Get a Head Start on Your Church’s Multi-Use Strategy with Frank Bealer

Thanks for joining us for the unSeminary podcast. I’m talking with Frank Bealer, the co-founder and Chief Growth Officer of Phase Family Centers as well as Chief of Staff at Local Church

Is your church considering a multi-use strategy? Does it seem overwhelming as you think about how to get started and all that you need to learn? Listen in as Frank shares how to get the resources and coaching you need while mitigating the distractions that can come with multi-use.

  • Preschool, parents, and events. // Phase Family Centers were started with a desire to help churches both fund their ministry and engage communities differently. The idea was broken down into three boxes: preschool, parents, and events. Frank, along with Reggie Joiner, worked on figuring out how to structure a multi-use strategy that was really intentional about coming alongside churches for the purposes of improved stewardship and community engagement.
  • Uniquely suited. // Churches are uniquely suited to help meet the needs of the community around us. It could be something such as offering preschool, which is one of the crises in America right now. Churches already have the facilities and the posture needed to help address the childcare crisis, and permeate the operations of a preschool with warmth, safety, care, kindness.
  • Do a site and market analysis. // Rather than assuming that preschool or event space is the thing needed in your community, first do a site and market analysis like any other business would. What are the actual needs in your unique community? Determine what is the business plan, what is the strategy, and what are the end goals.
  • Mitigate the distraction. // Any extra program or ministry you do is a distraction from something. It’s important to mitigate that distraction when you get involved with multi-use. Hire a manager who is a good culture fit with your church and also has experience for the business you are adding (ex. preschool, coffee shop, event center, etc.) Then instead of using Google to figure out your manuals and policies, partner with Phase Family Centers to put together the resources you need. You get to run the operation but you’re not alone in figuring things out. When the manager is having a hard time, they can call Phase for help instead of distracting the church’s executive leadership team with their questions.
  • Have a marketing plan. // Preschool is a proven business. Events are a proven business. However, don’t assume that people will show up as soon as you open just because you’re a church. It’s important to have a marketing plan and budget as you seek to serve and meet the needs of the broader community.
  • Phase helps anywhere on the multi-use journey. // Phase will work with churches who know where they want to go as well as those who are stuck figuring out where to begin. The Phase Family Center website provides more information about working together, and starts by exploring questions with you. Then a call with someone at Phase will unpack your ideas, dreams, and what may be your barriers.  

You can learn more about teaming up with Phase at www.phase.center/partners, plus find Frank on social media @fbealer.

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Episode Transcript

Rich Birch — Hey, friends, welcome to the unSeminary podcast. So glad that you have decided to tune in. Super excited for today’s conversation – longtime friend Frank Bealer with us. He’s the co-founder and Chief Growth Officer family or Phase Family Centers, and he’s also the Chief of Staff at Local Church. He’s he’s fantastic leader; he’s the kind of person you should be tracking with him. Frank was at one point the Family Pastor at a little church called Elevation there in North Carolina—I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of them before, friends—ah before he moved over and has joined or really launched Phase Family Centers. He he’s also is really which faith family, if you’re not familiar, or Phase Family if you’re not familiar with them are really a leader in this whole multi-use strategy that we really should be thinking about. And so I wanted to get him on and he agreed to come on. Frank, so glad you’re here. Welcome to the show.

Frank Bealer — Man, I’m glad to be here. And as always, Rich, I’m always learning from you and listening to podcasts and other great leaders that are out there. So thank you for facilitating this and being so generous with your time to drive these conversations because I know they’re making me better.

Rich Birch — Oh thanks so much. I really appreciate that, Frank. But why don’t we fill it the picture a little bit. What did I miss there on the Frank Bealer story? What what do we want to make sure people know about about you?

Frank Bealer — Oh gosh. Um, yeah so business guy turned pastor, serving at Elevation full time. Felt led to figure out a way… what I was wrestling with is, Elevation was, at the time we were at I don’t know 17 campuses or something like that 12 to 17 during that journey of campuses. Um, attendance was up, giving was up, small group attendance was up, volunteer participation was up, frequency of attendance was going down. So I was trying to crack the code of how do we engage families different. I saw the children’s ministry data. I was trying to figure it out from both Sundays and during the week.

