Nathan Parr Joins Cool Solutions Group

For the past several months, we have had a significant increase in inquiries from churches that need help with addressing issues related to their facilities. Some are in need of new space, but the majority have one of the following needs:

  1. Better utilization of their space (flow/circulation, right-sizing, contextualization of space based on today’s ministry means and methods, etc).
  2. Understanding the Life Cycle of their facility (and components) and their deferred maintenance.
  3. Desire to improve their Facility Management (Facility Stewardship) means, methods, systems and knowledge.

This is encouraging for us…not because it could generate more business for us…but because we believe that church leaders are coming to the realization that Facility Stewardship is a Biblical mandate and as such, we are seeing leaders take the care, management, utilization and INTENTIONALITY of the stewardship of the ministry facilities entrusted to them much more seriously.

To that end, we are expanding our SUSTAIN services to help lead, train and support church leaders in all of these areas.  In fact, we believe so strongly in this that we have added a new member to our team.  I would like to introduce you to Nathan Parr as our newest full time team member.  Here is what Nathan has to say about this transition:

I am excited. Excited to begin this new journey, excited to be a part of this new team, excited to partner with folks across the country in being intentional with their facilities…excited to be where God directs me.

For the previous 12 years, I served as the Operations Manager at First Baptist Church in Belton, Texas. First Baptist Belton is unique in that it is in a small town, but operates on a scale usually seen in much larger municipalities. In addition to normal church services, the church hosts a private school, operates a state licensed child-care facility, averages over 11,000 room uses a year, supports a Spanish and Chinese mission church, and maintains around 9 acres in downtown Belton. That is a sampling of how it serves the community; it is a seven day a week operation. In my time at FBC Belton, God grew me in ways I never imagined.

Prior to my tenure in Belton I held a few different positions. I served in the United States Marine Corps, I owned a construction company, I worked commercial construction in South Carolina, I worked in the construction shop for Kansas State University, worked commercial lawn care for three years, and even have some paid theatrical design work in my portfolio. It was in high school in Kansas that I met my wife, and we were married on campus at KSU in the old limestone chapel. While at FBC Belton, I completed my BS in Social Science, Master of Arts in Theological Studies, and an MBA.

Nathan is one of the brightest Church Facility Managers I have ever worked with…which is why he is a perfect fit for the Cool Solutions Group Team.  He could truly be seen as a “Pastor of Facilities” for nearly any church in America…and now he can come alongside churches across the country to share his passion for ministry, excellence in processes and expertise in all things Church Facility Management.

Here are some of the expanded services we will be making available:

Standards & Procedures

Great Facility Stewardship starts with “Best-In-Class” systems, standards and procedures. This also includes understanding “WHY” you do the things you do. Our services include:

  • Means and Methods Review
  • Facility Management Best Practice
  • Facility Staffing Reviews
  • Hiring Procedures and Qualifications
  • Budgeting and Reserve Planning
  • Preventive Maintenance Plan
  • Data Storage and Software Applications

Facility Training

Once you know WHY…make sure you know HOW. Our team of skilled Church Facility Management professions provide training in the following areas:

  • Security Planning – developing the best fit in your facility for:
    • Policies
    • Equipment
    • Personnel
  • Cleaning 101 – developing a base cleaning program that keeps your guests and staff safe in the most cost-effective manner
  • Cleaning 201 -Building upon your base to create a program that continually improves in effectiveness and efficiency
  • Team Building and integration of the Facility Staff in the mission of the church
  • Project Management
  • Procurement processes -finding the best solution for the long-term; developing vendor relationships
  • Role of the Facility Manager in Church activities – Integrating them early to ensure more time is spent on the mission, not logistics

Facility Assessments

Do you have a firm grip on the condition and life cycle expectations and expenditures related to your facility? Our team of facility professionals and engineers can provide detailed assessments of these aspects including:

  • “Fresh Eyes” Assessments
  • Deferred Maintenance Evaluation
  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Energy/Operational Efficiency Including Facility Staffing Assessment
  • Spatial Planning

If you have a church facility…then you will benefit by what we offer.  Give us a call or email Nathan at nathan@coolsolutionsgroup.com

Church Facility Projects – So You Want to Launch a Building Project?

Whether you’re renting a facility or want to expand the one you already own, the decision to embark on a building project isn’t one to take lightly.  This effort will require a significant amount of time, energy, money, teamwork, and prayer.  If you don’t have prior experience in the construction industry or an unlimited budget (who does?!), then this is time to pause and consider what you’re about to do as a church.

