10 Steps to Preparing Your Facility for Winter

Fall is here which means winter is right around the corner. In fact, it happens this same time every year, so do not be taken off guard.

Here are 10 steps you should take to prepare for winter:

There are probably 100 other things that can and should be done, but the above is a great place to start.

Stay Warm and safe!

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Your Church Has Been Offered a Facility…Now What?

I was privileged to recently sit with Dr. Thom Rainer and talk about a significant and growing topic…the “adoption” of a used facility.

Dr. Rainer, Jonathan Howe and I discussed facility management and why a free building could be the most expensive building your church has.

Some highlights from this episode include:

  • Total annual operational costs of your church building should run between $5.50-$7.00 per square foot.
  • Does your church facility speak the same language that your church culture speaks?
  • Never accept a free facility without a facility assessment to determine how much it’s really going to cost you.
  • Does your church truly have a grasp on how much your facility costs to run?

Listen to the entire podcast HERE.

Where’s My Money!

Let’s face it, you are more than likely asked to accomplish a great deal with minimal resources, especially funding. I wish it was different, but it is a reality in the church facility world. Another reality is that as technology improves, and the Internet of Things continues to expand, leveraging technology to gain savings is a real way to do more for less…eventually.

Unfortunately for us, to leverage the long-term savings on emerging technology will generally require an upfront investment. In that investment, those figures can be a hard pill to swallow. Consider an average facility that wants to install 20 WIFI stats and integrate them with their scheduler…that project cost could easily be around $6500. For a facility looking at saving money, how do you justify the investment?

That is where learning how to calculate a return on investment (ROI) is critical for every facility steward. The concept is simple, but the execution is difficult. In general terms, a ROI will give you a qualified estimate as to how long your investment will be paid off through (typically) operational savings. Every moment after that point would then be considered savings (or newly available dollars for other areas).

A simple ROI formula is [(Gain from Investment-Cost of Investment)/ Cost of Investment]. Because it gives you a percentage, it is easy to compare returns from different investments. For us, we are trying to justify an investment by providing an estimated time it achieves a return of 0 (meaning we have saved enough to pay back project cost). Once it is paid back, theoretically it is now additional income (or rather reduced operating expenditures).

So, how would we approach it as a facility steward? Energy Star states that with simple energy efficiency measures, facilities can achieve 2-10% savings annually on their costs. More aggressive programs can achieve up to 60% savings. I recommend that you are conservative with your target and use a reduction potential of 18%. If you are serious about saving money, 18% is easily attained.

How about a practical example. Remember the church from above, a project cost of $6500 to invest in connected stats. Let’s say their monthly utility bill is $7000. (I know, for many of you that number would be awesome). If they could achieve an 18% per month reduction in utility bills ($7000x .18 =$1260), they could save $1260 a month. Taking the project cost divided by the savings ($6500/$1260= 5.2) tells us that in a bit over five months the ROI is at 0%. Every month after the five-month point the church has $1200 that can be invested elsewhere. The counter-point to the example is this: for every month that you do not invest, you are spending $1200 you shouldn’t have to. In 12 months if you do the investment, you gain approximately $8400, if you do not you spend an extra $14,400.

This is very simplistic in presentation, but this method is easy to understand and reproduce. If you want to start getting deeper, then for ROI’s in energy savings you can start getting in to KwH difference and so forth. The facility steward should always include an ROI when presenting or asking others to approve an efficiency project. The ROI is a critical part of an effective decision-making process. By leveraging emerging technology to improve efficiency, it is an actual investment into the facility. The “sticker shock” that comes with many of these types of projects needs a tempering figure.

When you have taken the time to evaluate the ROI on total project completion, then you can also consider ways to spread the project out. Many times, companies will let you purchase in stages to spread out the cost if you will commit to a total order. It draws out the time to achieve 0%, but it can make it easier to get approved.

