The Church Construction Orchestra Conductor

I have been asked many times what it is that “I do.” Great question. I wear multiple hats and perform many functions in our company. My first job is as a servant to our team and to the churches we serve. My second role is to lead the company and strive to grow and stay relevant.

I am sure you would say that those 2 are the cost of admission to the game of leadership. And you are correct. But God has also given me a very unique set of skills and abilities. I have spent nearly 33 years assisting local churches plan, build and maintain the facilities God has entrusted them to steward. This is what we call Facility Stewardship. This concept is best found HERE. That blog also describes the 4 components of intentional Facility Stewardship.

I am passionate about all the stages of the Facility Stewardship continuum. They are all critical. But if you were to ask me where my strongest skill set and expertise shines through, I would say as a church development/construction project’s Owner’s Rep. For some of you, that may be a foreign concept. IT is actually fairly simple though, it is the role of the “Orchestra Conductor” for a church’s facility master planning and implementation of the master plan. Sometimes this is for a new facility. Other times it is a renovation or re-development of a campus.

Let me explain why I refer to this as the Orchestra Conductor.

Many of you know that I was a music major in college. As part of my education process, I had to take classes called “Methods” (Brass Methods, String Methods, Woodwind Methods, etc.) which were intense classes to learn to play all of the instruments in an orchestra. I really enjoyed all of these experiences, but I assure you that you do NOT want to hear me play a clarinet or Violin. I passed the class with a good grade…but the skill set of an accomplished woodwind player was far from achieved.

One of my other favorite classes was Conducting. I loved these classes and thrived at leading bands and orchestras. I was not proficient with “how to play” each instrument, but I knew what they should sound like…and not. I knew when the Oboe needed to start playing and when to hush the cymbal percussionist. I knew when we were all playing in the same beat and rhythm…and when we were not.

I also developed a knack for reading the musicians and could pick up on little nuances that would provide me a clue to some other issue. It was not uncommon for me to see a musician looking bored while they waited for their time to play. Many times these were the “prima donna” members of the ensemble that felt above the need for rehearsal (which is never really the truth). I would take the right moment, in private, to address these concerns to make sure the orchestra as a whole would not be infected by such attitudes or lack of performance.

That is how Cool Solutions Group envisions our role on church projects. We are the orchestra leader. We don’t do architecture. We are not the general contractor. We do not offer financing or capital campaigns. We do not provide audio/vision/lighting design and integration.

HOWEVER…we do know how to assemble the right “orchestra” at the right time so each performs their role in a professional manner…just like my Oboist. They are GREAT at playing the Oboe. They are best in class for this orchestra. But they are not a great tuba player.

If your church is considering an expansion, renovation or other facility related project, give us a call.  We can explore if we are the right Orchestra Conductor for your project. For additional insights on this, please click HERE.


Facility Stewardship Can Save You Money!

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Who doesn’t like to save money? I love it when I am able to save money by either making some changes in my behavior or implementing a new strategy. What I have also seen is that it is not just about the quantifiable savings, but the additional abstract benefits.

For example…let’s say I buy a Toyota Prius to save money on gas. I am pretty convinced that I will in fact reduce my budget allocated for gasoline. That is GREAT…but it is not all. An abstract benefit is that I do not have to stop at a gas station as frequently which provides me with additional time to do other things. And knowing that “time is money” the abstract benefits can actually manifest themselves into real dollars. So in this example, I have 3 benefits…maybe more:

  1. Save money on fuel
  2. Save time to reinvest in other activities
  3. Which can either save me money or allow me to take that time/money and invest in an activity that could produce income, or reduce the need for someone else to perform the tasks.

Let’s take that concept to Facility Stewardship…and particularly the operation, maintenance, and management of the facilities that have been entrusted to us.

Our FACILITeSPACE module which includes the following is a great way to get started.

  • COOLSPACE – HVAC integration with Building Automation and WiFi thermostats
  • SECURESPACE – Door access controls
  • INFOSPACE – Comprehensive system to integrate with your digital and room signage
  • TECHSPACE – Coming Soon! – Will provide integration and alerts with early detection sensors
  • BRIGHTSPACE – Coming Soon! – Integration to lighting throughout your facility…more on this later.

