Dan Isard

December 28, 2023

My Parting Thoughts

I have been blessed. I have worked my lifetime doing what I love and with people I respect as clients or co-workers. Truth be told, I can’t believe I earned a living. It was not work but a pure joy … most days. Now, I get to ride out of Dodge on my own horse, sitting upright. This is my last column, for I am now retired. The company that I founded, The Foresight Companies, and have reinvented for four decades, is continuing in the hands of my partners, Chris Cruger and Doug Gober. In fact, Chris will continue to provide thought-provoking ideas in this space going forward. In my swan song of a column, I would like to thank the members of the cemetery profession and all ICCFA’s members. More than that, I would like to beseech you to […]
December 28, 2023

Finance 301: My Final Column

After 39 glorious years, which went by in a nanosecond, this issue marks my final column before I turn over this printed space to Chris Cruger, my business successor. I’m also fortunate to hand over ownership and control of The Foresight Companies, which I founded four decades ago, to Cruger and the irrepressible Doug Gober. Selecting them as my successors was one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made, but it took risk, patience and trust by all three of us to achieve a great outcome. With that said, I now seize my chance to bid you, my audience and friends, adieu in my own way. Well, not really “my way” since there will be no math involved. Past I entered the world of funeral service at an amazing time and, ultimately, the evolution of my career was totally on […]
November 28, 2023

Cremation, Memorials, and Virtual Visits

I am old enough to remember the very first episodes of The Jetsons. This futuristic primetime cartoon showed us the world of tomorrow. While so many of the concepts still have not come to be, many have! But The Jetsons never had a cartoon character die, so we never got to see how George or Jane would have been interred in the future. With all due respect to Hanna-Barbera Productions, here is my best guess at the cemetery of the future. Why is this concept even print worthy for this magazine? Well, you have a major investment in this business for which you have stewardship. Your stewardship will last until you retire and pass that responsibility on (in a nonprofit) or until you sell it (in the case of a management agreement or a for-profit). In most cases, you have […]
November 28, 2023

Finance 301: Chapter 23: The Intersection of the Annual Business Plan and Your Life Plan

Every year for almost 40 years, I have worked with funeral home owners and managers, as well as cemeterians, to create their annual business plans. As I prepare to exit my chosen career, I want the next-to-last lesson plan I offer you to be about, er, well… planning. I have learned more than I ever thought possible about planning for my lifetime, so allow me to be your wise “Uncle Murray” this month. The “big picture” is actually not one image but more like a jigsaw puzzle, made up of all sorts of pieces, small and large, that together form your life. While those of you who chose to become business owners have a picture within the big picture called your business, each individual’s pieces should all fit together to form their life plan. It’s only after retiring that you […]
October 25, 2023

Finance 301: Chapter 22: Autopsy and Eulogy: Business Autopsy, Part II

Last month, I provided a postmortem of the most common causes leading to the death of a funeral business. Here, I share a few thoughts on eulogizing those firms. Funeral directors are mission-driven people, not profit-driven people. Just as a church can fail if its revenue does not exceed its expenses, so, too, can a funeral home. Unlike other for-profit businesses, funeral providers cannot generate more revenue by advertising or somehow “stimulating” business. At-need services cannot be driven. The death of many iconic businesses can be tied to technology. Do funeral homes face the same risk? Big-box retailers were hurt by technology, for example, and Amazon is now the independent-business killer that Walmart was accused of being 30 years ago. That said, Amazon can’t even deliver caskets in a timely manner, so I doubt it could handle cremation very well […]
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