JUST RELEASED: Event Registration, Ticketing and Payment Processing

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!

Cool Solutions Group and eSPACE has just released a new “product” as part of our suite of Facility Management Software. This new offering continues to be driven by our passion to “assist organizations to be EFFECTIVE, EFFICIENT and INTENTIONAL with the facilities they have been entrusted to steward.” 

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.”

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 a Event Registration (i.e. Books, T-shirts, CD’s, etc.)

In addition, we have a bonus that is included…ONLINE GIVING.  We have researched and learned that many organizations prefer to offer their event registration payments with the same online giving component.  Now you can…all within eSPACE.

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!


Almost every component of your facilities will have to be replaced at some point. Do you have an action plan? INTENTIONAL organizations plan today for tomorrow’s costs. That’s why it’s critical you establish a capital reserve account now. Download our FREE guide to learn more. 

CAPITAL RESERVE PLANNING

Is Your Technology Actually Helping You Minister Better?

By: Neil Miller of KiSSFLOW

On the Monday Morning Church podcast, I speak to Executive Pastors and Church Administrators about the monumental changes in technology over the last 15 years.

It is amazing to hear how churches are using tools that few could have dreamed of earlier. Technology, like church management software, has allowed churches to scale their impact like never before.

But the same church leaders are also worried that technology is eating too much time from their staff.

Think about your own setting. How many hours a day do ministers at your church spend in front of a screen? How much of that time do they spend manually updating information, editing volunteer profiles, and transferring data from spreadsheets? How long does it take them to respond to all the emails piling up in their inbox?

When it comes to facilities, how much time is spent updating logs, checking HVAC schedules, and sorting through work orders?

Technology has given us amazing benefits, but it also demands a lot of our attention.

What if there was a way to retain all the benefits of technology, while at the same time freeing up ministers to actually have more time to spend with people?

“There’s a sweeping trend that has taken the business world by storm, and churches are smart to open their sails to it.”

Automation.

While it may sound like an imposing word that your church isn’t ready for, it’s likely exactly what you need.

With automation, a church can take a deep look at the workflows of their regular processes – both those that involve the whole congregation (e.g. communication approval, facility requests, and volunteer registration) and those focused on how the facilities run (e.g. work orders, purchase requests, and event scheduling).

By automating a workflow, you not only set up a standard way to handle the process every time, you can also eliminate manual tasks such as sending notifications, updating calendars, and transferring data.

In addition to giving pastors and ministers more time back in their schedules, automation can also:

  • Standardize your core processes to ensure consistency across campuses
  • Reduce the number of errors that happen because of manual transfers
  • Give an audit trail of every request
  • Track the current status of any item instantly

Take a standard Facility Usage Request. A manual workflow can have lots of holes in it. There could be missing critical information, the request could miss an important approval, and it could take hours to figure out the last person who acted on the request.

When you use automation tools like eSPACE and KiSSFLOW, you can set up a standard process to run with consistency and efficiency. You can even set up conditional workflow paths, requiring additional approvals for larger spaces or additional steps if the requester needs to pay for the usage.

Automation is a way to keep the massive scaling benefits of technology without having to dedicate so much time to it.

Companies around the world have already embraced automation and use it to improve their processes. Churches can do the same to reduce the administrative burden on pastors and free them up to connect with people more.

For a full overview of automation and some tips on your first steps, download the free Beginner’s Guide to Church Automation. You’ll learn how other churches are using automation and why it’s more accessible than ever before.

Neil Miller is the host of the Monday Morning Church Podcast, presented by KiSSFLOW, the church automation solution. To learn more about KiSSFLOW and see how churches are using automation, visit http://church.kissflow.com.

Why Digital Signage?

eSPACE has recently started an exciting partnership with REACH Media Network to offer an easy-to-use digital signage solution to integrate directly with the eSPACE Event Scheduler.

