A while back, Gary Nicholson, church architect formerly with LifeWay in Nashville, wrote a blog about 9 diseases of church facilities. Since that post, our researchers have determined that there are additional diseases that many church facilities…and those involved in church facility care and development…may suffer from.
I thought you would enjoy “playing doctor” and diagnose if your facilities suffer from any of these ailments.
Diseases of the Church Facility
Just as our bodies contract diseases that can lead to problems and cause pain and discomfort, many diseases can infect church facilities so that the church can experience functional problems and great discomfort. Rarely are these merely cosmetic, but are often outward signs of much more deep seeded problems. Examples include:
1. Growing Pains – Consistently filling of a space or spaces in the church to beyond eighty percent, often a positive sign of growing numbers in a church. If not addressed, can become a limitation and lead to stunted growth. The remedy is not always to build new space, but to examine the possibilities of a.) Redistributing the people into underutilized areas, b.) Utilizing the space in an additional session at a different hour or time slot, or c.) Considering adding space that allows for future growth.
2. Bumpus Maximus – When too many people are in your church foyer or lobby. Occurs primarily between services and Bible study sessions. Made worse when the preacher doesn’t stop preaching on time and people are waiting in the foyer to get into the next service when the previous service is not yet over, so that people are exiting the worship center at the same time others are trying to enter (Can be made even worse when the entire congregation ate nothing but beans the night before at the annual world hunger banquet).
3. Circulatory Disease – when hallways and corridors are clogged or jammed full of people so that movement becomes difficult. Worst in cases where multiple services are occurring so that there is traffic both coming and going in the halls at the same time. Easily rectified by a good church squabble to thin the flock and reduce the numbers, leaving only the few who will not leave regardless of the dysfunction in the fellowship.
4. Architectural Senility – A rather sad state whereby antiquated facilities relate to the past much more than the present. Can take on many forms. One often cited example is extremely small rooms designed for adult Bible study groups of 6-8 people instead of today’s larger groups, or built for activities that never materialize, like a recreation facility that no one uses. Another example is a very small platform with room for piano and organ and no other instruments because that was the way church was done in the 1950’s.
5. Flashback Syndrome – The visual state of a room that induces instant flashbacks in a person who enters, usually to the 1970’s or some other era, by the nature of the color scheme and patterns, such as shag carpet with harvest gold, or avocado green color schemes. Symptoms may also include floral wall paper, or garish plaids and mauve color schemes from the eighties, etc. Communicates that the members are out of touch with the present, or simply do not think church is important enough to bother updating the environment.
6. Architectural Vertigo – When a church facility has been designed with no sense of balance such as between the spaces allotted for areas such as building a huge worship center without regard for the space to balance it with children’s program space, or building without adequate parking. The result is often the communication of an unintended message such as: Bible study is not important, or even that we don’t care about kids.
7. “Scatter brain” Syndrome (scatterus incognito) – A common ailment where the various age groups and programs are not arranged in any logical order and finding the appropriate room becomes extremely difficult for new or infrequent attendees.
8. Religious Edifice Confusionitis – When a congregation builds using architectural styles or trappings from a different religion while declaring it to be “the way a church ought to look.” Greek and Roman temple forms used in nineteenth and twentieth century church buildings are often confused as “Christian”, when actually they were created as tributes to ancient gods like Aphrodite and Zeus. Makes people wonder if you know why the church even exists.
9. Pave-it-all Landscapeosis – A disease often seen in churches that have taken the desire for a low-maintenance landscape plan to the ultimate level. Everything (except the cemetery) is paved. Asphalt has replaced the grass all the way up the building with no room for landscaping because, well, that’s the point: They don’t want to have to maintain a landscape. It has an unattractive appearance, but at least it they don’t have to do anything to take care of it.
