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How to Plan Your Work & Work the Plan Around Events at Your Facility

Mary Beth Ormiston and Doug Page join us to share a bit more about risk management around events and what you need to prepare for an event at your educational facility... and document during and afterward. 



Welcome to the Operate Intelligently Podcast, the podcast for all things operations.

We got another great episode for you today talking about events and how to manage risk mitigation and liability. Joining me today are Mary Beth Ormiston and Doug Page. Mary Beth, tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.

Well, thanks for asking. I've had the pleasure of working on number of years as a CEO in the YMCA world and space. And then I left that and came down to Raleigh, North Carolina for warmer climates and work for a company was called The Redwoods Group and was director of risk management for that. And I currently have my own company that's called MBO Consulting of where I do consulting around risk management and love to do work for Dude Solutions. And so thanks for having me here.

Yeah, thank you for coming. And Doug, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Yeah, I'm a consultant that works with nonprofits and some school districts on safety and risk mitigation situations.

We know that schools and educational institutions, you know, have a great opportunity to use their event space when it's not being used for the traditional curriculum and classrooms. But, you know, in doing this, it creates a whole risk with it. So could you talk a little bit about like, you know, how schools and educational institutions you have to deal with, like, reducing risk and liability with events that they're hosting?

Yeah, it starts with the pre-planning of everything, getting up front, making sure that you have all your ducks lined up and arose in case anything does happen. And that's going to start with the legwork up front and getting the paperwork done, making sure the buildings in a right proper condition, etc, and then moving on to when the event is actually there, how that's going to work. So that's, that's really what the needs to happen at two-step process that needs to be handled that way.

I would also suggest that people take a look at not only why they want to lease or rent out their facilities, but take a look at whatever the activity is, and does it match the facilities that are available, I have found that one of the issues has to do with personnel, the school personnel that runs the schools are the education, you know, centers, universities, whatever it is, sometimes they're different than those that are off hours. And so that consistency of how that works. And I agree with Doug, it's a process and the process of the key to that is consistency, and cannot be sustainable as they move forward.

So it's almost like, you've got to have that risk plan in place ahead of time. And it needs to be really tailored to the off hours, behavior and events. And like I said, staff, because it's going to be that's going to be different than what you're going to have during the regular administration hours.

That's correct. It needs to be tailored. And he also needs to be tailored for that individual building that you're using a facility that you're using, some people want to put a plan in place for their whole association or their whole school district. But each school each facility is different and set up differently. So you need to make sure that it's not a cookie cutter plan, that it's a specific plan for that facility that you're using.

And the other piece of it is, I think that what happens in facilities, they'll say, during the daytime, I going to make an assumption could be different than what happens after hours, which means that in terms of whoever has that responsibility, and the accountability for not only the program, but overseeing the facility must be trained. And so the training to some degree will have some similarities, when it comes to taking a look at risk and what you do, and you know, like, you know, what to do if something happens to somebody, but you need to make sure that the people there are training appropriately.

So what type of contract and paperwork and procedures need to be put in place for these type of events?

Well, we always recommend, first of all, that there is a contract in place. And so that is an agreement between the person who owns the property and those that want to read it. And that is duly executed, communicated, it's consistent with all policies of that institution, it is signed off, and everybody understands what the framework that contract is, like the framework of what you can do with the facility who has responsibility. And so that's the first thing and then I always say, or try to recommend the consistency of it, even though we may have a friend that has a program and they want to come in that friend should have the same contract as somebody else. So it should be consistent with your policies.

Yes, absolutely Mary Beth, it needs to be consistent. And then also things you need to do is make sure you get the contract ahead of time, a lot of people, what they'll do is they'll wait till the day of the event to get the contract. That's not a good practice or policy to have in place, because there may be some things missing at that time. So even though you know the person or know the institution that may be using the facility, get the contract ahead of time and make sure that you have everything lined up at the right place.

The other thing that I think is important that within the contract, you have the particulars of what is required. And it's important to make sure that what's in the contract, which is like the policy is also the practices that they meet that they overlay that there's not a gap between what's the policy and what's the practices. An example of that might be, let's say that it is a youth sports program, and they have lots of leagues and lots of people coming in. So in the contract, it says everybody needs to check in and check out well, that may or may not be feasible, that could be hundreds of people, you don't know. So whatever the practices needs to be the protocols and vice versa.

So like safety, safety comes into it a lot, as well as I'm assuming that within your contract, you've also you kind of outline the liability of each parties and what each party is responsible for.

Yeah, and the contract is going to specify what the insurance limits are, etc. and all that can be lined up. But what the liability is of the it's not the liability it's it's doing the right thing, it's doing the thing that's important, everybody gets hung up on we're going to get sued, etc. And that may or may not happen. But are you doing the right thing at the right time. For instance, in the northern areas of the country, the Midwest and the northeast and the snowstorm, if there's a snowstorm going on, do you really want people coming in and out of your facility or what are the plans around that doing the right thing would make sure that the driveways, a plowed the walks or salted, and sand and shoveled, etc. That's doing the right thing, and somebody may fall, they may not fall. But what's the right thing that you've done on to prepare for this.

And I think along with that is, as we've talked about, the contract is important. It's important to know, but the framework is, but it's also important to understand why In fact, you are leasing out or renting out your facilities. You know, as Doug said, the liability is important. And we need to understand that. But it's also about doing what's right. So that means to the people that you're allowing to come in to use your facilities and are paying a charge, they're paying some dollars for it to make sure that that matches with what it is that you want. It's just not all money, whether it's community service. So those things all have to come together. And when those things come together, then you probably have a relationship that you begin to understand that leveraging your facilities with community groups works, but with a true understanding.