It’s always helpful to have a road map or GPS available before you set out on a trip into unfamiliar territory.  With that in mind, we’ve developed a series of posts to guide you through key milestones in the construction journey.  From architectural drawings to financing and more, we’ll walk you through the major issues and point out potential pitfalls.

To get started, let’s address what you need to do first.  There are lots of behind-the-scenes details to manage as you start planning this significant effort.

Determine Your Why

The first phase of any construction project starts way before you hire a construction crew or start moving dirt.  You have much planning to do before you can get to those steps.  In fact, the first thing you should consider is “why”.

  •      Why do we want to do this project?
  •      Have we outgrown our current facility?
  •      Do we see a need in our community that this project could fill (that our current facility can not)?

Getting clarity on the vision behind the project is a pivotal first step.  Without a clear vision, you’ll have trouble making decisions and communicating why people should donate towards this project.

Gather a Team of Advisors

As we read in Proverbs 15:22, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed.”  Unless you are fortunate enough to have people within your congregation with these specialized skill-sets, you’ll need to bring in outside experts to give you wise counsel.  This is the time to start talking with potential architects, lenders, and capital campaign consultants.  It’s tempting to think you should start with an architect before talking with potential lenders so you know how much money you’ll need.  However, talking with lenders as you meet with your architect can help you determine what a lender is willing to loan to your church.  That can have a significant impact on what you can afford to design with an architect. Remember: You can do a building project in phases as your budget allows.  Trying to do it all at once isn’t necessary.  Check out “If it’s Phase-able, It’s Feasible” for more insights into that approach.

Get Your Facilities Manager Involved Now

Whoever is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of your current facility needs to be involved in the planning process from day one.  This is the person who knows the constraints of your current facility, who hears the complaints from staff and volunteers, and who has to figure out where to store everything for multi-functioning rooms.  Even if you’re renting a facility, this is the person who knows how your congregation uses a building and what you’ll need in a new facility.

One example of where you’ll need to involve the facilities manager is in discussions with your project management team.  Here are a few questions your facilities manager may want to ask:

  • How can we setup the lighting and HVAC controls so we can save money by making the use of electricity more efficient?
  • How are we accounting for storage?  Consider how you’ll use each room.  If a room is multi-         functioning, decide where you’ll store extra tables and chairs for various room configurations.
  • How will we maintain this new facility?  If we have lights 20-30 feet in the air with pews or theater seats below, how will we replace the bulbs?

Consider the Total Cost

The total cost doesn’t simply include what it will take to build the facility.  Construction costs are just one piece of the overall puzzle.  Construction costs typically don’t include design elements such as theatrical lighting, sound, furniture, décor, flooring, paint, environmental graphics, IT components, etc. You’ll also need to factor in what it will cost to operate and maintain the facility once you’ve moved in.  This includes monthly utilities, maintenance and repairs, janitorial services, and maintenance staff.

Another item to consider is your long-term life cycle planning.  This is your plan for stewarding the new facility and the equipment associated with it so you can maintain and replace items as needed.  Each item has a life cycle or amount of time it will last.  HVAC units eventually stop working.  You’ll need to replace the soundboards and flooring at some point.  Consider the cost of replacing each item and what you should set aside in a capital reserve fund each month so you can easily pay for those replacements when the time comes.  eSPACE provides a free Life Cycle Calculator you can use to start this planning process.

Add up the monthly mortgage payment, what you’ll spend each month to maintain the facility (including insurance costs), and what you need to set aside for capital reserves.  Is that amount something your church can comfortably afford?  If not, now is the time to adjust plans and expectations before you’ve invested any money into the project.

Start Planning for the Capital Campaign

Unless you’ve already been saving for years, you’ll likely need to run a capital campaign to raise money for this project.  Before you announce anything to the congregation, you will need to do careful planning on how and when to cast this vision.  Brad Leeper from Generis offered these tips:

  • Start talking with church staff, leaders (elders, deacons, etc.), major givers, and small groups to align leaders before presenting the campaign to the full congregation.
  • Make sure you’re clear on why you’re doing what you’re doing.  You’ll raise more money by taking a longer view of the capital campaign process.  This is more about creating a culture of generosity and leveraging that cultural change than a short-term campaign.

This planning phase is vital to the success of your building project.  Don’t shortcut or skip anything in this phase.  You’ll end up having to deal with these tasks at some point anyway, so it’s best to handle them now before you’ve invested considerable time and money.

