What Goes Up…

Admit it…you were finishing the rest of the verse to that song. Well, we are not talking about spinning wheels today, we are talking about one of the most ignored parts of your facility…the roof.

We generally do not think of our roofs until we experience an issue. Considering a properly installed roof can last several decades with very little issues, when we notice them it may be a very big deal to rectify. Unfortunately, many of us do not know what to look for or how to perform preventative maintenance on a roof.

It starts with understanding what type of roof system (or systems) your facility has. It could have shingles, be a metal roof, a single-ply membrane, a built-up, or any combination of roofing types depending on the size of your facility. Not just the material type is important, the slope of your roof is important as well. The steeper the slope, the more specialized the contractor needs to be in order to properly and safely work on it. It is hard to make repairs on a surface that you are not comfortable working on. The converse is true as well; a low slope roof takes someone who knows what they are doing to ensure drainage occurs the way it is supposed to.

If you have not gathered the data on your roofs, now is the time. You should have the size of the roof (I prefer using roof squares as the unit of measure), the type of roof, brand/color of the material, warranty information, and a record of inspections and repairs. You should also have a preventative maintenance schedule. The most important part of a preventative maintenance plan for your roof is simple: regular visual inspection.

I know that seems simplistic. The reality is we often wait until we see the issue from the bottom of the roof (leaks coming through the ceiling). Inspecting the roof annually helps us to spot the problems before they make it through the many layers to the ceiling. By the time an area becomes saturated enough to leak inside, there is damage to the substrate, the surrounding building materials, the insulation, as well as the potential for mold.

When we are thinking of the roof, it is also important to talk a bit about flashing. Flashing refers to any water-resistant material that is used in a roof system at the transition between the roof and another building element, a change in roof plane, or a roof penetration. Essentially, flashing is installed anywhere the roof is not able to lay on a singular plane uninterrupted. Proper flashing helps keep water out, improper flashing invites water in. Most roof leaks can be traced back to a failure in flashing. Many times, areas that are deteriorating can be quickly addressed with a proper sealant; assuming of course that you are looking for them every year.

I could go on regarding roof maintenance and inspection…but I have a better idea. Church Facility Management Solutions is providing a FREE webinar this month on Roofing. We will be going over roofing types and how to maintain them to extend their life. Why not join us, hear some great info, and get the chance to ask questions of or team of experts? We look forward to seeing you there!


The “Real” Cost of Facility Ownership: What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary

As many of you know, I come from a background of planning and building ministry facilities. I have been blessed to invest over 30 years of my life in serving churches to develop new and renovated ministry facilities. That phase of my life brought me great joy and fulfillment. But now I am very burdened by the millions…and billions of dollars that are spent each year on religious construction without a clear understanding of the “real” cost of ownership. I also think that most ministry leaders do not understand that the ongoing costs eclipse the initial costs and do so in a much bigger way than you would imagine.

Let’s look at the REAL cost of ownership of our ministry facility:

  1. INITIAL COST: For this exercise, let’s assume that our new ministry facility is 30,000 SF for $4,777,550
  2. COST OF “MONEY”: Let’s assume that we borrowed $3,000,000 to pay for the project and we did so based on a 15 year loan at 6%…but paid it off in 7 years. In this scenario, you will have paid approximately $1.1M in interest.
  3. COST OF OPERATION: Based on our research and bench-marking provided by IFMA (International Facility Managers Association), the average church in America will spend $4.50 to $7.00 per square foot annually for janitorial services, utilities and general maintenance. In addition, a church will spend an additional amount in capital improvements that will be in the $1.00 to $2.00/SF range (if the capital reserve account is started at the time construction is complete…this number grows significantly higher if you neglect the capital reserve account during the early years of the building’s life cycle). For the sake of this exercise, let’s assume that we will spend $6.00/SF for operational and capital reserve items. This may be low…but I want the calculations to be realistic.

Assume a 40 year life cycle (which is not that long)…at 1.5% per year of inflation. Remember that operational costs are perpetual and paid for with inflated dollars…so this is going to increase, and 1.5% is probably TOO LOW. $210,000/ yr x 40 years at 1.5% per year inflation for 40 years…without compounding = $13,440,000.00

So let’s look at what this means:

  1. Initial costs including design – $4,777,550
  2. Cost of Money – $1,100,000
  3. Cost of life cycle operations and capital reserve – $13,440,000 (that is $448/SF…OUCH)
    TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP = $19,317,550

WOW…that is a BIG number…now…here is the shocking part:

  1. The combined cost of the construction partner and the design professionals is only 3% of the total cost of ownership.
  2. The construction cost…including the design…is only about 22% of the total cost of ownership.
  3. The interest paid is only about 6% of the total cost of ownership.
  4. Leaving…71% of the total cost of ownership in operation costs and capital expenditures.