Bottom line, calculating an ROI informs both you and those you present the project to where the money is, and how to get it back from the facility and into other ministry areas. If you want some more info, or help putting one together, let us know in the forum, we are here for you.

I Have a Confession About Caulk

We have all heard the saying, “The Cobbler’s Children Have No Shoes”. We chuckle at this…as we cannot imagine that if we were a Cobbler that we would not provide shoes for our kids.

There are lots of variations on this old proverb…but I have a new one-

The Facility Stewardship Guy Has No Caulk (or at least forgot to use it)!

I am embarrassed.

No joke…I have talked about how caulk is only good for a year in almost every workshop I have done in the past 10 years. I have guilt-ed my audiences and readers to the fact that if they are not caulking…or at least inspecting the caulk…on an annual basis that we not properly stewarding what God entrusted to us. I have sat with Dr. Thom Rainer and told him how we did a regression analysis on the use (or lack thereof) of caulk and the long-term impact on facilities if you don’t caulk.

Well…I noticed that some of my siding was not straight on my porch…so I got up on a ladder to inspect…and peeked behind the siding…and what did I see…ROT!!! Yep…the area in question had been built (I use that word loosely) prior to us buying the house…and it is 10-12 feet in the air…so I never got up to look at it in the 21 years we have lived here.

Upon inspection, guess what I found.  That’s right… NO CAULK – EVER.

So…I am living what I have preached…but not in the proactive way (the good stewardship way).  We are now replacing the siding, the plywood, and wet insulation.  Check this pic out:

So…let’s do a quick cost analysis:

  1. If I had caulked the windows at the top “J” molding of the siding every year…for 21 years…I would have spent about $252. (3 tubes of caulk at $4/tube X 21 years)
  2. Instead, I am spending $3,400 for repairs and other upkeep.

That is 14 times as much. This reinforces what we have said before, that the cost to address deferred maintenance is many times more than properly addressing the facility in an intentional and proactive way.

Lesson Learned!

 
 

5 Abuses of Church Property Insurance

Since early in establishing Cool Solutions Group, I have had a number of beliefs and convictions around how we insure our church facilities and why insurers do not “appear” to be more interested in the condition of the facilities they insure. Still don’t get that.

When you couple that with the fact that I have been watching the intersection of Facility Stewardship to Financial Stewardship to Personal Integrity to “Doing What is Right” as it relates to church property/facility insurance claims, I have been both bothered and concerned.  I have seen things that really bother me from both sides of the insurance “table”, and not just a little.

Let me share with you 5 abuses I have witnessed and why I think they need to be addressed:

  1. Pray for a Hail Storm – I have seen this first hand more than once.  A church does not plan for the inevitable cost of roof maintenance and replacement and start praying for a hail storm.  That is just wrong! Why should any company (insurance or not) pay for your lack of planning for the inevitable cost of roof maintenance and replacement? To take this a step further, I do not understand why church insurance continues to increase the value of church facilities when they are incurring more and more deferred maintenance that actually decreases the value. This really perplexes me (I told you I have concerns on both sides of the table). Can you imagine the outcry of churches whose coverage is reduced based on deferred maintenance or lack of maintenance? On the flip side, can you imagine what elation there would be to have little to no premium increases for churches that could empirically prove they were maintaining their facilities?  I would LOVE to see that. That would be true Facility Stewardship!
  2. The insurance company has lots of money – Aren’t you glad they do?!?!  I know I am glad Allstate does when we have a claim at the house. If they did not, how would claims get paid?  But here is the real fallacy with that line of thinking.  Where did that money come from?  Right…premiums. And who pays the premiums?  Right…all the churches (or people) they insure.  So when the insurance company pays a claim, the likelihood of all their other church clients premiums increasing is high. This is as much a Kingdom issue as it is insurance…maybe more. Talk about Financial Stewardship.
  3. We Won The Lottery  – “We just had a major insurance event…NEW SHOES FOR EVERYONE!” Insurance is bought in order to have coverage to repair/replace content and facilities that were directly impacted by the insurance event. It is not a “get out of jail free” card or a license to spend or the golden egg to offset a deficit in your budget. Yet, far too often the mindset of church leaders and staff is not aligned with the real reason for the claim dollars.  Think of it this way…if the insurance event had not occurred, what then?
  4. Pushed to the limit – We have insurance limits in the policy…let’s max them out. If there is a limit for contents or extra expenses or the like, are we not entitled to use ALL of it. Answer = NO.  In fact, not just no, but…
  5. 10 and 10 –  This one is an abuse that the insurance companies have allowed for too long. The term “10 and 10” is a construction industry term for 10% profit and 10% overhead. That means you take the raw cost of material and labor, then add 10% for overhead and 10% for profit…and you allow the general contractor to include their “General Conditions” cost of the superintendent, project manager, etc, the contractor is likely to walk away with 25-30% of the claim. Let me drill this down.  Say you have a $2 Million claim and you allow the contractor to charge 10/10 and general conditions…that could be $500,000 and a nail is not even driven.  In contrast, take that same project value for new construction, the current going rates we see are 6-8% plus general conditions…which equates to only about 15-17%. That is a potential swing of over $200,000. Now, I am not suggesting that the church get that money (refer back to #3 above), but it should reduce the amount of the claim the insurance company pays out…which saves them money…but…as indicated above in #2…it ultimately saves all the insured churches money in the form of less premium increases. NOTE:  The “10 and 10” issue I have is not with the small sub-contractor, but rather with larger claims where a bonafide General Contractor has to be engaged.

So…I realize that the above may not make me popular with many churches and even some insurance companies.  I am OK with that…because Facility Stewardship…coupled with Financial Stewardship are not just a good idea, but spiritual tenets.

Who Rebuilt The Roof?

I have a wondering mind. I like to do mental gymnastics and ask myself “what if”.  I sit and think about some of the most obscure things at times.  I will watch a movie or TV show and contemplate the back story…but even more about the “after-story”.  You know…what happened next?  Did they survive?  Did they end up getting married?  How long did it take the war hero to recover from his wounds and what kind of physical therapy was needed?

Weird…I know.  Welcome to the inside of my mind.

Let me share one of these mental excursions that I recently ventured on.  Most of you are familiar with the Luke 5 story about how Jesus forgave and healed a paralyzed man (starting around vs. 17).  This story starts with a description about some men who brought a paralyzed man, on a mat, to see Jesus.  When they were not able to get the man close enough to Jesus…they got creative.  They climbed on the roof (obviously not an OSHA approved endeavor), removed the roof tiles and lowered the man right down in front of Jesus.  Then Jesus heals him…forgives his sins…and sends him on his way.

What an amazing miracle!  We all rejoice and the people that day (except for the Pharisees) were amazed and praised God.

However…wondering minds contemplate the details that are not written in the gospels.  What about X, Y and Z…for instance:

  1. How large was the hole in the roof? – if we assume a 5’10” man with some clearance, then the hole may have been 6′ by 3′.  That is 18 square feet.
  2. Were there only “tiles” on the roof or did the roof have a substrate (a substance or layer that underlies something) or any other structure(s) that had to be removed?
  3. How long was the rope or other lowering apparatus?
  4. Where did they get the rope?  I’m sure they didn’t make a run to Home Depot.
  5. Had the friends of the man planned all of these details out ahead of time?

While all of that is interesting fodder, the real question that I ponder is…Who Repaired the Roof?

There is no account of how the roof was restored to its functional form.  The man was jumping and praising God…but what about this gaping hole in the roof?  Did the friends just leave the hole for the property owner to repair?  Did the friends ask Jesus to perform another miracle that day and fix the roof?  Did the friends tell the healed man it was his responsibility since he was the one that benefited?  Had they already entered into a contract with the local roofing company?

