WOW – You Offer THAT?!

The other day I was contacted by a man from a church who was working with a committee he had established to help his church understand the importance of taking care of and planning for the inevitable future costs related to their church facilities. He had downloaded one of our eBooks (Church Facility Stewardship) and was interested in other resources to make his case.

As I started to compile a response, I paused and stared at the screen…WOW – THAT IS INCREDIBLE! As the email developed and the list grew, I was frankly humbled and blown away with the resources that we have been able to make available to churches across the country.

If you have not checked out what we have developed (many resources are free) and what services we provide…just take a look at the list below.

  1. 5 Intentional Steps to Establish a Capital Reserve Account –  Free eBook – This was written as a primer for churches that are starting from Square 1 with a capital reserve.
  2. Church Facility Evaluator – Free tool to evaluate some of the key operational metrics/costs of a church related to national averages.
  3. Church Facility Stewardship Manual – Almost 300 pages of information for any church to use to establish and further their facility management initiatives.
  4. Other Resources – We have written a number of books and other material.
  5. Assessments/Training – We also provide a number of assessments and training.
  6. Life Cycle Calculator – This is a free software that will help ANY organization establish their capital reserve plan and project funds needs and when.
  7. eSPACE – Facility Management Software – We originally developed this software suite for churches, but since 2008,  we now have private and public schools, colleges, YMCAs, municipalities and other facility/property managers. In addition to the free Life Cycle Calculator from above, we have subscription offerings for:
    1. Event Management 
    2. Work Order Management
    3. HVAC Integration 
  8. Church Facility Management  Solutions – This is a new membership website that we recently released…VERY excited about this!

If your church has a facility…you need to familiarize yourself with the above items and take advantage of the best set of tools to help you be a GREAT steward!


FREE is Awesome – CFMS is now FREE!

A couple months ago we announced the release of the only online community 100% focused on Church Facility Management. This community is the only one of its kind and we have seen great response. In fact, we had more people sign up for our Church Security Webinar last month that we had to turn people away. Some of you may think that is great…and in a way, it is. But it actually burdened me and our team.

Want to know why?

Church facility management is the responsibility of all churches…any size…everywhere…all denominations…all colors…all styles. Get my point?!?! So, is it right to not make it available to everyone and make it not just affordable…but FREE? We have been convicted when asking that question which is why effective immediately, Church Facility Management Solutions (CFMS) will be a completely FREE online membership community. The data being provided…the content…the resources…the webinars…the access to other church professionals…the access to vendors and the like should not be limited to only those who want to pay for it.

As a reminder, your FREE CFMS membership provides you:

  1. Weekly Information sent directly to you to help you be proactive and intentional with the care of your facility.
  2. Online Community so that you can get input and feedback from hundreds of other church and facility leaders.
  3. Monthly Webinars by industry professionals to provide relevant information and resources for your church facility management.
  4. Vetted Vendors will put a list of qualified vendors at your fingertips with the assurance that they have been pre-qualified by our team…and they do not pay to be on this list.
  5. Free Resources will be developed and made available to members including worksheet, forms, policy docs, job descriptions, etc.
  6. Availability to Consulting and Training Services.

Join us TODAY completely FREE!

Regardless of your church size, you need to be thinking about the best use and management of your facilities. There is no better place than this community. It offers the best of church facility expertise along with peer learning. You should not be without this resource!

Thom S. Rainer, President and CEO

LifeWay Christian Resources

Church Answers


Why Use Facility Management Software For Your Church: Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of our series exploring why using Facility Management Software for our church facility may be a smart move.

Last time we developed some “common language” to establish a baseline for our future discussions.  The terms we defined were:

  1. Work Order Process (a better term may actually be Work Order Management)
  2.  Scheduled Maintenance
  3. Capital Improvement/Reserves
  4. Vendor Management
  5. Equipment Tracking/Inventory Control

So…why should your church consider using some form of Work Order Management software or Facility Management software? Isn’t that just for big churches with big facilities and big budgets and big staff and big…(you complete the rest)…

If you have followed any of our past blogs, then you know that I have stated that our church facilities are large, complex commercial structures. Even if your facility is less than 10,000 square feet, it is a commercial structure…and it is complex. It may be the “house of God” but it ain’t no house. How many of you live in a “house” that is over 10,000 SF?

