During a recent phone call, my good friend Pat Kase, Senior Project Developer with Aspen Group, said, “What our clients are looking for is clarity, not certainty.” Pat’s gift for insight is matched only by his deft alliteration. His words did echo what Blueline is hearing from clients as they discern whether to undertake building projects.
The pandemic has brought clarity. It has forced churches, schools, and businesses to focus on what is of value to their constituents and to discard everything that is not. COVID has been called “The Great Accelerator” – bringing rapid growth to that which is good and the need for swift cancellation to that which is not. Organizations that recognized the difference and responded quickly continue to thrive. For a donor-funded organization such as churches and private schools, this has been particularly true.
But the past 12 months have also tested our assumptions about the future. For those of us who love a good 5-year plan and get a racing pulse while “visioning,” the pandemic has brought humility and uncertainty. At best, strategic plans need significant recalibration. At worst, your strategic plan is in the trash can, and you are staring at a blank piece of paper.
So, if your church, school, or business does indeed have clarity, here are several things to keep in mind as you align your facilities with your mission and purpose:
- Keep your options open. Even if you are building or renovating to address an immediate need, make sure you do not do something that limits future options. Master planning is good, but an hour planning session with Blueline can help you analyze traffic, utilities, pedestrian patterns, storm-water management, and topography enough to make sure you are not building yourself into a box. Choose clear-span building systems and minimize load-bearing walls. Stack and gang plumbing and use HVAC systems that do not require large duct runs. In many cases, common sense and experience can help you make near-term improvements without limiting growth.
- Move quickly. Chris Weaver, President and CEO of Lantz Construction Company, says that the market for materials and labor “feels like the wild west.” Over the past decade, construction costs have risen by 50%. Inflation is hovering around 4% and is likely to go up a point the next year. Interest rates are still relatively low, but we have not met a business leader who expects them to stay low. If you are undertaking a project to meet current needs, you logically want to address them as soon as possible. Blueline understands that when a client says, “Go!” we need to have a plan and move fast.
- More donations, less debt. With uncertainty about the future, most organizations have a relatively short planning horizon. Understandably, this means clients do not want to take on long-term debt. The good news is that many of our church and Christian School clients are seeing stable income. The care, hard work, and creativity they have put into serving their congregations and constituents mean there is a reservoir of goodwill. That goodwill can translate into strong giving for projects that are vital to the continued fulfillment of the organization’s mission and purpose. Blueline can generate the data and renderings your church or school needs to make its case for support
Blueline remains ready to equip your facilities so that they amplify your mission. Whether your project is big or small, we will match your clarity with our experience and understanding.