Let’s Stop Pretending!

As leaders in our congregations, we are responsible for what happens when the services start. That is a serious responsibility and is an integral component of Facility Stewardship. Well-run programs do not just happen by chance. They all take planning. Proper planning can help facilitate a good event; bad planning will always lead to issues. So, why should we stop pretending? When we consider event planning in the church, we need to stop pretending that it is OK to excuse poor planning by claiming we want to do it this way for “ministerial” reasons.

Whenever you invite individuals into your facility, you are taking on some responsibility for their safety. There are rules you follow that have nothing to do with religious tradition and everything to do with local, state, and federal laws/ordinances. That is a reality when we choose to operate a dedicated facility for religious use. It is not wrong, from a spiritual perspective, to follow these guidelines. Willfully ignoring them is a negative representation of your witness.

How does this relate to event planning? Simple. Planning an event in church represents two essential and separate things. The two aspects are the potential for ministering through the event and the actual execution of the setup of the event. One has spiritual connotations; one does not. One is concerned with the subjective response of the participants; one is concerned with the physical needs to provide the framework of the event. Conflating these two purposes diminishes the effectiveness of both operations.

Perhaps you have heard this before; “Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” Unfortunately, for many facility teams they face several avoidable emergencies each week resulting from poor planning. The more this occurs, the harder it is to recognize real emergencies or failures within the system. If everything is an emergency, then nothing is. I may have a shortage of chairs to support all the events I need to…but if I never know how many chairs I need for all my events I have a challenging time proving it. So, what can you do?

I am going to assume you accept that planning an event is an objective exercise. With that, there are essential pieces of information that need detailed and shared. When (time and date), where (location), what (required resources), how (it needs set), and who (who, if anyone, do you need to assist). Do you notice what is missing? Why. As a facility steward, I am willing to trust the ministerial team and accepting that the vetting of the “why” of the event is in line with ministerial efforts. I need to know all the rest so that I can support the event effectively. Let’s look at the essential components of event planning.

When. This is important for obvious reasons. To plan we need to know the date and time the event is occurring (and if it recurs as well). However, clarity in when is important. Yes, I need to know that the service starts at 11. I also need to know if there is an expectation of being in the space starting at 8. Or, perhaps an intent to decorate the day before. All these data points can impact an aspect of the facility that you, as an event planner/owner, are not aware of nor do you necessarily need to be. I do not need my pastor to understand the complexity of staging HVAC to minimize demand charges…I need them to tell me their required parameters so I can schedule appropriately.

Where. It seems obvious, I know. However, when determining a location do not neglect to include the additional support areas that you may need or are expecting to have. Assuming it will be available, or not utilized as a storage room for displaced items due to your event needs, can create drama. In the planning stage it is helpful also to consider if you will need different spaces at various times throughout the event. This has a real potential monetary impact. Specificity on the when for your where allows for the facility steward to only run HVAC, or turn on lights, or send staff over when required.

What. What do you need? Spoiler alert. Facility stewards are awesome, but they are not mind-readers. Sure, we may have done this event in the past…along with the five-thousand other events (which, by the way, is a pretty common average for the number of event setups/year for churches). If you make me guess what you need, and I mess up, the fault remains on you. I want to know everything you want. Telling me everything beforehand allows me to support you better, and to plan my staff efficiently. Having more than you need already present is preferable than having to scramble when the event starts.

How. This goes hand in hand with “what.” How do you need everything setup? Unless your desired setup would lead to a high likelihood of death and destruction, I am willing to set it how you request. If you tell me “just do what makes the most sense” mean it. Facility stewards know their facilities, they know what has worked and what has not regarding setups. If they offer a suggestion, it is not a negative towards you; it is merely a subject matter expert offering guidance learned over time. Again, a facility team wants your event to run smoothly; it makes our lives more enjoyable.

Who. Do you require a subject matter expert to assist you? Perhaps you need sound, maybe IT support. Maybe you need a specific coffee and tea spread. When you are planning your event identify all those individuals you may need assistance from. When you do, let them help determine the best way and manner to assist as well. If you are going to give a presentation, bring your gear into the IT team BEFORE the event, like a day or two, to give them time to make sure everything is compatible. If you are serving food, let the kitchen team know what you want in enough time for them to prepare.

These are the basics of event planning. By the way, your worship service is an event too, and the planning of it should follow the same approach. Can you do this with pen and paper or shared documents and spreadsheets? Sure…if you want to be ineffective and inefficient. There is affordable event scheduling software available for all church sizes. Size does not matter. When you have a facility and events, you need to be intentional in how you plan.

A thoughtfully planned event helps remove potential distractions from the attendees. This, in turn, increases the opportunity to impact folks in a spiritually meaningful way. Proper planning also creates a type of memorandum of understanding between the event planners (typically ministerial staff) and the event support team (usually facility staff). When you, as an event planner, commit to provide me all the information and desired setup needs before the event, I, as the event support team, commit to supporting your event in the exact manner and time you requested. I will do whatever it takes to respect your event because you have appreciated my contribution. We are all one Body, with distinct functions. Let’s celebrate that and do all we can for each other.

By Nathan Parr, Facility Specialist, Cool Solutions Group


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!



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.


Setting Goals For Your Church Facility

2018 is in the books. Chapter Closed.

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

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

WHY???

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ONWARD! 

The Simple Church (Scheduler)

 

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

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

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

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

Here are some of the features of SIMPLE SCHEDULER:

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

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

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

Cheap Shower Curtains (and church facilities)

If you have read my blogs for just about any time at all, you know that I am a big Seth Godin fan.

Recently he posted a blog entitled “Cheap Shower Curtains” that really caught my attention. Here is an excerpt:

The unskilled cost accountant might suggest you outfit your new hotel with cheap shower curtains. After all, if you save $50 a room and have 200 rooms, pretty soon, we’re talking real money.

On the other hand, experience will demonstrate that cheap shower curtains let the water out, causing a minor flood, every day, room after room. And they wear out faster. Cheap shower curtains aren’t actually cheap.

This is so in line with one of our recent blogs – “Cheap Is No Bargain”

Let’s take the analogy above a little further:

PERCEIVED SAVINGS: – $50 x 200 rooms = $10,000

AFTERMATH COSTS:

  • Damage to the floor and substrate of 200 rooms
  • Ceiling damage from water leaking from rooms above – about 75% of the 200 rooms requiring patch and repaint
  • Potential unseen issues such as mold, wet insulation, water migration to electrical fixtures, etc.
  • Increased humidity issues due to moisture causing HVAC to work “harder” to obtain comfortable levels
  • Replacement of floor covering to all 200 rooms
  • Loss of revenue due to repairs being made
  • Truncated life cycle of 200 shower curtains (this will be at least the cost of the original savings but at inflated dollars)

I am not going to venture a cost for the above…but I would say it is fair that it will be at least 10 times (and I actually believe it is 25-50 times) the perceived savings. So, unless your intent was to sell the hotel within the first few months of completion, you have just made an incredibly unwise decision. BY THE WAY: If you did plan to sell, you just sold a money pit to your buyer, damaging the one thing that really counts…your integrity and reputation. Another unwise decision.

“But Tim…we are not building hotels…we are a church.”

Right…all the more reason to not make such unwise decisions as you are utilizing Kingdom dollars entrusted to you and your church. You have been asked to steward them…not just on the “spending” of the initial costs/purchases, but of the long term value. The principle is the same whether you are building hotels, shopping centers or investing monies into the construction, renovation or sustaining your ministry facilities.

Sounds a lot like Facility Stewardship.

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!