September 29, 2022

HR Reality Check: Case Study #24

Scenario: Troy and Tammy Lexington run Lexington Funeral Home & Cemetery, a generational funeral home/cemetery combo in the southern United States that has served their community for almost 100 years. Currently they serve more than 600 families a year with case count on an upward trend. Troy and Tammy bought the business from Troy’s father and uncle 10 years ago. They are both licensed funeral directors but find a significant portion of their time is spent managing the business. However, they still roll up their shirt sleeves to help with daily tasks as needed. Several of their employees were inherited when they purchased the business and have many years of experience in the funeral industry in various positions throughout the operation. Their business has grown steadily over the years, leading them to increase their staff. A few of the “original” […]
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

NEXT GEN: Leading

Top challenges facing those who lead the team and how to deal with them. One thing nobody impressed upon you when you were chosen for a position of leadership is the importance of simply showing up – to be there to handle situations with integrity, confidence and a balanced head; to be the guiding light; to be present; to be there when you’re needed, whenever that might be. Another thing no one told you was that you are supposed to have all the answers. Actually, that’s not true, but it isn’t far off. As the profession moves into this post-pandemic era, there is greater need for quality leaders today than ever before, which also means there is tremendous opportunity for young professionals today. Whether that journey leads to working for someone else or for yourself, success will likely require you […]
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 […]
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