Since we released these options we have heard lots of testimonials from churches that have shared how they saved money on energy…but the abstract was that they saw a large increase in operational efficiency. Here are a couple comments from our clients:

Our church has been a client of eSPACE Event Scheduling and FACILITeSPACE for years. Using this cloud based software has allowed us to save around 25% on utilities and use those funds toward ministry and missions of the church to help grow the Kingdom. Very easy to use product and great customer service!  –Jeff McClanahan – CPA, Living Hope Baptist Church

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We have been using eSPACE with FACILITeSPACE for three years, and our church saw a 30% reduction in utility expense immediately after installation. The interface is easy to manage, easy to teach to our staff, and we can make adjustments from anywhere. FACILITeSPACE has now paid for itself several times over in return on investment as we’ve saved on electric bills and maintenance. No more lock-boxes on thermostats, and no more forgetting to “turn the air up on the way out” after a service or event. –Hank Garner, First Baptist Church

Let’s put this into context. These churches, and dozens more, started using FACILITeSPACE with the desire to save energy costs….which they did. The issue of “behavior” was the root issue with their efficiency, or lack thereof. They would turn units on when the spaces were not occupied. Not smart. But these churches and many others also are seeing the more abstract causality at play:

  1. Reduced run time of the units which can lengthen the life expectancy of their HVAC units. Units last longer if they run less (but they still need preventive maintenance). This means that a church may be able to get another 1, 2, 3 years out of their units which in turn allows them to modify the needs for capital reserves…which can not only save money, but if you have a true capital reserve account that is earning interest, you can actually “make money” by not spending it.
  2. Reduce if not completely mitigate the manual operations of adjusting thermostats and building automation systems for your events and space utilization. This can free up the staff to perform other duties (i.e. my car example).
  3. We have empirical data tied to the issues of deferred maintenance and the number of full time general maintenance workers you have. In every case of the Facility Condition Assessment that we perform, when a church has deferred maintenance (which is nearly 100% of the time) we see an under funding of the general maintenance line items in their budgets and a understaffing of facility teams. That is why they called it DEFERRED Maintenance. We should have done things that we put off…we deferred maintenance that should have been performed. Let’s look at how this can manifest itself.

Imagine having an extra 5-10 hours a week of general maintenance time for each of your maintenance team. If they are not having to turn thermostats on and off…and don’t have to run around locking and unlocking doors…how many hours could you recapture? We recently had a conversation with a church that indicated that their facility manager spent 20-25% of his time in a week double entering events in his building automation system. The event Coordinator would schedule events, meetings, etc. Then, print out the schedule and provide to the facility manager who in turn would RE-ENTER all of the same data into their BAS. That is pour utilization of a skilled person.

The other thing we have learned, or known for a long time but now have data, is that churches are not going to staff up their general maintenance team to a level of best proactive…which is 1 Full Time Employee for every 35,000 Square Feet. I get that…but what if we could assist your current staff to be more efficient? What if they could recapture even just 10% of their time…so say 4 hours per week…208 hours a year? Do you think there are tasks, preventive maintenance, general maintenance, inspections, vendor management, etc. that you could back-fill their time? I will guarantee it!

If your church is looking for a way to decrease deferred maintenance, save energy costs and increase operational efficiency, you need to strongly consider the impact of integrations and automation.


Honeywell Now Integrates With eSPACE


FINALLY…we have developed integration with one of the largest providers of HVAC controls – Honeywell.

For as long as I can remember, Honeywell has been the leader in Building Controls. Whether in the commercial or residential arenas, they have been the leader…and the 800 pound gorilla. With that “notoriety” also comes a certain level of inflexibility, bureaucracy, “king of the hill” mind set and a stigma that they do not “play well with others”.

While all of that may be true, Honeywell has started to provide 3rd party integration and API access to a limited number of their devices. This has opened the door for many companies to develop means by which to allow the end user (i.e. YOU) to integrate their controls with other systems…such as eSPACE Event Scheduler (and the 13+ ChMS systems that eSPACE integrates with).

Our team has now developed, tested and released integration with the following Honeywell controls:

LYRIC PLATFORM

  1. T1 Pro
  2. T4 Pro
  3. T6 Pro (Z Wave, Hydronic, Smart)

NOTE:  Honeywell does not have a means by which we can communicate with their API for their “Total Comfort” systems….which is most of their residential stats.

For more information on the above integration or potential other integrations, contact our team and see how eSPACE integrations can increase energy and operational efficiency!



