Dan Isard

July 21, 2021

Industry Spotlight: Three Steps to Financial Independence

OK, you do not know if it is the right time to sell, let alone who to sell to and at what price and terms.  Here are the three steps: Determine the When to Sell. Long before it is a need to act, the first step is to create a Financial Preparedness Plan.  A Financial Preparedness Plan (“FPP”) starts with a calculation of how much money you need to be independent of your business.  The business value, your savings and any investment assets under your control are added to the government benefits outside of your control.  Then those are compared to the amount of your need. The need computation is a function of your, Life Expectancy, Assumed Investment Return, Assumed Inflation Rate and the amount of After-Tax Annual Income.  The need computation must be an estimated calculation. For example, if […]
July 20, 2021

Chapter Seven: The Staffing Crisis

How long will this peril haunt funeral service businesses? If you measure funeral service by universal crises, the crisis echoing in the 1980s was the FTC’s Funeral Rule. In the ’90s, the crisis was heralded as The Rise of the Acquisition Companies. Ironically, the crisis of the 2000s was The Fall of the Acquisition Companies (although it seems that everyone who hated them then somehow loved their money when they were ready to get out later, and now the market has crashed). Anyway, I would label the challenge of the 2010s The Cremation Crisis, as a 50% cremation rate became a reality in the United States. What about the 2020s? While it’s still early, I believe that for those of us who survived a pandemic and now progress from looking day by day to longer term, this span’s awakening peril […]
June 23, 2021

Nonprofit Boards Are Not for the Bored or the Inexperienced

I got the following letter about a year ago: I have been a successful business owner and was asked by my local cemetery to come onto their board almost 20 years ago. In the past few years, I was made the president of the board. I can see that we need to be more than a graveyard but so many of my fellow board members do not take an interest. They show up to our quarterly meetings just for the free lunch we provide. As president I am paid a salary and have the day to day responsibilities for the nearly 400 interments we provide and the care of our 80 acres. Yet, I cannot get board approval for any of the changes we need to make to provide for the future. Am I alone in having a bored board? […]
June 22, 2021

Chapter Six: Community Service as Ministry and Marketing

Whether you call this effort aftercare, community service or outreach programming, there are many ways to market the value of your ministry. Imagine you turn on your television and see a barker screaming, “I have a solution that will boost your business, increase average revenue per call, reduce bad debt, grow preneed and increase case count!” (If you’d change the channel, I wouldn’t blame you.) In the 35 years I’ve been researching the topic of community service performed by funeral homes, however, I can tell you straight up that doing community service properly will indeed increase average revenue per call, decrease bad debt, grow preneed services and increase your case count! It will also increase facility utilization (prepandemic, at least). Now, the question: “Why does community service create so many key benefits for my business?” There are three reasons. First, […]
May 25, 2021

Industry Spotlight: The Circadian Rhythm of Buying and Selling

In this industry spotlight, we want to highlight key insights on buying and selling. By my estimate, now in 2021, funeral service and the cemetery business combined make up a $24 billion dollar Market Cap business segment.  This is almost double what it was in 2000. Within the owners we have two groups.  The Public Money group: SCI is $9 billion, Park Lawn is $1 billion, Carriage $700 million, StoneMor $260 million The Private Money group makes up the 75% of all locations. Private Owners (either Mom & Pop or Private Equity money) make up the remaining $13 billion! This is about a 40%/60% split Public to Private.  In 1999, just before the fall of SCI, Loewen, and Stewart the split was about 25%/75% Public to Private. Yet, the Public, worth a combined $11 billion, have built very few funeral […]
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