Why Digital Signage?  Here are some of the benefits that your church and/or school can realize by utilizing and integrating digital signage on your campus:

  1. Engage Your Audience with Festive Announcements On-the-Fly

The traditional method of designing, printing, and sticking up new posters in time for your events drains the resources of your creative team who are busy enough. Instead, using digital signage will allow you to deliver intentional communications with significantly less effort – and of course, you can continue to update the content, appearance and messaging effortlessly.

  1. Promote Services with Live-streaming 

Your services and events should be an inclusive time, but for many volunteers in the lobby, or the mothers sitting outside the service with their babies, the story can be quite different. REACH has a solution: live-streaming your services in other areas of your church.

Live-streaming your service across your campus will ensure as many people get to hear and be impacted by the teaching as possible, all at the same time. This functionality is also incredibly useful if you hit capacity and need to use an overflow room. By having a streaming solution setup through your digital signage, you can be confident that every person who walks through your doors will have an opportunity to hear your message.

  1. Provide Wayfinding and Welcome First-time Guests

Many first time guests to your church can be intimidated with navigating your facilities and as such, their anxiety goes UP!  Digital signage is a great option to ensure that every guest (and regular attender) feels at home straight away, even if they manage to dodge your enthusiastic welcome team. Wayfinding is a critical component that helps elevate the experience for all guests to your facility.

  1. Encourage Online and Social Media Interactivity

As one of your key methods of communicating your message, your social media campaigns need to be front and center for all to see. A great way of boosting visibility and encouraging interactivity is to showcase your social media posts around your church campus using REACH’s digital signage. This will expand your reach, create excitement, and encourage the congregation to engage with the church through social media.

  1. Keep your Congregation Safe

A disaster is the last thing you want to think about – but in the event of an emergency, such as a fire, you will want to provide your congregation with the best guidance possible.

REACH’s digital signage solution can help you in the event of a problem using their alert system. Digital signage will direct your congregation and guests to the nearest exit and prevent anyone from making the dash to the front door which can create bottlenecks and accidents. Having clear signage will also reassure everyone that the situation is under control, helping them to remain calm.

How does this integrate with eSPACE?

It’s simple! Our Team, alongside the REACH team, will work with you through a seamless process to utilize the API provided by eSPACE to auto-populate your scheduling information into the digital signage system. REACH will also work with you on any special filtering needed, saving you time!

For more information, contact our Customer Engagement Team and also check out REACH to see how they can be a partner with you.

 

Outsourcing: Do You Need a System, a Professional, Or Both?

By Bryan Miles, CEO and Co-Founder of BELAY

If there’s one constant in the world of church management, it’s that budgets are tight. In all my years of working with churches, I’ve never met a pastor who said they had all the resources they needed to fulfill their mission.

And still, congregations find a way. In fact, I don’t think there’s a field of professionals more resourceful than the ministry. Doing more with less is a minor miracle that church leaders work every single day. And although volunteers are the backbone of that miracle-working, much of a church’s heavy lifting still requires paid help.

Thankfully, the digital age is providing some new solutions for organizations that don’t have the resources to take on full-time help. And while “outsourcing” might sound like a dirty word to many people, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Nowadays, outsourcing can include enlisting the help of a management system, like eSPACE. Applications like eSPACE aren’t meant to replace ministry members. They’re tools to help your existing staff work more effectively. By leveraging these solutions, church stewards can simply make better use of the (limited) resources they currently have.

These types of platforms can be the saving grace of churches who only need to streamline and optimize their existing processes. When your team’s primary hurdle is staying organized and managing tasks, these systems can be the difference between the red and the black.

Are you losing track of routine maintenance schedules? Are you missing bill payments, or tax deadlines? Did you mistakenly double-book a conference room for an important event?

Those types of complications can be easily overcome by equipping your existing team with better tools. Some situations, however, call for more hands on deck.

It’s important to keep in mind that those systems still require oversight to make sure information is being entered in frequently and accurately. So, if your current team is too swamped to even stay on top of the systems, you’ll need to bring in outside help.

