Business Financing

November 21, 2022

Should Your Master Plan Include a Natural Burial Area?

Recently, a new cemetery client asked me to help repurpose a Master Plan. For those of you who are not regular readers, a Master Plan is the long-term plan for your undeveloped areas and maybe any developed areas that have not been sold or interred into yet. Good consultants usually answer a question with a question. My reply was, “If you had a restaurant, would you only have a few items on the menu, or would you try and provide variety?” Most cemeterians are limited in their mindset. Natural Burial is a viable and profitable option that may work. What Is Natural Burial? Well, it is basically a Kosher burial option, where the body is not embalmed with caustic materials. But that is the very limited interpretation. This can be conjugated to include a container holding the body that must […]
November 21, 2022

Finance 301: Chapter 11: Marketing to Your Friends and Adversaries

I entered this business when your grandparents were running it. Back then, it was easy to market a funeral home: go to Rotary meetings (or other social organizations) weekly, attend church services each weekend, park your cars in the parking lot each day after washing them, and wait for the phone to ring. Ah, the good old days. There was really very little to call acrimonious about your marketing efforts then (other than that stupid competitor down the road) because the issues that mattered to families were their religion, where their family was buried and which firm had served them in the past. I remember a study we conducted on funeral market share in the late 1980s. We found that a town’s “churched percentage” was the same as the number of people who knew which funeral home they would use. […]
November 21, 2022

When Opportunity Knocks, Be Prepared

Ask the Right Questions, Get the Right Answers Most of us might be familiar with this verse from the Bible: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Matthew 7:7 (KJV). The passage suggests that God will give whatever is needed to those who have the faith to ask for it. The same often holds true when it comes to helping cremation families. If you desire more than just a direct cremation, you must ask. The ask comes in the form of questions. You also must seek the answers you are looking for from your client. Only through exploration with conversation starters can you obtain the necessary knowledge to enlighten the family to additional offerings. Finally, you must knock if you want the door to be opened. In […]
October 24, 2022

The Best Thing I’m Doing Right Now: Spreading The Good Word

The best thing I’m doing right now is evangelizing the value of the funeral, and not just to the outside world but to those in our profession as well. Granted, evangelism is typically used in terms of spreading the Christian Gospel, but it can also mean “a zealous advocacy for a cause” or “to talk about how good you think something is.” I believe now is a great time to be in funeral service. In fact, the services we provide are needed more today than ever before. We often hear individuals in funeral service refer to their chosen profession as a calling, much like someone’s calling into the ministry. In fact, many directors say they “minister” to the families they serve. Therefore, if the work of a funeral director is a calling, then I am proud to be a “‘funeral […]
October 24, 2022

What Makes a Salesperson Successful? Empathy, Experience, and Leads!

For most cemeteries that are reliant on cash flow, there is no bigger issue than hiring a salesperson. This is a constant and recurring problem. Salespeople turn over constantly. It seems the only ones who don’t turnover are the bad ones. Hiring, training, compensating, and keeping them productive is a most difficult part of the job for any owner or general manager. While much of this article will be the same for funeral home advance sales sellers, I do not want to try and cover the two different fields of funeral and cemetery. The DNA of the sale itself is different. In a funeral home you are selling a service (albeit there may be some merchandise, but the service of the funeral is what you are selling). In a cemetery you are selling a product (albeit the service is getting […]
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