Facility Stewardship – What Is It?

For over 10 years, you have seen me refer to facility stewardship. For some of you this may be still be a new concept. You know what a facility is and you are familiar with stewardship…but how do the 2 go together? I am glad you asked…

Let’s first look at the definition of each:

FACILITY (ies) – something designed, built, installed, etc., to serve a specific function affording a convenience or service.

STEWARDSHIP – (act of being a STEWARD) – a person who manages another’s property or financial affairs; one who administers anything as the agent of another or others.

If you have grown up in the church or been involved in church for any period of time, you have heard the term “stewardship”…and I am sure that in almost every case, it revolved around money or raising money. In these cases, we are generally talking about financial stewardship which is critical to our spiritual life as well as the life of our ministries.

The word “money” is used over 140 times and if you add terms such as “gold” and “silver” the number is huge. For example, financial matters are mentioned more often in the Bible than prayer, healing, and mercy.

But stewardship is not just about money and finances…but refers to (as its definition above indicates) the caring for or oversight of something of someone else’s. The EPA has a section on their website that explains “Environmental Stewardship”. They define it as:

Environmental stewardship is the responsibility for environmental quality shared by all those whose actions affect the environment.

So, how do we apply this to our ministry facilities? Do we really believe that God has entrusted these to us, thus making us stewards of their care and oversight? As I have shared before, I have witnessed churches and ministries spending millions of dollars in the construction and renovation of their facilities…but then fail to maintain them (i.e. steward them). They wave the banner of “stewardship” when raising money to build them…but then neglect their care, management and maintenance. So, the following is a list of attributes that I believe are part of “Facility Stewardship”:

  • Proper cleaning
  • Systematic and proactive Preventive Maintenance
  • Proactive Capital Reserve Account planning
  • Life Cycle analysis and planning
  • Development of a systematic painting plan
  • Proper facility scheduling – this is a key element of stewarding the facility…they were meant to be used
  • Sustainability implementation
  • Vigilant monitoring of operational costs
  • Implementation of energy saving processes (i.e. HVAC interface with a Building Automation System or WiFi thermostats of better yet)
  • Proactive cataloging of facility components and tracking of work orders and service requests

With the above as a backdrop, how are you doing with your Facility Stewardship? What can you implement immediately that would make you a better steward?


HVAC Solutions – FREE eBOOK

Can we all agree that HVAC operations, maintenance, scheduling, and replacement are one of the LARGEST expenditures, both in dollars and operation/manpower resources, that your church experiences?

Utility bills, HVAC maintenance, and HVAC replacement are significant costs for most churches. however, if we take the time to plan our energy usage carefully, we have the ability to reduce costs. If we reduce the amount of run-time, we can increase the life of our units if that is also coupled with proactive intentional maintenance. This frees up money to spend on other ministry endeavors.

Nearly every church in the county has some form of heating, cooling and ventilation system; as such, these issue are universal. They not exclusive to those in Miami or Anchorage.

“If we take the time to plan our energy usage carefully, we have the ability to reduce costs.”

In light of that, we have just released a new FREE eBook called HVAC Solutions: Taking control of your HVAC to Reduce Energy Costs, Extend Life Cycle, and Increase Operational Efficiency“.

This invaluable resource will help you better understand:

  1. The impact of your HVAC usage on your utility costs
  2. How maintaining and replacing HVAC units can get expensive
  3. Ways your facility staff could spend their time elsewhere
  4. That functioning HVAC units make people happy

We will also explore how to reduce energy costs and extend the life of your HVAC units by adopting more effective behaviors and the use of control systems.

Download your FREE copy today!


Utility bills, HVAC maintenance, and HVAC replacement are significant costs for most churches. HVAC usage can be attributed to 50-75% of your utility bills and HVAC maintenance and replace are your second or third largest capital expenditure not to mention the cost of staff to constantly change settings for events. If you are looking for a means by which to increase operational efficiency and control costs, then this resource is a MUST read.