Here, too, technology is helping congregations overcome financial barriers. Businesses like BELAY are offering, contracted, virtual services that are done remotely, and can be scaled to a church’s unique budget and needs. Services like virtual personal assistants and virtual bookkeepers can help a ministry stay ahead of challenges and better serve its congregation; all without having to commit large portions of a tight budget.

These two solutions aren’t mutually exclusive, either. Online management systems, combined with live virtual support is often an ideal solution for churches with the resources (and headaches) necessary. Online platforms like eSPACE actually help remote professionals better serve their clients by organizing processes and streamlining communications.

One last thing to keep in mind is that these solutions don’t require dire straits to be worthwhile. In reality, your ministry will be better served by adopting these measures during periods of growth and plenty, rather than periods of crisis.

By doing so, you can help maintain your church’s upward trajectory, and also safeguard against future hardships. As they say, make hay while the sun is shining…

You didn’t join the ministry to worry about cash reserves and HVAC repair. But, unfortunately, those things are part of your church’s service to God and its community.

You can’t make them disappear, but you can at least make them easier.

Let me know how you outsource. You can find me on Twitter or FaceBook.

Bryan Miles is the CEO & Co-Founder of BELAY Solutions, a company whose mission is to glorify God by providing solutions that equip our clients with the confidence to climb higher. In 2010, he and his wife, Shannon Miles, formed Miles Advisory Group (MAG) to provide virtual support to busy leaders. They eventually expanded their virtual assistant model to include bookkeeping, copywriting, and web support services. In January 2017, they combined all their services under one name – BELAY. This name is significant to their leaders because of its meaning: To belay is to provide the support a climber needs to ascend…And that is precisely what they do for their clients. Bryan has a passion for coaching leaders on how to grow their business by trusting in virtual teams and enhancing company culture. 

Download our FREE Life Cycle Calculator.  Streamline your day-to-day event organization and maintenance scheduling. This great tool will take your predictive ability to the next level.

 

Outlook and Google and Pencils …OH, MY!

The eSPACE team meets monthly at a great office space in the Charlotte area called The Launch Factory. During a recent meeting, we discussed the friendly (and healthy!) competition that we, as a business, must take time to assess. But who (or what) is our competition? Is it other facility management or event scheduling software? Is “competition” a perception or is it a trait of the actions of the people we desire to assist?

To get started, we began asking some poignant questions:

  • What problems are customers trying to solve?
  • What tasks are they trying to get done?
  • What tool(s) are they using to accomplish this task(s)?

Surprising to some, we discovered that event management is often still attempted through Google or Outlook platforms (or worse, done with a pencil and paper).

Even the smartest and most competent staff will have trouble juggling details of an event effectively and efficiently. Here are 6 reasons why Google Calendar and Outlook are not effective tools to schedule your facility:

  • Neither Google nor Outlook offers conflict detection to avoid double bookings.
  • Neither Google nor Outlook supports multiple levels of approvals.
  • Neither Google nor Outlook offers a robust reporting capability.
  • Neither Google nor Outlook allows resource/inventory management.
  • Neither Google nor Outlook offers multi-site or location management.
  • Neither Google nor Outlook lets users filter what they want to see on their calendar by all of the available event criteria.

And do I REALLY need to list 6 reasons why you should NEVER use the pencil and paper method to manage your facility and events? (I’ll save that for the next blog!)

Hey, we love our “competition” and recognize their importance in this world! I still jot reminders on Post-It notes, keep a journal with memorable Scripture verses and, occasionally, stare at a paper calendar hanging from a bulletin board in my office. I even use a Google calendar every day to schedule meetings and personal appointments!

But if you’re managing your facility through an ineffective system, you’re going to have an ineffective workflow that produces ineffective results.

If you are using another tool from which you can create a .CSV file or have a URL that we can access, the process of making a change to an INTENTIONAL solution is EASY and FREE.