As I indicated prior, State Farm Insurance found that they spend about 80% of the total cost of ownership of commercial buildings on operational costs over 40 year. Further, a book was published in 1969 by THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS entitled – LIFE CYCLE COST ANALYSIS 2: USING IT IN PRACTICE by David S. Haviland. In this book, Mr. Haviland states:

“The INITIAL DESIGN and CONSTRUCTION of a facility comprises about 15% of the total cost of a building over its 40 year lifespan. The remaining 85% is made up of the building’s OPERATIONS and MAINTENANCE COSTS.”

So…what costs more…the initial cost…or the cost after you occupy? I think the numbers speak for themselves. So…do we invest the same amount of time and energy in planning our operational costs as we did when we developed our master plans and floor plans? Why do we get all in a tiff about an architect charging 7% instead of 5%…or the construction partner charging 6% instead of 3%? The fees that encompass only 3% of the total cost of ownership feel so important at the time we hire them…but the decisions, direction, means and methods that this team suggests and implements will be with you for the life of your buildings. Do we have our eyes on the REAL cost of facility ownership?

If Facility Stewardship is really about being wise stewards of all God has entrusted, then I think it is fair to say that most of us have our priorities upside down. Facility Stewardship must include:

  1. Purposeful Facility Planning – Taking the time to really evaluate the “genetic code” of the church, reviewing the vision, determining IF facilities are needed to accomplish the vision and mission of the church in addition to evaluating the potential financial implications.
  2. Proper Facility Development – This is not just about construction…but also encompasses the financial stewarding of the resources God has entrusted to us by planning facilities that meet the ministry objectives…AND…that do not bankrupt the church in the future with operational costs. As seen above…most of your long term cost of facility ownership WILL BE established based on the planning during this phase of any project.
  3. Proactive Facility Management and Long Term Care – This is where we too often fall grossly short in our Facility Stewardship Initiative.
    Think about it…then do something about it.

Do you need some help getting started? Don’t forget to order your copy of our manual –   Facility Stewardship: Managing What God Has Entrusted To You. It is a must have for every church that has a facility!


 

5 Ways Your Parking Lot Might be Holding Back the Redemptive Potential of Your Church

This week we are thrilled to share the wisdom of a great church leader and friend, Rich Birch of unSeminary.comRich has become a trusted friend the past few years and I really appreciate his insights. For example…believe it or not, your parking lot could be the thing that is holding back the potential of your church. In fact, your church might not be living up to its total calling because of what is happening at the parking lot. Rich is going to unpack this for us below.  Thanks Rich for all you do!

Your Parking Lot Might be Limiting the Redemptive Potential of Your Church!

Cars have a profound impact on the manner in which we “do” church across the country. As the adoption of the car took off in the first half of last century, our approach to churches changed and morphed accordingly. The local parish gave way to the regional church which ended up paving the way for the entire mega-church movement, which became a fertile ground for the multisite movement. We would do well to understand the impact of cars and connecting our parking lots to our ministry because they are so connected to what we do. Here are a few ways that parking lots might be negatively impacting your ministry.

A Full Parking Lot is Limiting Your Church

Obviously, most church leaders are inside their buildings when their services start. Your people might know that you have a problem and you’re never around to see it. Full parking lots are a great sign because that implies lots of people are attending your church. However, if they are “too full” like a packed auditorium, it can actually turn people off.

Most municipalities’ bylaws are inadequate to tackle the required parking spots per seat in the main auditorium. Lots of cities typically only require 1 spot for every 4 seats in your auditorium. (I know one city by us that only requires 1 for every 40!) My experience suggests that your church needs 1 spot for every 2 seats in your auditorium. Most legacy church buildings were not built with this much space and might get cramped every week.

If your parking lot is more than 70% full as your services are starting, it’s time to start looking for better parking solutions. You want your guests to be able to find a spot easily.

Four Tactics for Dealing with a Full Parking Lot:

  • Street Parking // Diving into your municipalities parking bylaws might reveal that your area allows street parking on Sunday. In many regions, the rules pertaining to weekend street parking are different during the week. It’s worthwhile investing the time to figure out if this type of opportunity exists on the streets around your building.
  • Cross Use Agreements // Look around your immediate neighbors and find someone who you could borrow spots from. Oftentimes, other businesses and organizations will be open to you using their empty parking spots. However it’s much better to approach them and talk about it rather than just starting to use it.
  • Park Your Leaders Off Site // Those who volunteer and lead at your church should be encouraged (or even required) to park off your location. Cast vision with them around the idea of creating more space for visitors and ask them to do the extra walk.
  • Shuttle Buses // Churches facing a more acute parking problem might need to resort to off-site parking that isn’t adjacent to their property and might need to offer remote parking supported by shuttle buses. This approach should ideally be the “last stop” before you look at building more parking spaces. It can be a great solution and provide good service for families connecting with your church.