JUST RELEASED: Event Registration, Ticketing and Payment Processing

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!

Cool Solutions Group and eSPACE has just released a new “product” as part of our suite of Facility Management Software. This new offering continues to be driven by our passion to “assist organizations to be EFFECTIVE, EFFICIENT and INTENTIONAL with the facilities they have been entrusted to steward.” 

One of the key factors of Facility Stewardship is the utilization of a facility. 

Our facilities are of little merit if they are not used to further the vision and mission of our churches and organizations.”

Our facilities are of little merit if they are not used to further the vision and mission of our churches and organizations. Buildings are designed and built to fulfill a purpose…which must be to accommodate effective and intentional ministry. If that is not so, then why have a facility? That is the primary reason we developed eSPACE

A component of effective facility usage is scheduling and managing events…and allowing people to register for events.  To that end, we are so excited to announce the release of the eSPACE Event Registration tool as part of the Event Management component of eSPACE.  Some of the features include:

  1. Event Registration
  2. Website Integration with Full Customization of Event Forms/Templates
  3. Multiple Venue Process and Workflow
  4. “Wait List” Capability
  5. Multiple Tiers of Ticketing, including FREE and Paid
  6. Check-in using Tickets
  7. Payment Processing of Event Registration Fees
  8. Ability to Sell Products as Part of a Event Registration (i.e. Books, T-shirts, CD’s, etc.)

In addition, we have a bonus that is included…ONLINE GIVING.  We have researched and learned that many organizations prefer to offer their event registration payments with the same online giving component.  Now you can…all within eSPACE.

To learn more, check out this introductory video and contact us to see how our full suite of Facility Management services and products can help you be more efficient, effective and intentional!


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. Download our FREE guide to learn more. 

CAPITAL RESERVE PLANNING

Does VBS Impact Facility Costs?

We recently partnered with Lauren Hunter from Church Tech Today to do some research on the operational impact to church budgets related to the use of the facility for Vacation Bible School. I had not given much thought to this and so when Lauren asked the question, I kicked myself since I didn’t already know the answers.

You can find her entire post HERE…but here are a few points that really stuck out to me.  Most churches…

…did not see a rise in insurance costs

…had some extra trash and water expenses

…had some carpet cleaning and facilities wear and tear that wasn’t optimal but was tolerable

…were willing to pay for background checks to ensure the safety of children

…a few of the church polled no longer offered VBS due to expense or other ministry objectives

But here was the big one for me…most, if not ALL of the churches that our team interviewed that still provided VBS as a church function, felt that the facilities costs involved were more than worth it to share the Gospel with children.

While I am a big fan of operational and budget efficiency…at the end of the day, our ministry facilities are still meant to be a tool to further the gospel and minister to people. Period!

Planning every church event, including Vacation Bible School, involves a myriad of details, including coordinating with multiple departments, reserving rooms and/or services, managing expenses, and communicating the event to potential attendees. Here we provide a simple and effective guide to understanding all the factors the influence event success and how to be INTENTIONAL and IMPACTFUL.

 

Do You Need a "COOL" Solution?

I just love our company name…COOL SOLUTIONS GROUP! When we started the firm in 2008, our branding consultant said that we just had to use my last name in the name of the company.  Since that time, the COOL part has taken on more significance related to the products and services we provide and much less about my name, for which I am thankful.

We do offer some very “cool” solutions and your church or organization may very well be benefited by one of them…maybe multiple solutions.

Before I share with you the various solutions, let me reiterate the WHY we offer these solutions:

To assist organizations be effective, efficient and intentional with the facilities they have been entrusted to steward.

All of who we are and what we offer is to fulfill that vision and mission. Here is the WHAT we do:

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Intentional Workshop This is an intense process to explore the WHO (are you), WHY (do you exist and do things the way you do), WHAT (is the right tool to fulfill your vision/mission). The INTENTIONAL WORKSHOP includes:

  • Vision Assessment
  • Program Study
  • Master Planning
  • Budget Analysis
  • Concept Design
  • Preliminary Project Budget Projections

Project ManagementIf you are considering a facility expansion of building project, don’t go it alone. Our team of facility specialists have over 30 years of project experience and can walk side-by-side your team to complete your project so that you can continue to focus on ministry.

