Finance Column Collection

June 22, 2021

Chapter Six: Community Service as Ministry and Marketing

Whether you call this effort aftercare, community service or outreach programming, there are many ways to market the value of your ministry. Imagine you turn on your television and see a barker screaming, “I have a solution that will boost your business, increase average revenue per call, reduce bad debt, grow preneed and increase case count!” (If you’d change the channel, I wouldn’t blame you.) In the 35 years I’ve been researching the topic of community service performed by funeral homes, however, I can tell you straight up that doing community service properly will indeed increase average revenue per call, decrease bad debt, grow preneed services and increase your case count! It will also increase facility utilization (prepandemic, at least). Now, the question: “Why does community service create so many key benefits for my business?” There are three reasons. First, […]
May 21, 2021

Chapter Five: Reinvesting in Your Business

Making sure the investment is worth the return. As a business owner, I’m sure, you feel very proud of your firm. You might even assume that everyone in your community knows about your business and watches every time you mow the grass or paint the outside. And there’s no doubt they will contact you within minutes if you raise your prices, right? The reality is that most people call on a funeral home only when there is an emergency or an imminent problem; they rarely know about price changes, painting or lawncare. In fact, despite investing your money in or inheriting your business, you might have discovered that many people come to your firm thinking Ol’ Man Jones is still in charge. Well, you chose to control your own destiny. You made the decision to be a business owner because […]
April 21, 2021

Chapter Four: Big Numbers

Two successful funeral businesses with a real commitment to preneed. During my lifetime, I have been asked many questions that seemingly have no answer. Why is the sky blue? Why is the ocean blue? Why are Slurpees blue? My answer to all of these questions is that the blue lobbyist is better at his or her job than those lobbying for other colors. Anyway… one question I’ve often been asked is, “Why should I sell preneed?” I have spent my career researching preneed from all angles, and I can tell you there are many dynamics to this issue, including: Funding: trust, insurance, annuity or don’t fund Transference: at face value, original funding value, current value or don’t transfer State legal requirements: 100% trust, something less than 100% trust, use trust or insurance, don’t use trust or don’t use insurance. After […]
March 22, 2021

Chapter Three: Survival

The magnitude of the pandemic means you must reexamine your business from every angle. The past 12 months have been the longest in the history of mankind as we endured agonizing experiences caused by COVID-19. It was on March 11, 2020, that the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. And funeral service changed. Just as those who survived the Great Depression were never the same, everyone in America (and the world) will never be the same. In the world of funeral service, we have seen every dynamic of the business change – from the behavior of consumers and their support teams to the professionals. As consumer behavior changes, funeral service professionals must adapt. And while funeral service typically does a bad job reacting to change as a profession, the magnitude of the pandemic means you must revisit everything you […]
February 21, 2021

Chapter Two: Memorialization Since COVID-19

And green funerals since the beginning of time. This month, my challenge is to write about memorialization and green funerals. On the surface, the subjects appear unrelated, so, like any writer who wants to understand a topic, I first made sure I understood their definitions. “Memorialization,” a noun, is defined generally as “the process of preserving memories of people or events.” The phrase “green funerals,” a noun more or less defined by the Green Burial Council, is “a way of caring for the dead with minimal environmental impact.” As I said, unrelated subjects… until I dug deeper. What do these two concepts have in common? Here, I quote Banksy, an English street artist and activist, who said, “…They say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your […]
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