Operational Efficiency MUST Include Automation

Over the past 4 years, our team has done numerous Facility Condition Assessments. These are evaluations of a church facility that include:

  1. Fresh Eyes Assessment
  2. Identification of deferred maintenance
  3. Development of a Capital Reserve Plan
  4. Bench-marking of facility operational expenses

As we have analyzed these assessments (which every church should have done) we have identified a significant pattern…and not a good one. What we have seen in every one of the FCA’s we have performed, where the facility has some level of deferred maintenance (which has been all), there are 3 significant budget line items that are underfunded:

  1. General Maintenance Budget – the stuff you need to do to keep up with the natural rate of deterioration and wear/tear.
  2. Facility Staffing – Best practices have been proven that you need 1 full time general maintenance staff member for every 35,000 SF of facilities.
  3. Capital Reserves – these churches have deferred as they did not properly plan for the inevitable costs of capital replacement and renewal.

So…how do we remedy this?  GREAT QUESTION!

The easy answer is increase the budget for each of these. There you have it…case closed. NOT!

Most churches cannot immediately increase their budgets to be in keeping with intentional Facility Stewardship.  This means we need another approach. Consider these:

  1. What if we could make our current staff more effective and efficient?
  2. What if we could free up 10-30% of their time to inspect the facility? I would suggest that this kind of increase would reduce the calculation of the number of full time staff needed.
  3. What if the time they had on-the-job was utilized to perform tasks that only a human can perform?
  4. Perform a periodic walk through, meet with vendors and negotiate the best rates, get on the roof every month?
  5. Verify all the emergency lights are operational.
  6. ETC!

With the introduction of the INTERNET OF THINGS over a decade ago, there are few reasons or excuses to not add automation to the routine and mundane tasks of setting HVAC setting, unlocking doors, setting up digital signage.  What if you could automate those tasks…how much more time would your staff have?

If you have not added FACILITeSPACE to your facility automation…now is the time! *Click below for more information.

The 7 “A’s” of Intentional Facility Stewardship

As we all work to become intentional stewards of what God has entrusted to us (i.e. Facility Stewardship), there are several steps and paradigms that must be realized in order to be most effective.  These are not rocket science, but I assure you that each paradigm must be addressed and done so in the order listed below.

Awareness “knowledge or perception of a situation or fact.” The first step to addressing any meaningful action in our lives is first becoming aware of the need. Same applies with Facility Stewardship. Are we keenly aware that God has entrusted us with HIS church facility? Do we understand the gravity of that?  Start there.

Analysis“detailed examination of the elements or structure of something.” It is one thing to be aware, but do we understand? Do we know the current state of affairs related to our facilities and the current allocation of budget dollars (from tithes and offerings…another for of stewardship) and if those dollars are being spent appropriately?  Do we know if we have adequate capital reserves or deferred maintenance. Knowledge is power…and freeing.

Acknowledgement“acceptance of the truth or existence of something.” BOOM! Have you ever heard that the first step of change, is acknowledging that there is an issue that needs addressed? We must look in the mirror.  Take the results of the analysis and acknowledge…ADMIT…there are areas for improvement.

Action“applies especially to the doing, act to the result of the doing.”  An action usually lasts through some time and consists of more than one act.  It is not singular…it is plural!  There is something that needs to be done…now do it.

Adoption“the act of taking something on as your own.” Most times when we hear this word, we think of adopting a child…which is a wonderful manifestation of the definition…to take something as your own. In the case of Facility Stewardship, the same applies.  The adoption process is an emotional, physiological and physical manifestation of taking “ownership” of a concept, a methodology, a paradigm, and a core value.

Accountability“The obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.” For Facility Stewardship to be long lasting, there must be accountability. I firmly believe that we will be held accountable to God for how we stewarded ALL the components he has entrusted to us.  But there needs to be some form of “earthly” accountability as well.

Acclimation –  “is the process in which an individual organism adjusts to a change in its environment.” Often this word is used in scientific applications.  But I believe it is critical for the complete shift that is required to make Facility Stewardship a way of life. “This is how we do things around here.” It should be so ingrained in the organization that it would be off-putting to see trash on the floor or dust build up on vents or grass growing in the sidewalk cracks…or that there are even cracks in the sidewalk at all.

Does the above sound overwhelming? IF it does…I get it…but it does not excuse any of us from taking the steps and making intentional long term changes to be the best Facility Stewards we can be.

Need help to get started? Give us a shout. 


eSPACE + MinistryPlatform = Win For Churches

Do you know what makes a great partnership?  It is pretty simple – GREAT PARTNERS!