Existing Facility Assessmentsthese assessment are a tremendous tool to assist churches evaluate:

  • Facility Condition
  • Life Cycle Management
  • Deferred Maintenance
  • Operational Efficiency and Bench marking
  • “Fresh Eyes” Assessment
  • Capital Reserve Planning

We are passionate about assisting organizations be as effective and efficient as possible. Check us out and then CONTACT us to see how we can partner with you!

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3 "Must Have" Attributes of a Software Provider

Does anyone reading this article not use software for some aspect of your life?  Work, bill payments, contributions, personal, web surfing, gaming, photo storage, reading books, in your car, on your phone, etc, etc, etc?

If you can truly say that you do not use software in any component of your life, you either live in a cave (so not sure how you could even read this) or are delusional…because, even if you do not have software on your computer, the services you use and stores you frequent use software in some form or fashion. Software is an integral part of modern culture, society and life in general.  It is everywhere.

Most of you know that I am personally a relative novice when it comes to software.  I am a facility guy.  But our company cropped-eSpace_Logo.pngprovides a best-in-class SaaS (Software as a Service) based solution for Facility Management effectiveness…eSPACE.

Given that, I have invested a great deal of myself into understanding the SaaS world of software and studied what makes for great customer experiences…which in the end…is the the primary reason to offer a SaaS product.  eSPACE helps our company realize the WHY of our existence:

WHY = To assist organizations be effective, efficient and intentional with the facilities they have been entrusted to steward.

What I have learned is that the WHY is our driving force, but it must be coupled with our HOW which is greatly driven by the needs of those we serve and provide products and services…YOU!

To that end, here are 3 MUST HAVE attributes that we have adopted that make eSPACE the best (and possibly only) 3-in-1 Facility Management Software on the market:

  1. Agile – “able to move quickly and easily” – we live in a microwave age…we want what we want NOW. We are accustomed to getting what we want at the click of a button or a keystroke. Companies that are still practicing a development method of quarterly releases or large roll outs 1-2 times a year is waning.  We want our software companies to move quickly…we want them to be agile. Let me put this into perspective.  In the first 10 months of 2016, the eSPACE development team has completed 226  minor feature additions or enhancements ( what we call “quick picks” for items that can be done in less than 4 hours). In addition, that team has released 27 major feature releases (that take more than 4 hours) and 8 projects (feature enhancements that require multiple days/weeks)…and about 180 “bug” fixes.   That is a ton of new features, enhancements and support that provide expedited results and happy clients.
  2. Listening – of the incredible amount of development activities listed above, nearly 90% of all of these items are subscriber/client driven. Now, isn’t that a breathe of fresh air.  A company and their technical team that is actually listening to their clients instead of just sitting in a conference coming up with what THEY this is cool and fun. I have learned that no matter how COOL (pun intended) our team thinks something might be, if it does not meet an expressed need of our clients and prospective clients, it is not worth adding to the application.
  3. Customer Service – I could write an entire post on this. I could tell you about other suppliers who do not offer direct phone support, or take days or weeks to respond or NEVER respond.  I could list dozens of our new clients that have left companies for that very reason.  But what I want to share with you is what we do…not what others don’t. To date i 2016, we have responded to nearly 1,100 customer service tickets with almost 40% of those being resolved on the first contact with our customer service team. In addition, our average “close” time (the amount of time to address, resolve and close a ticket) is about 1/2 a day.  That is freaking awesome.  I wish I could get some of the companies I use to respond at that rate. According to Forrester Research, “45% of US consumers will abandon an online transaction if their questions or concerns are not addressed quickly.”  Maybe that explains why our churn rate has been well below .6% per month for the majority of 2016.