Regardless of the size of your facility, take a minute to answer the following questions:

  1. Does your facility have more than one HVAC unit? If so, do you have more than 5 “tons” of cooling/heating capacity?
  2. Does your facility have an electrical service that is larger than 200 amps?
  3. Do you have paved parking spaces with a curb cut to a city, town, county, state or federal road?
  4. Do you have an automatic fire sprinkler system?
  5. Do you have a fire alarm system?
  6. Do you have exit signs and emergency lights?
  7. Do you have ceilings higher than 10 feet with light fixtures in those ceilings?
  8. Is any part of your roof over 30 feet tall?
  9. Do you have more than one 40 gallon water heater?
  10. Is any part of your building made of steel/metal?

If you answered yes to 2 or more of the above questions, then you likely have a complex, commercial structure and with that type of structure comes the need for scheduled maintenance, repairs, service, etc. In most cases, these tasks exceed the ability of the typical “residential” handyman. They need to be completed by skilled professionals in these trades…whether from inside your congregation or not.

I can hear you saying…“OK…we agree with you in principle…but so what?” Good question.

Let me start with 2 of the most obvious this week, and then address more next week.

  1. BE INTENTIONAL:  There is a quote that most of you have heard…but I believe it is so appropriate for this discussion...“People do not plan to fail, we fail to plan”. We do not plan to forget to change the HVAC filters or to clean the coils or to clean the carpet. However, without a plan, these things become lost in the hustle and bustle of the “urgent” items that consume our daily activities. When that happens, the low cost maintenance items become higher cost repair issues (i.e. deferred maintenance). Having a proactive system that will serve as your “reminder” for these items will not only save you time, but assist you in being intentional with the care and maintenance of your facility…remember, these facilities were entrusted to our care.
  2. CENTRAL DATA BASE/REPOSITORY: Do you have a spreadsheet here…a post-it note there…an e-mail requesting work be done…a legal pad full of ideas…your computer calendar with dozens of reminders? Unfortunately, this is more the norm than the exception.  We met with a new client the other day who said “When all 4 of us involved in the care of our facility are together, we then have all the needed data”.  So, what happens when only 2 of them are together…do they only have 50% of the needed data and information? We are hearing this over and over from small churches to those with hundreds of thousands of square feet. This “plague” is an equal opportunity offender. Having a single source to input and store your facilities data is critical. You need to have a single secure place to store data, process work orders, track historical data, evaluate work orders and manage vendors…and it needs to be accessible to all the key players and stakeholders at the church. Without this single repository, you will always be subject to missing critical data when you need it most.

There are a number of other critical issues to discuss…so join me next time…and please join in and provide some insights that may help all of our readers.


7 Tips for Addressing High Traffic Restrooms

If you attend a church with multiple services (whether that is multiple worship services or worship with educational), you probably have limited time between your services. One of our Project Management/Owner’s Rep clients in Charlotte has 3, back-to-back-to-back, worship services with only 15 minutes between each service…which is a challenge for the parking lot ministry as well as the cafe and lobby. But what about the restrooms? Yep…they are high traffic during that 15 minute period. We do not give our facility restrooms the needed attention until we realize they are inadequate to meet the “bio-break” needs of the congregation, we get complaints and/or you are on the facility team and have to care for these high-traffic areas.

I was recently reading an article in “Building Operating Management” magazine by David Lewellen on high-traffic restrooms. Not really my normal reading material, not even bathroom reading…but it was interesting.

“We do not give our facility restrooms the needed attention until we realize they are inadequate to meet the “bio-break” needs of the congregation.”

Mr. Lewellan provided 7 tips for design and ongoing maintenance of these spaces. Most of his examples were focused on non-church related facilities, but the principles still apply. In fact, his references to venues such as arenas, stadiums and the like are very much in keeping with church facilities. Our church facilities are actually far more similar in use and heavy traffic to a sports stadium, concert venue or performing arts center than they are to an office park or retail center. Lots on people come on the premises and exit in droves. There is a huge demand for parking, ingress, egress…and restrooms…at very definitive and concentrated times. More on that another day.