Church Parking Lots without Volunteers Are Missed Opportunities

If your church doesn’t have people serving on a parking team, you must know that people within your church are missing out on a perfect service opportunity. Over the years, I’ve found that churches that have parking teams are actively engaging a group of volunteers that lots of other churches seem to be unable to connect with. I love the churches that have parking teams which espouse an almost superhero-like ethics as they serve outdoors all year long. “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays this team from the swift completion of their appointed service” … even the postal service can’t claim that anymore!

Your church grows when more people get plugged in and they spread the word among their friends. As you get this group of volunteers plugged into your church, they will start telling other people. Also, churches develop faster when they see more people getting plugged into the community. As you move a group of people from anonymity to community through serving on a team, the church is inevitably strengthened.

5 Tips for Launching a Parking Team

  • Start with the Who // The team leader is critically important for this team. (Any team, really!) Find an outgoing team builder who doesn’t mind asking people to join the team. Typically these are high energy folks because it takes a lot to push and stay outdoors all year long!
  • Launch in a Mild Season // Please don’t launch this team in July if your church is in Florida, or in January if you’re in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Launch the team in a “shoulder season” where your team can effectively do its task before the heat or cold sets in.
  • Consider the Uniform // Give your people something to wear that will help them stand out while serving. Think about the different kinds of weather when considering various parts of the uniform.
  • Training! Training! Training! // Make sure to think through exactly what kind of experience you want your guests to have upon their arrival. Talk it over with the team before they start. Draw it out on a diagram or two for the visual learners. Oftentimes, theme parks do a fantastic job of parking people. Maybe you could take your people to visit a theme park to watch and understand what they do.
  • Celebrate Lots! // This team needs lots of public celebration and admiration. These people are considered to be heroes of the church because of what they do for you. Talk lots about them from the stage and celebrate their service. You can’t overemphasize how amazing this group of people really is!

Your Church’s Parking Lot is a First Impression … all week long!

The first thing that most people typically see about your church is your parking lot. This is not only the case on weekends when your guests arrive, but also all week long as most people just drive by your parking lot.

I’ve seen some churches with a small forest growing between the cracks in the parking lot by communicating that it’s a very long time since anyone parked there. We’ve all seen a worn out parking lot that hasn’t been painted since the Spice Girls were on Top 10 radio and it all looks far too depressing.

Stand back and look at your parking lot. If it were the only thing that people knew about your church, what would it communicate? For most of us, it is the only thing people know about and identify with our churches because they simply drive by and don’t come in. Ensure your parking lot communicates that your church is welcoming and open for one and all!

On a related note … have you ever stopped to consider what your parking lot communicates if it’s empty throughout the week? All of our buildings have their heaviest usage during the weekends, but does that mean they’re completely empty during the week? Does an empty parking lot throughout weekdays implicitly communicate that your church isn’t relevant to the lives of rest of the people? Just wondering.

Is Your Parking Lot Holding Back Single Parents?

Today, 1 in 4 kids are raised by a single parent. [ref] If your church isn’t seeing at least that number of single-parent-headed families in your church, the onus may lie on the parking lot. Traveling with young kids can be particularly challenging as a single parent. By the time a single parent has arrived at your church, they have already braved a lot to make that happen. The last daunting task is getting out of the car and across your parking lot into your facility.

5 Ways Your Church Can Be More Single-Parent-Friendly in Your Parking Lots

  • Designate “Parent Parking” Spots // You don’t need to make these “single parent parking spots” because people do appreciate some level of anonymity. Having spots that are closest to the front and have easy access to your children’s ministry is a gift to all parents!
  • Train Leaders to Look for Single Parents // The simple act of helping a parent with a stroller in your facility can be a sign of selfless love and care. Having team members walk with single parents and help their kids get into your ministry can make all the difference.
  • Have “Fun Transport” Options // Wagons are a simple yet effective tool that some kids love to jump into and get driven into church in style. A next level option would be to have golf carts or even a tram! (I love the tram at Disney World!)
  • Umbrellas Are A Must // Train your people to look out for parents on rainy days to meet them with an umbrella at the car. There is nothing more thoughtful than when someone steps up beside your car with an open umbrella on a rainy day to help you get your kids out!
  • Great (Obvious) Signage // If you have two or three kids in tow, you are focused on keeping them safe coming across your parking lot. It can be difficult to discern where to go. You can’t make your signage too obvious to people. Make it better, simpler and brighter so that a frazzled parent doesn’t need to exhaust their brainpower to figure it out!

Parking Lots Are a “Hidden In Plain Sight” Stewardship Issue.

Finally, parking lots are expensive. It’s not uncommon for parking lots to cost at least $5,500 per spot on a fairly low complexity build. [ref] As a point of reference, let’s say your church has 500 seats in the auditorium with only 100 parking spots. You’d ideally like to add another 150 spots to match the 1 spot for every two seats we quoted above. After factoring in all the design, drainage, curbing, painting, etc., it would be an investment of $825,000 for your church – assuming that you don’t run into any significant problems along the way!

