Don’t Just Raise the Bar; Be the Bar

I love the new television commercials for the Ford F-150 that ends with: It Doesn’t Raise the Bar, It is the Bar.

The obvious connotation is that Ford is not raising the bar…but they ARE the bar that everyone else chases and tries to obtain.  I love that.

Now, let me be clear, I am not a Ford guy…in fact…I am not an any “brand” guy. I have owned Fords, Chevy, GMC (I am still driving my 14 year old Yukon with 198,00 miles), Toyota and others.

I do like Ford’s confidence and guts to claim to be the best. Is it true? I am not getting into that discussion. But what I do want to look at is being BEST-IN-CLASS…more than just bravado or words, but in actions and deeds. I have used the analogy that you can get a chicken sandwich (and a taco and a burger and…) from Jack-In-The-Box, but if I am looking for a “best-in-class” chicken sandwich, I go to Chick-fil-A.

Our team has made a very INTENTIONAL decision to be the Chick-fil-A of the church software market.  We are not trying to be all things to all people. It is not our competency. We are FACILITY PROFESSIONALS that have developed best-in-class Facility Management software solutions for those responsible to steward their ministry facilities. PERIOD…end of story. No if, and, or but!  We are here to serve the church as it relates to their facilities usage, management, maintenance, integration, controls, training, services, and life cycle planning.

eSPACE does not accommodate member management, child check-in, small groups, accounting, missions trip planning, worship service planning…we are all about FACILITIES.

As we shared last week, given our conviction, we have integrated with many of the “best-in-class” Church Management Software applications…you can see the whole list HERE.

If Facility Stewardship is important to your church, then you owe it to yourself and your congregation to give us a look and see how we can assist you to be EFFECTIVE, EFFICIENT and INTENTIONAL with the facilities God has entrusted to you to steward.

We ARE the Bar!


eSPACE integrates with the tools you use to manage your church. You can now integrate your Church Management Software with the industry leading suite of Facility Management applications including HVAC Integration, Event Management, Work Order Management, and Capital Reserve Planning

Efficiency On Steroids – Church Management (ChMS) + eSPACE

For years, the eSPACE Team has been asked “Does eSPACE integrate with our Church Management Software?”

Great question!

If you have been asking that question and want to utilize the eSPACE Event Management module or HVAC Integration, then we have good news.  For many of you, the answer is YES!

eSPACE has developed an integration of our COOLSPACE HVAC Integration (either via a Building Automation System* or WiFi Thermostats) for the following Church Management Software (ChMS) applications:

  1. Church Community Builder (CCB)
  2. ShelbyNEXT
  3. Rock RMS
  4. Ministry Platform
  5. Elexio
  6. Elexio Community
  7. FellowshipOne GO
  8. Simple Church
  9. FellowshipOne Premier/Event U (there are some specific requirements for this to function…call for details)
  10. Servant Keeper
  11. ACS (HVAC only)

*Some hardware may be required

What is even better…you don’t have to abandon your ChMS calendar as this integration can either work in the background or in the forefront…your choice.

eSPACE has developed an HVAC Integration called COOLSPACE that can integrate with many Building Automation Systems and some WiFi Thermostats.

Welcome to the future of software integration and the world of the “Internet of Things.”

With COOLSPACE/eSPACE integration, you can easily schedule all the events in your facility and know that the HVAC systems will respond to each event as they occur. Not only can you realize energy savings with improved HVAC run-times, your facility staff is able to devote more time to other needs.

For continued efficiency, integration with eSPACE allows your ChMS scheduler to still be the front end interface for your general users and staff while the Facility and Event Management Teams can utilize the robust features of eSPACE as their daily management tool. You do not have to train the majority on new systems, and your facility team can really drill down into the more detailed information and planning tools needed to intentionally manage and maintain facilities.

Do we have your attention?

You are going to want to contact us so we can share how this can help your church be more Efficient, Effective, and INTENTIONAL with the ministry tools God has entrusted to you.

Sound too good to be true?

Welcome to the future of software integration and the world of the “Internet of Things.”