Are the above interactions and attributes important to you?  Are you getting that from your Event/Facility Scheduler, Work Order Management of HVAC Integration providers?  If not…give us a look.

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Facility Management Goes MOBILE!

After numerous requests and extensive hours of development…it is finally here.

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That’s right, we have an APP for that!

Cool Solutions Group and eSPACE are so excited to announce the release of the mobile app for our Work Order Management software.  We find that facility managers and their staff are not sitting at a desk all day…at least they shouldn’t be.  They are on the grounds, in the building, on the roof or inside a piece of equipment.  In light of that, they need immediate access to their work order management and facility management system.  Now they can!

eSPACE – Work Order Management is a free app to be used by clients of eSPACE (www.eSPACE.cool). This app allows you to manage your work orders on the go. Setup is quick and easy allowing you and your staff to be up and running in minutes. Not a client yet? Try us free for 30 days

Get your FREE app at either the iTunes App Store or Google Play Store:

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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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Do You Have a Lack of Slack?

What is “slack” and why do you need it?

Here are 4 variations on how you might use the word SLACK:

  1. Lazy…someone who does not get things done. – “Your slack” or “Don’t slack off”
  2. Give me a break. – “Cut me some slack”
  3. Create “margin”. – “Give the rope a little slack”
  4. Real Time Messaging Software – #slack (The the way our team uses #slack a TON…love this product…thank you Michael Hyatt for putting us on to it a couple years ago)

I was recently reading a blog by my favorite blogger…Seth Godin…and he referenced “slack” using a variation on #3 above.  I have never used it this way…but it works.  Below is what he said (or you can read it on his blog HERE)

PROBLEMS

Avoiding a problem with foresight and good design is a cheap, highly leveraged way to do your work.

Extinguishing a problem before it gets expensive and difficult is almost as good, and far better than paying a premium when there’s an emergency.

Fretting about an impending problem, worrying about it, imagining the implications of it… all of this is worthless.

The magic of slack (a little extra time in the chain, a few extra dollars in the bank) is that it gives you the resources to stop and avoid a problem or fix it when it’s small. The over-optimized organization misunderstands the value of slack, so it always waits until something is a screaming emergency, because it doesn’t think it has a moment to spare. Expensive.

Action is almost always cheaper now than it is later.

This got me thinking about how most churches and other organizations do not account for slack in their facility management or facility stewardship initiates. In this context, slack = margin.

In his excellent book, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, Richard Swenson, M.D. describes margin (i.e. slack) like this:

Margin is the space between our load and our limits. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating.

Part of the above references “time” and how we need to provide margin/slack in our calendar to avoid burnout and overload.  But the area highlighted is very real in facility management. What struck me is that this principle is relevant across a myriad of applications for a facility manager or other person responsible with stewarding their facilities.  Here are a few applications:

  1. The most important slack is time…I agree with that.  If your team is working 6-7 days a week with little to no down time…you need some slack.
  2. If your calendar is so full with activities that you do not have the time to prepare, lead, plan, forecast and the like…you need some slack.
  3. If your budget is so tight that any deviation will send you into a tail spin…you need some slack.
  4. Monetarily…if your organization does not have a Capital Reserve fund that is growing to prepare you for future known expenses (You will replace every HVAC unit…you will replace every roof…you will replace all flooring. These are FACTS of facility life cycle.)…you need a lot of SLACK.

Do you need some slack?  Are you or your facilities suffering from a lack of slack?

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4 Tips to Successful Facility Management

Are you engaged in the art and science of Facility Management?  You may not realize it, but if you are a homeowner, you are a facility manager.  So my guess is that the majority of those reading this post are technically involved in the role of a facility manager.  Some of us are engaged in the “profession” of Facility Management while others of us are responsible for the stewarding of facilities at a different level or capacity.  Given that, these 4 tips are relevant to each one of us.