Once parking lots are built, they become a recurring maintenance issue that often gets differed longer than it should; ultimately costing the church more than it needs to. If your church doesn’t keep up with resurfacing and patching on a periodic basis, you can be forced into a situation where major renovations need to be done at a massive cost. No one wants to invest massively in maintaining a parking lot when there are so many other pressing ministry needs, but ignoring its significance may have severe consequences down the road. You should be looking at regular maintenance of your parking lots on a bi-annual or at least annual basis!

We often take this resource for granted and hence, it’s easy to not invest in. Typically, the cost of a parking lot gets hidden as part of a major capital expansion. This is why we don’t consider what an important resource it is to the church. Challenge that mindset because it really is an amazing tool for our ministry!


Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 15 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner.  He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church – a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is know for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact.

Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution. He has a weekly blog and podcast that helps with stuff you wish they taught in seminary at www.unseminary.com

Church Construction Team Combinations to Avoid

In the world of church facility construction, renovation and development, there are several integral roles and responsibilities that are required for every project.  They may or may not be paid professionals for each role, but they are present and the responsibilities to the project are no less important.

Here are the basics that virtually every project must have as part of the church’s team:

  1. Architect/Designer – To plan, program, design, develop drawings, obtain permits and do compliance inspections.
  2. Engineers – To engineer the building components such as structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection.
  3. Interior design – To pull it all together and put the “top coat” on the project…what is visible.
  4. Civil Engineer – To develop all the required site (land) related engineering.
  5. Geo-technical Engineer – To investigate the soil conditions and make recommendations.
  6. Surveyor – To verify property attributes such as property boundaries, topography, tree locations, easements, etc.
  7. General Contractor (sometimes referred to as a Construction Manager) – The entity that is licensed to pull the permit and direct/take responsibility for the construction activities of the project.
  8. Sub/Trade Contractors – The firms performing the actual construction duties under the direction of the General Contractor
  9. Special Inspector – This is new since 2000 when the International Building Code was released, and adopted by most municipalities. Their role is to provide milestone inspections of predetermined requirements of the project. These inspections are different than the inspections performed by the local building inspector…and these are a cost to the church.
  10. Specialty engineers, consultants and integrators – This can include entities such as A/V/L (Audio, Video and Theatrical Lighting), kitchen consultants, cafe consultants, environmental graphics, acoustician, vision clarity, generosity/stewardship, financing, etc, etc, etc.
  11. Owners Rep – The person who is the liaison/advocate for the church to all the above as well as the translator of all things project related. This should be an independent 3rd party.

Now, I have seen some of these hats worn by the same firm or person. For example, some civil engineers also do surveying. Most integrated architects also have interior designers on their staff, which makes perfect sense. Some architects have engineering disciplines in their studio. Some general contractors also perform certain sub-contractor scopes of work.

Another combination of roles that has been utilized in many church projects is where the General Contractor is also the Designer/Architect. In this format, referred to as “Design/Build”, the contractor and architect are either the same entity or they are under one contractual agreement with the church. This format can work and I have firsthand experience where it has served many churches well. But the church is giving up the checks and balances that come from independent entities, each with their own contractual and moral obligation to the church. Again, I come from this world (30 years), but it is critical for your church to understand not only the upside of this dual role, but also the things that will be inherently different.

Finally, here are the 2 combinations of roles that need to be avoided whenever possible.  I have seen more projects go sideways when these combinations are implemented:

  1. “We have a guy.” – Lord have mercy!!! I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have heard this and watched churches engage their “guy” to do a major role in the project, to only witness things go terribly wrong. Again…I am not saying it always go poorly…I have seen where, by God’s grace, it worked…that it is far more the exception than the rule. I have seen more “Jack-leg” work and weekend warrior projects that ultimately have to be re-done (usually at even higher cost than they would have invested from the onset) due to poor workmanship…or design…or acoustics…or blah, blah, blah. In the end, have we really been good stewards of what God has entrusted to us? Was it worth saving a buck to damage a relationship? Is it worth doing segments of the project DIY but in-turn have sub-par aspects of the final project?
  2. Architect as Owner’s Rep. – This is one that I really struggle with and have actually been kept me up at night when I think of it. This is the epitome of the classic phrase “fox in the hen house”. Here are the primary reasons why I feel this way:
  • As a general rule, architects are poor cost estimators. Ask any of them…they will readily admit this.
  • The preponderance of the project budget is spent pre-construction.  The construction is merely the fulfillment of the lines drawn on paper (or in a computer) during the design phase. Given that, do you want the financial viability of your project to be laid in the hands of the entity drawing the lines?
  • Accountability…who will hold the design professional accountable if they are also the Owner’s Rep? What if there is a problem with the design drawings?  If the Owner’s Rep is responsible to be the advocate for the church and translator of all things project related, how can the design professional (as Owner’s Rep) be objective if the issue is going to impact them in an adverse manner?

