP! When we started the firm in 2008, our branding consultant said that we just had to use my last name in the name of the company.  Since that time, the COOL part has taken on more significance related to the products and services we provide and much less about my name, for which I am thankful.

We do offer some very “cool” solutions and your church or organization may very well be benefited by one of them…maybe multiple solutions.

Before I share with you the various solutions, let me reiterate the WHY we offer these solutions:

To assist organizations be effective, efficient and intentional with the facilities they have been entrusted to steward.

All of who we are and what we offer is to fulfill that vision and mission. Here is the WHAT we do:


Intentional Workshop This is an intense process to explore the WHO (are you), WHY (do you exist and do things the way you do), WHAT (is the right tool to fulfill your vision/mission). The INTENTIONAL WORKSHOP includes:

  • >Vision Assessment
  • >Program Study
  • >Master Planning
  • >Budget Analysis
  • >Concept Design
  • >Preliminary Project Budget Projections

Project ManagementIf you are considering a facility expansion of building project, don’t go it alone. Our team of facility specialists have over 30 years of project experience and can walk side-by-side your team to complete your project so that you can continue to focus on ministry.

Existing Facility Assessmentsthese assessment are a tremendous tool to assist churches evaluate:

  • >Facility Condition
  • >Life Cycle Management
  • >Deferred Maintenance
  • >Operational Efficiency and Bench marking
  • >”Fresh Eyes” Assessment
  • >Capital Reserve Planning

Facility Management Services – COMING IN 2017: 

We find that many churches are lacking a Facility Management professional to lead their facility stewardship initiatives. Many have “maintenance” or repair personnel, but not a proactive Facility Manager.  Others have relegated the Facility Management duties to the Church Administrator, who already has too many hats to wear and is generally not trained in this area. While others just cannot afford a full time staff person or serve as the Facility Manager.

That is where we come in.

eSPACE Facility Management Software – The ONLY 3-in-1 Facility Management Software!eSpace_Logo_Md

We are passionate about assisting organizations be as effective and efficient as possible. Check us out and then call us to see how we can partner with you!


3 “Must Have” Attributes of a Software Provider

Does anyone reading this article not use software for some aspect of your life?  Work, bill payments, contributions, personal, web surfing, gaming, photo storage, reading books, in your car, on your phone, etc, etc, etc?

If you can truly say that you do not use software in any component of your life, you either live in a cave (so not sure how you could even read this) or are delusional…because, even if you do not have software on your computer, the services you use and stores you frequent use software in some form or fashion. Software is an integral part of modern culture, society and life in general.  It is everywhere.

Most of you know that I am personally a relative novice when it comes to software.  I am a facility guy.  But our company cropped-eSpace_Logo.pngprovides a best-in-class SaaS (Software as a Service) based solution for Facility Management effectiveness…eSPACE.

Given that, I have invested a great deal of myself into understanding the SaaS world of software and studied what makes for great customer experiences…which in the end…is the the primary reason to offer a SaaS product.  eSPACE helps our company realize the WHY of our existence:

WHY = To assist organizations be effective, efficient and intentional with the facilities they have been entrusted to steward.

What I have learned is that the WHY is our driving force, but it must be coupled with our HOW which is greatly driven by the needs of those we serve and provide products and services…YOU!

To that end, here are 3 MUST HAVE attributes that we have adopted that make eSPACE the best (and possibly only) 3-in-1 Facility Management Software on the market:

  1. Agile – “able to move quickly and easily” – we live in a microwave age…we want what we want NOW. We are accustomed to getting what we want at the click of a button or a keystroke. Companies that are still practicing a development method of quarterly releases or large roll outs 1-2 times a year is waning.  We want our software companies to move quickly…we want them to be agile. Let me put this into perspective.  In the first 10 months of 2016, the eSPACE development team has completed 226  minor feature additions or enhancements ( what we call “quick picks” for items that can be done in less than 4 hours). In addition, that team has released 27 major feature releases (that take more than 4 hours) and 8 projects (feature enhancements that require multiple days/weeks)…and about 180 “bug” fixes.   That is a ton of new features, enhancements and support that provide expedited results and happy clients.
  2. Listening – of the incredible amount of development activities listed above, nearly 90% of all of these items are subscriber/client driven. Now, isn’t that a breathe of fresh air.  A company and their technical team that is actually listening to their clients instead of just sitting in a conference coming up with what THEY this is cool and fun. I have learned that no matter how COOL (pun intended) our team thinks something might be, if it does not meet an expressed need of our clients and prospective clients, it is not worth adding to the application.
  3. Customer Service – I could write an entire post on this. I could tell you about other suppliers who do not offer direct phone support, or take days or weeks to respond or NEVER respond.  I could list dozens of our new clients that have left companies for that very reason.  But what I want to share with you is what we do…not what others don’t. To date i 2016, we have responded to nearly 1,100 customer service tickets with almost 40% of those being resolved on the first contact with our customer service team. In addition, our average “close” time (the amount of time to address, resolve and close a ticket) is about 1/2 a day.  That is freaking awesome.  I wish I could get some of the companies I use to respond at that rate. According to Forrester Research, “45% of US consumers will abandon an online transaction if their questions or concerns are not addressed quickly.”  Maybe that explains why our churn rate has been well below .6% per month for the majority of 2016.

Are the above interactions and attributes important to you?  Are you getting that from your Event/Facility Scheduler, Work Order Management of HVAC Integration providers?  If not…give us a look.


“SO THAT” Leadership

I am a fan of leadership.  I like reading books on the topic and love implementing best practices related to leadership. I have read books by Maxwell, Drucker, De Pree, Collins, Godin and many others. There is a plethora of books on leadership…in fact, it might take a life time to get through all of them.

But my most recent interaction with the topic of leadership came from a series I found in YouVersion entitled “Legacy Leadership” by J. Lee Whittington.  Mr. Whittington is a PhD Professor of Management at the University of Dallas. If you use YouVersion as a reading guide, then I would highly recommend you add this to your reading plans.

This study starts off with a prelude to the theme of the series which immediately grabbed my attention:

Many people define leadership as influence. I don’t think this simple definition of leadership is wrong, but I do believe it is incomplete. I have a more comprehensive definition of what I call Legacy Leadership. Legacy Leadership is a process of intentional influence that takes place in the context of a relationship.

If you follow me on social media or have purchased our Facility Stewardship Manual or read the blog on WHY vs. WHAT our company exist, you would immediately see why I was drawn to this…INTENTIONAL!

That is it!  That is what makes leadership come alive for me. It is not just influence, but intentional influence. Influence with a purpose. Influence with an end result in mind.  Influence done in the context of a relationship that is growing and maturing. Influence that makes a positive difference.

  Mr. Whittington goes on to say:

In the context of leadership, the word intentional indicates the purpose or over-riding mission that guides a leader’s behaviors. Paul [Apostle Paul] was very explicit about his purpose: he was “exhorting, encouraging, and imploring each one of them as father would his own children so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into his own kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12).

“So that” is one of Paul’s favorite phrases. He uses it in this verse to emphasize the intent of his leadership. His goal is to develop Christ-like followers who will walk worthy of God’s calling. He expressed this same purpose in his letter to the Colossians. He prays for them to grow in their understanding of God’s will “so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1: 9-12). 

BAM!    Hello!    Can I get an AMEN?!

Intentional leadership has a SO THAT associated with it. Paul used it over and over again.  He was an intentional/legacy leader.  He knew that when writing to the churches he planted as well as his disciples and co-laborers, he was not just proclaiming edicts and tasks, but provided the SO THAT context.

Think about some of the things we face regularly related to our facilities:

We are starting a building project…SO THAT…we can provide more seats and opportunities for people to meet Christ.

We replace our HVAC filters each quarter…SO THAT…we can keep our units running most efficiently and extend the life of the units.  In addition, it allows us to inspect other components of the system to ensure they are functioning well.

We are intentional and vigilant in maintaining a Work Order log…SO THAT…we stay organized, know what work is outstanding, so the balance of the staff knows tasks are being completed and to be proactive with scheduled maintenance activities.