You’ll have to click HERE to try something better or drop us an email at info@eSPACE.cool. I promise we won’t “pencil” you in. 😉

Jennifer “I did not write this blog with a pencil” Erwin is eSPACE’s Onboarding Specialist. You can schedule a 15-minute demo with her by clicking here or write to her at jennifer@coolsolutionsgroup.com

 

 

5 Intentional Steps to Planning an Event at Your Church Facility

Does your church have events?  I know…silly question…but needed to ask.

If you answered YES to the above, then this FREE eBook, 5 Intentional Steps to Planning an Event at Your Church Facility, is a must read. Deborah Ike of Velocity Ministry Management is the leading expert in the planning and execution of church events. You will also want to get her latest book – “The Church Event Planning Toolkit.”

This new eBook by Deborah is an incredible primer to the success of all of your church events.  She addresses topics such as:

  • Deciding what events the church will host this year.
  • Consider the room(s) and resource(s) needed for each event.
  • Schedule time between events occurring on the same day or next day.
  • Coordinate with Facilities team, catering and others to reserve all resources needed for the event.
  • Leverage technology to make communication easier.

No matter how many events your church hosts in a given year, you’ll need to work together as a staff to ensure events don’t overlap or conflict with each other.

A significant component of any event is the venue. Since most churches host events at their main facility, it’s vital to coordinate events with regular usage of the church building (Sunday services, etc.).

Download your FREE copy HERE! Your staff and church will thank you.

Bloomfield Hills Schools + eSPACE = WOW Experience

Many of you who follow us or read our blogs, generally will associate our products and services with churches and Houses of Worship.  For the most part you would be correct.  However, what many of you may not know, is that we also have a large consortium of private schools, colleges, universities and yes…Public School Districts.

Let me introduce you to one of these public schools – Bloomfield Hills Schools

According to their listing on Google, they are “one of the best public school districts in Michigan for students ages 6 weeks to graduation.”

While I cannot confirm or refute this claim, I can tell you that they are passionate about serving their community and the students (and their families) that attend their schools.

Bloomfield Hills School district is located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. They are highly respected for their teachers and staff, commitment to creating opportunities for their students, encouraging them to explore a variety of unique experiences, providing hands-on activities, and having a diverse set of course offerings to help each student achieve their own unique goals.

This school system is comprised of 3 Preschools, 4 Elementary Schools, 3 Middle Schools, a High School and a variety of other programs, buildings and opportunities to meet the needs of their community.

Early last year, Shira Good, Director of Communications & Community Relations, reached out to our team to learn more about our eSPACE Event Scheduler, as they wanted to make a change from the “dude” they were using. They were frustrated with the lack of support, customer service and development initiatives. After an extended vetting process, Shira pulled the trigger and moved all of Bloomfield Hills event and facility planning to eSPACE.

Since that time our team has collaborated with the school district to develop several features and enhancements that have benefited not only Bloomfield Hills but many of our education and church clients.  It has been a great partnership. But…don’t just take our word for it.

Here is what Shira has to say about us!

“Oh. My. Gosh. We could not love eSPACE more!!!! You all ROCK!”

Moving to eSPACE has been everything we’d hoped and dreamed it to be.  Their staff is extremely responsive and supportive of our unique and growing needs.  They are flexible, thoughtful, and the best company we work with hands down.  We only wish the team at eSPACE would take over the internet world and build software for everything so we could work with them on every digital need we have!  Their customer service is far superior to anyone we’ve ever worked with!”

Do you want this same kind of WOW Experience? CHECK US OUT


Thermostats: The Future is Here

Thermostats are the ever-present overlord of humanity’s day-to-day comfort. Think about it – there is hardly an American citizen who does not own and operate a thermostat in their own home. And yet, few people think about this little piece of technology past the annoyance of the Building Manager stubbornly locking the A/C at a crisp 65 degrees.

