September 26, 2023

Funeral Service at the Crossroads

PART 1 OF 3 Written by Chris Cruger with Alice Adams Will you succeed in your profession’s new era? This is the first of a three-part series based on the results of The Foresight Companies’ Funeral & Cemetery Consumer Behavior Study, its annual public/professional funeral and cemetery survey conducted for the past four years. This article will focus on current perceptions and expectations of the consumer public and the gap occurring between these perceptions and those of funeral service and cemetery professionals. The second installment – education, education, education – will appear in the October issue of The Director and provide an extensive “how to” for educating your community. The final article in November will amplify the survey data on the importance of trust and transparency in the reality of consumer perceptions and needs in today’s marketplace. Modern eras are […]
September 26, 2023

Finance 301: Chapter 21: Autopsy and Eulogy: Business Autopsy, Part I

In the last generation or so, the funeral industry has lost more than 2,000 funeral home rooftops – from about 22,000 to just under 20,000. How many more are on the brink of going under in the next decade? This month, I offer my assessment of why funeral home businesses die. Charles Darwin is well regarded as a naturalist and biologist, but his thought-provoking propositions dealing with evolution do not just apply to zoology. I believe they equally apply to economic matters. When it is too easy for people to make lots of money, a Darwinian “economic pall” will occur so that only the best and brightest can dominate the business landscape. In short, I think businesses must “migrate, mutate or die.” Some think prejudicially that cremation is a factor in funeral home failures. I disagree. Cremation is only the […]
August 28, 2023

Open Your Ears

Funeral service consumers are speaking up, but are we listening? A little-known fact about me – I am a sucker for greeting cards and quotes. I cannot get enough of them and will easily spend hours browsing for the perfect card to give a loved one. Some may find them cheesy and cliché, but I am not one of them! I want to begin with a quote from famous novelist Ernest Hemingway, who once said, “When people talk, listen completely.” Are you still with me? Those words of Hemingway’s are a solid example of what should be a guiding principle for funeral home owners and cemetery operators when dealing with client families. Okay, one more and I promise I’m done. This is from Epictetus, a Greek philosopher. He states, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can […]
August 28, 2023

Cemetery Operations Without the Benefit of Key Performance Indicators

In the June 2023 Memento Mori, I explained why no one has yet to develop Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for a cemetery. That doesn’t mean that cemeteries should wonder aimlessly in their operations, bumping into financial walls at each turn. Below are my management objectives for running a cemetery—with or without advance sales. Revenue Revenue is the key starting point of operations. You should not be confident that since you have plenty of lawn space that you are a well-run cemetery. Revenue is the key. More revenue is more beneficial than less. Revenue is driven by four items. These are: Sales of Merchandise Cemetery Service Revenue Endowment Care/Perpetual Care Trust (“EC/PC Trust”) Income Sales of Interment Rights In your bookkeeping, you should separate the At Need Sales Revenue from the Advance Sales Revenue. Each of the first three items above […]
August 28, 2023

Increase Your Post-COVID Pre-Need Sales

Written By Chris Cruger and Alice Adams The phrase “Post-COVID” has been so overused, it sounds more like an excuse than a time reference. However, reality tells us almost every aspect of American life changed between the onset of the pandemic and now. This article discusses pre-need sales, examining what’s changed since COVID and how you can elevate the success of your pre-need program. Consumer Attitudes Since COVID Beginning in mid-February 2023, The Foresight Companies launched its fourth annual survey, one for consumers (4,587 respondents) and a second for the deathcare industry (155). The results were recently compiled and analyzed, and we want to share our findings. Our consulting practice is data-driven, and our business analyses, property valuations, recommendations for change, and market evaluations are determined based on the 100 years of combined experience of our principals and supported by […]
Call Now Button