Contact us for more details! 

Bellevue Baptist Church Switches to eSPACE

Over the last year, our team has fielded a growing number of calls from churches using other event scheduling software. Our Lorrie Eriksen, Solutions Strategist, has assisted many of these clients including Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, TN (Memphis area).Bellevue aerial

Bellevue was the sponsoring church that commissioned and initiated the development of ServiceU more than 12 years ago; however, for a variety of reasons, they made the switch to eSPACE late last year. Bellevue is a large church (750,000+ SF on more than 300 acres) with multiple campuses, currently using the eSPACE Event Scheduler and COOLSPACE JACE Driver modules.

So why did Bellevue make the switch to eSPACE?  Steve Cowart, Director of Events Management shares:

“While we were pleased with our previous long-term calendar and scheduling provider, we were concerned about the future because of the many ownership changes they had experienced in the past few years. A couple of years ago we began searching for another provider for these services.

Bellevue has more than 400 spaces that can be scheduled, including classrooms, auditoriums, conference, banquet and other rooms. We knew that a robust scheduling system would be required to manage the facility in order to eliminate scheduling conflicts.

We found the eSPACE product from Cool Solutions Group and researched and tested it thoroughly for almost a year. We found eSPACE to be a powerful system and, most importantly, user friendly. We ‘went live’ with eSPACE in the spring of 2016 and have been very pleased.eSpace_Logo_Md

The relationship with the eSPACE team has been great. The company has responded to our requests for new features and they’ve made slight revisions to existing features. The training offered, both online and at our facility, has been excellent.

We have also found that the product is a great value and we’re saving hundreds of dollars a month compared to our previous provider.”

Debbie Campbell, Ministry Assistant, and Office of the Pastor, has found eSPACE to be a tremendous tool. Here is what she had to say about us:

Our experience with Cool Solutions Group/eSPACE has been wonderful. It has been much better than what you would expect when transitioning from one software to another. The transition was very smooth and couldn’t have gone any better. The eSPACE team was there every step of the way and was always available for any questions or concerns we had. They’ve worked to accommodate our needs in a calendaring system that works great for us.”

“The Event Scheduler has been a great tool for calendaring all our events. One of the many benefits that I love about it is the ability to have multiple schedules within one event entry. Many times, you will need multiple spaces within one event that have different setup or start/end times. Another benefit I love is the Calendar itself. I take advantage of the filtering when searching a certain day for a certain room. The ability to export the calendar to Outlook is a tool our Information Center has taken advantage of. This gives them quick access to all events occurring on a daily basis. I also like to check out The Knowledge Base/Recent updates periodically. It keeps me informed of any updates, fixes or changes that have been made.”

Thank you Bellevue Baptist Church for choosing eSPACE and for entrusting us with your Event and HVAC Scheduling needs.

How are you handling your facility management needs? If you are searching for a solution, we invite you to check out eSPACE. We have the ONLY 3-in-1 Facility Management software solution on the market (Event Scheduler + Work Order Management + HVAC Integration) and the ONLY WiFi thermostats that integrate with our platform.

Come check us out!  

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Operational Equality + Intentionality = Operational Efficiency

In a recent blog by Seth Godin (my favorite blogger and author), he outlined what I would refer to as Operational Equality (my words not his…so don’t blame him). Read these 4 sentences from his blog and then sit back and ponder them.  They are far more impactful and revolutionary than they may seem at first blush:

Something rare is happening, and it might not last long.

Today, right now, anyone with a $300 laptop can use the very same tools as the people at the top of just about any industry.

If you want to write, you have the same writing tools available to you as the most successful writers in the world.

If you want to join a social network, well, the software that connects the titans of your industry is the very same software you can use.

For generations, only the rich or elite or privileged or large organizations had all the “best tools” and access to the leading edge technology.  Think about a few examples:

Until the time of the Gutenberg press, only religious elite had access to the Bible and scripture…now many of us carry our Bible in our pockets on our Smart devices in nearly ever translation.

Until recently, only Meteorologists had access to weather forecasts…now with an app on your phone you can get almost as much data

Used to be that only Stock Brokers could assist you with purchasing stocks and bonds…not any more!