I have yet to see a partnership, collaboration, or integration that was successful without there being great parties involved with mutual interests, shared mission, and vision.

One of our most recent integration partners is with MinistryPlatform.  They specialize in Church Management software for mid-size to mega churches. Their “eco-system” concept is a perfect match for eSPACE, as their philosophy is to develop a product that allows their clients to integrate with “best in class” applications to meet their specific needs. They have steered away from the idea that they could be all things to all people and have seen the power of integration can provide a customized and flexible system that meets the specific needs of their market segment.

We are honored to have been selected by MinistryPlatform to be their go-to solution for all things facility. The integration that our firms have developed utilizes the best of both applications and allows the local church to incorporate the features/components that meet their needs.

Don’t just take our word for it! See what an IT Director recently posted online:

“We left our church management system for the brighter pastures of MinistryPlatform and found this awesome partner of theirs, eSPACE, for our facility management. I cannot say enough about CSR (Customer Service Rep)! They have been an absolute blast to work with.”

– Central Community Church

To learn more about this integration, click HERE:

Engage Your Facility

Engage is an interesting word, and it has a number of meanings and connotations. For example:

  1. Engage is the root word for the time period between the decision to marry and the ceremony.
  2. Engage can relate to getting involved with an activity or conversation.
  3. Engage can describe someone engrossed in something.

In the world of church facility management and stewardship, engage has a place in all of the above, but it has another meaning, or at least a subset of a meaning. As I ponder this, it is actually a component of #2 above…the “activity” portion, but with a slight twist. Let me explain.

In the physical and mechanical world, systems have to be “engaged” in order for them to function. There must be a trigger or definitive action to cause the desired reaction. Basically a “cause and effect” or “action and reaction.”

When I flip a light switch (assuming the wires are properly connected and the light bulb is operational), the light turns on. The light fixture is engaged by the switch. I move the temperature dial on the thermostat, and the temperature in the space changes accordingly. I turn a key in a door, and the door locks or unlocks. It is engaged to a state of locked or unlocked.

That is how mechanical devices work. They must be engaged in order for them to operate. The trigger for engagement is what fascinates me.

My first car was primarily made of metal and rubber (I know, I am dating myself). Today, vehicles have over 100 microprocessors. These sensors and mini-computers are the new trigger to engage many of the safety features of newer models. For example, moisture on the windshield is now the trigger to engage the wipers. The sensors in the front grill are the trigger to engage the braking of the cruise control as I get too close to the vehicle in front of me. Putting the vehicle in reverse is the trigger to engage the “back-up camera.”

Get my point?

The same is now true with our ministry facilities. The world of IoT (Internet of Things) is growing at a rapid pace. This new interconnection of technology is what I described above in our cars. It is what allows your mobile device to engage other systems such as your home security camera, thermostat and Amazon Echo. This is not a Star Trek futuristic fantasy – we are living it right now. And it is not just at the consumer or “home” level. It is happening in commercial buildings at an exponential rate.

WHY?

Efficiency and convenience. That is why. Why have humans doing mundane tasks that can be automated? This is not about being lazy or reinforcing “First World” problems. This is being driven by a desire for people to do the things that only they can do – and automate (engage) the rest.

Think about these examples:

  • How many hours a week does your facility team spend adjusting thermostats (or Building Automation System)?
  • How many hours are spent locking and unlocking doors for events?
  • Are you entering event data in one system, then re-entering that same data in your Building Automation System or Door Access System (or BOTH)?
  • Does your communications team have to take that same information and re-enter it in yet another system?

Lord have mercy! Is that really the best use of the resources (human resources in this case) that God has entrusted to us? I have worked with dozens of churches that spend 8-10 hours a week in double entry of event data in multiple systems. Let’s assume that you pay them $18/hr and they invest ten hours a week performing dual entry or “engaging” systems manually (i.e. adjusting thermostats). That is $180 a week, or $9,360 a year. REALLY?!?!

What other intentional things could those resources be doing for those 520 hours in a year? We see so many churches with massive deferred maintenance issues. Could some of the deferred maintenance be mitigated by allocating an additional 520 hours a year to the general maintenance and upkeep of our facilities?

I think so.

Think about what other means you can incorporate to ENGAGE your facility systems, and, in turn, ENGAGE your facility team in activities that have long-term impact.

That is called Stewardship.