10. Life Cycle Anemia – This is a very serious disease that affects the majority of churches in America. It is cause by a lack of planning for the future and not setting aside ample funds for Capital Reserves. The reality is that you will replace many of the building components of your buildings…PERIOD! You will replace the roof. You will replace all the HVAC equipment. You will replace all the carpet. So, to avoid this serious condition, plan accordingly.
11. Committee Atrophy – When a committee can not move forward or is stuck in the sister disease of Paralysis by Analysis, you may have to take serious action. In fact this disease often requires you to go all “Medieval” on the committee. Unfortunately, this are not many cures to this other than slicing and dicing.
12. Cheapitis – Cheap is TOO Expensive. I will not belabor this condition…check out last week’s blog HERE
Infected with one or more? The cure can be a lot of hard work, but so worth the effort to be free of such maladies and able to function as a church should. I recommend diagnosis by an expert in church such diseases.
“It is unwise to pay too much, but it is worse to pay too little.
The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot … it can’t be done. When you deal with the lowest bidder, it is wise to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better!”
John Ruskin (1819-1900)
This simple statement regarding cost was written in the late 1800s, but it still holds true today. The design, construction and maintenance industry is full of companies who claim to offer discount services, when in reality they perform services that actually cost us more in the long run.
Designing, building and maintaining a complex commercial building, like our churches, cannot be done with low cost/cheap as the primary qualifier in the purchasing matrix. I am not suggesting that just because someone’s price is higher that you are getting a better value…but to have a paradigm that is exclusively bent on CHEAP, is headed for expensive long term ramifications. I recently heard a radio ad where the store owner was quoting a customer who said that she was “too poor to buy cheap.” That thought, coupled with the above quote, is a concept that most of us never fully grasp. I must admit that I still go to the clearance rack and pick out a style or size that is not exactly what I want…I buy it…then it sits in the closet, never to be worn. But hey, I got quite the “deal”.
Can you relate?
Now, do not get me wrong, I believe in being prudent. In fact I wrote about it last week HERE. But prudence does not mean buying something that is “cheap” or the lowest “price/bid” only because we think it will save us money initially. I have found that in most cases, the lowest “cost” comes with a price. The “value” of the purchase is usually commensurate with the price…LOW. Let me give you a real life example. I went to Staples the other day to get some printer paper. They had a sale on paper…about $3.00 for a ream…which is 1/2 of the going rate of what I usually buy. So I bought some…thinking how smart I was. Well, when I actually started to use the paper, I realized that it was a paper-weight less than I usually use and the paper kept curling from the humidity in the office or when it had a lot of ink covering the paper. It also was not as bright white as I would want to use to give a client. So…was that a smart purchase or not? The paper is sitting under my printer and I only grab it when I need “scrap” paper. This cheap paper cost me a second trip to Staples to buy the paper that actually met my needs.
What did this escapade actually “cost” me:
1. The initial “deal” purchase – I paid money for the paper
2. The personal frustration with the quality of paper and the horror of what my presentations would have looked like if I used that paper with a client
3. Extra time to drive back to Staples…which equates to lost opportunity time for serving clients or spending time with the family
4. Additional gasoline and wear and tear on my vehicle
5. The cost of the purchase of the right paper
6. Did I mention the TIME this all took?!?!
So, the next time you are making a buying decision…count ALL the potential cost of that “cheap” decision…it will surprise you. There is nothing wrong with buying a lower priced product or service, if it has the “value” you desire…otherwise you are just buying cheap.
I have been assisting churches for nearly 30 years plan and develop their ministry facilities. We have been part of developing over 4 Million Square feet of ministry facilities and every one of them had a budget.
As one involved in the development of physical facilities for churches, you may think that the most common questions would be:
- How many seats do we need?
- How many kids’ classes do we need?
- What material should we use for the exterior?
- Which design firm or general contractor should we use?
- How long will it take?
- What is the right tool for our ministry? (I WISH this was actually asked more often!!!)
While all of the above questions are critical, they are not usually the most commonly asked question.
The most common question or underlying question is – What can we afford?!?!?