Does your project need an architect? No question! Get a good one…call me if you need some recommendations.

Does your project needs an Owner’s Rep? Absolutely!

Just be cautious about commingling these roles…and stay clear of the “guy.”


Why Use Facility Management Software For Your Church: Part 5

This is it…the 5th and final segment in our discussion about the positive attributes of utilizing a facility management software solution for your church or ministry. The other segments can be viewed on our blog page.

Today, as we wrap this up, I want to give you some features that you should consider as you are looking for the right system for your use. As I have mentioned prior, there are several good products on the market…so do the due diligence and find the right solutions for you.

So….what are the features you should consider?

Minimum Features:

  1. Produce and evaluate Work Order Requests: We believe that as a minimum, your system should allow your staff/personnel to notify you of the need for a work order. The process should provide enough information to the recipient to make an assessment of the issue before they physically explore it further.
  2. Prioritize the Work Orders: As part the work order process, the sender should be able to establish a “priority” of the work…at least in their minds. This will give the recipient a heads-up as to how the sender perceives this issue.
  3. Track work orders: The better products on the market allow you to track each work order that is generated…through its entire life cycle.
  4. Historical data: This is very important…what is the historical data associated with your equipment? When was the last time it was serviced and what were the issues then? If the system does not track this, then you will have to do it manually…which seems redundant.

Upgraded features:

  1. Track vendors and assign work orders directly to them (even if they are in-house or volunteers): The better systems on the market will provide for the tracking of the subcontractors, suppliers and vendors associated with the care of your facilities. Who are they? What service categories do they work in?How do I reach them? Who is my primary contact? Are they a volunteer group in the church? In addition, the ability to have an automated process for sending work orders can save you valuable time and money…not to mention a reduction in misunderstandings.
  2. Notification process for all work: The best systems on the market have automated notification processes. These should include notification for when a work order is requested, when an ETA is established by the Vendor, when the work is completed and if the work is going to exceed the agreed-to projected cost. As it is said…time is money…and these systems are meant to save time.
  3. Asset tracking and assigning of work orders to specific equipment: As we explored in a previous segment, it is ideal to be able to track all of the equipment in your facility. It is best if you can catalog all of your equipment and then be able to tie a work order to a specific piece of equipment. If you cannot catalog the equipment and track it…then it may not be the right product for you.
  4. Capital Reserve and Life Cycle Planning: How are you currently projecting the life cycle cost of your equipment? Do you have an ongoing list of capital improvements that need to be made? Do you know how much money it will take every year to replace items that have come to the end of their useful life? Having the ability to track these items in one centralized place will make the long term management of your facilities much better.

There is more that we could discuss…but let’s leave it at that for now…if you have any specific questions, please feel free to contact us direct.


Why Use Facility Management Software for Your Church: Part 4

For those of you tracking with me…this is PART 4 of our 5 part series about the benefits of using Facility Management Software for work order processing, equipment tracking and so much more.

If you have not been tracking with us (and we know who you are), then you can see the first three post on our BLOG page.

Last time we left off looking at some of the salient reasons to use a web based facility management software package…I will not review them all as it would take too long…so let’s jump in to the last few…ready?

  1. Historical Data: I have used the P90X workout series…it is really good and the trainer keeps reminding us that we need to write down what weights we use and how many reps. He uses a cute little phrase to say “if you don’t know what you’ve done, how can you know what you need to do”? That same applies to our building management and maintenance. If you are not tracking what you have done…then how do you know what needs to be done in the future? If you are not tracking when a HVAC unit was last serviced, how will you know when it needs to be done the next time? Having a database that lists your equipment and the historical data will give you great insight on the condition of the equipment and the steps that may need to be taken in the future. This kind of tracking is not just to have data of the past, but to help plan for the future.
  2. Asset database: Do you know the make, model, serial number and filter size of each piece of equipment at your facility? Do you know what kind of light bulbs you have and how many fixtures in the facility use that type bulb? Stop for a second…tell me the size water heaters you have as well as the make and model number…can you do that? How many exit signs do you have…and what kind of bulbs do they utilize? Now, I would not expect you to know all of this off the top of your head…but could you, with a few clicks, get to this data? Is it written on a legal pad or tucked away in the corner of your mind. These are tough questions that need to be asked and answered.
  3. Warranty tracking: Have you ever paid for a service call to later find out that it was under warranty? How did that make you feel? Were you able to get a full refund? I have witnessed, far too often, when a church just gets work done because something is not functioning correctly without much consideration as to the warranty that may still be active. This is a waste of Kingdom dollars and frankly; it frustrates me. I have a client right now that had been calling subcontractors to get work done…and in some cases paying directly for said work…that was the responsibility of the general contractor that built the space. This was not the contractors fault, but rather the church did not have a system in place to know what items were still under warranty. Knowing what the warranty is for your major components can save you a great deal of money…short term and long term.

