What is up with USER Based Software Pricing?

There have been a lot of new players enter the Facility Management Software space serving churches. Some of these products are actually really good. Some have REALLY cool features. But…most charge per user per month. I just don’t get it!

OK…I get the “business” reason why. The more users, the potential increase in bandwidth and data storage for servers. But to me, a USER BASED subscription penalizes a church for growing numerical or staffing. If a church has 50,000 SF and they double in attendance…but doesn’t add more square footage, they have to increase staff to maintain a building that now has more utilization leading to more cleaning and wear and tear.

When we launched eSPACE (MINISTReSPACE in 2008), the most popular event and facility scheduling software on the market was Event U. At that time, and even to today, they charge by “resource” which is kin to USER BASED pricing. If you added 25 more tables or 5 summer interns, etc. you pay more per month. That just feels mercenary to me.

That is why eSPACE Event Scheduler and Work Order Management has UNLIMITED users. Our pricing is based on elements such as the number of schedule-able spaces, number of fixed assets and the number of locations (think multi-site). I really wrestle why we should charge more for users. We WANT churches to have as much buy-in and utilization as they desire. We have found that organizations that have dozens or even hundreds of users are operating much more effectively and efficient by having more people with access to the software.

In the Work Order realm, there are some really good software options. I have been impressed by Akita Box, UpKeep and FMX. Dude Solutions also has some interesting features, but most of those solutions implement a USER BASED subscription price. Also, eSPACE is the ONLY facility management software that:

  1. Church centric…over 95% of our subscribers are churches
  2. Developed by church facility specialists for facility professionals…not just a cool tool for a market segment that needs serving
  3. Provides a free Life Cycle Calculator whether you subscribe to the paid subscriptions or not
  4. Offers integration with your HVAC, Door Access and Digital Signage
  5. Integrates with approximately 15 of the most utilized ChMS tools (Church Management Software)
  6. Offers a FREE online community focused on all things Church Facility Management.
  7. Offers onsite Facility Condition Assessments and deferred maintenance identification

OK…I am clearly biased.  But I am 100% convinced that the eSPACE solution is the BEST for any and every church!

Let us know if you want to explore how eSPACE and Cool Solutions Group can assist your organization to be efficient, effective and intentional with the facilities entrusted to you to steward.

*Click the image below to learn more!


FREE Facility Stewardship Tools for your Church


.FREE = without cost or payment

Pretty simple. Who doesn’t like FREE (assuming it is beneficial, of course).

To that end Cool Solutions Group and eSPACE have have developed a number of FREE tools to assist your church in being the best Facility Steward possible. Let me describe them further:

  1. Life Cycle Calculator – Nearly every component of your facilities will have to be replaced or significantly modified at some point during its effective life cycle. This is inevitable…these issues are not an “IF” question, but rather “WHEN” and “HOW MUCH.” Do you have an action plan to address the inevitable? INTENTIONAL organizations plan today for tomorrow’s costs. That’s why it’s critical you establish a capital reserve account now. This completely FREE tool will help set you on the right path to being the best steward of the facilities entrusted to you.
  2. Facility Evaluator – Do you know the “health” of your Facility? How often do you get a physical? Once a year? Every couple years?

    When was the last time your church facility had a “physical” or checkup? 10 years ago? 20 years ago? Never?

    Are you…

    • Spending too much on utilities?
    • Investing enough to keep up with the natural rate of deterioration?
    • Properly staffing for your facility needs?

    If you can not answer these definitively, then you need more information. To that end, we have developed this FREE Church Facility Evaluator. This simple tool will provide you with a snapshot of some key indicators associated with facility operational costs.

  3. Church Facility Management Solutions – Partners in Facility Stewardship. The ONLY Free Online Community focused on Church Facility Management Solutions. Your FREE CFMS membership provides you:
    1. Weekly Information sent directly to you to help you be proactive and intentional with the care of your facility.
    2. Online Community so that you can get input and feedback from hundreds of other church and facility leaders.
    3. Monthly Webinars by industry professionals to provide relevant information and resources for your church facility management.
    4. Free Resources will be developed and made available to members including worksheets, forms, policy docs, job descriptions, etc.
    5. Availability to Consulting and Training Services.
  4. Resources, Resources, Resources – We have developed a wonderful library of free eBooks, case studies, and the like. If you have not done so lately, please take advantage of these resources.

There is not excuse for not being informed or to “go it alone”.


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.


The Value of a Guest

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Several weeks ago I was attending worship at Elevation Church, Matthews Campus. Pastor Larry Brey, campus pastor, was talking about our volunteers and the preparation they go through to get ready for the arrival of guests that weekend.

LB (as he is affectionately referred to) said something that totally rocked me.  Here is his quote:

“The value of a guest is based on the level of preparation of their arrival.”

I have written before on the topic of “guests” vs visitors.  I have a strong opinion that words mean things and we should use the word GUEST when referring to first time attendees.  Here are the definitions I have used previously:

“Visitor” – is typically somebody who comes and goes without much preparation on our part or much thought afterward.

“Guest” – is typically a person who is cared for and has been intentionally prepared to attend. Most of the time, a guest is somebody who is a participant…a person looking for a specific experience.

For me it is pretty clear that if you are a church, you really are looking to have guests and not just visitors. We want people to feel a part…to feel welcomed…to feel as if we were expecting them to come and that we cared enough to prepare for them…and to follow up with them after.

To our guests…especially those that may not be believers or be far from God…these intentional shifts can make the world of difference. For the most part, we can make this adjustment to our “language” with little or no cost. Imagine that…a transformational change for little or no cost?!?!

