Skip to content
<p><iframe allow="autoplay" frameborder="0" height="110px" src="https://player.acast.com/5a7367eb2219bdf808ec93f8/episodes/a-plan-for-after-hours-events-ep-115?theme=white&amp;latest=1" width="100%"><!--cke_bookmark_758S--><!--cke_bookmark_758E--></iframe></p>

Listen to Episode 115

Josh speaks with Paul Anastasi, Interim Director of Facilities for Northbridge Public Schools in Massachusetts, about organizing after-hours events systems with the time you may have during COVID-19. They also talk through tips for saving energy and money when not hosting events. 

Show Notes:

Show Script:

Josh Peach  
Welcome to the Operate Intelligently Podcast, the podcast for all things operations. Hello, Operate Intelligently listeners. This is Joshua Peach and I've got a great guest on today. We're still weathering these COVID-19 challenges, trials and tribulations that we're all dealing with. And last week I had a conversation with a longtime friend and client from 2002 I guess was when you started right, Paul?

Paul Anastasi  
Yeah, yeah. 2002.

Josh Peach  
So client from 2002 to a great friend of mine, Paul Anastasi, who was at the city of Newton. You we're in Watertown prior to that. You retired. You came out of retirement. And you're back at it again in...

Paul Anastasi  
North bridge, Mass. I'm working in X Bridge, Mass. I'm working in Topsfield, Mass. It's really a failed retirement.

Josh Peach  
Yeah, I was gonna say you're working more and harder now than you did when you were working, now in retirement. So welcome, Paul, and thanks for your time here today. Paul, I asked to be on this because one, he is an expert in after hours use of buildings, which is what we really want to focus on today. And as a disclaimer, it doesn't matter what you use for a solution for your after hours use of buildings or organization. You want to be doing some of the things that we're going to talk about because some of the numbers that I'm going to share just with our own clients, is really a big, big number. So Paul is truly an expert in after hours use of buildings, just in process management. He was actually our first client to approve and assign and delegate ours at 36,000 feet back in 2010 or somewhere there about.

Paul Anastasi  
Yeah, nine or 10 years ago on my way to Alaska.

Josh Peach  
Yes. I remember that so. So Paul's an expert and a week ago we were talking, he sent a survey out to his membership at the Massachusetts Facilities Administrators Association asking what are people doing? How are you managing your bookings, reservations, your fees that you may have charged or the fees that you're going to charge for your use of buildings that you pick that your pickleball tournaments, your mothers against destructive decisions, Girl Scouts, anyone that uses your building, after hours after the school's out. It posed the question that I went and pulled some numbers from our database of 1,600 plus education institutions in the country, and I pulled the number of events that have been booked from March 1 to June 30 of this year. Realistically, everything after March 13 and probably to June 30 is going to be canceled, it's not going to happen. There's not going to be any events. But in that timeframe of those three plus months, 1,600 institutions, we have almost 1.5 million events totaling 6.3 million hours. That's a lot hours of use, that's a lot of events and if you aren't going and canceling and restructuring those events when you come back and the lights go back on with everybody in the building, it's going to be a huge undertaking, you know. Paul, first and foremost what was some of your findings in your conversations with your membership and the survey that you put out? And what are some of your personal thoughts and feelings?

Paul Anastasi  
Well, I think what I found most of all is that people aren't thinking about this right now. You know, we're at we're in a lull here in Mass., I'm not sure where it is across the country but originally we did the scramble let's keep the kids safe and let's clean every night when they're gone and clean through the weekends and then the kids went away. And it was like we got to get to the buildings and get everything done. And cancel events, don't let anybody in. And you know, that kept us crazy for two weeks. And now we're in week four or five, and we're kind of in a lull. Most people are home, we've sent most home we've got a skeleton crew on. So people are kind of like in this spot where it's like hohum, and not really thinking about what's going to happen when we do turn those lights back on. And it's a good time right now, to be thinking about that stuff. Because we've got the time to do it. We've got people at home looking for things to do. The phone's not ringing. The people aren't walking into the office, asking for, you know, special ed privileges, asking for their lunch programs, asking, you know, for all the things that they typically ask for in a central office. So we have a whole lot of staff at home, trying to keep busy and they do want to keep busy. They call and look for things to do. And this is a perfect thing for the community I'm working and now we're just launching FSdirect and getting it off the ground. So it's perfect time for this woman that's going to run the project, she's entering her organization, she's entering her schedules, all of the requesters and things like that, that she can do now and doesn't have to do it between doing payroll and answering the phone and putting on an HR package to someone that's a new employee. So I'm finding that right now, it's a good opportunity to get this stuff done.