Once upon a time, people had a much harder time regulating their home and business temperature. In the early 20th century the majority of facilities had manually operated furnaces. These furnaces, usually located in the basement, required frequent coal-stoking and physical adjustments of valves, draft, or dampers.

The progression of the “thermostat” (if you can call the early versions a thermostat) is fascinating…if you have the time, read THIS or THIS.

We have come a long way baby!

Thermostat technology continues to evolve…and will continue to do so. Think of a thermostat as another piece of technology (like your smart phone) that will continue to do more and communicate with other devices and systems. The technology keeps getting smarter, and as it does, the benefits to your organization continue to increase.

This is where eSPACE and our COOLSPACE solution come in.  We have have released our integrated WiFi thermostats that are an EXCELLENT way to increase energy and operational efficiency…especially when integrated with the eSPACE Event Scheduler.

See what some of our clients are saying:

Centralized control through an easy to use web portal and mobile app make management easy. The motion sensors then allow for great flexibility without the need to spend tons of time making changes to programming. This system allow us to keep our focus on ministry and spend less time making changes to accommodate events. JONATHAN SMITH, Faith Lafayette Church

LOVING THIS SETUP. I love having the text messages when power goes out on the unit and being able to read the temp from the duct sensor. I appreciate all the hard work you guys did to help me get it up and running. It will pay off! BRYAN CHITTENDEN, Woodridge Church

Easy to use with simple installation. JEFF KELLY, Turning Point Church

Want to learn more?  Click HERE to review our FAQ’s about the stats or click the image below get even more information.

 

10 Questions To Ask BEFORE You Buy Facility/Event Scheduling Software

In today’s world of web 2.0 applications, cloud computing, and web based solutions, it can become confusing as to what is the right application for your church/organization. What are our needs (always a good place to start…identify the “pain” then resolve it)? What will meet our needs? How much will it cost? Will it be easy to implement?

The following need to be asked and answered as you navigate through the selection process:

  1. Is your software web based? In today’s ever changing world of technology, web based software is the most effective, efficient and accessible.  No more software to  download.  No more servers to house and maintain.  No more updates to buy. No more issues between PC’s and Mac’s.  NOTE:  We recently performed some research and discovered that our biggest competition is not other facility/event scheduling applications, it is “paper/pencil”, Outlook, Google Calendar and wall calendars.  SHOCKING!
  2. How many users can have access to the system and do we pay extra for each user? Many software solutions tether subscribers to the number of “users” that have access to the software.  This can be inconvenient and frustrating…who should be included? Who is left out?  It also puts an undue burden on certain staff members to not only be the gatekeeper of the schedule but also serve as the data entry person for everyone that wants to schedule an event or reserve a space. On top of that, to add more users can cost more.
  3. Do we have to maintain multiple calendars?  Can you imagine having coordinate multiple schedules for the use of your facility?  One says this and another says that…PULL MY HAIR OUT.  You need a single source for all your facility and resource scheduling…all in one easy to use solution.
  4. How often do you add features? If the answer is “occasionally”, then you have reason for concern.  Look for a solution that is constantly releasing enhancements, features and improving the system.
  5. We don’t want to break the bank to have software…how much should we pay for a room scheduling solution? The cost of web based solutions continue to improve.  That is a real benefit for your ministry.  Let me give you a prime example…Bellevue Baptist Church is one of our clients and is loving our eSPACE solution (as well as our Work Order Management).  We did a quick price check of another popular web based Event application.  If they were to sign up for all of the “users, resources and viewers” that Bellevue needed from this other Event system, the cost would have been well over 3 times the cost of eSPACE.
  6. What kind of support will you offer? You should never feel alone or on your own.  We believe that the best web based solutions provide multiple levels of support including website tutorials, Knowledge Base, e-mail, web demos/training as well as a real person on the phone.
  7. Will you listen to us?  Ever make a purchase and then feel like you have fallen into the “customer service abyss”?  I know I have.  The suppliers of services and goods need you (even if they don’t think they do)…they need to hear from you…and then they need to actually HEAR you and not just listen to your words. What are you really saying and how can we (your solution provider) adjust to meet your needs and make YOU successful? After all…it is your ministry.
  8. Can rooms be double booked? Why would you want to pay for a software solution that allowed you to double book rooms or resources?  Frankly, one of the main reasons for having a room scheduling solution is to avoid these issues. We would suggest that you steer clear of any software that would not address such overbooking.  It is one thing to double book a classroom…but can you imagine double booking a wedding??? This is clearly a shortfall of some of the applications mentioned in #1 above.
  9. Does your software integrate with HVAC solutions? Without a doubt, the most asked question of the eSPACE onboarding team is about integration of the scheduler with HVAC systems.  I wish this was an easy question to answer, but HVAC systems are complex.  What you do want to know is IF they even have options to integrate. That can get the ball rolling.
  10. Can we use our calendar on our Website? As our world becomes more reliant on the internet for much of our basic communication, more organizations are utilizing websites as the common repository for most of their communication…including the church calendar.  If this is important to your church, then you need to make sure that there is a component of your event/facility scheduling software that will allow for this function.