We extract our carpet once a month…SO THAT…we present the very best first impression to our guests.

Does that make sense to you or am I on an island caught up in my own mind and word games? For me, the SO THAT makes our leadership…our activities…our tasks…our action items, INTENTIONAL. And when we are intentional, things get done and done for the right reason.

Here are some closing challenges from this series. Take a minute and reflect on these:

  1. Take a moment to list the various spheres of influence that have been entrusted to you. Your work, your church, your marriage, your family.
  2. Do you have an over-riding purpose that is guiding your influence in each of those arenas?
  3. Is your influence intentional?
  4. What is the “so that” of your leadership?


Facility Management Goes MOBILE!

After numerous requests and extensive hours of development…it is finally here.



That’s right, we have an APP for that!

Cool Solutions Group and eSPACE are so excited to announce the release of the mobile app for our Work Order Management software.  We find that facility managers and their staff are not sitting at a desk all day…at least they shouldn’t be.  They are on the grounds, in the building, on the roof or inside a piece of equipment.  In light of that, they need immediate access to their work order management and facility management system.  Now they can!

eSPACE – Work Order Management is a free app to be used by clients of eSPACE ( This app allows you to manage your work orders on the go. Setup is quick and easy allowing you and your staff to be up and running in minutes. Not a client yet? Try us free for 30 days

Get your FREE app at either the iTunes App Store or Google Play Store:

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Is it too little butter, or too much bread?

The above is the title of a blog by Seth Godin several months ago.  The title really got my attention and I have had to chew on it (pun intended) for several months.  But I think it is worth exploring with you all.

In the blog, he states:

Most individuals and organizations complain of not having enough butter. We need more resources, we say, to cover this much territory. We need more (time/money/staff) to get the job done.

That is right in line with much of what our team consults with organization regarding their FOCUS and Intentionality. Too often we see leaders looking for more and more “bread”(programs…the next initiative…more facilities…the next campus…the next software package, etc). None of them, in and of themselves, are bad or wrong…but if you don’t have a commensurate amount of “butter” (money, time, staff, volunteers, etc), then we start spreading the butter too thin on the bread.  Sounds like a quote from a J.R.R. Tolkien’s book, Lord of the Rings, by Bilbio Baggins:

“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread”

I can remember as a kid getting toast in the AM and needing to be sparse with the butter we spread on.  To me, that eating experience was never fulfilling.  I wanted the butter (or jelly, apple butter, cream cheese, peanut butter, etc) to be commensurate with the material I was spreading it on. When I tried to parse out the butter, I inevitably missed sections…which were then dry and unappealing.  Other areas were so thin that I could barely tell it had any spread at all. That was always disappointing.

Godin went on to say:

Spreading our butter too thin is a form of hiding. It helps us be busy, but makes it unlikely we will make an impact. It turns out that doing a great job with what we’ve got is the single best way to get a chance to do an even better job with more, next time.

So…when we think about ministry resources (human or otherwise), I would recommend that we do not try to enlarge our bread without having ample butter to do the right job.

Be Intentional!


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Facility Management is a Form of Worship

A few weeks ago we looked at “The WHY behind the WHAT: Church Facility Management” and we looked at how the first Facility Managers were actually the Levites (Numbers 3).  This week I want to drive this home a little more.

I receive a daily devotional from Rick Warren called Daily Hope. I love getting these (and others) in my Inbox each day.  What a great way to start the day!

The other morning the devotional started off with the following verse:

“When you produce much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified.” (John 15:8a AMP)

The devotional continued with…

When you use the gifts that God has given you, it is an act of worship.

What is it that makes God smile? Some people think God only smiles when you’re praying or singing or going to church. The truth is, God smiles when you use the gifts that he’s given you. When you’re doing what you were wired to do and shaped to do, God goes, “That’s so cool! I made him to do that!”

Remember in “Chariots of Fire,” when Erik Liddell said, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure”? God shaped some guys to run. He shaped others to ride bikes, drive fast cars, or surf. They’re just good at it. I think when God looks at them, he says, “That is so cool! I made the wave. I made the surfer. This is cool.” You don’t have to always be doing something spiritual to bring God glory.

