September 29, 2021

HR Reality Check: Case Study #22

Scenario: Sally and Steve Mooney started Weacrematieu Cremation and Funeral Services 25 years ago. Located in the heart of a popular tourist area in the Southeastern United States, the local population continues to expand as jobs are readily available and the cost of living reasonable. Weacrematieu has experienced significant growth each year in the number of families it serves, which has created challenges for Sally and Steve in terms of hiring licensed qualified staff and creating attractive benefit programs to retain them. It has been difficult to find employees who see working at Weacrematieu as a “calling” rather than just a “paycheck.” To encourage employees to have long-term vision, some of the benefits require employees to be employed for extended periods prior to qualification, such as the retirement plan. Sally has created an employee handbook that provides a summary of […]
September 28, 2021

Chapter Nine: You Need a Business Plan, Part 2

In last month’s issue, I explained what a business plan is and laid the groundwork for why you need to have one. This month, I want to take you deeper, so, instead of more theories, I asked two industry veterans to contribute their thoughts. The first is Steve Shaffer, CEO and president of Homesteaders Life Insurance Company. Shaffer didn’t start at the top of this company; he spent the past two decades in public accounting, joined a national acquirer as its CFO and then founded one of the top acquisition companies before leaving it to join the preneed world. I also spoke with Chris Cruger, managing partner at the company I founded, The Foresight Companies. He had a major background in finance and operations within the funeral business before joining Foresight. Today, he influences some of the most successful funeral […]
September 28, 2021

It’s All in the Data

NFDA Consumer Awareness and Preferences Survey Commentary Complementary consumer surveys show three strong cultural trends for which you may need to adjust your business. Imagine you answer the phone and the voice says, “I have data compiled independently that will tell you what consumers are saying about funeral service and what they expect from a funeral provider.” You might cautiously ask, “Well, that’s all well and good, but how recent is this data?” The mysterious salesperson responds, “It is all from within the past year, tracking consumer changes since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Not wanting to seem too easy a sell, your next question would probably be, “Well, how much is this data?” To which the shadowy huckster replies, “It’s about $250,000, payable in one easy payment.” At that moment, you have an involuntary muscle spasm and hang […]
August 24, 2021

Growth is Calling

It’s time to decide whether you’ll evolve your business or prepare for succession. The reference to “growth” in the business world does not necessarily coincide with multiple acquisitions. What it does pair with is the word “evolve.” The Foresight Companies’ 2021 Funeral and Cemetery Consumer Behavior Study revealed that consumers are embracing completely new ways of doing things and have no intention of going back to the old ways. They are evolving, and so should we. Empirical insights from the study show this clearly: 74% of consumers expect to find prices online (66% expect to see products online as well). 47% of consumers will not do business with a firm if it does not provide pricing online (if there is an alternative). 32% of consumers’ attitudes about the profession have changed because of COVID. Consumer attitudes about the profession’s ability […]
August 23, 2021

Chapter Eight: You Have No Business Not Having a Business Plan

This month, I’m going to rely on a basic statistic: 99% of all privately owned funeral home businesses do not have a business plan.* I know this because I’ve worked with more than a thousand funeral home owners over the past 35-plus years, and every time I ask for a copy of their business plan, I’m met with a crinkled-up forehead and an oral lesson starting with the words, “Dan, you don’t understand…” So, here is what I do understand: A business plan is a written document listing goals for the year and instructions on how to get to those goals. A business plan should be reviewed at least quarterly to see how the business is performing relative to the stated objectives. A business plan for a funeral home should cover the next year, the intermediate period and the long […]
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