So…this wraps up the “why” portion of our discussion. Next time, in our last segment, we will  look at the features that you should consider when evaluating different solutions…and yes…I suggest you do your due diligence to find the RIGHT solution for your church. There are several good applications on the market. Some are geared  primarily toward churches and others are more “commercial” applications but may still meet your needs. Do your research…and take advantage of Free Web Demos…they can be invaluable.

Thanks


The Importance of the Facility Manager During a Church Construction Project

A number of years ago, I ran across an article by David Strickland, architect from Atlanta. I was impressed by the article and got David’s permission to re-print it (Thanks David).  There is a lot of good stuff for your consideration in this article…so enjoy!

Some of the most successful projects we have had have included Facility Managers as an integral part of the building committee or vision team. If we do our jobs, at some point in the process the collection of historical information will systematically transform into a plan for new or modified facilities.

There are a myriad of details to discuss about the needs that will have to be met during the pre and post-construction phases, as well as functionality during the actual construction process. How do churches provide for existing ministries during construction and for the ministries that are needed in future following construction? Challenges will surface somewhere along the way for every church. Utilities may be off line for a period of time or some groups will be forced to relocate due to the activities associated with the demolition and/or construction work or there is an unplanned event that must be accommodated without interruption such as a funeral. The Facility Manager typically is tasked to work with the design and construction team to develop a logistics plan that addresses these critical times of the construction schedule. Thereby, when it is possible, preparation can be made well in advance of the actual occurrence so that everyone is informed, and that all ministries are accommodated with minimal inconvenience throughout the entire process.

“Facility Managers truly are a vital part in the day to day planning and operations of the church.”

In addition to being the source for historical information and the keeper of the construction logistics plan, the Facility Manager can also be a great resource to help in developing the plans for the future. Others on the team may have great vision for what could be, but there should be discussions of how the vision can be a reality with regard to facility use. What can be accommodated in the existing facilities and what will best be accommodated in the new facilities?

Day in and day out, Facility Mangers deal with the challenges of maintaining and operating the physical plant. This can be vital information for the architect and engineers. During a major renovation or during a period of new construction the economy of scale may provide great opportunities to reduce costs and to easily accomplish upgrades. These upgrades could save the church a great deal of money over time with regard to the operations budget. As an example–energy management tools are now available that will allow Facility Managers to plan, schedule and control heating and air conditioning operations well in advance of the actual date needed. This can all be done from their desktop computer.

Questions about the maintenance of new or renovated facilities should be discussed during the planning period. For example, a Facility Manager would probably want to know; what types of light bulbs are going to have to be maintained for routine replacement? What type of floor finish is going to be used in each location and how will it be maintained? How do we access new equipment for routine maintenance? There are many very good questions that should be discussed during the planning phase—a happier alternative for all than the same discussion after construction when it is not as easy to make adjustments to enhance functionality.

No two congregations function exactly alike. Where a Facility Manager is in place, it is always prudent to include them throughout the planning process. They truly are a vital part in the day to day planning and operations of the church. Invaluable assistance will be rendered by the remainder of the team–church leadership and lay leaders—as well. A productive team will be formed of individuals with varying backgrounds and experiences. Our experience indicates these diverse teams constitute productive, cohesive groups capable of successfully addressing every vital issue and making the best decisions for the ministries of their churches. All are necessary to making the team functional, but a good Facility Manager always provides insight that no one else can.


 

Why Use Facility Management Software for Your Church: Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of our series on Why Use Facility Management Software for Our Church.  You can see the first 2 segments on our BLOG page.

In summary, we have established common language for this discussion and explored the first 2 most obvious reasons for using facility management software (Be intentional and Central Database/Repository).

Now, let’s expand that list and look at a number of other factors in making the right decision for your church/ministry:

  1. Hit by a truck: What would happen to all of your data, plans, procedures, systems, process, etc if the key facility person at the church was (heaven forbid) hit by a truck? Would you lose all of the data that is squirreled away in their head? Would you find yourself starting from scratch? What things might go undone or undetected until something major broke-down? Would you know where all of the files were stored and what vendors had contracts with the church or what promises had been made? I have met dozens of great facility managers. They know their facilities like the back of their hands and they are invaluable to their church. But…what if suddenly they were gone? Would you be prepared?
  2. Long Term Capital Improvement Planning: We have been pretty surprised by how many churches do not have an active “sinking fund” or some form of capital reserve process. When we ask them about their planning process for major capital expenses (i.e. replacing flooring, replacing HVAC equipment, resurfacing parking, etc), the oh too common answer is…”we wait until it breaks and then replace it.”  OUCH…that does not sound like planning! It is funny that we generally do a tremendous job when we plan for a building expansion or new construction project. We set aside money in a building fund…evaluate the costs…and plan accordingly. However, we find it more common than not that this level of proactive planning dies when a church moves into the building. Having a proactive means to project and plan for future capital expenditures is a key factor in using facility management software.