10-15 years ago, only the largest facilities had access to building automation systems…today it is rare NOT to have one.

Think about the internet…it does not matter if your organization has 2 people or 2 thousand, we all login to the same internet which means we have the same access.  This is one of the first times in society that “operational” equality has been so flat lined…which means, there are very few reasons to not be working, playing, developing, managing, leading, writing, creating, etc. using tools that are available to organizations smaller or larger than your own.  How many of you still use a 3″ Yellow Pages to search phone numbers? Have you bought a car lately? Did you only rely on the word of the dealer as to the value, service history or life cycle?  Probably not?

Let’s take it another step.  Just because we have a tool/system that “works” (or maybe better said is, “USED” to work when we first implemented it) does not mean it is the best or most efficient tool know. My manual screw drivers still work fine and they “can” get the job done…but my battery powered screwdriver is much more efficient for most applications. My 1986 “car phone” could probably still make calls (maybe) but compared to my iPhone 6S, there is no comparison.  I have faxing capability on my printer…but I cannot tell you the last time I used it. Just because faxing was the best way to send documents 10-15 years ago does not necessarily make it the most productive today. My old Excel spreadsheet used to be fine for managing our corporate books, but QuickBooks is such a better tool and application for financial accounting

Get my point?  I think so.

So as an organizational leader, with responsibility for your physical facilities, are you INTENTIONAL about utilizing the best tools to get the job done?  You virtually have access to the same tools, means and methods as the people managing your local mall or downtown office towers.  Given the myriad of tools, resources, blogs, articles, etc,  there are very few excuses to not be utilizing the most up to date systems and processes to manage your facilities.

Here is a partial list of the tools your organization should be utilizing to increase your Operational Efficiency…and they are all just a click away:

  1. Facility/Event Scheduling Software
  2. Facility Management and Work Order Management Software
  3. Life Cycle Projection Tools
  4. Some level of Building Automation…at least for your HVAC system…maybe WIFI Thermostats (call me for more details!!!)

Anything less is like living in the stone-age.

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Facilities Facilitate

In order to get started today, we need to step back to our 10th grade English class and make sure we understand the definition of 2 words and the tense of each:

FACILITY (noun) – space or equipment necessary for doing something

FACILITATE (verb) – make (an action or process) easy or easier.

If you are like me, you have slept since 10th grade and so the nuance of the difference of a verb and a noun may be foggy…so let’s recap:

A “noun”, in its simplest form, is a person, place or thing. “Watch SPOT run.” “That TREE is very big.” ” Our CHURCH is located on Main Street.” (Side note…I only use this for example since many of us say that…but in reality the CHURCH is not the building…it is the people)

A “verb”, on the other hand, is a word that shows action. Verbs are the main part of a sentence in the English language. They are the component of any sentence that brings life and meaning to the words.

So back to our 2 words above…

A “facility” is a noun.  It is a place…a structure…a building…a location.  However, without a verb, it is just a stagnant word.  In fact, you can have a sentence without a noun…for example…”Go over there.” You can say those words, point and have your intent conveyed.

What does this have to do with our ministry facilities?  Glad you asked.

If a Facility is a noun…then it needs a verb to provide action, meaning and relevance. By itself, a facility is merely a monument…an edifice…an architectural statement (good or bad). Sticks and bricks are inanimate objects.  I still believe that our facility (the physical attributes) will tell a story.  I am not bending off that premise.  I believe in the concept of story and how we need to be intentional related to the storytelling of our facility…but…the reality is that facilities, in and of themselves, are not a living organism.

In order to bring life (action) to a facility, it needs a verb…and I believe the best verb for ministry facilities is that it FACILITATES.

Facilities should facilitate…

  1. Worship
  2. Education
  3. Connection
  4. Interaction
  5. Fellowship
  6. Community
  7. Outreach
  8. In-reach
  9. Discipleship
  10. Life change

So…what do your facilities facilitate? Does the facilitation fulfill your vision, mission and goals?  If not, may need to step back and re-evaluate.