In addition, we have recently developed a FREE Church Facility Evaluator. This simple tool will provide you with a snapshot of some key indicators associated with facility operational costs.  This 2-3 minute evaluation will give you some real time data…based on national averages…as to whether you are GOOD TO GO…or in need of help.

Don’t wait…get started HERE!

Life Cycle Planning – FOR FREE

You all know I am a huge proponent of Capital Reserve Planning…Life Cycle Initiatives…Facility Stewardship. I am such a huge fan that our company invested thousands of dollars developing the Life Cycle Calculator as part of your eSPACE software suite of Facility Management Solutions. I believe every church should have this tool and should have a plan for the inevitability of the future costs related to facilities and capital replacement costs.

As such, our team has really struggled about how to get this in the hands of all churches with a facility.  How do we get them to use it?  How do we help them plan for the future?  What needs to be done?

Well…we have an idea that we believe is the right thing for any and every church.

MAKE IT FREE!

That’s right, effective immediately, the eSPACE Life Cycle Calculator is now FREE.  No cost.  No set up fee.  No maintenance fee. No need to purchase any of our other applications or services.  Just plain old FREE.

We believe that Capital Reserve Planning is that important. We are so passionate about it that we are actually refunding those churches that paid for it originally.

If your church has a facility…or any physical assets (vehicles, A/V equipment, IT equipment, maintenance equipment, etc) that has a life cycle and expected replacement value, then this tool will be a tremendous asset to you and your organization.

Click HERE to get started.

To help you get started with your Capital Reserve Planning make sure to download our FREE eBook to learn more.

Dan Busby (ECFA) on Church Cash Reserves—How Much Is Enough?

I have known Dan Busby from ECFA for a number of years and we have shared speaking platforms on occasion.  I have incredible respect for him and his organization.

Recently Dan reached out to me after seeing our eBook on Capital Reserve Planning.  He asked if he could reference it in his new eBook on a similar topic.  I am honored that ECFA would consider the merit of our thoughts and make reference to them in their information…of course I said yes (DUH). Below is a blog that Dan and Michael Martin posted on the ECFA site and have granted me permission to repost.  Take the time to read this and make sure you download their eBook at the bottom of the post.

Thanks guys!

Guest Blog by Dan Busby and Michael Martin of ECFA

How much cash should our church have set aside in reserve?

This is such a popular question among churches.  (Hint: If you aren’t asking, you should be!)  Why?

Cash reserves are the cushion that ensures:

  • Operating expenses are paid on-time instead of incurring late fees (typically after payables are 45 days late);
  • The church is in compliance with mortgage covenants, and the financial institution does not foreclose on the property;
  • Funds are available to replace worn-out HVAC (can you imagine the air conditioning system becoming history on a Sunday morning in July, there are zero capital replacement reserves, and the only option is to take a special offering to replace the unit?); and
  • The church has the necessary funds ready to open a new site or launch a new ministry instead of starting from scratch.

Back to our question, when determining “how much is enough”, the short answer is there is no one-size-fits-all.  But here are a few essentials every church should consider:

  1. Understand how important cash reserves are to faithful administration of church resources.  Appreciating the need for cash reserves starts with an understanding of faithful administration of God’s resources.

Churches must make cash reserves a priority if they desire to honor God in how they manage church finances.  Cash reserves play an important part in giving the world the right impression of God!

  1. Build cash reserves in good financial times.  Churches in a growth mode should take advantage of opportunities to build cash reserves.  When a church is holding the status quo or is in decline, there are few opportunities to build cash reserves.

Build cash reserve increases into the budget—otherwise there will be no intentionality in the process.  Consider these two approaches:

  1. Project next year’s revenue to be lower than current year expenses.  For example, a church may project the budget for the following year as 90% of the current year revenue.
  1. Include a cash reserves line in the budget.  Include a line-item in the budget for “Additions to Cash Reserves.”  Then, if cash coming in exceeds disbursements, the excess represents an addition to cash reserves.
  1. Segregate cash related to designated funds and mortgage reserves.  An early priority for the use of cash reserves is to be sure that reserves are at least equal to unspent gifts designated (or restricted) for projects.  Borrowing from designated balances to pay church operating expenses is a recipe for disaster.