Josh Peach  
Yeah. You actually made a great point, you and I were talking before we went live here. And you know, someone has been doing this for a long time as myself, I should have thought of this beforehand. But I was just looking at these staggering numbers of events and hours. You made a point of saying, if these events don't get canceled in something, whatever they're doing, and if no one's notifying the VAS controller or they're not using, you know, an automation tie in, those events are still those events are still happening. So in essence, the HVAC controls are still on as occupied and not unoccupied. So that's something that people should be really paying attention to. Because that's just wasted money of utilities out the window. Right?

Paul Anastasi  
Right. Because right now, I know what we have done and what most community has done, we're done to a skeleton crew. Here in New England, we're getting into a warmer weather it was, you know, in the 50s today. We've ordered all the boilers off. So we're not burning oil, we're not burning gas, we want to save on that. The lighting is all turned down, most everyone's got motion detectors now or, you know, the ability to just turn them off. So everything's off 24/7, we're down. I have one person in each building and you know, I told them to dress warm because it might get a little cool in the buildings. But if you haven't turned your events off, and you have the automation solution, it's gonna heat that auditorium Saturday night at eight o'clock when you were going to have that recital, or you know, Sunday afternoons for church. Or, you know, later in the afternoons when when school's out, and you know, you have the Girl Scouts coming into a lecture hall or something like that. All those large spaces are going to take take up an energy suck where people have really tried to shut it down right now and save what they can.

Josh Peach  
Yeah, we've got a lot of folks, you know, majority of our followers and listeners are facility professionals like yourself, but we have a pretty significant amount that that are that are learning or that are, you know, directly tied somehow to the facility professionals. You know, I get this asked this question pretty frequently and I don't know the exact answer but you know, ballpark, what do you figure it costs to run a gymnasium lights, heat, air conditioner for an hour? What does that look like?

Paul Anastasi  
Oh, naturally it's going to depend on in the area of the country that you're in. But, I know, back when I worked in the city of Newton, for us to turn on all the buildings in the heating season for one day, it was like $13,000 for 23 buildings. That's for a day so that you can do the math there and break it down. Only  on a winter's day. Yeah, it's just it's crazy. It's a crazy amount of money that just especially in the large spaces, the gyms, the auditoriums, those spaces that everyone wants to use after hours.

Josh Peach  
With all that's going on in the world, we've decided to cancel our upcoming conference, Dude University. But we're excited to be introducing our first ever Virtual Dude University on May 5 and 6, 2020. Make sure you get on the list for this free two day mix of online sessions including product training, best practice sessions, industry connections, and a live client panel. Register for free online today at university.dude solutions.com.

What did you find as far as you know, the people that you talk to and kind of what you're going through? What did you find for experience or what they're the work that they're doing now with regard to their events? What are they? You know, is there a standard protocol that you were seeing? Were there any consistencies? Were there any inconsistencies?

Paul Anastasi  
Some of the questions, you know, I asked, were do you reimburse, or can you reimburse? You know, in a public setting a lot of times you have to keep things within a fiscal year. We're coming to the end of our fiscal year, June 30. And you know, what, if you had events that were going to run June 15, and 20th and you're going to invoice after that, how would you get them paid? Or if they're going to be not cancelled until June 15. How do you reimburse them? I found that most people here have a revolving account that their money goes into for using their buildings after hours, which is much easier than dealing with a public budget. So you can carry money over from one fiscal year to the next. I'm finding that a lot of people use that revolving account to take care of the spaces that are rented out after hours. So for instance, the revolving account will do the routine maintenance on the fitness equipment in the gym because they have an exercise group that uses it all the time, or the backboards, or the lighting controls in the auditoriums and the seats and the arms that get broken and things like that. Well, people need to start thinking down the line that they're going to deplete that revolving account. And without money coming in, it's not going to be there next year to do it. We're so used to have a constant rollover because buildings, you know, public buildings now, especially schools, they're used seven days a week, as much time as people can get in them, they can use them. So there's a lot of money coming in from those those events. 

Josh Peach  
Well, I think when you talk about depleting the money that you have now for events that are booked for this budget year, if you're keeping or hanging on to those fees for events that aren't happening, ie. you're not canceling you're rescheduling or postponing to next year, that space is going to get additional wear and tear with no funds out of the upcoming fiscal year. So it's something that folks need to really kind of think about and forecast. And that's one thing I just thought of, you know, you're always great with reports and forecasting and being able to tell, you know, within a barometer of how much you're going to rent your space most likely and how much you stand to recover. This is going to be a huge differentiator in that number because you're going to actually have your rental numbers probably go higher but your income or revenue generated, be lower because you have funds being held from this year, which people probably need to be a little bit more aware of as well.