I have never met a church that did not have budget constraints. When I find that one church that does not have a budget, I hope to be a part of that project so I can retire after its completion…or at least be able to pay for the triplet’s college.
Besides having a budget, I have never worked with a church that did not have either cash or loans to pay for the development of their facilities. In today’s culture, I do not know of many architects, contractors, engineers, AVL integrator, Owner’s Reps, furniture suppliers, or land owners that are willing to accept manna or sheep or goats as collateral for the payment of their products and services. This means that the underlying component of every project is how to pay for it. This may sound completely nonspiritual to many…but it is the fact!
I heard a quote that has been attributed to Max Dupree, former CEO of Herman Miller and leadership guru that put an exclamation point on this for me:
“Even if Angels ran the company, they would need to make a profit.”
That may sound crass to you, but think about the connotation of this. He’s associating the need to be fiscally responsible…regardless who is at the helm of the organization. Financial stewardship – Prudence (a word we do not use enough) – is the foundation for any initiative that an organization undertakes. It has to be. I know, I know…what about faith…what about trust…what about vision and mission? I am not discounting those, in fact, I believe that prudence is at the heart of all of these.
Think of prudence in this way. At its core, it can be defined as good judgment or wisdom gained from experience and knowledge, expressed in a realistic attitude. Prudence, however, is not the same as grave caution or wariness concerned only with preserving the status quo.
What is the Biblical perspective on this? I could quote you dozens of scriptures related to prudence…but you can research these on your own. (Prov 12:23, Prov 15:24, Prov 14:15, Prov 6:8, Prov 10:5, etc). The most common scripture about prudence…when associated with “building” something is Luke 14: 28:
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?”
While this verse has been used…and possibly abused…by church leaders to defend a point of view, I believe it is 100% correct and applicable…especially if you are seriously looking at a facility expansion or building initiative.
Start the process by having a realistic understanding of what you can afford. That does not mean you do not apply a factor of faith and stretching…but it does mean being prudent.
This past week I enjoyed some mic time with William Vanderbloemen from Vanderbloemen Search Group. If you are not familiar with William then your church may not have needed to hire a new staff person in the last 5-7 years. William leads a team of the best “Executive Search” professionals in the church space today. He has the heart of a pastor (which he was for many years…and very successful I may add) and the drive of a serial entrepreneur. What a GREAT combination!
- > How churches can care for their existing buildings
- > 3 primary ways churches should think through their facility stewardship (management) initiative
- > Whether a church should own their own facility
- > Being proactive and reactive to extend the life cycle of a building and save money in the long-term
- > Most recent trends in church facility planning
- > Effective and affordable facility planning for churches
Click HERE to visit the podcast site from “Vandercast” or click below to listen NOW!
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:
- Facilities Management & Real Estate by Michel Theriault – This is a tremendous resource book and a must have for any facility manager.
- The Facility Management Handbook by David Cotts (and others) – Again, a great resource book.
- 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.
- FacilitesNet – This is a great online resource with blogs, articles and other great information.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- FacilitesNet – The organization behind the above online data also have an association.
- The Church Network – FastTrack – This one day event is geared toward church facilities managers. Both you and your church administrator need to attend.
- 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:
- Life Cycle Calculator – This free tool is incredibly helpful in projecting your future costs.
- 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.
- Work Order Management software – Be intentional with your work order processing, PM, Equipment tracking, Vendor Management and Inventory Management.
- 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.
- 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!
Last week we looked at how to consider what is in our hand in lieu of making excuses. This continues to challenge me personally and I hope it does you as well. To me, this kind of paradigm shift is at the heart of stewardship…regardless if it is financial stewardship or Facility Stewardship. It requires intentionality to steward what has been entrusted to you..and to do it well. There is no room in any form of stewardship for excuses. Stewardship is not passive nor can a stewardship mantra be devised but a plan of action never implemented.