    “Trying to keep all of this in your head or on a legal pad will only increase the stock value for Advil.”

  3. Prioritize work: Does the “urgent” take precedence over the important? Does that last e-mail or call take you off task? Ever walk into the office and know you have a  million things to to…but don’t know where to start? Do you feel like you have a mountain of work…e-mail or projects or emergencies?  Well…you are not alone. Frankly, I feel exactly like that as I am typing this. I have a fence to repair, bills to pay, accounting to update, and so much more.  Well…the use of a software solution can be a tremendous asset to staying on point and keep work prioritized. If it was not for Outlook, I would forget where I am to be, everyone’s phone numbers and even when to take certain meds (I know…I am a mess). If it was not for my PipeDrive account, I would not be able to stay on task with the people I need to follow up with or to get a proposal. Facility management software can do the same thing for your facility team. It can set the priority of the work, set an ETA for the work to be complete and send e-mail alerts and reminders. Trying to keep all of this in your head or on a legal pad will only increase the stock value for Advil.
  4. Manage Vendors: Who is approved to work on your site? How do you track their names, addresses, e-mails, phone numbers, etc? How do you dispatch work to the vendors? Fax? Phone? Smoke signals? Most good facility management software solutions will, at the very least, provide a section to list all of the pertinent data about your vendors and subs. This is a necessity. The better systems will also provide a means for assigning work orders to vendors and dispatch the work orders via an automated system through e-mail, text messages or some similar method. We believe that these tools are vital to the success of your work flow and will save you a great deal of time and frustration in the future.

Well…that is it for this time…there are several more factors that need to be discussed…but they will have to wait until our next post.

By the way…if you have not already downloaded your free copy of our HVAC eBook…you can do so HERE.


It’s Not a Project…It’s a Process

For the past several weeks, our pastor has been preaching a series on “How We Change the Way We Change.” It has been a great series and I have been challenged by each of the sermons. One in particular I have listened to several times is entitled, “It’s Not a Project, It’s a Process.” The basis of the teaching is that our spiritual walk is not a project…not a one and done…not a check box on a list.  It is a process and a continuous journey that requires attention, discipline, effort and dedication.

One of the analogies Pastor used caused me to think about our ministry facilities and development initiatives…a wedding/marriage. Don’t write me off  yet…keep reading.

Mother’s and daughters love to plan weddings. They will engross themselves for months and months of planning, meeting with a whole host of professionals. They will meet with wedding planners, banquet hall establishments, gown designers, florists, caterers, musicians, a preacher, travel agent for the honeymoon, bakery for the cake, invitation printers, and so on. (As a side note, I have 2 daughters and as I write this, I think I have just became a fan of eloping). There are so many details that are required to pull off the perfect day, and for most dads, it will ultimately cost more than expected as there is always “scope creep”.

The weeks just prior to the wedding, the tension grows. Emotions are on edge and the final details appear to be in disarray. “I can’t wait until this is over”, is voiced by many people involved with the wedding. But everyone keeps pushing through as they know how much this day means to the bride and groom (or so we think).

Then the big day comes and all of the months of planning are culminated with no further planning required…it is here. Bells are ringing…rice is thrown…cake is cut (and shoved in each others mouth) and all is well in the universe.

So, is it over? Is the “project” done?  Can the bride and groom say, “Boom…that is done”? I think not. The PROCESS has just started. The wedding is only a milestone on the journey of a marriage. The wedding is not the marriage…it is only an element within the process. Now the real work begins. If a couple thinks that the wedding was the penultimate point of the marriage, they are doomed for failure. In order for a marriage to succeed, you have to work at it and on it every day.

So how does this apply to our ministry facilities? I am sure you already see the similarities.

A building or development initiative  can be exciting to plan and dream. “What if we could do X?”  “Think about how many people we will be able to reach.” “Wouldn’t this be a great color pallet?” This is the fun part. We love meeting with all the “professionals” involved in the project and getting their ideas and expertise.

“The process of operation, care and management is going to cost your church 70-80% of the total cost of owning this facility.”

But as the actually permitting, financing, final pricing and the actual construction draws nearer and nearer, reality starts to kick and and tensions and emotions start to escalate. People start second guessing decisions. The finance team stops sleeping at night (similar to the brides father!!!!). The pastor and executive team keep a happy and positive face on in public, but behind closed doors, tempers flare and emotions run rampant. But…we push on and get the development initiative kicked off with dirt, nails, bolts and carpet all taking their rightful place.

Then comes the dedication service….AHHHHH. “We have arrived”, is echoed by the the leadership team…as well as the contractor, architect and trade contractors as “project” fatigue has worn them out. Dignitaries are invited. Mailers sent out. E-blasts have blanketed cyberspace and every doorknob has been polished. We are moving in!!! What a great day of celebration…like the wedding.