Here is what I think.  I believe (I have no proof to back this up) that the friends went back and repaired the roof.  Any friends that were selfless enough to carry their buddy on a mat…up to a roof…cut a hole…and lower him down, sound like honorable men.  I believe honorable people like this would have gone back and repaired the roof.  They would have taken responsibility for the physical condition of the place of ministry that day.  They would have stepped up and done what was right.

Do you see any correlation between this story and Facility Stewardship?  The roof did not heal the man.  The house did not forgive his sins.  The house was a TOOL to facilitate ministry and life transformation.  I have preached that for years…but you also must care for the TOOL.  It is tremendous to see the creativity of people using this TOOL to introduce people to Jesus.  The TOOL played a role in this story…in fact, it was a pretty important part…but…it then needed to be restored to be used again on another day as a TOOL.

Facilities are only a tool.

Facilities cannot save or heal you.

But…facilities can be the tool that can make or break a spiritual connection.  Can you imagine how this story might have been different if there was not a house with a roof?  The paralyzed man may never have met Christ.

 

You Cannot Do It All

You can be great at a small number of things or mediocre at a great many things. Unfortunately, in the church world, we expect our facility teams to be subject matter experts on a great many different things. As a result, we are getting mediocre results in several areas.

This is not a comment on the ability of the facility team, or on the demands from the church administration. Rather, it is an observation that there is a point in time where the benefit of bringing in outside experts is more profitable in the long term than trying to handle it in-house.

We readily see the benefit in certain “church” processes of seeking outside help (think church vision casting for example). When it comes to the facility, it becomes a much harder sell. There is this weird assumption that the paid facility staff should be able to handle everything. While I feel that facility teams accomplish a great deal more than folks realize, even I can admit that there are things that they simply should not be doing.

Therein lies one of the issues when it comes to outsourcing. What makes sense for one facility to outsource may not make sense for another. Each staff and church is unique in what they need assistance in managing. Some need help cleaning, some in maintenance, yet others only in project work. Determining where you need to outsource starts with making a realistic assessment as to what you and your team can accomplish with excellence. And it is not just executing a task with excellence once; it is what can you consistently perform well no matter the current operational pace.  Once you identify those areas, you can determine what areas are best to outsource.

What do you do then?

Before you start calling around and getting recommendations, you need to consider what results you want to see. It’s best to go into the outsourcing process with an understanding of what acceptable looks like to you. Be prepared to articulate that (in word and in writing) to the companies you are considering. The more you can define your needs, the better the company will be able to propose a scope and level of work that is appropriate. Effective and intentional communication is required if you want to have a successful experience.

What should we consider next?

For you, you should consider attending the free Church Facility Management Webinar on August 23rd. We will go to details on outsourcing, what to consider, what to ask for, and a great deal more. Navigate on over to www.cfms.cool and check us out, or click here to reserve your spot today.  Let us help you develop and understand how to leverage outsourcing as you work to steward your facility effectively.

 

The Intersection of IT, Facility Management and the Internet of Things (IoT)

I have been involved in church for over 56 years (born into a pastor’s home) and have served the church facility “market” for about 32 of those years. I can tell you first hand that for the majority of my association and work with churches, the church tends to be laggards when it comes to adopting new trends, means, methods…and technology. This is not a slam on the “church” as an organization, but just a reality.

It is true that many churches are now keeping up with trends and in many cases leading the charge (especially with sound systems, video production, etc). Think about the YouVersion Bible app (Happy 10th anniversary!). They are actually leading the way. Also, think how online giving and text-to-give is almost as common place as the offering plate.

There is a technology that is trending that I believe will impact all aspects of your world…including church…so let’s get familiar with it – Internet of Things (IoT). According to a Forbes article, it can be described as:

Simply put this is the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other). This includes everything from cell phones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of. This also applies to components of machines, for example a jet engine of an airplane or the drill of an oil rig. As I mentioned, if it has an on and off switch then chances are it can be a part of the IoT. The analyst firm Gartner says that by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices…that’s a lot of connections (some even estimate this number to be much higher, over 100 billion). The IoT is a giant network of connected “things” (which also includes people). The relationship will be between people-people, people-things, and things-things.

