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 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!

eSPACE Now Unlocks Doors

That’s right…you heard us. Not only is eSPACE the industry leading Facility Management Software…it is also the leader in Facility System Integrations.

Nearly 9 years ago we developed the first COOLSPACE integration with the Niagara Framework for HVAC Building Automation Systems. Since then, we have developed even more (see HERE for a more information on this).

Well…we have taken facility system integration to the next level…and that is to allow eSPACE or your Event Scheduler (remember eSPACE integrates with 14 other Church Management Systems) but to also unlock and lock doors. BOOM!!!!

  • No more late night trips back to the church to make sure the doors are locked.
  • No more double entry of schedules in the event scheduler and your door system (or HVAC system).
  • Enter events one time and be DONE!

You can now create and approve your event in eSPACE (or one of our ChMS integration partners) and simultaneously communicate with your HVAC systems when to come on and off…AND…determine which door(s) you want unlocked/locked for that event. This is FREAKING AWESOME!

There are, however, some requirements from you…such as:
  1. You need to have an access control system
  2. That system needs to have an API that we can communicate with
See…that wasn’t so bad.

Do we have your attention?  If so, reach out and let us know how we can help you increase operational efficiency as well as what your facility uses. We are more than happy to investigate and make this a reality for YOUR team!

PS:  Lighting and  security cameras are next on the integration train to efficiency!


The Precursors of Facility Stewardship

For the past 10 years I have been beating the drum of Facility Stewardship. You can search through the archives of this blog and find dozens of posts on the subject.  Heck, we even produced an almost 300 page Facility Stewardship Manual (hint…get your copy today). I believe in this principle. In fact, at a recent meeting of our leadership team, we reiterated that our WHY, as a company, is to “To assist organizations be EFFECTIVE, EFFICIENT and INTENTIONAL with the facilities they have been entrusted to steward.”

This is what we do. This is who we are. This is what drives us.

Going back through most of the information we have produced on this topic, I realized that the majority of the content is based on the assumption that a church already has a facility that needs to be stewarded…and that is true, given the majority of the life cycle costs of a facility are after you move in.

But…you cannot move into a facility until after it is dreamed about, planned, and built. You cannot steward something that does not exist. (What came first, the chicken or the egg?)

With that as the backdrop, the precursor to Facility Stewardship has to include all of the phases leading up to the existence of a facility. I know that sounds over simplified, but that’s the facts. In many instances, the time, energy and intentionality invested in these precursor activities will set the tone…if not the costs…of the long term life cycle stewardship initiatives. Poorly designed and built facilities generally cost more to operate, thus increasing the life cycle cost.

We see the life cycle comprised of 4 primary components:

SUSTAIN: The “Sustain” component is where we (or at least I have in my writing) tend to focus our attention when we think of Facility Stewardship given all the existing churches that have facilities to maintain/steward. There is actually a very small percentage of churches planning/building in any calendar year…usually 1-3% of all churches in America are in a “building program” in any given year…so we are inclined to equate Facility Stewardship to the other 97-99% of the churches that have facilities whom need to maintain, pay utilities, clean, replace light bulbs, repair HVAC systems, etc.

“We cannot look at Facility Stewardship and Life Cycle as a “one and done” process…the term “cycle” would infer that it repeats itself…and so it is with the life cycle of a facility.”

But we cannot look at Facility Stewardship and Life Cycle as a “one and done” process…the term “cycle” would infer that it repeats itself…and so it is with the life cycle of a facility. Once you have been in a building for any period of time, there is a natural occurrence that starts the cycle over again (and again, and again). We tend to start to dream of new ways to do things…thus the need for new tools (or re-purposed tools) which in turn requires planning and some facet of building…then sustaining…repeat.

Given the above, there are 3 precursors to the “sustain” portion of Facility Stewardship:

DREAM: This is a critical step in the process of every facility initiative which provides the platform for church leaders to ask “what if” and understand a variety of scenarios that might be possible depending on God’s leading and the intentional uniqueness of your church. Dreaming is not just “blue sky” thinking (although there is a component of that) but needs to be weighted by intentional “next steps”.