But it is more than just our language…it is our preparation.  What are we doing to receive, welcome and make feel a part. Many churches have a “Guest Services Team” which is great…but unless you have a sense of what a guest is expecting or how to prepare for them, we will default to just winging it.  That is not intentional!

So here are some things that I see at churches that take guest service seriously:

  1. Appealing, current and relevant website.  It is the new “Front Porch”.
  2. Grounds and facilities are clean, fresh and maintained.
  3. Parking lot ministry…this is so critical and SOOO easy.
  4. Guest Parking.
  5. Greeters…and not just at the main entrance…but throughout the facility and even in the parking lot and gathering spaces.
  6. The greeters need to have smiles, name badges and even similar color shirts…and they MUST BE FRIENDLY, but not too pushy.
  7. They pray for the guests BEFORE they arrive.
  8. Have an information area…NOT A WELCOME DESK (Note:  Coffee is an option, I see plenty of thriving ministries without it).
  9. Stable WiFi. (A church without WiFi for its guests, sends a strong signal, a negative one!)
  10. Clear and intentional wayfinding.
  11. Clean and supplied restrooms.
  12. Proper climate control.

What else would make your guest feel at home?

*Image Credit: North Point Community Church



 

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!



How SMART is Your Database?

Like you, I love the SMART devices in my house – Echos, plugs, Hue lights. It’s so cool to walk into a room and have “Alexa” turn on the light or TV or tell me the weather outside or set a reminder or update me on the news.  

eSPACE is bringing this Internet of Things to church facilities, but what does that look like for interaction with your church database?  Answer:Text-To-ChurchTM

Online giving companies brought us text to give. Marketing companies brought us text to receive content.  In 2017 Churchteams released Text-To-ChurchTM , the SMART way to get your people to:

  1. Give
  2. Register for anything
  3. Complete a Communication Card (starting a follow-up workflow)
  4. Securely check-in their kids
  5. See contact assignments
  6. See their volunteer or training schedule
  7. Manage their groups
  8. Update their infoLink to anywhere

You know, all the stuff you wish your people could do by interacting directly with your database!

Here’s how it works.  You choose your own, local, ten-digit phone number that connects to your Churchteams database. Share the number with your people along with a keyword to do whatever you want them to do.

For example, I’d like to give you the chance to see how Text-To-ChurchTM  works for registration, check-in and workflow automation.  Hands on is the best way to learn (you can do this in one minute).  Get out your phone right now andtext SMART to (817) 677-9850.

Just follow the prompts to add a (made up) child, and text the word CHECK to check-in. You will get 3 follow-up texts (1 hour, 1 day, 1 week later) from our Workflow Automation inviting you to a Meet The Software guided tour but that’s it.

Now, imagine what you could do with a SMART database?

  • Give guests and members who no longer carry checkbooks an easy way to participate in giving.
  • Get rid of check-in lines.
  • Offer an electronic communication card option in Worship.
  • Let people register for any class or event by texting a keyword.
  • Text staff and leaders of follow-up assignments.
  • Take adult class attendance on a mobile phone.
  • Automate guest follow-up so no one falls through the cracks.
  • Simplify pastoral care and leadership development follow-up.
  • Enhance church communication strategy.
  • Simplify data management.
  • All in ONE church software database!

eSPACE is leveraging technology for managing facilities.  Churchteams is leveraging technology for managing people and processes. Our recent integration helps churches get the best of both.  Now, that’s SMART.

Boyd Pelley is Co-founder / CEO of Churchteams.  He served churches in 3 states as Discipleship, Administrative, and Family pastor for 18 years. The last 8 bootstrapping the development of the company with Mark Horan, Co-founder / Software Architect.  Married since 1986, he and Pam have 2 grown, married children. They live in McKinney, Texas.

 

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!

Stop Putting Out Fires

Contribution by Deborah Ike, President and Founder of Velocity Ministry Management

Of course, I’m not talking about actual fires (go ahead and put those out).  I’m referring to those proverbial fires where you’re running from one crisis to the next.  That’s what I see happening all too often with churches and their events.  Every ministry department wants to host several events throughout the year (often “planned” a few weeks instead of a few months ahead of time) PLUS the church as a whole hosts events as well.  All of this activity results in exhausted staff, frustrated volunteers, less-than-optimal events, and a congregation overwhelmed by so many event announcements.

Here’s what I often see:

  • The 1-2 weeks before an event, it’s all-hands-on-deck with nearly every other task dropped so all staff members can focus on last minute details for an event
  • No one knows all of the events coming up for the next 12 months
  • Facilities team members are often caught by surprise with requests for room setup and support
  • No single individual has a full understanding of how event plans are coming along or what’s supposed to happen the day of the event
  • Volunteers are frustrated with a lack of clear direction, training, or communication from staff
  • There are a lot of event planning meetings happening but rarely are firm decisions made or actions taken after those meetings
  • There’s a last-minute rush to try and get enough event volunteers
  • The staff barely finishes one event and already has to scramble to work on the next one…that’s coming up in a couple of weeks

Let’s stop the madness, folks. 

There’s a much easier, less stressful, and a more strategic way to host events at your church.  It involves planning ahead, thinking through what’s best (not just what’s good), and being disciplined in your approach.  It’s a bit like eating nutritious food and exercising.  Neither is super exciting but both result in more energy and better health.

If this problem sounds a bit too familiar, join us for the Proactive Event Planning Webinar on October 25th.  I’ll outline a proven process for planning events – one that will help you plan more impactful and less stressful events for your church.  Click here to reserve your spot today.

I’m looking forward to equipping you with a practical, straightforward process that can yield incredible results for your church.

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!