April 28, 2022

Reach Your Customers and Thrive

To strengthen your business and be prepared for changing times, you must accept and embrace innovation. They say hindsight is 20/20, and while no one could have predicted the long-lasting impact the pandemic would have on our businesses, the truth is that most of these “new” marketing trends across the funeral and cemetery professions are actually not that new. Social media has been around. Google Ads were available as an advertising platform. Branding was always crucial, and having a functioning website was the norm. It’s just that, at the time, they were things we’d get around to implementing “eventually.” They were considered “nice to haves.” Now, when it’s vital to connect with client families in every way possible, these “new” trends have now become “need to haves.” I don’t want to bear bad news or be alarmist, but if you […]
April 28, 2022

Finance 301: Chapter 4: Pricing Considerations

As I attempt to transfer the knowledge I’ve learned over five decades in funeral service, I find I must ask questions as often as I answer them. Q1: Why is it important to set prices accurately? That sounds like a childlike question, but the way this profession sets prices would be an insult to most fifth graders. In 1985, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) forced funeral homes to change from a “package pricing model” (the family buys the merchandise and everything else is thrown in) to an “itemized service fee and merchandise-pricing model.” This caused owners to start by guessing how to allocate their fees on the 16 Funeral Rule-required itemized goods and services to account for the loss in revenue caused by dropping the markup on merchandise from about five times to roughly two times. To make matters worse, […]
March 29, 2022

HR Reality Check: Case Study #23

Scenario:  Remember Sally and Steve Mooney from HR Case Study #22?  They own Weacrematieu Cremation and Funeral Services located in the Southeastern United States.  The Mooney’s have a thriving business in an area that is experiencing a growth in population as it is very attractive to both new businesses and potential employees.  Weacrematieu case volume has been increasing year over year.  Long-term employee retention has been a key focus for Sally and Steve which has led them to develop very attractive benefits and compensation packages.  As part of their initiatives, they created an employee handbook and specific policies related to various benefits offered to employees.  These policies include health, dental, and vision insurance, paid sick leave, vacation leave and a retirement plan.  Within the employee handbook, the policies specifically outline how each benefit is provided or where to seek more […]
March 29, 2022

Finance 301: Chapter 3: A Preneed Game Plan

In last month’s column, I outlined the questions you must address for preneed to serve as a positive part of your business and planning. As noted at the end of that article, I intend to answer those many questions in this month’s article, so please, read on. Today, between 20% and 30% of the average funeral home’s annual calls originate from preneed. Now, if you thought that one person in your community would account for 20% to 30% of all your calls in a given year, would you be cavalier about the financial status of this person? Of course not. You would want to know their net worth, their ability to pay in the future, etc. The concept of preneed involves getting consumers to make advance directives, thereby informing their loved ones and the funeral home of the services and […]
February 24, 2022

When Inventory Is and Is Not Inventory

Nothing is more confusing to an outsider to this business than the concept of “inventory” in the cemetery business. Inventory is defined by most financial dictionaries as “the entire stock of goods, materials and components, finished and unfinished, of a business.” Therein lies the problem. The definition does not apply to the unique nature of the cemetery business. I have performed almost 1,000 valuations of cemeteries in my career. Routinely, each and every balance sheet of a business will list items as inventory. Some such items of a cemetery will be identified on their balance sheet as inventory. However, not all items that are called inventory by an accountant are, in reality, inventory because the definition is flawed. Cost of Goods Not a Good Measure Inventory is used in accounting as a “Cost of Goods,” but not all “Goods” can […]
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