Frank Bealer — At the same time. A good friend of mine, Reggie Joiner, who created helped launch North Point Community Church with Andy Stanley and created Orange curriculum, was wrestling with an idea of how do we help churches fund their ministry and engage communities differently. So he drew three boxes on a piece of paper that would ultimately be Phase Family Center. He called it Preschool, Parents, and Events. And it was his way of going, Ok can we do a multi-use strategy but be really intentional about it to where we really come alongside of churches to leverage that multi-use for both improved stewardship and greater community engagement.

Frank Bealer — And so fast track. Um, you know that was happened by a mutual friend of ours, Rich, Carey Nieuwhof, you know my best friend, Carey. Carey made the connection with ah me and Reggie. At that point I was a speaker dude for Reggie. Ah, but then we realized that we were wrestling with some very similar things that honestly church leaders across America and across the world have been wrestling with. And we’ve just kind of got our unique take on it at Phase.

Rich Birch — Love it. So kind of ah, pull apart Phase a little bit – tell us a bit more about it. What is the, you know, how do you attack those 3 issues, those 3 areas of engagement? What does that actually look like for folks that maybe are un ah unaware of Phase and what you do.

Frank Bealer — Sure. So at our first location we worked with a site developer, bought thirteen acres, eight acres buildable, about million dollars an acre. I mean expensive land where somebody would want to have a church, but it’s cost prohibitive. Great location. Um, and what we did here was we’re the operator. We’re the master tenant. And we run a preschool, coworking/coffee shop and events. And oh, by the way, there are a couple churches that use the space on the weekends. They pay nominal lease payment or part of the lease payment, but most of the facility, this 62,000 square foot facility, is paid for by the business operations that we run. We carry that.

Frank Bealer — While we’re in the process of building this building, Mark Batterson up in DC said, hey, ended up with this city block; God’s doing some really cool stuff.

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — There’s a child care crisis in DC; we’re trying to figure out how to do this. We don’t want to do it alone. Can we partner together? So up there we helped renovate their children’s ministry space. It’s used by the church on Sundays and during the week we operate a preschool.

Frank Bealer — Well all this is happening, and then covid hits. So I end up in the 62,000 square foot building, sitting here by myself, waiting on the world to reopen. The thing that didn’t change were churches were still calling, wanting to figure out multi-use and what a Phase Partnership could look like. And I guess I should point out Phase – PHAC that phrase comes from the idea of parenting idea of us saying this negative statement, it’s just a phase.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Frank Bealer — Like it’s like we just got to get through this, right? And get on to next thing. Well our idea is it’s just a phase; don’t miss it.

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — You’re never going to get these moments back. Some of the things that drive you crazy, like that baby not sleeping us means that baby’s not going to sleep on your chest anymore and you’re going to have those special moments, right? So we’re just trying to help parents leverage those moments. So Phase, while I’m sitting here by myself. Um, I’m trying to figure out how I can help more churches because at the pace I was going, I could do 3 to 5 a year…

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — …where we’re the operator and we’re dropping in churches and or partnering with churches in some way. And yet the demand and inquiries was way higher than that.

Rich Birch — Sure.

Frank Bealer — So we’re trying to figure out what to do. And so I had created a licensing idea to share our resources and and concepts and things that we’re learning and things we had spent lots of money on, trying to figure out. Well during that I gathered my investors together to give them a financial update due to covid and when we’re going to reopen, and then share this licensing idea.

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — And one of the guys that was on the call is the Chief Innovation Officer for Chick-Fil-A.

Rich Birch — Right. Yes.

Frank Bealer — And as I present my licensing idea he says, Frank, that’s a really good idea. Congratulations. You just invented franchising. And we all had a good laugh of like, okay and I’ve never done franchising.

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — And the idea of Phase, ah called Phase Partners, the idea of us franchising and partnering with churches to help with the operations, and help give them wisdom, but it be in their business, but not letting them do it alone was born out of that.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Frank Bealer — And so now we have a franchise disclosure document and we’re now helping churches execute on a multi-use strategy.