Let’s add another gift to that may not be on the tip of your tongue…the gift of Facility Management.  You don’t think that is a gift?

Is administration a gift?

Is leadership a gift?

Is deductive reasoning a gift?

Is negotiation ability a gift?

Is cognitive thinking a gift?

Is forward planning a gift?

Is attention to detail a gift?

If the above are gifts (and I contend that they are since not everyone has them)…then when they are combined together, and possibly others added…it only reasons that facility management is a gift…and when we use our gifts, it is WORSHIP!

Another relevant passage is 1 Peter 4:10 NLT – “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another”  When you use your gifts correctly, God gets the glory. And you certainly can’t please God with gifts you don’t have. God doesn’t expect you to be talented or gifted at everything. He just wants you to use what he’s given you.

So, if you are a facility manager, when you use the gifts God has entrusted to you, you are worshiping. That is a good stuff and I trust it encourages you today!

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FORM follows FUNCTION which follows FINANCES

Louis Henry Sullivan, coiner of everyone’s favorite design phrase, “form follows function”  was the father of the skyscraper and patriarch of modernism in architecture. Though less well-known than other designers of the early 20th century, Sullivan built more than 200 buildings across the Midwest and set the stage for a generation of modernist architects who believed that the form of a building should be in direct relation to its purpose.

As long as I have been involved with the development of church facilities, the concept of “form follows function” has remained true more often than not. It just makes sense. In most cases, you can design the exterior of a facility look many different ways and yet have the same interior function.  Think, for example, about speculative housing.  I have been to model homes where they had a base floor plan that meets the functional needs of a family or occupant with a series of  potential exterior elevations and “forms”.  You can make the same building look different in so many ways with the same functionality.

If you initiate a design process with the form (exterior shape, size, creative elements) as the predominant driving force, you will likely end up with wasted space or unusable space.  If you do not understand how the space is to function and you merely design the exterior, you may have created an award winning edifice that is totally dysfunctional.  We have a client that has such a structure. The exterior is iconic and if you reference the icon (by its slang name) in the community, people know what church facility you are referring.  But on the interior…LORD HAVE MERCY! The form dictated the interior elements to the detriment of the acoustics and sense of community in the worship space…which greatly diminished its function. In this instance, the form was more important to the designer than the function.

Let me be clear…I am not denigrating form or elevating function. As I wrote in “Why Church Buildings Matter”, I believe that the architecture and aesthetics of a facility can have a great impact…positive and negative. In an ideal setting, it should be a both/and vs. an either/or relationship.  I tend to agree with Frank Lloyd Wright when he stated that “form and function should be one.”

So, while I am a proponent of the “form follows function” school of thinking, I would like to introduce the trump card.


It is my opinion that both form and function must follow finances. Of what benefit is stunning architecture if you cannot afford to build it or cannot afford to maintain it?  At the same time, it is equally as absurd to develop plans that meet every functional need of your organization and not be able to pay for it or obtain financing. Finances are the ultimate trump card.  It is the bottom line in nearly every facility initiative. In my 30+ years of serving churches to plan, develop, build and maintain facilities, I am yet to meet one that successfully completed a project where they did not have cash and/or loans. There is no such thing as a “free” church building.  It requires money…usually a lot of money.

Given that, why in heavens name would you design a facility…ANY facility…before you fully understood your financial capabilities. I am not referring to eliminating God and his blessings from the equation. That is where the discussion of Fact and Faith comes in. Facts are what we know…what we can do…what is tangible.  Faith is what we believe God can do to help us meet our goals in serving Him. To plan based on only facts takes God out of the equation and basically says “I got this.” The converse of that is to be so wild in our faith that there is no possible way it could happen (such as a church of 50 people having the faith they can build a 5,000 seat worship center).

If you are planning a facility initiative or building program, be very intentional about understanding your finances before you get too far out on the proverbial “form or function” limb. Remember…

FORM follows FUNCTION which follows FINANCES!