Example:  A church has cash balances of $300,000. The church has unexpended designated balances of $350,000. The difference generally means that the church has borrowed and spent $50,000 of designated gifts for operating purposes. This $50,000 should be restored as soon as possible.

Capital replacement reserves are important. Reserves for ministry expansion are vital. But without sufficient mortgage reserves, a church may miss a loan payment and be staring at a foreclosure notice. It is a good idea to maintain mortgage reserves over and above the level required by the lender because use of lender-required reserves may create a loan default.

  1. Be specific with cash reserve goals.  Churches are well served to adopt policies requiring reserves at least adequate to cover unexpended designated gifts and debt service reserves. Targets may be appropriate for other reserves such as for capital replacements and ministry expansion.

A cap may be appropriate for operating reserves (other than the reserves relating to designated gifts, mortgage reserves, capital replacements, and ministry expansion). The adequacy of these operating reserves is often measured in the number of months of cash.

  1. Communicate the importance of cash reserves to the congregation.  Having adequate cash reserves does not exhibit a lack of faith but reflects attentiveness to good stewardship. Proactive church administrators communicate both clear measurements and the rationale for the levels of cash reserves.  This can boost congregational confidence for greater giving.

We hope these considerations are a helpful starting point in determining the appropriate level of cash reserves at your church.

For more tips and essentials, check out ECFA’s latest eBook – 9 Essentials of Church Cash Reserve.

For assistance with Life Cycle Planning, download your free copy of 5 Intentional Steps to Establish a Capital Reserve Account.

Fram Oil Filters and Church Facilities

A few years ago, I was introduced to Kevin Folsom, former Director of Facilities and Plant Operations, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas  He wrote a White Paper entitled “sustainable facilities” vs. Sustainable Facilities. This is an excellent article and frankly some of it is over my head…Kevin is one smart dude!!!!

Here is a quote from this article:

There are numerous levels that can be used to go about this, but to start we have to remember our early Physics lessons in high school about the 2nd Law of Thermal Dynamics. Everything we build will decay, but it may last longer if properly maintained. So, here’s a puzzling question…If we build facilities that the natural law causes them to decay at fairly predictable rates throughout its birth to burial, why do we not plan for it?

According to a research project done a few years ago, facilities…any facility…will deteriorate at a rate of 1-4% per year, assuming regular preventive maintenance. However, this rate of deterioration will in most cases more than double if the regular, systematic preventive maintenance is not performed.

So…why do we, as church leaders, avoid addressing and planning for the inevitable? Would you drive your new car and never change the oil until the engine seizes up and then cough over a huge amount of money for a new engine? That does not make any sense to me.

Let’s step back and look at the big picture for a minute. An appropriate preventive maintenance program should be funded on average at 1.5 percent of the CRV (Current Replacement Value) of a facility. Using the Fram Oil Filter analogy and advertisement from 1972, let’s look at how the “pay me now or pay me later” principle might be applied to your facility.

Let’s assume you put 15,000 miles a year on your $25,000 car…you are prudent and change your oil at a minimum of every 5,000 miles…and the average oil change costs $50.00. That would be $150.00 a year.  In addition, let’s assume you have 60,000 mile tires, meaning you should get 4 years of wear (life cycle).  If the tires cost $150 each, that would be $600 or $150 per year.  There is some other miscellaneous filters, belts, etc that need to be replaced every year or accounted for every X number of years.  Let’s assume that we need to allocate another $100a year for those items.  That totals $400 of “preventive maintenance” on your car. Based on the above assumed purchase value, we would invest 1.5% of the value annually to keep the car running smooth.  Is there anyone out there that thinks it is a waste of time or money so spend $400 (1.5% of the value) each year to maintain your vehicle and extend its useful life?

Do you see a pattern here?

Here is another factor to consider.  If your $25,000 car has a life expectancy of 8 year (15,000 miles for 8 years, for a total of 120,000 miles), how much do you need to set aside to replace the car?  We know we need to invest $400 +/- annually to keep it running, but that money is going to be spent and we sill need to plan for the new vehicle in 8 years.

If I make the assumption that vehicles are going to experience a 5% cost inflation per year (compounding) then the cost of that replacement vehicle will be $36,938 which means I need to set aside $4,617 each year in a “capital reserve/life cycle” account.

So, if we are inclined to subscribe to the above 2 models for maintaining and replacing your vehicles, does it not make sense to do the same for your facilities?  God has entrusted you to steward them…right? If so, to quote Sean Connery in The Untouchables, “What are you prepared to do?”