Back to the restrooms…here are the 7 tips that the article outlined:

  1. Remember the Larger Context – Besides your lobby and worship center, the restroom is likely to be one of the spaces in your facility that a first-time guest will visit…so they may very well form an impression of your church from their visit to your restroom. Vincent Maiello, designer of the Philadelphia airport restrooms (another VERY high traffic area…I know) gave this quote, “It doesn’t necessarily cost more to do them nicely. Red tile doesn’t cost more than white tile.” It does require you to be intentional!
  2. Keep Your Eyes Open to Visual Factors  “Where are your restrooms?” is not a great conversation starter with a guest to your church…so signage and wayfinding are critical. We have talked about this before, so I will not belabor the point. But this is important stuff to our guests. In addition, think about these visual factors: a) Most people use the toilet, sink and dryer…in that order, and the traffic pattern should reflect that flow; b) Stall doors should stand at a slight angle when open, so that people can see at a glance which ones are available
  3. Know Your Users – This may sounds basic, but we generally fail to consider who is using our facilities. For example, if your church is comprised of a lot of families with small children, you may want more than one baby changing station and you may need space for strollers. Make sure you don’t just assume that “one restroom fits all”.
  4. Choose the Right Materials  What is the right wall material in a restroom? I can tell you this, painted drywall in your wet areas is not great. At the same time, concrete block, while durable in a locker room, may not convey the story you wish to your guests. Smaller tiles can be more slip resistant due to more grout lines…or if larger times are desire, get a slip-resistant texture. What’s the word? Oh yeah…intentional!
  5. Make Sustainability a Priority  We are all moving to a more “green” built environment. Low-flow toilets and faucets are becoming the norm. Power hand dryers are the default of choice in many high-traffic restrooms in order to reduce paper towel usage. Occupancy sensors are another great way to save energy.
  6. Take a Close Look at Technology  Touch-free system benefits to high traffic areas for more reasons than just going “green.” In many public spaces, people do not flush to avoid touching the handles or they would use their foot, which could damage the valves.  According to one of the experts in the article, most facilities are choosing battery-operated and just adding the replacement of the batteries to a regular checklist.
  7. Make Maintenance Top of Mind –Talk to your facility team! Get them involved. Think about options such as wall-mounted toilets or ceiling hung partitions to make the floors easier to clean. How do you keep up with the supplies during your service times? Some people will use the larger rolls of toilet paper to reduce the frequency of changing while others offer cabinets or some other stall storage of supplies.

BONUS – This was not in the article…but remember, potty parity is a serious issue. According to research done in the United Kingdom, women spend an average of 1 year, 7 months, and 15 days longer in the bathroom than men. Just saying. Be cognizant of the ratio of men and women’s facilities.

I realize that people do not come to your church for the primary purpose of using your restroom facilities…but they will use them, and it will make an impression.


Why Use Facility Management Software for Your Church: Part 1

How do you track and process work requests at your facility:

Legal Pad?

Excel spreadsheet?

Post-it Notes?

Cross your fingers, then hope and pray?

I would like to explore a better option for tracking work orders, service history, equipment inventory and condition, capital improvements, defective equipment log, vendor log, on-site maintenance, staff assignments…and so much more. We will take the next several weeks to investigate the needs of most churches to track work orders as well as being proactive tracking capital improvements to assist in your annual budgeting process.

To get started let’s develop some common language…here are some words and phrases that will help us in this discussion:

  1. Work Order Process: This process generally starts with a request from within your church/ministry that someone is asking to be addressed (i.e. It is too hot in our classroom, the copier is not working, the toilet is clogged, etc…sound familiar?). The work order is the necessary processed so that your team can facilitate the inspection, review, acceptance and fulfillment of the work order.
  2. Scheduled Maintenance: Work that reoccurs on a regular basis (or should occur on a regular basis).  These can include Preventive Maintenance items (i.e. HVAC servicing, changing filters, systematic replacement of light bulbs, certification of fire extinguishers, regular maintenance on elevators and other systems with moving parts) as well as other items that need to be scheduled and tracked on a regular basis (i.e. housekeeping items, yard maintenance, mulch in the plant beds, window cleaning, carpet cleaning, etc, etc, etc).
  3. Capital Improvement/Reserves: These are items that are identified as having a predicted life cycle with a predetermined or expected end of its useful life/service. These would be items that would require capital funds to replace or significantly modify in order to extend or start a new Life Cycle (i.e. replacement of HVAC equipment, paving in the parking lot, replacing or re-coating roofing materials, replacement of floor coverings, etc).
  4. Vendor Management: Who does work on your facility? Is it by on-staff personnel…outside vendors…volunteers? Regardless of who does the work, you need to assign the work and then follow up on the completion of the work. You also need to track Certificates of Insurance for vendors that are not on staff at the church. There needs to be clear and definitive communication to all personnel that are performing services for the church including the assigning of work, tracking of the work, issuing the proper paper work (i.e. work orders, PO’s, work scopes, “not to exceed” amounts for the work, warranty fulfillment…and so much more). All of this would fall under the category of Vendor Management.
  5. Equipment Tracking/Inventory Control: Your facility has HVAC equipment, light fixtures, bulbs, plumbing fixtures, water heaters, kitchen equipment, IT equipment, office equipment, yard equipment, cleaning equipment…and the list goes on.  So…what is your process for tracking the manufacturer, make, model, components, warranty remaining, quantity of items, service history (when was the last time this was serviced, repaired or replaced) and other aspects associated with this equipment? Do you even know the make and model number of all of your equipment…if not…why not?

OK…now that we have started to develop a common language, we will explore how a process and system can be developed to help you with managing your facilities. To keep this all in perspective, let’s not forget that our ministry facilities are large, complex, commercial structures…with lots of very expensive moving parts that need to be maintained, serviced and repaired. These facilities have been ENTRUSTED to us…so let’s do our part to steward them.

More to come next time…


Is Financial Stewardship More Important Than Facility Stewardship?

I am a firm believer that everything on earth belongs to God. Our money. Our houses. Our cars. The word of God. Our families. The people we encounter…and the facilities we worship in. I believe that God has entrusted us with the stewarding of all of these items. For me, I believe that stewardship is less about what we give and more about taking care of what we have been GIVEN…entrusted to us!

So, how do we define entrusted? According to dictionary.com, it can be defined as follows:

ENTRUST: to charge or invest with a trust or responsibility; to commit (something) in trust to; confide, as for care, use, or performance

What does that mean to you? To me, it means that when something (or someone) is entrusted to me, I am responsible to  care for it…to be in charge of it…to be responsible for it…sounds a lot like stewardship.

If you have grown up in the church or been involved in church for any period of time, you have heard the term “stewardship”…and I am sure that in almost every case, it revolved around money or raising money. In these cases, we are generally talking about financial stewardship which is a critical element of our spiritual life as well as the life of our ministries.

But stewardship is not just about money and finances…but refers to (as its definition above indicates) the caring for or oversight of something of someone else.

So, how do we apply this to our ministry facilities? Do we really believe that God has entrusted these to us, thus making us stewards of their care and oversight? I have witnessed churches and ministries spending millions of dollars in the construction and renovation of their facilities…but then fail to maintain them (i.e. steward them). They wave the banner of “stewardship” when raising money to build them…but then neglect to steward them after dedication (i.e. care, management and maintenance).

Now, I do not know very many churches that are not using some form of accounting software/system to manage their flow of “stewarded monies” and track  congregant giving. Most, if not all, are not using a abacus to count these monies. This is great and I applaud churches for being diligent with the money entrusted to them. Many churches use membership management software/systems to steward the people God has entrusted to them. They are vigilant about documenting data about every member and regular attendees. Again…hats off to you.

“I would argue that Facility Stewardship is actually a key component of Financial Stewardship.”