So what does this all mean for churches…YOUR church?

Here is what I see happening and where we are heading:

  1. Major facility systems will be more integrated with themselves and with their management tools (i.e Church Management Software and Event Scheduling Software).
  2. Given the incorporation of API’s (Application Programming Interface – a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other), more and more of this integration is going to interact via API’s and not through proprietary protocols.
  3. So…seeing that API’s are an IT world widget and not an everyday Facility Management tool, the IT department at your church will play a much larger role in the selection, implementation, training and maintaining of these systems (via IoT).
  4. Most of these IoT integrations will require Ethernet or WiFi connectivity which may require the incorporation of Firewalls, networks, servers, static IP’s, cloud connectivity and storage, etc, etc, etc.
  5. These applications will likely have cost and budget implications. Some will have significant reductions in cost as we become more effective and efficient…but some of the savings may be offset by subscriptions, hardware, software and the maintaining of the same.
  6. That leads to to the real crux…IT and Facilities must collaborate.
    • They must communicate.
    • They must seek information from each other before decisions are made.
    • They must determine the WHY they need an application before they decide on the WHAT and HOW.
    • It may also require budget discussions. As stated above, there may be cost savings and offsets. Whose budgets do these savings and costs impact? Same for staffing.

As you can see…this is not to be taken lightly…and unless you plan to continue to live in a cave rubbing 2 sticks together to make fire, this is coming to us all. Remember, the iPhone is only 11 years old…and yet if feels like we have always had one (or similar).

Is this on your radar?  If not, if needs to be!

4 Reasons Why Connecting Spaces Trump Cattle Chutes

When I started my career in church facility development in 19XX (you venture a guess), the foyer/lobby/narthex (for my liturgical friends) was generally sized to be 1-2 square feet per seat in the main worship space. In those days, this space was intended to be used as a place to funnel people from the worship space to the outside or down a series of narrow corridors that led to the education, administration or fellowship areas. There was often a small table for giving/tithing envelopes or general information along with 1-2 uncomfortable high-back chairs…usually not ones you would enjoy sitting in for any length of time, nor were they arranged in a manner to encourage conversation or community.

For all practicality, the foyer was nothing more than a well appointed cattle chute (MOO).
Not anymore.

That line of thinking has fortunately gone the way of the dodo-bird. Why? Because people want to connect. People want to do life together. We want to linger. We want to hangout. We want to do more than just pass through a space to merely get to the other side.

Let’s look at 4 reasons why this is a major shift in church space:

  1. People Want Connection– In “Mistakenly Seeking Solitude,” published in The Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Professor Nicolas Epley from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and co-author Juliana Schroder found that participants in their experiments not only underestimated others’ interest in connecting, but also reported positive experiences by both being spoken to and to speaking with a stranger.

“Connecting with strangers on a train may not bring the same long-term benefits as connecting with friends,” Epley states. “But commuters on a train into downtown Chicago reported a significantly more positive commute when they connected with a stranger than when they sat in solitude.”

Deep down, we want to connect with others.

“People want to connect. People want to do life together. We want to linger. We want to hangout. We want to do more than just pass through a space to merely get to the other side.”