Setting Goals For Your Church Facility

2018 is in the books. Chapter Closed.

2019 is just getting started…we have the whole year in front of us.

Like many of you, I set personal and professional goals for 2019. I have been in the habit of setting goals (not resolutions) at the start of every year.

WHY???

In a recent series of blog posts by Rick Warren, he provides some great insight on WHY:

  1. You need to set goals because it is a spiritual responsibility – If you don’t have goals for your life, you have already decided to let other people run your life. When you don’t decide in advance what’s important, you’re letting other people decide.
  2. You need to set goals because they are statements of faith – If you’re a believer in Jesus Christ and you set a goal, you’re saying, “I believe that God wants me to accomplish this by this time. This is what I believe God is going to do in my life.” Goals aren’t just a statement of faith. They stretch your faith. The bigger your goal, the more your faith will be stretched. And that pleases God.
  3. You need to set goals because they focus your energy – Focus is the key to an effective life. If you spread your energy out and diffuse it over a whole bunch of things, you’ll make no impact at all. But if you focus your life, it’s going to be powerful, and it will change the world.

So…let me challenge you.  Have you set personal goals? Professional goals? GREAT!

What about goals for your Church Facility…your Facility Stewardship?  Not yet??? Well then, now is the perfect time to do so. I love “SO THAT” statements. You are setting this goal, and you want there to be a solution. It allows me to put a “cause” and an “effect” in place.  Think about examples such as:

  1. We will reduce energy consumption by [X]% by [X] date SO THAT…we can save the church money and reallocate to capital reserves.
  2. We will find ways to automate basic tasks like locking/unlocking doors, engaging HVAC systems, etc by [X] date SO THAT I can concentrate more of my time on general maintenance and management of the major systems.
  3. We will raise the standard of “clean” for our facility from a “Motel 6” level to a “Hilton” SO THAT we make the very best first impression to our guests.
  4. ?????????

You get the point…we have to set goals.  We owe it to our church…and to God (If you believe in Facility Stewardship) to set goals for your facility.

Share with us some of your goals in the comments below.

ONWARD! 

The Simple Church (Scheduler)

 

Did you know that between 60-75% of all churches in America average less than 200 people on a weekend? That is over 210,000 churches!!!

Do you want to venture a guess as to how many of those churches have facilities that they use on a regular basis? Yeah…me either, but I would venture to say that it is at least 75% (if not more). That is almost 160,000 churches.

Given these statistics and Cool Solutions Group’s passion to serve churches of all sizes, we are so excited to announce the release of the SIMPLE SCHEDULER.

This new facility and event scheduling software is the ideal tool for churches with smaller facilities who just need a “simple” scheduling tool, but need more than Outlook, Google Calendar or paper/pencil can offer.

Here are some of the features of SIMPLE SCHEDULER:

  • Can schedule up to 25 rooms
  • Real time conflict checking and resolution
  • Schedule tables, chairs, projectors and other resources for your event
  • Website calendar integration
  • Simple reporting
  • Simple custom forms
  • In-app communication
  • Event Approval process
  • API to integrate with other ChMS platforms
  • UNLIMITED USERS

All this…and only $25/month.  REALLY?!?! That’s right – you heard us right.  Only $25 a month with no long term contracts.

Do we have your attention? Click HERE and start your free 14 day trial.  We will be right here to help you get started.

Event Registration and Ticketing

One of the key factors of Facility Stewardship is the utilization of a facility. Our facilities are of little merit if they are not used to further the vision and mission of our churches and organizations. Buildings are designed and built to fulfill a purpose…which must be to accommodate effective and intentional ministry. If that is not so, then why have a facility? That is the primary reason we developed eSPACE

A component of effective facility usage is scheduling and managing events…and allowing people to register for events. To that end, we are so excited to announce the release of the eSPACE Event Registration tool as part of the Event Management component of eSPACE.  Some of the features include:

  1. Event Registration
  2. Website Integration with Full Customization of Event Forms/Templates
  3. Multiple Venue Process and Workflow
  4. “Wait List” Capability
  5. Multiple Tiers of Ticketing, including FREE and Paid
  6. Check-in using Tickets
  7. Payment Processing of Event Registration Fees
  8. Ability to Sell Products as Part of an Event Registration (i.e. Books, T-shirts, CD’s, etc.)

To learn more, check out this introductory video and contact us to see how our full suite of Facility Management services and products can help you be more efficient, effective and intentional!