BUT…I am shocked at the number of churches that do not have a proactive, effective and efficient way of managing the use and care of their facilities. Do we not believe that the care of our facilities is an important aspect of our stewardship initiatives? Do we not believe that we will be held accountable for how we steward all of the blessing God has entrusted to us? I would argue that Facility Stewardship is actually a key component of Financial Stewardship. That is why we believe so passionately that having the right tools and means/method to plan the use of our facilities as well as manage their care is critical to the short term and long term financial and physical health of a ministry. Facilities are intended to be used…which requires planning and coordination. I am thrilled when I see a church’s calendar jam-packed with ministry activities…but that requires planning and coordination. It also requires physical care and attention.

To add complexity to this, it is critical to understand that all facilities deteriorate…PERIOD… and we need to be vigilant with the care of them. If we do not, we will end up with facilities that do not properly reflect our mission, vision, culture or do not align with the physical requirements of our ministry initiatives.  They will become functionally and physically obsolete…and who does that serve? In far too many cases, the facilities become a deterrent to reaching others instead of a tool to enhance ministry.

So, if stewardship is important to your church, don’t neglect your Facility Stewardship.


Don’t Miss Out!

Did you by chance miss our HUGE announcement last week?  Say it isn’t so!

Last week we released  Church Facility Management Solutions…the ONLY online membership community designed and intended to provided best-in-class facility management information for EVERY church, regardless of size, shape, denomination, city, state, staffing structure…ANY one!

As a reminder, your CFMS membership (an incredible value at only $20/mo.) provides you with:

  1. Weekly Information sent directly to you to help you be proactive and intentional with the care of your facility
  2. Online Community so that you can get input and feedback from hundreds of other church and facility leaders
  3. Monthly Webinars by industry professionals to provide relevant information and resources for your church facility management
  4. Vetted Vendors will put a list of qualified vendors at your fingertips with the assurance that they have been pre-qualified by our team…and they do not pay to be on this list
  5. Free Resources will be developed and made available to members including worksheet, forms, policy docs, job descriptions, etc. This alone will be worth the cost of membership
  6. Availability to Consulting and Training Services

If you are serious about the stewarding of the ministry facilities God has entrusted to you, sign up TODAY!

Don’t just take our word for it…here is what Dr. Thom Rainer has to say:

Regardless of your church size, you need to be thinking about the best use and management of your facilities. There is no better place than this community. It offers the best of church facility expertise along with peer learning. You should not be without this resource!

Thom S. Rainer, President and CEO

LifeWay Christian Resources

Church Answers


Church Facility Management Solutions IS LIVE!

Cool Solutions Group is so excited to announce the release of CHURCH FACILITY MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS.  That’s right…we are LIVE!

If you are one of the 250+ early birds, then you have already received your notification, but if you have been waiting…the wait is over.

Don’t just take our word for it…here is what Dr. Thom Rainer has to say:

Regardless of your church size, you need to be thinking about the best use and management of your facilities. There is no better place than this community. It offers the best of church facility expertise along with peer learning. You should not be without this resource!

Thom S. Rainer, President and CEO

LifeWay Christian Resources

Church Answers

As a reminder, Church Facility Management Solutions is the ONLY online membership community designed and intended to provided best-in-class facility management information for EVERY church, regardless of size, shape, denomination, city, state, staffing structure…ANY one! You also do not have to be a “facility manager” to benefit greatly from the information provided.

As a reminder,  your CFMS membership provides you:

  1. Weekly Information sent directly to you to help you be proactive and intentional with the care of your facility.
  2. Online Community so that you can get input and feedback from hundreds of other church and facility leaders.
  3. Monthly Webinars by industry professionals to provide relevant information and resources for your church facility management.
  4. Vetted Vendors will put a list of qualified vendors at your fingertips with the assurance that they have been pre-qualified by our team…and they do not pay to be on this list.
  5. Free Resources will be developed and made available to members including worksheet, forms, policy docs, job descriptions, etc. This alone will be worth the cost of membership.
  6. Availability to Consulting and Training Services.

If you are serious about the stewarding of the ministry facilities God has entrusted to you, sign up TODAY!


Crowdsourcing for Church Facility Management

  • Can you image having hundreds or thousands of church facility professionals assisting you and your church be the best steward of your facility?
  • Can you image having access to the best minds in the church facility management and maintenance world just a key stroke away?
  • Can you image being provided with free resources on a weekly basis that will provide your church the “best-in-class” data and information to be intentional, efficient and effective with the managing of your facility?