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Everyone is self-employed; everyone is in sales

Many of you, if not most of you, are on staff at a church or are actively involved in Kingdom work. In light of that you may think that this blog has nothing to do with you or your role. Before you close this out…let me challenge you to keep reading a little further.

While we can all make a case for the inaccuracy of the title of this blog…let’s expand out thinking. Churches and ministries don’t have “sales”…right? For just a few minutes, let me share a portion of a blog from Bruce Van Horn.  I have never met Bruce but have received permission to repost his blog.  I am not going to quote the entire blog….you can see it HERE.

When I was leading a team for a national church builder, I used to tell our team that they were ALL sales people for the organization.  Some grasped that and some never could wrap their arms around the concept…but I believed it then and am even more convinced of this fact. Let me share a portion of Bruce’s blog:

Did you know that you are self-employed? Well, whether you know it or not, you are!

You might be thinking, “No, I work for a company [church/ministry – Tim Cool added] and I’m not even a shareholder let alone the owner.”

I want you to read this next sentence, then sit still for a minute and let it seep into the crevices of your brain: It does not matter who signs your paycheck or what company you work for or what your job is at that company; everyone is self-employed and everyone is in sales.

You might not like the idea of “selling yourself,” but that really is what we do every day. If you have friends, it is because you have shown them something about yourself that makes them want to be around you. If you have a spouse or a very serious “significant other,” it is because there is something about you that makes that person want to be around and, perhaps, spend the rest of their life with you. Whether you are aware of it or did it intentionally, you convinced those people, or that person, that they should choose you out of all of the other people they know. They “bought” you!

If you think of yourself as self-employed while you are at your “job,” you will see the work you do and the company you work for differently. Your “job” is to provide a product or service that meets the needs of, and adds value to, your customer. When your company hired you, they did so because of what you could provide. During the interview process, you convinced (sold) them to use your service instead of that of other candidates. If they fire you, it is because your product or service did not meet their needs or they no longer need your product or service.

Being in “sales” doesn’t mean begging, pleading, or trying to manipulate people into buying something they don’t need. The most successful salespeople know the value of the product or service they provide and try to find a match between what they sell and those people who need, will benefit from, and are looking what they have to offer.

I know you may be thinking I am twisting words again…that is not my intent.  Let’s break it down in life applications that may make more sense:

  1.  If you work in a church or ministry, you sold someone to hire you.
  2. For most of us, the purpose of our organization is to help others and to further the Kingdom.  This is done through a series of “sales” opportunities from inviting someone to church, to presenting the gospel, to offering discipleship to further the previous life changing “sales.”
  3. Anyone that walks through the doors of your organization is going to make a judgement based on their interaction with those they encounter…so are you representing the value, vision, mission and beliefs of your organization.  You may be the only “salesperson” they encounter which may impact their evaluation of the value proposition…which should be a new life in Christ Jesus.
  4. As a “self-employed” person, you must be self-motivated…know the end goal…live and breathe the values of your personal organization…walk the walk…be positive about your “company” (remember…you are self employed so it is YOUR company).

How does those concepts adjust your mindset and overall approach to your daily life?  If it has no impact…then you missed the point…so call me so we can talk more about it.

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8 HVAC Trends for Facility Management

For most organizations, one of the most impactful aspects of their facility management and operations is their HVAC systems and the associated energy costs.  Given that, it is always a front of mind issue for facility managers, Business Administrators and other leaders. When you realize that 50-75% of an organizations utility bill is due to the HVAC system, it becomes a really important aspect to understand.

Early in my career, I had a mechanical engineer tell me that the only thing I needed to know about HVAC systems is that they “suck and blow.”  In essence, that is accurate…they suck air in through return vents and blow it back out through supply access points.  Seems pretty simple.  But technology, energy codes, environmental considerations and desire for efficiency has changed the landscape of the HVAC industry.

Below are trends that every facility owner, facility manager and organizational leader responsible for the stewarding of their facility should be aware of.