BUT…in the same way a wedding does not a marriage make, the dedication service does not a ministry facility make. Dedication weekend is merely a milestone of the process of owning and using a ministry facility. The planning and construction part may have had some spiritual implication (such as the building team loosing their Christianity…LOL). The real opportunity to have an eternal impact starts at this point. The “tool” for ministry is just now being launched and commissioned to fulfill the plans, dreams and vision of the church to reach its community.

But too often, there is the long forgotten reality that over the life cycle of this facility, the process of operation, care and management is going to cost your church 70-80% of the total cost of owning this facility. The pre-planning and “wedding” is only going to cost you about 20% of the to cost of ownership…but the utilities, general maintenance, janitorial and capital reserves (i.e college planning, retirement savings…to draw it back to the wedding analogy) are the largest component of the facilities cost. Long after the “new car” smell is gone, you will still have to change light bulbs, clean carpets and restrooms.

So, when you are planning a facility development initiative, remember that it is not a “project”, but rather a long term process. Prepare for the long term and not just the immediate phase of the wedding.


Are Your Facilities Shaping You?

Have you ever heard the old adage about the 2 happiest days of boat ownership? “The day you buy it and the day you sell it.” If you are a boat owner…or owner of many other “toys”, this saying may best describe your ownership experience.

So what about our ministry tools? While most of us will never sell our church facilities, there are 2 very clear stages in the life cycle that evoke emotions similar to the boat analogy. They are Elation and Frustration…let’s explore:

Elation – The day we move in to utilize the new tool for the planned and envisioned purpose.  In most cases, there are months and years of planning that goes into the development of a ministry tool (i.e. facility for this conversation).

In most cases, the cycle generally looks like this – Church Growth > Crowded Conditions > Inability to Sustain Growth in Current Facility (Frustration) > Dreaming (of new space) > Planning (of new space) > Building (of the space…some might call this the Child Birth phase) > Elation (after move in and launching of the expanded ministries) > REPEAT

Conversely…there is the frustration component that initiated the above pattern…and will once again raise its predictable head and causes the cycle to begin again.

Frustration – This is the point in the cycle when it become painfully obvious that either the tool you have is not sized appropriately…or in many cases…is not designed to do ministry the way you want given your current context. If you go back to the cycle above, you can see about where that lands (I made it pretty obvious…just saying).

In 1943, Winston Churchill gave a speech to the House of Lords referring to the recent decimation of the House of Commons due to the war’s bombing raids. His most famous line in that address is:

“We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.”

No truer words have ever been spoken related to the built environment…and it is so apropos to our ministry facilities. We spend months and years envisioning, dreaming, planning and building our facilities. We are diligent (most of the time) of being intentional about the space needed to facilitate ministry the way we believe will have the greatest impact on our community and target. We spend tens of thousands of dollars shaping the spaces…ensuring every door and window is in the right place…planning the audio/visual and environmental graphics…selecting just the right colors for walls, flooring and furniture…etc, etc, etc.

How you address a life cycle of the utilization of your built environment allows you to once again “shape your buildings” in lieu of them shaping you.

But at some point in the growth and cultural context of your church and community, that tool starts to shape how you do ministry. You start having to develop “work-arounds” to try to conform your ministry initiatives to the space you have access to.

Here are some real world example of what I mean:

  1. 25+ years ago, the “foyer” of most churches was merely a place to funnel people from the outside into the worship space…maybe to also get a bulletin. In that context, you only needed 1-2 square feet per person for a foyer. However, in most churches today, people are seeking the opportunity to do life with other believes and to gather and hangout. Cafes, lounge areas, soft seating, kiosks and the like need to be housed in these lobbies.  They are no longer just a “cattle shoot” to egress people.  In most cases, significant interaction and ministry is done, and as such, most churches need 5-7 square feet per person for this common space…sometimes even more.
  2. Many years ago, the Southern Baptist had a division called The Sunday School Board that provided direction and guidelines for best practices for doing education on Sunday. Back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the common suggested space utilization for education was a medium sized central room with a series of very small rooms off that space.  I cannot tell you how many times I have been called on to consult a church that is in one of these buildings and experiencing the Frustration milestone as they tell me they do not have enough space.  Upon further examination, we find that they actually have lots of space, it is just poorly configured…thus shaping how they do ministry.
  3. Technology has become an incredible tool for providing better utilization of space.  For example, if you need more worship space, but also have some spaces on the campus that are “dark” (i.e. not used simultaneous to your worship times), then consider video venues or other ways to best utilize the space God has entrusted to you before you venture into a costly expansion program to add more seats in a worship center that may sit dark 6 days a week.

The above life cycle of the utilization of your built environment is inevitable. How you address it allows you to once again “shape your buildings” in lieu of them shaping you. In addition…how you plan today must be done in the context of what might happen down the road.  Plan wisely…plan for flexibility and change. Be Intentional!