Rich Birch — Okay, I love this. And friends I want to dive in on this. The thing I love about Frank is was tons I love about you, but the one thing I love about you one of the things I love about you is, you know, you’re trying to solve real world problems. You’re helping real churches, you know, with real things. And here you are providing a great solution for something that I think a lot of us have wondered about, which is, hey we’ve got this facility. And I’ve even heard of, in fact, I know of churches I’ve coached who have spent real cash like actual money like tons of money on space that they envision for multi-use, but then doesn’t actually get used in that manner. Because of they miss this operational in between. They missed this like, hey we’re not sure exactly… how do we do this? How do we how do we run this stuff?

Rich Birch — But let’s take a step back and convince me that I should even be thinking about that. Like I, you know, isn’t like having a daycare, or running an event center, or you know opening up a coffee shop, isn’t that just a distraction to what we’re supposed to do as a church? Isn’t that, you know, it doesn’t that reduce our flexibility? Doesn’t it don’t we become slaves to somebody who’s running a totally different kind of operation? Help us understand how those fit together; how does a multi ah -use strategy actually help push us forward?

Frank Bealer — Yeah, so yeah, those are all complexities that we have to navigate, right? And so let’s rewind a little bit. A few decades ago churches all across America ah we’re doing some kind of multi-use strategy and many of them were doing something that was somewhat lackluster in performance.

Rich Birch — Sure.

Frank Bealer — It wasn’t ah experiencing the evangelism they thought it was. It wasn’t discipling the number of kids they thought it was. Um, there was not a good, healthy, symbiotic relationship. And so it’s us and them, and the preschool took my crayons, and…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Frank Bealer — …we couldn’t find this, and they broke this table, and it became very adversarial.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Frank Bealer — So then you have a crew like Andy Stanley and a lot of people that are going, we’re doing too much stuff in a mediocre way; let’s get back to the thing that matters most. Let’s present the gospel clearly; let’s do a really good job on Sundays.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Frank Bealer — Well I don’t disagree with any of that. That was it was a response that I felt like overall our nation needed to do. We needed to shore things up and get back to some excellence and some expectations and quality in what we offer. It’s not enough to just have good facilities. That’s not a strategy. I have a building; let’s do stuff with it. That’s not a strategy. And so…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Frank Bealer — …there was this kind of reining in. Well now what we’re seeing is there’s a whole funding conversation of like there’s a necessity to this. But let’s put that aside for a second because that’s not really what you were addressing. You were talking to, how do we share space; this is distraction from what we’re supposed to be doing. This relationally what does this look like?

Frank Bealer — Well we know in our nation here in America that top 10 priorities among every presidential candidate and thought leader in our nation, child care is a huge issue.

Rich Birch — So true.

Frank Bealer — So specifically, preschool, it is a childcare crisis in our nation. And the church is uniquely positioned to meet that need. We always want to be able to meet needs in the community. Now here’s where I would push back.

Rich Birch — What why is the church uniquely unique… Why is the church uniquely suited for that need?

Frank Bealer — Great question. Because we have the facilities already. Okay, which is a huge deal.

Rich Birch — Okay.

Frank Bealer — We we have the facilities already and we have the posture that’s needed to help fix our childcare crisis. We need warmth, safety, care, kindness – that needs to permeate the operations of a preschool. And oftentimes that isn’t present. It’s cold. It’s sterile.

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah.

Frank Bealer — It’s people that are just taking a check. Um, it just doesn’t have the warmth and extension of family that people long for. So what you have in our nation is everybody is saying we have to increase the quality of care, and decrease the cost. I don’t know how to do that.

Rich Birch — Right. How do you do that? Yeah.

Frank Bealer — The church can actually help do that. We could figure that out. But here’s our problem. Okay, if I go back to all the church that say it’s a distraction. We finally stopped doing it; people hated us because we stopped doing our preschool. Or we no longer open our event center up for other things and people are mad at us in the community, and look what we did. Well I always like to go back to, what was your business plan, what was your strategy, and what were your end goals with your preschool operations, or your event business, or your coffee shop? What was the win, and was it realistic?

Frank Bealer — It’s interesting to me, Rich, that people that talk multi-use oftentimes in the church space talk about it from the lens of saying, hey we have children’s space; we should do a preschool. That’s that’s not at all what you should do.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Frank Bealer — What we should do is do a site and market analysis, like you would for any other business across America, and go should we open a preschool? Anecdotally somebody has said that they had a hard time finding childcare in my community.