Building Code Changes – Depending on what state you are in, some of these code items are currently mandatory while in others, it is coming:

  • > Primary entrance doors to access rooms that are over 3,000 SF must have a vestibule (sanctuaries, gathering, large classrooms, etc.). Some people call this an “air/light lock”…but it is basically the requirement to have 2 sets of doors with the vestibule in between the sets of doors for any assembly space over 3,000 SF
  • > Demand control ventilation, using CO2 sensors that control and provide increase outdoor air for high occupancy spaces (i.e. worship, gathering large classrooms, etc). If you are building a new assembly space, you have to add CO2 sensors that will engage the fresh air intake portion of your system when CO2 leaves reach a certain level.

Open Protocol – The days of proprietary control systems is rapidly coming to a close thanks in part to the introduction and development of open protocol systems such as LON and BACnet:

LON – Local Operating Network – was one of the pioneers in this space, but its use is being overshadowed with the introduction and rapid adoption of BACnet

BACnet – Building Automation Control Network – has become the most popular open protocol and is widely supported by developers and ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers)

Integration – You may wonder why “Open Protocol” is a trend on this list. The reason this is so critical is due to what is called the Internet of Things (IoT). One definition is:  “The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.” Things talking to things.  In the HVAC world, it is thermostats talking to controllers and JACE’s.  It is BACnet compatible systems talking to your Event Scheduling Software. The open protocol systems allow for more freedom in developing “things” that talk to each other.  More on this another time.

Wireless – This should be surprise given all the wireless applications we use in nearly every aspect of our lives.  However…in the world of HVAC, wireless is NOT synonymous with Wi-Fi. Let me explain.

  • Wi-Fi – is a technology that allows electronic devices to connect to a wireless LAN (WLAN) network. The Wi-Fi Alliance defines Wi-Fi as any “wireless local area network” (WLAN) product based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) 802.11 standards. In short, it is what most of us use to connect to the internet when at work, home or a coffee shop.
  • ZigBee – Wireless language for device connectivity. ZigBee is an IEEE 802.15.4-based specification for a suite of high-level communication protocols used to create personal area networks with small, low-power digital radios. It Is NOT Wi-Fi.
  • BACnet systems offer wireless components that use the BACnet protocol

VRV/VRF –Variable Refrigerant Volume (Flow) – The simplest example of this technology is what most of us might refer to a “mini-split” system.  But this category of HVAC units is far more encompassing than that and it is gaining popularity and acceptance at an increasing rate. VRF is an HVAC technology invented in Japan by the Daikin company in 1982. Like ductless mini-splits VRFs use refrigerant as the cooling and heating medium. This refrigerant is conditioned by a single outdoor condensing unit, and is circulated within the building to multiple fan-coil units (FCUs). This technology is on the move and will do so for years to come.

HVAC vs. AVLA (Audio, Video, Lighting and Acoustics) – if you have a sound system, then you know that in many cases the AVLA system is the tail that wages many facility and budget decisions.  I am not being critical.  We have just come to expect a higher level of sound in our spaces than just that of a megaphone or and AM radio sounding system.  With this requirement comes several considerations in the ambient noise that can be caused by the HVAC systems.  As such, attention must be given to:

  1. Vibration of units on the roof or in close proximity
  2. Installation of isolation curbs to assist in the reduction of vibration
  3. Air velocity…which incorporates fan speeds, duct size, duct location, register locations and design/shape.
  4. Larger lined ducts
  5. How to address “haze”. If your church uses haze, then you know what I mean.  If you do not use haze, then just ignore this. The particulate size of the haze can impact the “duct sensors” in your return air vents thus making the system think there is smoke, triggering the fire alarm…OOPS!

Refrigerant is changing…AGAIN!!!Yep…that is right! Once we had R-22 Freon that was phased out (although you can still get it) and replaced with R-410A as it was better for the environment.  This is the current refrigerant…but only until 2025 when ASHRAE will introduce a new format referred to as a “2L Flammable Refrigerant” (Name TBD).  Do you ever feel like the HVAC industry has learned a lesson from the computer industry? They change to “operation system” every so often making the old systems obsolete. BROTHER!