Paul Anastasi  
Right, but most of the regulars will, you know, give them a credit into next year's use because they come back year after year, the one off people you'll see people getting checks back and the refunds for most of the, you know, the youth groups the youth soccers, the youth baseballs.

Josh Peach  
But those will probably just be canceled until next year, they're not going to be gone.

Paul Anastasi  
They will be canceled until next year, so that money is not going to come in and you're going to have them still come in next year. And there is a hole, there's a gap of time missing there that, you know, income wasn't coming in and some refunds went out. But now when we're given, we're given back the the facility without income coming in anymore.

Josh Peach  
So you guys are in a unique situation where your staff has something to do when they're actually setting up the system. And in doing that, which I think that if anyone's in that world where they really want to get a handle on things they want to evaluate what they're using and do something. What would you say would be the top three or four things for someone to do just with their existing process or system right now? I'm a school any town USA, my staff's gone five weeks ago, we've had to re-establish and try to figure out our new normal. This may or may not be on the radar screen. What should someone do right now? What should be the things they should address somehow?

Paul Anastasi  
I think it was interesting when I sent out the survey and and got the answers back. What I read into it was and you know what it's like reading email if there's no formality to it. There's no highs and lows in people's voices, so you could try to make the best out of what they're actually saying and feeling. They were recording what they typically do. They refund money, they credit into next year, they will stop their bookings. But no one really said we've done that. So I thought that was interesting. They told me what the process is, but no one said we have done this. So I think to start off right off the bat, I would cancel anything that you are 100% sure will be canceled. Stop that event, stop the clock ticking and that'll shut down our automation and all that stuff. I would, people have time now I would invoice what can be invoiced. People. We're not in the buildings, but business is still going on. In schools, people are still getting paid. The business office is still running, checks are still getting sent out. So most organizations are running their business stuff from home so or even going into the office, you know when they can't do it. So I would get invoices out and get get people up to date. Now's the time to do all that upkeep that we're always trying to play catch up on. The, there was a real interesting reply to the question I asked was What do you think would be a realistic time that we're going to reopen? And that was all over the map. But some people said we're canceling everything for the rest of the school year. Some said, we're going by what the governor says. And here the governor says May 4, I think right now, we're waiting for that to be updated. Most people think it's going to go later in May, or maybe even out until June 1. And I know, I've heard on the news that some states have even canceled their school year. So I think if if you have a definite decision by your administration, I'd get everything canceled and get everything up to date to that date, and then stop planning on you know, what's next? How are we going to bring people back? We're going to have summer programs. My personal opinion is I think when we do get back and they tell us flip the switch and let's go, that schools are probably going to be used for school events just to start to get started. I think it's gonna go back to the old days where schools were used for school. They weren't used for church. They weren't used for funerals and wakes and everything else that everyone's using schools for nowadays. And then it will slowly roll out to where we were before this shutdown.

Josh Peach  
Yeah, well, I think you make a great point. I know in the state of Massachusetts, I know that I think it's the state of Virginia, the state of Oklahoma, there's three or four states that are canceled through the end of the year. And the assumption would be if classes are canceled, then all events at the buildings are going to be canceled. But you make a good point like where we are the state of Massachusetts, it's May 4. So you should be canceling all your events up to May 4. There aren't going to be any events in your buildings until then, and then establish a plan for when May 4 hits. What next? You know, what do we do? I'm with you. My belief on this whole thing and I could be way off and I'm not that smart, I'm not a doctor, I have no idea about any of that stuff. What I do believe is even if the schools get back online May 4, and the kids go back in the seats, I think exactly what you're saying. I don't think any after hours use of buildings is going to be permitted. I think there's going to have to be a whole lot more organization. I think that people should be thinking about this whole COVID-19 and understanding who's in your school, because I think after this is probably going to be more scrutiny on when someone is diagnosed with something like this. Where were they? Who was in the building? We know right now in many cases, people that don't have an organized process, or don't have to share a whole lot of information, they just say I want this the gymnasium Friday night for three hours and not put the number of people or have a registration. Somebody could go in there with a contagious illness and you wouldn't know and you might not know to what you were while you're doing it. You set up a new cleaning for the basketballs and the kick balls and everything right to disinfect and sanitize. You might not know to do that right? So you might just do your standard cleaning and put yourself at risk. So I think that this is going to be at a minimum, June 30. But my suspicion is that business as usual for after hours events and rentals and giving the space to outside communities is probably not going to happen until September. But to really to plan based on what your governor is saying, for when you potentially could open up at least cancel through that point, like no one should have, in Massachusetts, no one should have an open after hours event right now, up to May 4.