Rich Birch — Right. Yes.

Frank Bealer — But what’s the real need? Is it low income families can’t find affordable quality care? Is that there’s simply not enough license spots available for children? Well that determines your business model. In fact, many churches and preschools should have a licensed preschool so they can operate with government subsidies and serve low income families. But they don’t go in with that level of strategy. So…

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Frank Bealer — …so I say okay, so there’s this opportunity to engage the community. This need is real. But is it the church’s responsibility? Is it a distraction? (To go back to what you said.) And the answer is absolutely. It is a distraction.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Frank Bealer — So what we want to do is how do we mitigate the distraction?

Rich Birch — Sure.

Frank Bealer — Any extra program or ministry you do is a distraction from something.

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — Like I mean that’s a true statement like it’s not like as long as we split ourselves, that takes more responsibility. Here’s what I believe is the flaw in the multi-use strategy, okay? For across America, okay? Current multi-use strategy, visionary leader plus building facility. Add a manager. Someone who has managed a preschool before, managed a coffee shop—not owned—managed a coffee shop, managed an events business, plus Google. That is the equation for multi-use success in America.

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — And it’s ah if we don’t have a handbook, we’ll Google one, find and replace the words. Now we have a handbook.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Frank Bealer — If we need a policy on diaper changing, well Google one on the internet.

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — What Phase is trying to do differently is go, well yeah when you do that you’re going to kind of find all these cracks along the way where it’s not cohesive, and there’s going be these flaws and when Google doesn’t give the answer you’ve got to go to your executive leadership team. And now it’s a distraction. So what we’re proposing is a visionary leader with a building, hire your manager. That’s your person. Find the right person that’s a good culture fit.

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — And instead of using Google, use Phase. Let us provide your [inaudible] and your manuals, and your resources…

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — … and let us figure out how to lock all the iPads in all the classrooms…

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — …so inappropriate videos aren’t shown to children…

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — …and like all those little nuanced things. How to do background checks properly that are different than church background checks.

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — Let us come alongside and help you. It is your business unit. You benefit from the upside of the profits and what’s what’s there. You get to run the operation, but you’re not alone.

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — So therefore the manager when they’re having a hard time their first phone call is to Phase instead of to the executive leadership team of the church. We think that mitigates distraction and becomes a game changer to go, we can have better stewardship, engage our community better, but mitigate distractions.

Rich Birch — Love it. So we know we had Mark DeYmaz a couple weeks ago on the podcast, and one of the things that we kind of briefly touched on was how the legal structure of these things all hang together. And you know you’re talk you’re talking about the church owning a business, you know, that’s obviously ultimately trying to generate revenue that would, you know, plow back into the church. Talk us through what you see as best practice on that side, the kind of structure. Obviously there’s a ton there. This is not legal advice. We’re not, you know, we’re not, you know, we don’t provide any of that. But give us a kind of the the back of the napkin; help us get our heads around that piece, you know, as we’re thinking about how this structure is. Because the because the issue again with my pessimist voice on, the issue is, man, who controls this thing? What if it goes sideways? You know, what, you know… I’m I’m a pastor; I’m nervous about kids in our kids ministry and they come for a week an hour a week let alone 8 hours a day five days a week, you know.

Frank Bealer — Yeah.

Rich Birch — Talk us through that. What’s that look like?

Frank Bealer — So at the end of the day most churches that we work with across America will have a…

Rich Birch — Yep.

Frank Bealer — …an a wholly owned subsidiary, an LLC, a for-profit entitity that’s owned underneath the nonprofit.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Frank Bealer — Common board that’s influencing that and guiding that. And that’ll generate some taxes…

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Frank Bealer — …on a part of your facility.

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — It’s no big deal if it’s in the proforma. You just build it in the financial model. And it either makes sense to do it or not.

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — But we don’t have to be worried about that. That’s one of the things that’s unique in multi-use strategy. I rarely see, when I talk to a church has been thinking multi-use, a quality business plan and proforma. There’s a lot of assumptions. It’s not very detailed. And I’m sitting there going, Ok maybe it generates some taxes. No big deal; put it in the proforma. It either works or it doesn’t work.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Frank Bealer — Um, the same with your insurance. We have a standard at Phase that has all these additional coverages that we think you should have for a daycare that aren’t required by state, but help mitigate that exposure for the church. The way you do your additional insurance, all that, we spell all that out for you.