PLAN: Intentional planning is required to achieve a desired goal. Period. Most church leaders miscalculate or under estimate the value and impact of this phase. Here is a fact; You will spend most of your total project budget during the planning phase. That may sound un-intuitive given that you will likely write checks for less than 15% of the total cost of your project during the pre-construction process. However, the reality is that every decision you make during this phase will impact the cost of your project. The “Build” phase is merely the execution and fulfillment of the planning. Do not take this lightly.

BUILD: Building and construction can be confusing and feel adversary for those not actively involved in the industry. There will be hundreds of items that must be addressed and resolved. There will also be times of frustration, concern about quality, doubt about the validity of a “change order”, schedule issues, budget issues, closeout, warranty, etc, etc, etc. It can be overwhelming…but it doesn’t need to be that way. You need an advocate and “construction-eese” translator making “cloudy” issues clear. Someone sitting on your side of the table allow you and your team to do what God called you to do…minister and lead.

Don’t assume that the precursors are not as equally important to the sustaining elements of Facility Stewardship. Taking the above for granted can cost you dearly. Facility Stewardship is not an “either/or” but rather a “both/and” process. Let me put it another way…the Dream, Plan and Build are not merely precursors, but integral parts of Facility Stewardship.


500+ Reasons to Join Church Facility Management Solutions

A number of months ago we announced the release of the ONLY Online Community/Forum 100% focused on Church Facility Management. This community is the only one of its kind and we have seen great response. In fact, we have nearly 500 who have joined to improve their Facility Stewardship prowess.

Want to know why?

Church facility management is the responsibility of all churches…any size…everywhere…all denominations…all colors…all styles. Get my point?!?!  The data being provided as part of Church Facility Management Solutions…the content…the resources…the webinars…the access to other church professionals…the access to vendors and the like is incredible and this is the only resource on the market focused on this topic.

Don’t just take our word on it…here are what the CFMS members are saying:

Just joined today and I am very impressed with this website. I have been Facilities Manager for almost 3 years and I wish I had known about this site when I started this job. Looking forward to gaining more knowledge and insight . Thanks Tim – Bill Dickerson

 

Thank you for making this Free! Most churches are running on shoe strings and duct tape so this opens up for greater participation. I have been in the corporate facilities/real estate for 24 years and I am always learning new things. Looking forward to gleaning and sharing. Thanks – Steve Armstrong

As a reminder, 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. Vetted Vendors will put a list of qualified vendors at your fingertips with the assurance that they have been pre-qualified by our team…and they do not pay to be on this list.
  5. Free Resources will be developed and made available to members including worksheet, forms, policy docs, job descriptions, etc.
  6. Availability to Consulting and Training Services.

Join us TODAY completely FREE!

Regardless of your church size, you need to be thinking about the best use and management of your facilities. There is no better place than this community. It offers the best of church facility expertise along with peer learning. You should not be without this resource!

Thom S. Rainer, President and CEO

LifeWay Christian Resources

Church Answers


Foundations: The Unseen Reality

While reflecting back at an onsite visit taken to one of our past construction projects, I pondered on its earliest phases, which are so critical to get right…since everything is reliant on these initial phases and elements of the construction project.

While on site, I inspected 2 significant components…related items and yet very different.

Component #1 – Foundations and under slab items – the trenches and forming for the foundations had just been completed and ready for inspection.

Component #2 – Substandard soil conditions – we had some soil conditions where “pumping” was observed and probes revealed inadequate soil bearing capacity…requiring remediation to correct.

Every building is built on what is referred to as a foundation. The foundation of a building transfers the weight of the building to the ground. While ‘foundation’ is a general word; normally, every building has a number of individual foundations, commonly called footings.

Since the weight of the building rests on the soil (or rock), engineers have to study the properties of the soil very carefully to ensure that it can support the loads imposed by the building. It is common for engineers to determine the safe bearing capacity of the soil after such study. As the name suggests, this is the amount of weight per unit area the soil can bear.