  1. Community– Over the past half decade or more,  the term “doing life together” has become a mainstay in modern vernacular. We are seeking the opportunity to connect with people. For the past 30-50 years the American population has become experts at separatism, isolationism and back yard living…fences and all. If we are ever invaded by extra terrestrial beings, they will report back to the mother ship that Earthlings vacate their domiciles early in the morning…then return late evening and are not see again until the next morning. However, the trend is the opposite. Ask the people of Celebration, Florida. Talk to masses of people moving back into urban and walk-able settings. People are seeking community…why not let the church lead the way in this cultural shift instead of being the typical laggards.
  2. Death of the Fellowship Hall– Several years ago, Dr. Thom Rainer conducted a research project that identified the least effective and “inspirational” type of construction/development project was the “fellowship hall”. While community is desirable, the idea of a contrived or forced “community” setting is not working. Frankly, the dedicated fellowship hall is a very poor utilization of space and tends to become the dreaded multi-useless building. Properly sized lobby spaces can more than suffice for these “fellowship” functions…so why do we need to pay for the space twice?
  3. Third Place and the “Well”– In the early to mid 1990’s the term “Third Place” (thanks to the book  The Great Good Place, by Ray Oldenburg) came in vogue referencing the third place in a person’s life that they would engage them with others (the first place is where you live…the second is where you go to pay for where you live…and the third place was that comfortable place where you could unwind, get away, hang, connect, etc.) The most popular example of a Third Place was from the TV sitcom, “Cheers”…where “everyone knows your name”. In the majority of instances where churches talked about a third place, it referred to a coffee shop or cafe. While that is “an” option, it is not the only option. In fact, I would prefer to talk about “wells” (vs. Temples) as the draw. Think about the women at the well. She did not wake up and decide to go to the temple or “church”.  No. She had to do a 7-day a week event…get water. Part of her culture and daily routine. But she met God in the form of Jesus at the well. After her encounter, she ran home…but did not load up the family station wagon and drive her family to the temple. Nope…she took them to the WELL. Think about that…how can we develop more wells on our campus?

Given the above as well as many other cultural and practical influences, we are seeing these gathering/connecting spaces…what might be called the “commons”…be at least 50% the size of the worship seating with a preferred factor of 75-100% of the worship seating space. If we use 8-10 SF per person for worship seating, that means we need to allocate 4-10 SF per person in the common space vs. 1-2 SF.  In fact, one of the industry partners we collaborate with is trending their designs and concepts closer to 150%. That is a ton of space…and there are times that not all of it needs to be included in the “built environment” but can be captured in adjacent spaces outside the building and create an inside/outside commons that can be equally as effective and in many cases, be even more inviting. If you design your commons to be 75%  of your worship seating, but also an additional 75% in natural environments, you could potentially save enormous amounts of money as the conditioned space might cost you, say, $150/SF or even more while the exterior space would be in the $30-40/SF range. That is a 75% savings.

Bottom line is we need to provide common connecting spaces and not just a cattle chute. You need to determine what is contextual for your church, culture, DNA and other such factors.


eSPACE Now Unlocks Doors

That’s right…you heard us. Not only is eSPACE the industry leading Facility Management Software…it is also the leader in Facility System Integrations.

Nearly 9 years ago we developed the first COOLSPACE integration with the Niagara Framework for HVAC Building Automation Systems. Since then, we have developed even more (see HERE for a more information on this).

Well…we have taken facility system integration to the next level…and that is to allow eSPACE or your Event Scheduler (remember eSPACE integrates with 14 other Church Management Systems) but to also unlock and lock doors. BOOM!!!!

  • No more late night trips back to the church to make sure the doors are locked.
  • No more double entry of schedules in the event scheduler and your door system (or HVAC system).
  • Enter events one time and be DONE!

You can now create and approve your event in eSPACE (or one of our ChMS integration partners) and simultaneously communicate with your HVAC systems when to come on and off…AND…determine which door(s) you want unlocked/locked for that event. This is FREAKING AWESOME!

There are, however, some requirements from you…such as:
  1. You need to have an access control system
  2. That system needs to have an API that we can communicate with
See…that wasn’t so bad.

Do we have your attention?  If so, reach out and let us know how we can help you increase operational efficiency as well as what your facility uses. We are more than happy to investigate and make this a reality for YOUR team!

PS:  Lighting and  security cameras are next on the integration train to efficiency!