Frank Bealer — That makes the policy cost more money. That’s fine. But does it work in the financial model or not? One of the big things I’ll say about distraction, Rich—this will be helpful – that proforma—one of the biggest tensions between a preschool or weekday school program and a church is the “us and them” nature of sharing the space. Specifically…

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — Churches on Sunday morning receiving their space in a condition other than how they expected.

Rich Birch — Sure. Yes.

Frank Bealer — And vice versa Monday morning 6am preschool teachers start rolling in, and it’s other than what they expected.

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — Our solution in this world—I do not understand this, Rich; this is crazy to me.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Frank Bealer — Our solution has been, well let’s give good checklists to volunteers at church on Sunday to hand it over on Monday morning. And then on Friday afternoon, after a really long week, let’s give our teachers our preschool teachers that are making 15, 16 bucks an hour a checklist of other things they have to do after all the kids leave to make the church happy.

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — That creates an us and them response, right?

Rich Birch — Right. Yes.

Frank Bealer — Easiest solution ever, Rich, $250 to $300 a week, in your proforma…

Rich Birch — Yep.

Frank Bealer — …you hire an outside cleaning service that also moves the furniture.

Rich Birch — Right. Resets everything. Right.

Frank Bealer — Now if there’s a problem, there’s an outside accountability that nobody’s mad at each other. We’re not asking volunteers. We’re not asking teachers to work harder because they’re affiliated with the Church. We eliminate all that. And it either, once again, works in the proforma or not. And so we build our business plan, not overly optimistic, open a preschool at 50% occupancy and ramp up to 87% occupancy. Those are clear benchmarks and goal. We can know this and know that that doesn’t create a lot of capital burn on the front end. And then we can generate some great revenue for ministry. Do whatever you want to with it, okay? Um, it all either works in the proformo or it doesn’t.

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — And that’s the thing that I get really excited about. Preschool is a proven business.

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — Events… proven business. Coworking, debatably, a proven business. So we can take the good assumptions out of the church space.

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — Well, we’re a church. As soon as we open it everybody’s just going to show up. No, no, no. Let’s have a marketing budget. Let’s have a plan. And if people choose to enroll or engage because of your credibility, let’s let that be a blessing…

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — …not the business strategy.

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — We’re going to build it and they’re going to come? No no, no. Let’s build it so they don’t know who we are. Can we build a sustainable business that serves and meets a need in the community, choosing whether or not to use faith-based curriculum and what guidelines you’re going to put around events, around the facility, and what you’ll allow and not allow in your facility. That’s fine. Put those guidelines in place. This is a very… Rich, I think we’ve overcomplicated it.

Rich Birch — Right. Sure.

Frank Bealer — And that’s why it becomes a distraction and burden because we we downplay some of the complexities and don’t build a plan for those.

Rich Birch — Sure. Now if you’re if I’m a church that’s sitting here thinking, Yeah, okay, maybe we do need to think more clearly on the multi-use side. I feel like you’ve you’ve hit a few buttons, even in my leadership. I’m like, gosh, I feel like we’ve done the thing where it’s like, hey let’s just roll out a coffee shop. People just come in because it’s going to because you know they like us.

Rich Birch — Um, there’s those three kind of different types of businesses you’ve talked about, whether it be a daycare, an events business, or you know a coworking/coffee kind of thing. What is your recommended route between, you know, the kind of starting point for a church? What should they consider? Which is the best of those models to start with – ah you can’t start with all three obviously. But if you were saying, hey wait a minute; maybe you can. I don’t know. Talk us through that. What should I be what should we be thinking about if we’re like, okay, we we should we do want to take some steps in this direction.

Frank Bealer — Yeah.

Rich Birch — Maybe even with Phase.

Frank Bealer — The from a profitability and a financial just just how the numbers work, depending on your location, events can be good. Depending on your locations, preschool could be good. Those can go along at the same time, or separately. Because they impact different people, different sides of the building. They really are two different business models. Candidly, if you get preschool right, the EBITDAR—okay to get technical for a second—so earnings before interest, taxes, all that stuff, and rent. So your number that you produce, you can be in the 25/30% of revenue for a preschool operation…

Rich Birch — Wow. Wow. Right.