Paul Anastasi  
Right, correct. So and then when it when it does reopen, how are you going to roll it back? How are we going to get back to where we were, with the system that we have now we can open it to school use, and so people can book their events for school use. And then we you know, who's next in line, it's usually the nonprofit's in town. So we open it up to the youth soccers and the little league baseball and the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. And then we roll it down to Joe down the street that wants to have a birthday party for his daughter with 200 kids. And those are the things you got to be thinking about now, how do we roll it out once the switch is flipped? Everyone's going to want to come back to the buildings and you're going to need to control that. And you have to do it with this with the systems that we have.

Josh Peach  
Yeah, no, those are good points. So what do you say about all this stuff? You've come out of retirement. Do you want to retire again, at this point? I mean, I'm amazed that you're keeping it all you're always just so darn like you smiling and handle everything so well. What some words of wisdom or some advice for some folks that might be struggling out there?

Paul Anastasi  
I used to say before that when we went into a snowstorm, for instance, or a large storm here and the teachers were saying one thing, the Superintendent was trying to think of the best thing for the whole system and, you know, the facilities people, the other people that need to keep it together. You know, we don't answer directly to the public. But we're the guys behind the scenes, guys and gals behind the scenes and I used to say I live for this. I had no idea that it would ever be to this magnitude. No one knows, no one could have predicted this. But I'm looking at it as a big storm. We're in it. And we have to do what we can to keep going. I mean, we've had four or five days snowstorms where you know day to day three there's nothing to do, you're in the lull and that's where we are now. And then when it comes time to reopening the building after a storm, you want to make sure sidewalks are clear and salted and go away as they're open and, and all that stuff. So yeah, I'm always looking to the next step and looking forward and I can speak for myself. I live for this stuff.

Josh Peach  
Oh yeah, and you do a great job at it and appreciate you for it. I mean, it's a you know, everywhere that you go and the people that you touch, whether it's in your district or the association, you do a phenomenal job of keeping that positive positive light net, that mental attitude. You said snowstorm in three or four days and I just got a twitch in my neck because I thought about the polar vortex. That was 27 days, a lot of people forget that, you know, every Monday and Tuesday for five weeks school was closed and we had over 115 inches of snow or something in 27 days. And that was hibernation station. I know I didn't leave anywhere for 27 days. So this is a little bit longer, but you're absolutely right. You know, just kind of take it as it goes along.

Paul Anastasi  
We can't change it, that's for sure. You know, we're not going to change it. We just have to ride with it, ride the wave.

Josh Peach  
Adapt, adjust and retool. Well, I really appreciate you spending a few minutes with us here and given your insight and hopefully that some of this podcast will give some folks some ideas and insight. Maybe help some of your members with some of the challenges that they're facing. And, you know, we're all in this together and trying to figure out, you know, best practices, kind of like what you said, Hey, we do but not necessarily we've done, what we're doing even it's kind of like what we've always done, but we need to get to it. And hopefully this is something that gets on people's radar screens because like I said, just our 1,600 clients, three months of events booked is 1.6 million events. That's a lot of events that need to be addressed and looked at. We do have about half a million of those have been canceled so far. But I suspect that a lot more going to be and what we want to do is avoid an administrative nightmare when they get back to school. So really appreciate you, my friend, keep moving the way you're going. Stay safe. And we'll catch you when this is all over and I'll rent to your gymnasium for a pickleball tournament. I'm not even really sure what Pickleball is, but that seems to be one of the most popular events that's going on around the country right now. 

Paul Anastasi  
Yeah, well, we'll figure it out. It's always a pleasure.

Josh Peach  
Appreciate you and that'll do it for another episode of Operate Intelligently. We've got a number of additional podcasts coming up for COVID-19 specific best practices to help you listeners and anyone that you might think that could use some help out of this. Please share the podcast with them and give us your feedback. Let us know what you think. In the meantime, stay safe out there. We'll talk to you soon.

Paul Anastasi  
Be safe everyone!

Josh Peach  
Thanks for listening to the Operate Intelligently Podcast produced by Dude Solutions. You can reach us by emailing dspodcast@dudesolutions.com or check us out on the web at dudesolutions.com

Transcribed by https://otter.ai
 

Interested in learning more?

Request a demo Talk to an expert
Back to top