Don’t throw good money after…

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The above title was going to be “Don’t Throw Good Money after Bad” but I am not sure money given to a church for ministry can ever be considered “bad” money.

We have all heard that adage.  Most of us have probably used it when discussing financial prudence and not wanting to waste money. So let me explain how this applies to Facility Stewardship.

As we have written about several times recently, we strongly suggest that churches have a Facility Condition Assessment performed to understand the current condition of their facility, the presence of any deferred maintenance and to develop a plan for long term budgeting and capital reserve. We feel free strongly about this.

There are times that the above is not just good information that could improve your stewardships, but let me explain a time when it is imperative…non- negotiable…must-have…don’t pass Go and collect $200.  When is that time? Glad you asked.

Most of the churches that retain us to perform Facility Condition Assessments (FCA) are generally those with aging facilities. I am not sure we have yet done an assessment with a facility that was less than 25 years old….and most are 50+ years old. These are the most obvious facilities that need an FCA. But there is a growing trend and movement of churches revitalizing aging facilities.  In many cases it is a church that is on a path of ministry, community and vision revitalization and realize that their current facility is not congruent with their revitalization plans.  Others are facilities that have been “adopted” by another congregation as a merger…re-plant…multi-site initiative.

In both cases, it is prudent to understand the condition of these soon to be revitalized facilities. But the often overlooked consideration is the potential renovation/renewal of the facility.  In these cases, it is very important to do a combination of a FCA and “master plan” of the facility.  By doing them together you can avoid potential “double spending” during the process.  If the FAC identifies that the floor covering in an area of the building is past its Remaining Useful life…and that area is also going to have significant renovations, then it would not be prudent to change the carpet now….to only replace it again in 6-12 months.

Another example would be where there are HVAC systems that are inefficient and nearing their end of life, and that section of the building is going to have major systems overhaul.  In that case…keep using chewing gum and duct tape to keep the systems operational until the renovation is ready to go.

In many cases, where we have been involved in such dual assessments, we have saved the church hundreds of thousands of “deferred maintenance” dollars by delaying them slightly longer until the renovation was initiated.

This is not being slack…this is prudent. It is INTENTIONAL.


Maintenance Planning – PART 2

Last week we started the discussion on Maintenance Planning…click HERE if you missed that one. WE explored IMMEDIATE and INTERMEDIATE.  This week we will dive into the often forgotten FUTURE.

Before we go into Future, I think it is important to make a distinction. Immediate and Intermediate maintenance are concentrated on those things necessary to maintain the facility in its current state, with the equipment that is currently in use. There is not a “project planning” component to these two types of maintenance. They need to occur regardless. Future maintenance planning is unique in that it can also include plans for facility improvements and changeouts.

For many facility professionals, Future maintenance planning is the more exciting part of the job. This is where all the research and education we perform during the year come into play. We learn about VRF systems, for example, and then we realize that as we look at future facility renovations that VRF is the perfect solution for our HVAC needs. Or maybe we see that the exterior lights are no longer illuminating like they should, so we make plans to change them out to a hybrid solar light.

What you must remember in Future maintenance planning is that all the changes that you are considering will potentially bring about new Immediate and Intermediate maintenance needs. Recommended maintenance on a VRF system is different than a traditional split system. Solar LED lights require some additional maintenance regarding the batteries. Too often, when future improvements are considered, the maintenance cycle is not considered. When you are planning Future maintenance, you should seek to make sure you understand how the improvements will need to be maintained.

As a reminder, the preceding maintenance categories are not the “find it and fix it” maintenance that will occur in any active facility. When you are planning maintenance for the year ahead, it is important to remember that you do not have as much available time as you may think. By creating a calendar, you can also help share the maintenance story to others in the facility. It is not unusual for a “non-maintenance” person to not understand why something cannot be accomplished very quickly. It is not because they don’t care, it is that they simply do not know all that it takes and all that it is competing against. When you look at the Immediate and Intermediate, you may find that out of your week you only have 65% of your time available for “find it and fix it” tasks or new projects. Getting the story told is an important part of maintenance planning.

We want you to be successful in planning your maintenance this year. Proper planning and defining what you need to do will greatly improve your chances for success. That does not mean that you will not have to adjust as the year goes along; you will. But if you take the time to separate and define the Immediate, the Intermediate, and the Future, you will know where you can more easily adjust and accommodate the unknown.

Is Maintenance Planning a priority at your facility? If not, what can you do to change that?

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Maintenance Planning – PART 1

By now, you have probably abandoned many of the resolutions that you made on the first of the year. Why do we do that? The resolutions themselves are generally good ones and worthy to consider. The biggest reason that we abandon them is deceptively simple – we fail to plan accordingly.