There is no doubt many more questions need to be considered…but these are a great starting point and should be explored in detail before proceeding. For more information on our web based solutions, visit our WEBSITE.

Check out this quick video to learn more:

 

Getting Started: Church Facility Management

Over the past several years, I have had numerous church leaders approach me with the question,”How do we get started with a Facilities Management initiative?”  My guess is that there are many of you out there asking the same question…or possibly trying to re-evaluate your current facility management program, processes, budgets and staffing.

Those who have asked this of me have been looking for guidance in a number of areas…the ones that seem to be the most common include:

  1. How much should we budget for facility management and operations?
  2. How do we staff for our current or new facility?
  3. How do we plan for future capital replacements?

These are a great place to start, but to answer these questions without more information and context is getting the proverbial “cart before the horse.” We need to first step back and ask more strategic questions before we can address the tactical.

With regards to setting up a Facilities Management initiative, I would suggest that there are a series of questions that should be asked before you dive too deep. Let me give us some things to think about:

  1. How much do you plan to outsource? This is fundamental and clearly will impact the size and skill set of your internal team and budgets.
  2. What functions do you expect them to do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis?
  3. Will they also be responsible for set-up and tear down of rooms?
  4. Who will directly manage the daily activities of the staff?
  5. Are you planning to have a full time facilities “manager” or instead, a “maintenance” person? There is a huge difference between the 2 skill sets – click HERE to dig deeper into the difference.
  6. What is our plan for developing Capital Reserves?
  7. How much deferred maintenance do we need to address?
  8. Do you plan on using an Event Scheduler software program (other than Outlook, Google Calendar or paper and pencil)? If so, will it be web based? What do we want the tool to do for us?
  9. Do you plan on using a Work Order Management program? If not, how will you track work orders, historical data, vendor management, reoccurring preventive maintenance, etc.?
  10. What is the Current Replacement Value of your facilities?

I would suggest that your systems and processes should be defined before you determine how to staff. Your systems/process and methodologies, coupled with the costs associated, need to be the foundation of any facilities management program…then staff accordingly. As part of that process, you need to determine the type of Preventive Maintenance you plan to perform in-house or outsource. To help you get started I have posted a draft of “best practices” for a preventive maintenance program. Click HERE and download for your use. This is not an “end-all” list, but will help get you started.

There are several things to consider as you explore these questions. To help answer many of them, I would suggest the Facility Stewardship Manual. This will give you some good guidelines to get started.

I realize that I have thrown a lot at you and may have actually raised more questions than provided answers. The fact is that you are preparing to care for a complex commercial building…that God has ENTRUSTED to the care of your church…and I applaud you all for being proactive to prepare for this process.