Frank Bealer — …if you do it the right way. And that’s an industry benchmark. That’s not overly optimistic. If you’re doing $2,000,000 in in tuition a year, that’s that’s a really big number to fund ministry.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Frank Bealer — Like and that’s very attainable. This can be done pre-rent and you choose to do you pay yourself rent, or fund church planning initiatives. You can do whatever you want to with the money. That’s your call. Um, so from a preschool from an impact in the community, it has the greatest financial impact for the church and impact in the community to open a preschool. Candidly. It just if the need is there, genuinely there, and I believe that you should do a site and market analysis to determine what the real need is there, and we’re happy to help with that. Um, so that’s one. Events is just easier, ok, to do. Overall if you’re in the right location to do that…

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — Um, as Mark has said on your podcast. You got to price it the right way and structure it the right way. But I’ll tell you the biggest problem with events is even if they build a pricing structure (a church builds it), they dabble in events. And so maybe it generates a few thousand dollars per per month. Just to give you perspective, at Phase Alpharetta.

Rich Birch — Right. Yeah, been there. I know I feel exactly what you’re talking about there.

Frank Bealer — Okay.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Frank Bealer — At Phase Alpharetta, 500 seat auditorium, okay.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Frank Bealer — Outside of Sunday, because we have no revenue on Sunday – that’s a church. Outside of Thursday nights because the church is doing worship programming. So I can’t do anything. We run a business over there. We have a sales manager, and like they get along, and they know the church, the partners, no problems. We run a business; it generates about $60,000 a month in revenue. Six. Zero.

Rich Birch — Wow.

Frank Bealer — $60,000 a month.

Rich Birch — Wow. That’s amazing.

Frank Bealer — And that’s on average. Just plug…

Rich Birch — With 500 sq feet?

Frank Bealer — 500 seat auditorium…

Rich Birch — Right. Wow.

Frank Bealer — …burning through like in… Now there’s expenses for cleaning services and things like that. But there’s a eye open. What I want to do with that number is not go, wow I can make $60,000. Maybe you can’t; depends on your location. All kinds of things. But here’s what I’m saying. There’s a different in opening a business and running it like a business unit.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Frank Bealer — And therefore you have marketing, and you go to trade shows, and you’re engaging with the community different, and the rotary and stuff like that. That’s different than we are now providing a clear pricing structure for our events for when people call us.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Frank Bealer — And that’ll be a few thousand dollars maybe a month.

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — So it’s very different approach.

Rich Birch — Yeah I could see that. And I’ve been there. Totally get what you’re saying. You know it’s that difference between our our building is available for rent, and we’re running an events business. That’s two totally separate approaches, right? It’s like if someone calls us, sure we’ll rent you. It’s like you can rent a space in the library at in town. But the library is not set up to rent their space there. It’s not what they’re thinking about. There isn’t someone that wakes up every day.

Frank Bealer — Great example.

Rich Birch — Well maybe maybe in your town, not in my town. You know they’re they’re, you know, they’re not thinking about that all day long. That’s ah that’s interesting. Yeah and I could see that on the daycare. You know there’s a recurring revenue side of that, right, that you are… you know, those kids they need to be cared for every day over for years you know and obviously there is you know they eventually age out. But then there’s more kids that come up, you know, underneath all that. That’s interesting.

Rich Birch — Now if there let’s say I’m a church out there today and I feel like, hey we’ve we’re already running one of these things, or maybe all of them. We’re doing all of this. And I’m like, this is not going well; like this is painful. Um, we’ve done the, you know, maybe they was a little too close to home when you said the manager and a Google search. They were like oh gosh, that’s what we did. Um is that the kind of church you’d work with – a church that’s already engaged that they’re like we’ve got to redo all this; we’ve got to rebuild this thing. Talk us about talk talk to us about that.

Frank Bealer — Absolutely. So we will do both. So what Phase does the way it works, simple. So think of ah if you’re not familiar franchising, if you want to franchise a McDonald’s, something else, you pay an upfront fee that comes with training and marketing and things like that, and then a percentage of revenue for your ongoing support, basically. Um.

Rich Birch — Yep, yep.