Where's the Money to Fix This?

A few weeks ago I received a copy of the Church Finance Today newsletter. The lead article really caught my attention and I have used it as the title of this post.  Given my focus and dogma on the topic of Facility Stewardship, I had to read on!

The article was full of great thoughts and comments…it even had a quote from yours truly (Tim Cool) which was a little bit of a surprise…a pleasant surprise.  You will want to read the article for yourself, but here are some thoughts from the article.

They provided 6 Tips to help get started in developing an intentional and proactive plan for long term care:

  1. Avoid the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it mentality.
  2. Don’t ignore “out of sight, out of mind” items.
  3. Good Stewardship includes physical assets.
  4. Tap experts to assess your needs.
  5. Create a capital reserve account even if you start small.
  6. Work towards your plan every year.

These are great tips…and I especially LOVE # 3.

One of the other quotes by the author, Bobby Ross, Jr., really seals the deal for me and is exactly the drum I continue to beat:

Every air-conditioning unit, every piece of carpet, every window, every light and the entire roof will need to be replaced at some point. It’s vital for leaders to recognize all of it needs to be replaced sooner or later. And setting funds aside now may avoid more painful scenarios later – like a church that needs to rent temporary worship space while its air conditioning gets fixed*

It is not a matter of IF they will be replaced.  It is a matter of WHEN and HOW will you fund it.

Intentional churches plan for the inevitable!

A few weeks ago, our team released the first of its kind LIFE CYCLE CALCULATOR. If you are serious about getting started with a Capital Reserve Plan…then this tool is the right first step.  Click HERE to get started.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of Church Finance Today. Used with permission.

Focus or Frenzy?

I (Jen Erwin, Onboarding Specialist for Cool Solutions Group) recently read the following excerpt from Dr. David Jeremiah:

“It’s happened to everyone: You go online – to make a single purchase – and an hour and many clicks later you are on a totally unrelated website wondering how you got there. We sometimes act like small children who are attracted by bright lights and loud noises. What we do externally often bears little resemblance to what we intended to do internally.”

And even though that last sentence punched me in the gut, I couldn’t stop myself from reading it again and again: What we do externally often bears little resemblance to what we intended to do internally.

I know that eSPACE doesn’t ascribe to the theory of frenzy. We respect and value order and believe that’s how we, ultimately, were designed to operate at peak performance.

Same goes for your facility: If you’re aimlessly putting out fires instead of strategically planning for appropriate upkeep through careful, calculated and poignant budgeting, what happens around you may begin to show little resemblance to your original intention.

That’s why our team created the Life Cycle Calculator.

Capital Reserves? Check!

Asset Tracking? Check!

Life Cycle Projections? Check!

Addressing Inflation Factors? Check!

ORDER. (We love it!)

So, why stand back and throw stones (knee-jerk reaction) at the bad guy (lack of planning, deteriorating facility) instead of taking the upper hand to wrangle him into submission (budget appropriate funds needed to sustain)? You have control here! “Intentional” is more than just a buzzword at eSPACE – it’s a means by which effective facility management and stewardship is tackled.

It’s time to focus – and it’s time to let your internal intention create external results.

Make sure to download your FREE copy of 5 Intentional Steps to Establish a Capital Reserve Account.

5 Intentional Steps to Establish a Capital Reserve Account

If you are reading this post, then your organization likely owns or utilizes a facility. Given that, there are some facts about the life cycle and condition of your facilities that you need to be aware of:

  1. All buildings deteriorate at a rate of 1-4% per year
  2. As such, nearly every physical component of your facility will be replaced or have a major overhaul
  3. The rate of deterioration can more than double if we do not stay current with the natural rate of deterioration
  4. All of the above will require dollars

So the big questions are…how much money will be needed and when.

If you cannot definitely answer either part of that question, then we have the right resource to help you better develop a long term life cycle and capital reserve plan (and it is FREE):

5 Intentional Steps to Establish a Capital Reserve Account

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

What’s in the eBook?

  1. Easy to understand concepts of Capital Reserves
  2. Compelling statistics about the cost of facility ownership
  3. Intentional steps to get you on the right path
  4. Tools to get you started

This FREE e-Book helps you implement the 5 steps necessary to start the process of Life Cycle and Capital Reserve planning.  Click HERE to download your copy.

Also, don’t forget to check out the eSPACE Event Scheduler and Work Order Management tools to help you be efficient, effective and intentional with your Facility Stewardship.