I am going to add one more nuance to stewardship that may seem crass (then again, would you expect anything less from me) but I believe there are legitimate Biblical and moral cases to be made around this statement:
“Intentional Stewardship produces a Return On Investment”
At first glance/reading of that, you may think I am trying to commoditize the concept of stewardship or make it “worldly.” Humor me for a moment. Read the below passage from Matthew 25…it will only take 30 seconds:
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip. “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money. “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’ “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together! ’ “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’ “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’
That scripture is likely the most used passage when addressing “talents” or stewardship. I am sure you saw it…but the man expected a return on his investment. I left off the verse where the man reprimands the servant that buried the one bag of silver…because my focus is on what IS expected…not the opposite.
A “return” is the yield from something that has been invested into.
To “invest” is to allocate a resource (such as time, money, effort) in the expectation of some benefit in the future.
Stewardship is all about allocating resources…so why would we not expect a return on that investment. Here are some “Stewardship” types and the expected or anticipated return.
What kind of Return on Investment are you getting from your Facility Stewardship plan?
I have been blessed to work with hundreds of churches during my career. I love serving the church. I do not subscribe to the nay-sayers that keep telling us that the church is dead or dying. However, I have seen (and continue to see) lots of excuses for inaction in churches. I realize that this is not systemic to just churches…but rather churches are made of flawed humans, and as humans we tend to make excuses. Here are some of the common things:
We can’t do X,Y and Z because…
Our church is not large enough
We don’t have enough budget
Our people are not ready (oh, really)
We don’t have the right staff
We don’t want to rock the boat
We will get around to it (here is your personal Round Tuit)
Let me give you a Biblical example of a prime “excuse maker”. In John 5, there’s a story about a man who I believe represents a lot of people who refuse to change and make excuses to justify it.
During a Jewish feast in Jerusalem, Jesus visited the Bethesda pool where sick people gathered, hoping to get healed. One of the people waiting to get healed was a man who had been crippled for 38 years. When Jesus saw him, He asked if he wanted to be healed.
To me, the man’s answer tells us why he hadn’t been healed in 38 years. He said, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred.” Bottom line, the man was avoiding responsibility.
His second problem was that he blamed others (made excuses). The man said, “While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
How did Jesus respond? Jesus didn’t feel sorry for him. Instead, Jesus said, rather sternly, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” For change to occur in your life, you can’t be a prisoner of your circumstances and you cannot make excuses. You just have to decide to take action…to take responsibility…to find a way.
So…if you are a facility manager or the primary steward of the ministry facilities God has entrusted to you, what CAN you do? Maybe you don’t have enough budget…what CAN you do with the budget you have to be a better steward? Maybe you don’t have the right training…what CAN you do…maybe take some free online courses? You may not have the right “staff”…what CAN you do with volunteers?
Let’s look at one more scripture about Moses:
“What is that in your hand?” “A staff” he replied.
Exodus 4:2 NIV
God will start with what is in your “hand” even when it seems menial and insignificant. “What is in your hand, Moses?” This was God’s response to Moses’ ample excuses about why he was not qualified to lead Israel out of slavery to Egypt
Make a list of the things that you know should be done (maybe the ones you have been giving excuses for inactivity)…then examine what is in your hand… then take action. You will be far more productive.
Do you recognize any of these stories:
The Hare and the Tortoise
The Lion and the Mouse
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
For generations, these titles and scores of others have been synonymous with the best in the timeless literature of childhood. Although he was probably as mythical as the tales attributed to him, the legendary name of Aesop and the Aesop Fables has been associated for thousands of years with an endearingly popular collection of enchanting fables.
One such fable is “The Ass and his Purchaser.” So that none of my more sensitive readers take offense, as well as being completely PC (Lord have mercy), please interject “donkey” is lieu of ass if you find that distracting.