Frank Bealer — We are currently in conversations with right now my my database list of active churches that are we’re in dialogue and working through this is we have 239 churches that are currently working with us in some stage of, I’ve got questions; I need help. Maybe they haven’t spent a dollar.

Frank Bealer — There’s 39 that have spent money and are working that direction toward, help us figure this out; help us improve our business model, ask the right questions. We don’t know; we’re not preschool experts. We’re not event experts. We don’t know what we don’t know. But they’re resonating with what we’re saying. Phase will work with both. We think that there’s a tremendous opportunity for churches that have had a preschool and it’s ended up at 62% occupancy, and it never quite had the impact they want, and they can’t figure out why they can’t get more.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Frank Bealer — Or they’re full and losing money and they can’t figure that out either because that was never part of the plan, and now the donations to the church and tithes are now funding the preschool ministry, but it’s not a that that wasn’t the plan.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes. Yeah.

Frank Bealer — It’s not like we’re meaning to do that. And so I think there’s a coaching element to this and just a way that Phase can serve where there’s gonna be some people that we just share some of our resources with. We’ll give you our handbook; that’s fine if you want it. Like I’ll give it to you; I don’t I’m not gonna charge for that. But there’s some that need they need ongoing support. I’ll tell you here’s how they got there, Rich. Most of the time when you talk about a church that like, yeah, we’ve ended up with this kind of mediocre “not where we thought it was going to be” performance. And we don’t know what to do because we have a great space. We have a good location. We have a big church. Why isn’t this working? Usually what it is is they started with one manager that was somebody that was known and trusted, and somebody they really related with and it was safe, and they understood the vision and culture, and they were really solid. They were confident in that hire. Well then that higher retires, or moves on, or changes. And then we get a new hire. The problem is we don’t know how to train that person.

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — Our senior leadership team isn’t an expert in preschool or events business; it’s not what they do. And so now what ends up happening is this senior leadership team ah gets a handful of straws and somebody draws a short straw, and they now oversee that area of ministry. And and so suddenly they’re like I guess I’ll Google some stuff and figure out, how do we fill our school? How do we get better teachers? How do we do training?

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Frank Bealer — And it’s just kind of pushed by the wind. And it’s really what whatever comes top of the Google search is how we’re training. And then we know in church or anything that we’re doing, right, we’ve got to get better and have a strategic approach to improving and constantly maintaining.

Rich Birch — Absolutely.

Frank Bealer — You you teach this; it’s what unSeminary podcast is. It’s all the things you didn’t learn that you need to know.

Rich Birch — Sure, sure, sure, sure.

Frank Bealer — And yet nobody’s raised their hand going, hey, you needed to know this for preschool.

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — I’m sorry you they didn’t tell you. And the first person they just knew it because they were awesome, and they just loved the church. And and honestly they weren’t great but they went so above and beyond, they took care of any flaws in your system. When they have somebody working a 9 to 5 job…

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — …that’s not going above and beyond and serving your church, and you’re starting to see all the cracks, it’s not an indictment on anybody. It’s just we never put the infrastructure in place. So what Phase is trying to do is if you ever read the book “E-Myth” or “E-Myth Revisited”, it’s that idea of we’ve got all the systems, all the opps. Their first phone call is to us and we’re like, oh we already have that, and let us help you.

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — And there’s very few circumstances, we believe, where the church leadership is having to get involved to make decisions about how to operate a preschool or an events business, if that makes sense.

Rich Birch — Right, right. Absolutely. Well this is, you know, fascinating. You know as we kind of come to you know to land here, as we kind of look to the you know the end of the conversation um, if I was a church and I’m interested, I’m like okay you’ve convinced me enough that I’d least need to think about some next steps. What would be some of those next steps. How do we, you know, take kind of some initial steps to kind of get to know you guys better. Maybe start this conversation. Obviously it’s a significant conversation. You’re talking about upfront money. Talking about signing contracts – all that. No one’s going to do that in ah in a whim, but what would be some of those first steps that I could take if I’m if I’m intrigued today.

Frank Bealer — Yeah, so ah, we have a landing page phase.center/partners. Um, we’re continuing adding more and more information on that site. Um I logged in today and it was down. I had to call somebody be like ah our a hub spot I disconnected something, but it’ll be fine by the time this airs. Um.