As I have studied Facility Management and operations, I have seen a significant dichotomy between those whose facilities are functioning at peak levels and others that…well…not so much (and I will leave it at that!).  I have observed some very specific traits in both camps and I have found that they are almost always polar opposites of each other.  The well run facilities do “X” and those on the other end of the spectrum do NOT do “X”. In most cases there is a direct correlation of what is done…and the exact opposite.

There are 4 primary areas in which the top producers invest their time.  They take these seriously and make the time to engage in them.  They are intentional.  They are proactive.

Here are the 4 Tips to Successful Facility Management that we have observed:

LEARN – I have never met a successful Facility Manager that knew everything there was to know or was up to date on the most current means, methods or tools available…but they constantly were seeking to learn. With accessibility to the internet and our ability to “Google” just about anything, there are no excuses to not be constantly learning. Not sure where to start?  Here are some ideas for you:FM-Pie-e1306962773693

  1. Facilities Management & Real Estate by Michel Theriault – This is a tremendous resource book and a must have for any facility manager.
  2. The Facility Management Handbook by David Cotts (and others) – Again, a great resource book.
  3. Church Facility Stewardship Manual by Tim Cool – Sorry to be self-promoting…but if you work in a church or other non-profit, you REALLY need to get this manual.
  4. FacilitesNet – This is a great online resource with blogs, articles and other great information.
  5. HPAC Engineering – This is not a typo…it is HPAC and not HVAC for this online tool.  Great input on your heating and cooling systems.
  6. Cleaning & Maintenance Management – We all have to clean our facilities…so why not learn what others are doing.

ENGAGE – None of us were meant to go it alone.  We need to engage with others to help us in our journey…and hopefully you will become the trusted advisor to the next generation of proactive facility professionals.  Here are some suggestions of where to engage:

  1. International Facility Managers Association – In my opinion, this in the best trade association for facility managers.  I have been a member for years and hands down, they produce the best resource materials and training.
  2. FacilitesNet – The organization behind the above online data also have an association.
  3. The Church Network – FastTrack – This one day event is geared toward church facilities managers.  Both you and your church administrator need to attend.
  4. Local Facility Managers Groups – I don’t have links to all of the local organizations, I assure you they are out there.  For instance, Minnesota has the “Minnesota Association of Church Facility Managers”  and I know of small groups in Greenville, SC and Charlotte, NC that get together regularly to share and support each other. Do a little homework…or start your own group.

PLAN – What is the old adage…“People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.”  This is so true!!! As I have written before, this is really what separates the effectiveness and efficiency of facilities.  Are they proactive or reactive?  Are they planning for the future or just dealing with the urgent? If you need a primer to help get you started, download this FREE e-Book.  You will want to get this!

TOOLS – While you can take a hammer to drive a lag-bolt, I think we would all agree there is a better “tool” for that job.  So, what tools are you using to manage your facilities?  How do you track and process work orders?  How do you increase efficiency within your team?  Are you using tools to help increase your energy efficiency?  How about space utilization and preventive maintenance planning?  Do you have a tool to project your Capital Reserve expenditures? Here are some tools to consider:

  1. Life Cycle Calculator – This free tool is incredibly helpful in projecting your future costs.
  2. Best Practices Checklist – This is a preliminary “checklist” of items that should be on every church’s “radar” as a minimum baseline for maintaining their facilities.
  3. Work Order Management software – Be intentional with your work order processing, PM, Equipment tracking, Vendor Management and Inventory Management.
  4. Event and Room Scheduling software – Our facilities were intended to be used…but that use must be planned and properly coordinated.  You need to avoid the “Chinese fire-drill” that is far too common.
  5. HVAC Integration with Event Scheduler – Most churches we work with have 2 facility commonalities: 1) They have HVAC systems 2) They have spaces/rooms they need to manage for events and meetings. Why would you not integrate those 2 activities to increase efficiency and save money on utility bills?

That is a lot of information, I know. What will you do with it?  Information with out implementation is unproductive.  I encourage you to be INTENTIONAL and start right now to be the best facility professional your organization has ever had.  You can do it!

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