Here is the crux of this fable – A man who wanted to buy an ass went to market, and, coming across a likely-looking beast, arranged with the owner that he should be allowed to take him home on trial to see what he was like. When he reached home, he put him into his stable along with the other asses. The newcomer took a look round, and immediately went and chose a place next to the laziest and greediest beast in the stable. When the master saw this he put a halter on him at once, and led him off and handed him over to his owner again. The latter was a good deal surprised to see him back so soon, and said, “Why, do you mean to say you have tested him already?” “I don’t want to put him through any more tests,” replied the other. “I could see what sort of beast he is from the companion he chose for himself.”
MORAL: “A man is known by the company he keeps.”
We could take this fable to head down lots of rabbit trails as to the application of this story, but for today, I want to share with you some of the “company” that we are keeping at eSPACE/Cool Solutions Group. Below is just a small sampling of organizations that use eSPACE to assist them in being proactive and intentional with their Facility Stewardship, Facility Management, Event Scheduling and Energy savings:
Bellevue Baptist, Memphis, TN is in the top 25 largest Southern Baptist churches and was ranked the 66th largest churches in America by Outreach Magazine. They have a physical campus of over 750,000 SF. WOW!!! That is over 17 acres of buildings! Can you image trying to manage that much square footage on a paper calendar or track work orders on post-it Notes
Wayne United Methodist Church, Wayne PA has been serving the community of Wayne since 1890. This mid-200 member church is a prime example of the fact that the size of the church body or the facility does not determine the need for proactive Facility Stewardship. Our team is honored to partner with Wayne UMC and other similar sized churches across the country.
City of Orlando, Orlando, FL – For over 5 years, the City of Orland’s Parking Department has relied on our Work Order system to manage work orders and preventive/scheduled maintenance of all of the city owned and operated parking garages and surface parking lots. What a great idea!!!
Edmond Town Hall, Newton, CT has served as the heart and center of the community by providing residents with space for governmental services, family entertainment through its theater, sports opportunities in its gymnasium, and elegant space rentals to help residents and neighbors gather for civic, social or celebratory life events and milestones.
Church of the Resurrection, Greater Kansas City is the largest United Methodist congregation in the United States, with a membership of over 20,000 and average weekly attendance for all campuses of 11,000 people.
Savannah Christian Church, Savannah, GA is one of the largest churches in the Restoration Movement of the Christian Church. With over 5 locations they continue to be ranked as the 53rd largest church in America.
The Highlands School, Irving, TX is a pre-K3 through 12th grade Catholic college preparatory school. They use the eSPACE Event Scheduler to manage the use of their 35 acre campus.
White Barn Estates, Stillwater, OK is a sophisticated, community in the heart of Stillwater consisting of 360 duplexes, spectacular common areas and views of the greens of the Golf Course and Ponds.
Cross Church, Springdale, AR is the 14th largest Southern Baptist church with multiple locations. Lead by Dr. Ronnie Floyd who is also the President of the Southern Baptist Convention and prolific author of several books including his most recent – “Forward: 7 Distinguishing Marks for Future Leaders”
Elevation Church, Charlotte, NC has been one of the fastest growing churches since its inception 10 years ago. Today they have 11 campuses with about 20,000 people.
Seacoast Church, Mt. Pleasant, SC –With over 14 campuses, they are a clear leader in the Multisite Church movement
Mt Vernon Presbyterian School, Atlanta, GA utilizes eSPACE to manage their incredibly active campus and over 930 students daily.
If the fable is correct, and a man (and/or organization) can be known by the company they keep…then I would say we are in very good company. Why don’t you come hang out with us…you will be in good company!
Who is this written for? Great question!! Anyone who…
- > Is a Church Facility Manager
- > Wants to jump start their facilities career
- > Is an Operations Director
- > Is responsible for facilities at your church
- > Leads a group/team that takes the stewardship of their facilities seriously
This eBook is a great primer to get you started on the road to understanding the basics of an intentional and proactive Facility Stewardship (i.e Facility Management) initiative for your church or ministry. The sections of this e-book include topics such as:
- Introduction to Facility Stewardship
- Facility Management vs. maintenance
- Base Line Best-Practices
- The Role of a Facility Manager
- Sample Periodic Site Assessment
- Top 5 Facility Management Issues
- Proactive Preventative Maintenance
- Church Management Software – Why you need a facilities component (Event Scheduler, Work Order Management, etc.