Residential ThermostatsHow many of you have bought a Nest or other wireless stat for your home.  They are pretty cool and in some cases the will work in a small commercial setting.  But before you rush out to Lowes to get your wireless stat, here are some considerations:

  1. Multiple Stages of Heating and Cooling
  2. Size of the building
  3. Number of buildings
  4. Ability of occupants to adjust temperature
  5. Variations in weekly/annual usage
  6. Type and age of the HVAC equipment

*These are all factors that need to be considered and vetted before investing in these residential options.

These 8 trends represent areas of consideration that you, as the steward of your facilities, must become familiar with and determine the best application of them for your facility.

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8 Tools for Intentional Facility Management

I am sure you have heard the adage that to some people every task looks like a nail, as such the only tool you need is a hammer.

I have been in the church construction and facility management/stewardship world for over 30 years and I have never seen a construction professional or a FM professional that did not perform their best work without having the right tools in their tool box.  I, on the other hand, have tried to use a screwdriver handle to drive a nail and  hacksaw to demo a wall instead of a Sawzall. Big mistakes.  What should have been a 3-4 minute task took far longer and the results were equally as incompetent. FAIL!!!!!

So, why are so many churches and other facility owners/managers not as intentional with their facility managerial tools?  I believe the same applies to these tools as to the above example.  Why would you try to process and manage work orders and preventive maintenance with antiquated or inefficient tools when the “right tools” are available? Are we just stubborn with a mindset that “what worked in the past is good enough now?” Or is it a lack of knowledge as toRigt tool what is available?

Regardless of the reason…there is a better way.  Below is a list of tools that should be in every facility owner’s toolbox.  Remember, these facilities have been ENTRUSTED to you to STEWARD.  Should we not be using the right tools?

  1. The Right Mindset – In her book, “Switch On Your Brain”, Dr. Caroline Leaf says – “Your mind tells your brain what to do. It is mind over matter.” In short, your mind is the catalyst for everything that we do. The same applies to Facility Stewardship. If you believe, in your mind, that being a good steward requires intentionality and diligence, then being proactive will come natural.  However, if your mindset is based on “just get by” or “DIY” paradigms, you will likely be playing catch-up constantly.
  2. Others…don’t go it alone – There are thousands…maybe millions…of facility managers in the country and my guess is that there are dozens right in your back yard. I love the quote by Ken Blanchard – “None of us is as smart as all of us.” Find other professionals to gain information and lessons learned. Join groups like IFMA, BOMA or The Church Network. Don’t go it alone.
  3. Proactive Facility Management Check list – This is a simple, and free recourse to get you started. DOWNLOAD HERE
  4. Event Scheduling Software – I have been surprised how many organization still use a paper calendar or a whiteboard or Outlook/Google Calendar. If you use your facility more than one day a week, they you need a tool to help you be proactive in managing its use. Here is an article on the 10 Reasons to Tear-up Your Old Event Scheduler. This is an easy step for you to gain control as to how your facility is utilized. Check out an affordable and intentional tool HERE
  5. Work Order Management Software – How do you track and process work requests at your facility? Legal Pad? Excel spreadsheet? Post-it Notes? Cross your fingers, then hope and pray? There is a better way! There are a number of CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System) available on the market, but only one developed by church facility professionals…check it out HERE
  6. Life Cycle Calculator – How much should you set aside each year for capital improvements? Check back with me in January 2017  for my recommendation on an incredible tool.
  7. HVAC Integration – For most churches, 50-75% of your utility cost can be attributed to HVAC usage. That is a big number and one that should get your attention. If you are looking to save operational dollars, this is the most obvious place. I suggest finding a tool that will allow you to integrate our Event/Room Scheduling software to your HVAC system to reduce energy consumption and increase staff efficiency. Here is a great example of such a TOOL.
  8. Facility Stewardship Manual – If your church owns your facilities, then you must get this 300 page manual. If you are not up for the full manual but want a primer…get this FREE e-book to get you started.

Don’t steward your facilities with the wrong tools.  Be intentional!

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