Articles

October 24, 2022

Hiring or Firing: Knowing the Basics of At-Will Employment

One of the most basic and widely held employment practices in the country is called “at-will” employment. At-will employment simply means that the relationship between employer and employee can be terminated at any time, by either party, for any reason. An employer can fire an employee without giving a reason and, likewise, the employee can quit for any reason or no reason at all. In addition, the employer is free to change any terms of employment, including pay, benefits, and working hours. While many believe this to be arbitrary and unfair, no employees would want to be in a position where they must work at a firm they do not like or cannot accept another job offer because they are obligated to continue to work where they are for some period of weeks or months. The opposite of an “at-will” […]
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 […]
October 24, 2022

Finance 301: Chapter 10: One Critical Question

As you might imagine, when planning my scheduled columns so many months in advance, I keep them organized using the Dewey Decimal System and color coding. This allows me to write something in January that will be published in April and read in May, thus making my editor happy. Well, everything was running smoothly until NFDA published its 2022 Cremation and Burial Report, which ruined my nice, orderly life! Now, even though my life is upended, I have no desire to ruin yours. Therefore, before you read another word of this column, stop and get a copy of this report. It’s free for NFDA members. If you’re not an NFDA member, you have two options: Steal a copy from a friend who is a member or pay the nominal fee to get your own. Why? Because I think this NFDA […]
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 […]
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