We believe that the collective minds, experience, knowledge and expertise of church facility and leaders should be unharnessed across the nation to ALL churches regardless of size, age, demographic, denomination, music preference or growth patterns.

Have you seen the new show on TV called “Wisdom of the Crowd?” It is a new cop drama about a man that builds a crowdsourcing computer to help find his daughter’s killer. The premise is that we are smarter together than on our own. While entertaining (and maybe not completely realistic…nor am I endorsing the show or any of its cast), it has made me think about the notion of crowdsourcing and my favorite topic…Church Facility Stewardship (Management).

Let me explain.

Crowdsourcing has been defined as: The process of getting work [or funding], usually online, from a crowd of people. The word is a combination of the words ‘crowd’ and ‘outsourcing’. The idea is to take work and outsource it to a crowd of workers.

A famous example would be Wikipedia. Instead of Wikipedia creating an encyclopedia on their own, hiring writers and editors, they gave a “crowd” the ability to create the information on their own. The result? The most comprehensive encyclopedia this world has ever seen.

While there has been some criticism about the quality that is derived from crowdsourcing, the principle of crowdsourcing is that more heads are better than one. By canvassing a large crowd of people for ideas, skills, or participation, the quality of content and idea generation will be superior.

There you have it. Getting ideas from multiple people on a topic or issue, can actually make the quality of the content…the information that is made available…by what might appear to be random folks…BETTER.

That concept is an underlying reason for the development of a new service calledChurch Facility Management Solutions.” We believe that the collective minds, experience, knowledge and expertise of church facility and leaders should be unharnessed across the nation to ALL churches regardless of size, age, demographic, denomination, music preference or growth patterns.

  • Do you realize how many churches have a facility?
    • ANSWER: Most of the 350,000 (+/-) churches in America.
  • Do you know how many have a full time skilled facility manager?
    • ANSWER: A small fraction.
  • Do you know how many churches have proactive means/methods for the maintenance, management and long term capital reserve planning?
    • ANSWER: A VERY scary…really scary…small number!!!!

We have developed Church Facility Management Solutions to be your partner in your Facility Management and Facility Stewardship initiatives.  This membership community will provide:

  1. Weekly Information sent directly to you to help you be proactive and intentional with the care of your facility
  2. Online Community so that you can get input and feedback from hundreds of other church and facility leaders
  3. Monthly Webinars by industry professionals to provide relevant information and resources for your church facility management
  4. Vetted Vendors will put a list of qualified vendors at your fingertips with the assurance that they have been pre-qualified by our team…and they do not pay to be on this list
  5. Free Resources will be developed and made available to members including worksheet, forms, policy docs, job descriptions, etc. This alone will be worth the cost of membership
  6. Availability to Consulting and Training Services

If you want to be a part of this movement and join those that take the stewardship of the facilities God has entrusted to you and your church seriously, then sign up NOW to get started.


 

Vetted Vendors – We Need Your Help

We need your help!!

Seriously…we really need your help.

We will be releasing our new Online community – Church Facility Management Solutions – within the next couple weeks and one area that we need you to help with is what we call “VETTED VENDORS.”

What is a Vetted Vendor?  Great question.  Here is our set of standards:

  1. Our Vetted Vendors designation cannot be purchased, it can only be earned though our teams vetting process
  2. We do not accept payments from our Vetted Vendors
  3.  Vetted Vendors are not required to offer special discounts for referrals
  4. Neither CFMS or Cool solutions Group receive any remuneration, commission, or “kick-back” from Vetted Vendors
  5. It is intended to be a list of qualified and vetted organizations that provide services to churches…some national, regional and other local.  Much of the geographic output will be predicated on the nomination process.

To that end…especially the 5th item above…we need your help to provide nominations for firms you believe to be a benefit to churches in some form or fashion of facility stewardship, facility management, suppliers, materials, construction work, repairs, etc, etc, etc.

So…if you can provide us with the following information, we will make contact with your nominees:

  1. Company name
  2. Contact person
  3. Field of service
  4. email address
  5. Phone number

We can take it from there.

Will you help us out?

Thanks