As you can see from the above, the foundation and the soil conditions are interdependent on each other. If either one is suspect or does not meet requirements, the other will fail. They also are literal “building blocks” in the sequence of a building. Uncorrected poor soil will lead to inadequate foundations which in turn would make any building constructed on such condition unsafe for occupancy.

What makes these 2 components even more unique, is that most of the occupants of a building will never see these items. When the pastors present the gospel from the platform, no one in the audience will be able to see the foundations on which the worship space was constructed.  When the children’s leaders are impacting the lives of hundreds of kids, they will not be worrying about the bearing capacity of the earth beneath their feet. And yet, in both instances, if these components had been constructed in a less than correct manner, they would see the impact of such issues.

Let’s look at an iconic edifice in America…the Space Needle in Seattle.  This structure soars over 600 feet in the air. It is an amazing engineering feat. But is what you see all there is?  Not hardly.  Here are some facts about its foundation.

> Its foundation is 30 feet deep

> Weighs 5,850 tons

> Contains 250 tons of reinforcing steel…almost 6 miles of rebar

> The foundation is as heavy as the Needle, enabling the airy structure to withstand a wind velocity of 200 miles per hour.

>In 2001 it withstood an earthquake of 6.8 on the Richter scale. It is estimated that it can endure even greater shocks because the architects doubled the 1962 building code requirements.

Here is another interesting fact about foundations…they are not a single component but rather a complex set of interconnected components.  You have the soil that forms the foundation…then there is the reinforcing steel (rebar) that is interconnected in an engineered grid/pattern…then come the anchor bolts (for the space Needle, there are 72 bolts, 30 feet long EACH)…and then concrete. A LOT of concrete. In fact, it required 467 cement trucks to complete the foundation. At Freedom House Church, we maybe had 2-3 trucks total to pour our foundations…just a little difference.

Here is what really stuck out to me as I did the site inspection…these unseen components (at least unseen by the final occupants…not unseen by those that laid the foundation) are the basis for the success of the rest of the structure. Without them, the buildings would fail (Luke 6:47-48). This is not magic…it is a fact of nature and physics. There is no getting around it.

Buildings are not the only thing that require a well planned and executed foundation. Foundations are necessary in any aspect of our life worth “building” and developing. Our families. Our churches. Our businesses. Our relationships. Our finances. To be successful at any/all of these, you need a foundation that is intentionally designed for the desired outcome.


Facility “Management” (Leadership) vs. “Maintenance”

As part of developing Cool Solutions Group, I have met with dozens of business administrators and facility personnel. As I have documented these experiences I see that there appears to be a discrepancy between facilities “management” and facilities “maintenance”. To some of you, this may sound like semantics, but I think that it is much, much deeper than two “words” that some would consider synonyms. Let me describe what I have seen and then let you decide if there is or is not a difference.

First, let’s explore how dictionary.com defines these 2 words:

man-age-ment

1. The act or manner of managing: handling, direction, or control
2. Skill in managing; executive ability
3. The person or persons controlling and directing the affairs of a business, institution, etc.

main-te-nance

1. The act of maintaining
2. The state of being maintained
3. Care or upkeep, as of machinery or property

As I look at these definitions, I see a couple things that jump out at me:

  1. Management appears to define the act of being proactive.
  2. Management requires a skill to lead and direct activities of an organization or team.
  3. Maintenance appears to be developing a way to maintain the status quo.
  4. Maintenance is focused on the care and upkeep of something which may be seen as reactive.

There has been much discussion and many books written about the difference between management and “leadership”. From a pure business perspective, I understand the differences. However, in this instance I would suggest that Facility “Management” is more congruent with leadership than maintenance. Even the above definitions would lead to that conclusion.

