Dan Isard

September 28, 2022

Finance 301: Chapter 9: Trust But Verify

As this column has been memorializing the key points of knowledge I have acquired and want to pass on to you, here’s another to remember: Nothing prevents problems better than writing things down. I have found that many life-changing matters can occur when business owners, employees or both go on nothing more than a handshake and their memory. President Ronald Reagan summed it up when he repeated an old Russian proverb: “Trust but verify.” Now, I am not an attorney, so I am not giving legal advice here. I have been a business owner for 40 years, however, as well as an employer, expert witness in more than 100 cases and one who has paid for a few points of litigation, so I have learned a few things about the law. In my experience, I tend to see funeral directors […]
August 25, 2022

Cemeteries Are Not Funeral Homes

Cemeteries are not Funeral Homes. Their mission is very different from their sibling within the deathcare business. A cemetery is a long-term provider of care versus a funeral home, which is short term. The funeral home may have an intense relationship with a family, going from stranger to intimate member of the family within two to five days. The cemetery may start out as a stranger, but the relationship will go on for generations (a generation is measured as a term of 20 years). But both funeral home and cemetery are important providers to survivors in the event of death. Yet, many funeral homes spend a lot of time, money, and effort promoting their “independent” or “family ownership.” Cemeteries do not. And for good reason. Cemetery Ownership If we look at the history of cemetery ownership, there are a few […]
August 25, 2022

Finance 301: Chapter 8: Recruiting and Retaining Talent

Nothing is worse for a columnist, especially one in the darkening days of his career, than to repeat himself or herself endlessly. If you do that, you become the print version of that elderly uncle who tells you for the seventh time in two days the same story from his glory days. I use “uncle” instead of being gender neutral or defaming an aunt because men tend to live in the past more than the fairer sex. When an elder female family member wants to belabor a point, she just reminds you that she already told you something, averts her eyes and goes back to her mah-jongg tiles. Anyway, as that aging uncle, I won’t remind you that your profession must rebuild funeral service licensure and education for the future. (See my previous columns for discussions on that.) I will […]
July 24, 2022

Using Packages to Enhance Your Revenue

I appreciated attending the 2022 ICCFA Annual Convention in Las Vegas. It gave all of us there a feeling of what normal used to be. As I was walking through the exhibit area, one person stopped me and asked, “Is there one single thing we can do to enhance our revenue?” I pondered the question as asked and felt that the topic should be treated as three questions: How do we know what our revenue should be? Is there something we can do to enhance revenue? Is there one single thing we can do to enhance revenue? Allow me to answer the one question, three ways. How do we know what our revenue should be? This is simple math. Revenue should be equal to or greater than overhead. Whether you are a cemetery, funeral home, trade service, or combination operation, […]
July 24, 2022

Finance 301: Chapter 7: Gender, Race and Funeral Professionals

I have seen many changes in the funeral service profession during my career. Some of these changes created challenges to the business plan with which funeral directors were indoctrinated, such as cremation and funerals without merchandise. Some involved operating trials, such as the rise of price-focused competitors. Others arise from cultural challenges that have changed the consumer’s paradigm, such as natural burial, alkaline hydrolysis and other new-fangled horticultural burial offerings. Any/all of these factors could change the future of funeral service by impairing your profit. There is one change moving along at full speed, however, that could be part of the future in a positive way: the rise of women and minorities coming into this business. The single largest problem the funeral service profession must deal with is who is going to serve families. I love that technology now allows […]
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