And then it also kind of like trickles into, like how you keep the facilities running smoothly. And I wonder if you could talk a little bit about that.

Yeah, the facilities you have to prepare the contingency plan, this gets back to the paperwork at the beginning, what's the contingent how are we going to deal with things as they arise, I mean, who's going to make sure the trash is taken out on time, who's going to make sure the buildings open? Are we making sure the fire alarm systems working to people know the address of it. So that's all the stuff that needs to happen ahead of time for the process to work smoothly, because then we're not going to eliminate everything, what we're going to do is we're going to mitigate the potential for some issues along the way, if by by doing that, and doing the right paperwork ahead of time, and the right walkthrough, etc,

I think education facilities, they want to do the right thing, they want their facilities used to be used. And in return, there's probably a fair cost that's involved with that. And which seems to make sense, because people are using the facilities, there's overhead that has to happen. But where I see problems happening is when from the front end, we don't have all the information that we need, we don't tell people where the parking lots are, we're not prepared to have them, we haven't shared with them, you know, where the first aid kit is, or, or, you know, anything having to do with any kind of emergency, we also want to make sure that what's going to be the plan for bathrooms being open all those kinds of things, and security, how do we handle those, because at the end of the day, and I call this the brand, whether it's a university, whether it's a school, whether it's a preschool, we have to protect the brand. And that's our name, because that's part of the community. So in doing so, as we go clear back to what we talked about at the very beginning, and is have that framework in place, have that contract, be able to make sure you can document everything, because if it's not documented, as we know, in today's world, it really doesn't exist. Definitely, definitely.

And I agree with you, it is, you know, it's a huge brand impression. And a lot of times, parents coming into a school for the first time, maybe it's an off-hours to see a play or something like that, or your kids are having, you know, scouts or some other activity. And that's a big impression when you go in there. I know we do ours at a local church, but similar, similar experience, you know, like having having everything ready that we can have the meeting, we can run it on time, what happens if somebody does hurt themselves, making sure it's gets closed up? Everybody gets home safely, those type of things, right? Yeah, the worst thing you want is to not be prepared for it. And then something were to happen in the event at the event at the at the school or the facility, etc. And then everybody's scrambling around, does anybody know the address where we're located here? Does anybody know where the first aid kit is? Does anybody know where the fire extinguisher is? The ad etc. So if you have all that worked out ahead of time, as Mary Beth said, you're going to be a lot better off in the long run, if something in the event that something does happen. So plan your work and work the plan.

And how much do you guys like, say, work with like an emergency management plan? I guess maybe in parallel with this, or?

Well, yes, I think that part of the early on discussions with the institution and with the, with the group that's coming in, is to understand all of that. Absolutely. And that goes back to knowing who you're renting to knowing who's going to be in your facility, all that's done, everything that you can do at the get go allows for a great experience. And that's what we want to have.

Definitely, definitely. So, you know, what are the first steps we've talked about these different kinds of plans. So how would I get started, if I'm, you know, a new facility manager looking at doing events after hours at my school?

Well, there's, there's one often overlooked area where you can go get some resources from, and that's your insurance company, they have lost control, risk management, whatever you want to call it, but work through your independent agent, your insurance agent to go to the insurance company to get that information, they may have a template for you already on how to do this, they may not, but why recreate the wheel, when you can at least get some framework set for everything. That's that's my suggestion on it.

Yeah, and I so agree with that. And don't be afraid to particularly a depending on where the facility is, you know, tap into your police department, you know, you may want to have perhaps, if it's a big parking area, and you have a large group in, you may want to have police, you know, driving the parking lots, maybe you want even to have higher security, let's just say it's a big dancer or something, look to your community to help education centers. Again, no matter what they are, they're part of the community. And I always feel anytime that you can lock in and ask other people for help. Just like Doug said, there's no reason to reinvent the wheel looked at those that have done these things before. Because they, they're experts at it. And they can help greatly.

And the other thing to do is, once you get it done the first time doesn't mean you're done with getting it done, you need to set up a regular interval, whether it's annually every other year, whatever read looking at these contracts read looking at facilities are going to change is going to be additions to them, there's going to be some that are removed from the operations. And so you need to take a look at it. A lot of times, people will build one that will build a template for it. And then they just let it sit there and say, that's done. They check that off on their list. But you know what, you need to go back and revisit that every two to three years to make sure that you're staying on top of current changes that may or may not impact the facility.

That's absolutely right. And the other thing I think that ties in with that is personnel change. And so you always have to make sure that who's ever has that final accountability or responsibility for that event, that they're trained. And that's not something you do one and done that is training is always continual. Because people forget. And as Doug says, policies, procedures, everything changes in today's world.

So the insurance companies police are two people that are good to talk to. Are there any other people?

Yeah, you could go to the State Department of Education may be one, if you have it available on risk managers for the state. If there are some available use them the fire department, Mary Beth mentioned, the police department, the fire department be another area to go to so use the resources that are out there. The other thing too is called a school down the road or whatever in your in your town to find out if they've put it together and who they used, use some of the resources and build some of that yourself.

That's a great resource, Doug, and I want to thank you and Mary Beth, for coming in today and sharing your expertise in this area. And if you want to learn a little bit more about it, Mary Beth and Doug are going to be joining us on a webinar on March 7 will have a link in the show notes so you can register if you want to attend. I want to thank again Mary, Beth and Doug for coming in today. Thank you.

Thank you for having us.

Thank you 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

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