What words could be used to describe management vs. maintenance? See below the word pictures that we would use:

MANAGEMENT MAINTENANCE
Proactive Reactive
Preventive Corrective
Lead React
Plan Respond
Systematic Scramble
Save over the Long Term Spend as needed
Increase Life Cycle Band-Aid

So, as you explore your facility stewardship needs, are you providing management/leadership, or merely maintenance?

Food for thought…


The Established Church

I have worked in the church facility arena for over 32 years.  I have seen all sorts of trends, initiatives, flash-in-the-pan ideas and those that last through the ages.  I have seen shifts in music as well as what version of the Bible to preach from as well as the “how” we do church. I am a firm believer that the Word of God never changes…but our means, methods, systems, organizational structures, etc. MUST change.

In the design and construction segment of the church facility world, there is a huge clamoring to be on the cutting edge…to find the next Saddleback or Willow Creek or Elevation Church or Life Church. Most people in the space I work in want to be with the “cool” people. The trend setters. The hottest new thing.

I get it.

There is something very exciting to be part of a movement that is changing the landscape of church and impacting the world in incredible ways. There is great notoriety for those firms that can help design, manage and build facilities for these organizations. I have been blessed to serve such ministries and continue to serve many to this day. Again…I understand the allure.

But let’s step back…there are over 375,000 churches in America. Of those, there are less than 2,000 that would be considered Mega Churches (over 2,000 weekly attendance)…that is only .5%…less than one percent. And of that group, many have been around for more than 20 years…so they are not really the “newest gig” in town.

In addition, there are about 5,000 new churches planted every year (which helps to offset the closures). And of those, most are smaller than 200 people so they are not [yet] the new model for church in America.

Then it hit me (I am a slow learner at times)…the majority of all ministry that occurs in the USA is done from/within/based out of an ESTABLISHED CHURCH. In fact, I would surmise that 95-99% of ministry is generated by an established church. Let’s be clear…”established” does not necessarily mean “old” or “dying” or “stuck in a rut” or even “traditional” in their music style. I have churches we are serving that are 50-75 years old that have started their 6th campus or are reaching their communities in very new and fresh ways.

So what? Who cares?

Well…I do, and you should too.

The leaders of these established churches need encouragement. They need training on how to navigate the issues and opportunities related to leading an established church. They need to know how to honor the past and yet move toward the future. How do you love and respect an aging congregation and yet attract and foster relationships with the next 1-2 generations? How do you lead a church with deferred maintenance or “tired” facilities that may be dated and incongruent with your vision?

Well…I am so excited to have been asked to participate in the first ever EST Conference this fall in Dallas, Texas. The list of conference speakers includes Dr. Thom Rainer, Sam Rainer, Micah Fries, Josh King and John Myzuka…and me.

This one day event will be held on October 4, 2018. Registration has just opened, so make plans to gather your team and spend the day with this great line up of church leaders.


Church Security – Building a Strong Foundation

At Cool Solutions Group we strive to provide the best content to all that are searching for ways to be stewards of what they have been entrusted. In the past few years church safety and security has been a growing focus. We get many calls regarding this, and work with many great partners in the industry to get the best information out to as many as possible.

What we have found is that security is like any other process in a facility. To be successful it must be done intentionally. One of our favorite quotes that is generally attributed to the Greek soldier Archilochus circa 650 B.C. is “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training”.

That concept is the basis for our new free e-Book series entitled A Measured Approach to Church Security. This series has 4 separate eBooks:

Part 1: Church Security – Preparing for the Process

Part 2: Church Security – Laying a Firm Foundation

Part 3: Church Security – Building Upon the Foundation

Part 4: Church Security – Supported by a Firm Foundation

For a safety and security program in your church to be successful and effective, you will need to have a strong foundation. This series is designed to introduce you to the concepts that allow you to begin building the best program for your church. There are many references provided, some to articles and some to service providers. Take the time to dig deep and begin building and training on a safety and security program that can accomplish your objectives. Developing your response during the storm is the opposite of intentional planning.

Download this FREE series today, and encourage others to do the same. Develop the plan that is right for you and your church culture. We are here to help.