The same is true for how we want to improve our facility. We probably have great ideas and thoughts on how to make improvements. Yet, come February or March, we are no longer making progress towards change, and we are back to “putting out fires.” Planning is the key to making lasting, positive change in your facility. The nature of church operations, however, means that we sometimes must plan a bit differently.

When beginning the process towards maintenance planning, it is helpful to consider that maintenance can be separated into the following categories: Immediate (must do), Intermediate (between now and future), and Future (greater than 6 months’ time). Looking at these categories when planning your maintenance for the year can help you be more successful as a facility steward.

Let’s look at the first category: Immediate. While this seems straight forward, there is a nuance to it. Immediate maintenance issues are those ones that need to be taken care of no matter what. This can be due to safety concerns, local, state, and federal guidelines, or as a result of use. They could be maintenance tasks required once a year or weekly. The primary consideration for Immediate maintenance planning is that it needs to happen regardless of other events. Immediate maintenance needs are not the “find it and fix it” maintenance tasks.

Examples of Immediate maintenance tasks that you need to plan for are elevator fire recall inspections (and the annual), gas line tests, fire extinguisher inspections (both monthly and annually), kitchen vent hood, and emergency light and sign inspections. This is just a sample of recurring Immediate maintenance tasks that are governed by statute. These are things that every state I have ever worked or consulted in has requirements regarding, and churches are not exempt.

In your maintenance planning, set a calendar (or use a maintenance management system) to identify the days and times these Immediate needs must occur. Treat these as non-negotiable. When you have it on the calendar, do not let another (non-life threatening) event or task supersede. Putting them on the calendar will also help you plan for the Intermediate and Future maintenance planning you will be doing as you will have a better idea of how much time you have in accomplishing other things. This is important; when you consider those recurring maintenance tasks that you need to do, you will realize that you have less time for other tasks and projects.

Next, consider the Intermediate maintenance tasks. Intermediate maintenance tasks are those that we know are a good idea and should be done. These include things like lubing and adjusting door closers, cleaning coils on our HVAC equipment, checking function of floor drains, or any other “manufacturer recommended” maintenance task. We know these are good ideas, but we have some discretion on completion. I may want to check all my door closures every 6 months, but I can usually shift that several months and not adversely affect the facility. Some tasks, such as cleaning coils on HVAC, have a secondary benefit (like energy efficiency) that needs to be considered. Waiting another 45 days to clean a coil will generally not keep the doors closed. Just like we did with Immediate maintenance, we need to put this on the schedule. We can shift them as needed, but we should not remove them. Again, this allows us to truly see what time we have available to devote to all the different maintenance that our facility needs.

That is a lot to chew on for now.  Next week we will explore FUTURE maintenance planning.


Don’t Be The First “Taper”

Most behavior patterns start with a single decision that is then never questioned or challenged.  Because it is not challenged it slowly defines your culture (This is how we do things around here) which then leads to the 7 words of any dying organization – “We have always done it that way.”

The above begs an answer to the question…Who made the first decision? Followed by…Was it INTENTIONAL?

Here is a section of a recent blog by Seth Godin that describes this process in no uncertain terms:

I’m sitting on a black couch in the lobby of a nice theater. The couch is cracked and peeling, with seven strips of black gaffer’s tape holding it together. And you don’t have to be an interior geologist to see that it has developed this patina over time, bit by bit.

The question is: Who was the first person who decided to fix the couch with tape?

The third or fifth person did a natural thing–here’s a ratty couch, let’s keep it the best we can.

But the first taper?

The first taper decided that it was okay for this theater to have a taped couch. The first taper didn’t make the effort to alert the authorities, to insist on getting the couch repaired properly.

The first taper decided, “this is good enough for now.”

This is how we find ourselves on the road to decay.

BOOM…this is an excellent example about how deferred maintenance gets started.  A “first taper” makes a conscious decision to “tape” over the problem or worse, ignore it all together.  Then the pattern of unintentional culture kicks in and deferred maintenance runs rampant. (REMINDER: Deferred Maintenance =The practice of postponing maintenance activities such as repairs on real property in order to save costs, meet budget funding levels, or realign available budget monies.)

Don’t be the first “taper.” Set a culture of care, pride of ownership (not your ownership by of the person who actually owns it…God), stewardship and intentionality.

-Tim



 

Who Needs a Facility Condition Assessment?

 

SPOILER ALERT…if your church owns a facility…then the answer is YOU.

Why, you may ask.  Let me explain.