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah, totally. Yeah.

Frank Bealer — …phase.center/partners – um, ah you go there, visit that. That’ll have good information. It’ll the information on there is designed to spark more questions, okay? Well how do they do curriculum? Can we do it as a nonprofit license center, or do we have to be for-profit? The answer depends on your state – just different rules like that.

Frank Bealer — And then we schedule a call and we jump on, one of our team members jumps on with your senior leadership team, maybe a couple elders or trustees or whatever, and we just dream for 45 minutes. Let’s just talk. Let’s talk about what’s working, what’s not working, what you see. What are the barriers and opportunities? And then build a plan for next steps.

Frank Bealer — More often than not what we find is that if they don’t currently have a multi-use strategy, it’s really really simple. They’re dabbling with it. They don’t really know where to begin, but it’s logical. So they feel like they should be having a conversation; they don’t know where to begin. For more often than not the very first thing that someone should do for an event or preschool operation, coffee shop too I just don’t not have a lot of knowledge around, that um is a site and market analysis.

Rich Birch — Right.

Frank Bealer — They need someone that’s an industry expert in that space to tell us what are opportunities and what our challenges are in opening a preschool in our space, or opening an events business, so that we’re then informed for our next step in conversation. What are the things that are going to make our space great? What aren’t? And so there’s very natural next steps. We’re happy to have a conversation; we’re not gonna charge anything for it. And we may land on, yeah, we don’t think you should do this, or maybe you should pivot. Or have you ever thought about something, you know, very different than what you’re thinking now.

Frank Bealer — But here’s the thing, time and time again when we talk multi-use rarely ever am I getting a hard: no, we don’t want to ever have this conversation. I’m getting a: we’ve had some bad experience in the past but we feel like we should revisit it. Or no, we’re in a season where we definitely need to have a conversation, we just don’t know where to start. That’s the two conversation. There’ve been great leaders like Mark that have inspired church leaders across the nation that they need to do something with it. It’s just a little overwhelming.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Frank Bealer — And so what Phase is trying to do is provide a bunch of those answers to make it a little less overwhelming, if that makes sense.

Rich Birch — Yeah, totally. Well and I think I think that’s a really clear um analogy. I think you know we want to partner with someone who had this is different than running a church. This is you know you I think sometimes as senior leaders, particularly competent senior leaders, you know we have to know where our expertise ends. Like we’re we’re good at a certain number of things and some of that relates to what we’re talking about here. But there’s a whole other school of thought and a whole other, you know, domains of expertise that you need to bring to bear to run a great preschool, run you know an events business, run coffee or you know coworking, all that. So um, I really appreciate this. This has been a great conversation. If people want to track with you, ah, we got it we gave them that web address. We’ll put that in the show notes. So if you if you forgot what that was, or you’re driving, whatever you can come back and check that out. Anywhere else we want people to get in touch with you if they’re you know if they want to track with you, Frank? And then any last words you have to say before we wrap up today’s conversation?

Frank Bealer — You know, just on social media. I’m fbealer – I’m always posting about thoughts and things we’re learning, and reposting other people that are speaking into this space. So I think that’ll be helpful. Um, but yeah going to that Phase Partners page, that’s the way to do it. Um, because that they’ll get to connect with me or whatever and we’ll share ideas and… And we’re going to have a road show this fall. We’ll be traveling around the country…

Rich Birch — Love it.

Frank Bealer — …doing one day sessions around. We’re called the Multi-use Strategy Summit. We’re hosting one in Alpharetta in February, right about the time that this is airing. But we’re gonna have more this fall. We’re actually traveling and going to other places so churches can come – more convenient to them. And just spark a conversation for one day.

Rich Birch — Love it. So good. Well, friends, I would encourage you, Frank is a trusted leader the kind of person you should reach out to. And if you’re even if you’re in the kind of area of like this might be the kind of thing 6 months or 36 months from now that we could be even thinking about, I would encourage you to track along with them. Drop by that website. Follow him on social media. It would be a great thing for you. Thanks again, Frank – appreciate you being here today and cheering for you. Love everything that you’re doing at Phase. Thank you.

Frank Bealer — Thanks Rich! We love you too.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.