Then…for those of you who want to take it to the next level and obtain more information or tools for your team, order your copy of the Facility Stewardship Manual. With almost 300 pages of relevant information, this is a must have for every church with a facility that God has entrusted them to steward. You will also want to explore the eSPACE Event Scheduler, Work Order Management and HVAC Integration tools.
I applaud you for taking these step to becoming the best steward of the Kingdom “tools” God has blessed you with.
Do you know who your customers are? If not, how do you know if you are serving them?
If we were in the retail industry, I am pretty confident that we would have a darn good understanding of whom our “customers” are or at the very least who we intent our customers to be.
If I provide Countryman Microphones, then my customers will likely be any organization that has a public speaking component where the orator(s) does not want to be tethered to a hand-held microphone or a wired lapel mic.
If I were in the bass boat market, my target customers would be fishing and outdoors-men (and women) enthusiasts.
If we sold Mercedes Benz vehicles, I believe my target market would be people that either have relative high net worth…or want to “convey” that they do (whether that is real or an illusion).
But what if I am a Facility Manager? Who are my customers? Who am I serving? Who am I striving to please? Who is reliant on me doing my very best so they can provide there best to “their” customers?
Most of you who read our blog are involved in church work in some form or fashion…so the idea of a “customer” may feel foreign or contrived. Some of you may even bristle at the use of this word in your church setting…but think about this definition of a customer:
The recipient of a good or a service, or a product, or an idea, obtained from another via a financial transaction or exchange for money or some other valuable consideration.
We recently received the following in an e-mail from Nathan Parr, Facility Manager at First Baptist Church, Belton, TX. Pay particular attention to his last sentence:
“Scheduling events and maintenance in a church is tough. Add a full-time daycare and a private school it gets complicated very quickly. With over 11,000 room uses a year, we needed a system that was easy to understand, robust enough to handle our demands, accurate enough to avoid all scheduling conflicts, and with enough features to be a “one-stop shop” for all we needed. We found it with Cool Solutions Group and their eSPACE Event Scheduler and Work Order Management systems. Meeting the varied needs of different ministries can be challenging, with Cool Solutions Group the easiest part of my operation is now event and maintenance scheduling. The systems allow for more time to be invested in our ministry of supporting every other Ministry Team at First Baptist Belton.”
Did you catch that? To me it is pretty clear as to whom Nathan’s customers are.
So…how to you best serve your customers? Here are 3 steps that will improve your customer service:
Identify the customer. Most organizations have two sets of customers, each with different needs. In hospitals, the ultimate customer is the patient. But the most immediate customers are nurses, doctors and therapists. In K-12 schools, the ultimate customers are students, the most immediate customers are teachers and principals. In a church setting, your guests, members and attendees are the ultimate customer…and I would actually say the guest is the primary. However, the most immediate customers are the other ministries, staff/leaders and organizations that use your facility.
Set goals. By understanding the needs of each type of customer, you can set realistic goals and expectations that will help your team meet those needs. It will also help your customers know the limits of what your team can and cannot accomplish or at the very least, set realistic expectations as to bandwidth and duration of tasks.
Communicate…OVER-Communicate. I can not emphasize this enough. Having regular and proactive lines of communication to and from your customers is critical…may I say imperative?!?! Do the people you serve know what you are doing to serve them? Do they know the status of one of their requests? Do they think (remember…perception vs. reality) they are being heard? Have you ever bought anything online from Amazon? Did you get notification when the item was processed…shipped…and a projected ETA? Think how that made you feel as their customer…now repeat that to your customers.
Customers should NEVER be seen as a “pain in the neck” or the bane of our existence. Remember, without customers, you are out of a job.