First, what is a Facility Condition Assessment? In layman’s terms, it is simply an assessment and evaluation of the current and projected condition of your church facility. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it is not quite that simple…let me rephrase…the “definition” of a Facility Condition Assessment is truly that simple, but the guts, deliverables and output (and outcomes) are much more complex. Let me elaborate.

Here is a very concise definition of a Facility Condition Assessment:

Facility Condition Assessments (FCAs) help facility owners understand and maintain the physical condition of their facilities, develop capital budgets (current and future), and prioritize resources (financial and human).

I still look at an FCA as being similar to an annual Medical Physical. I have friends that I know avoid their physicals as they don’t want to know how bad things are or that they should lose 25 pounds or change their diet.  But avoiding the examination does not change the reality of the situation.

Same with your facility.  Not knowing how much deferred maintenance you have or how much money should be budgeted annually or what a capital reserve account should look like, does NOT change the facts. Avoiding reality is just sticking our heads in the sand…and it is flat out irresponsible.

There, I said it!

Here are some comments from your peers who have taken the steps to at least understand and then plan accordingly:

The assessment aided us in establishing a planned capital replacement program in that we were able to prioritize based on life cycle in all the areas assessed. Because of the assessment we were able to get a real look at our deferred items and plan for their renovation or replacement. Clark Byram, FBC Sevierville, Sevierville, TN

 

We are quite a bit behind on capital improvements.  This brought a lot of light to our people regarding where we are with regards to the facilities. Jim Boyd, Calvary Baptist, Winston Salem, NC

 

It showed us the deficiencies in our systems and processes (and lack of accountability) for maintaining our facilities that we as decision-makers could not see from our vantage point, and the functional and financial impact that was going to have.  Justin Greene, Liberty Live, Norfolk, VA

 

Confirmed that deferred maintenance was out of control and that there would be huge savings on utilities if we could ever get HVAC under control. Charles Reynolds, Hermitage Hills Baptist, Nashville, TN

 

Expert valuations of deferred cost/dollars and appropriate annual budget requirements for facility, instead of just in-house estimates or historical basis. Dwayne McDow, Summer Grove Baptist, Shreveport, LA

Love this quote: “What you don’t know will hurt you.” – Jim Rohn

In the case of the condition of your church facility, truer words have not been spoken.

Get in the know! 

-Tim


Retirement Planning…for your Facility

 

Unless the Lord decides to call you home premature, we all will be faced with some variation of “retirement.” That means plans need to be considered for that period in our lives when we are not producing income based on a full time 40-hour +/- work week.  For most, that takes the form of:

  • 401K or 403b
  • IRA’s
  • Annuities
  • Life Insurance
  • Investments
  • Pensions

For others, it may simply be hoping that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will be adequate.  I think we would all agree that is not very wise.

We will project what we believe our costs will be in retirement…then plan a strategy to utilize one or more of the above to ensure we have the basis from which to generate the level of income to sustain the desired lifestyle.

This all sounds prudent as we plan for the INEVITABLE stage of life.  Would you agree?

So what are we doing to prepare for the “retirement”of our ministry facilities? I guess the first question is…do you think it is necessary?  If you don’t, then why would you plan for your personal retirement?

Sorry for being snarky…could not help myself.

Even at the very worst of personal financial planning, their is a partial safety net (although tenuous) is Social Security and other entitlements (did you realize that Entitled and Entitlements are not mentioned in the Bible…just saying). Considering our facility retirement concerns, we do not even have a social security safety net.

You may be saying – “We do not plan to retire our facility.” Oh Grasshopper…that is flawed thinking.

You may not “retire” the entire facility…but you WILL retire nearly every component of the facility.

  • You will retire all roofs…and replace them…and retire them again.
  • You will retire all HVAC equipment…and replace them…and retire them again.
  • You will retire all paving…and replace them…and retire them again.
  • You will retire all floor coverings…and replace them…and retire them again.
  • You will retire all lighting, plumbing, windows, doors, etc, etc, etc.

Need I go on?

These facility retires…just like our personal retirement…are INEVITABLE. There is no getting around it.  There no magic bullet.  There is no “Facility Fairy” to wave a wand.

Given the above…what are your plans?  Do you have a plan?  If not, how do you start? What is your baseline? How much is enough?

These are great questions that can and must all be answered…and starting with your current reality is the best place to get going.  In light of that, we strongly recommend a Facility Condition Assessment. Such an assessment will provide you:

  • Fresh Eyes Assessment
  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Benchmark of Budgets/Staff
  • Deferred Maintenance
  • Facility Management Best Practices
  • Preventive Maintenance
  • Energy/Operational Evaluation
  • Capital Reserve Planning

Make your facilities “retirement” a positive experience by being intentional Facility Stewards.

-Tim


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.


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.