Finance Column Collection

November 22, 2021

Chapter Eleven: Protecting Your Investment

Estimating case count during/after a pandemic. Creating and implementing a strategic plan starts with estimating your revenue. While calculating revenue involves a simple formula, estimating it during a pandemic is very difficult. More on that later in the article. So, as I said, revenue involves a simple formula, R = C x $, in which revenue equals calls multiplied by $ or average dollars/call. For example, if you expect to serve 100 families annually and your average dollars/call is $6,000, then your revenue will be $600,000. Now, during normal, non-pandemic times, you would need to make two basic assumptions to calculate your revenue: Normal Assumption 1: Upon how many calls should I build my budget? Most people use a three-year average, while others look for trends up or down and make a pro forma estimate based on those trends. I […]
October 27, 2021

Chapter Ten: The Best New Thing

Why be influenced by someone you don’t respect? A confident owner/manager who knows that his staff and firm deliver exceptional service has no competitors.   Since I first set foot in a funeral home in 1984, one best new thing has come along and evolved. No, you can’t buy it. No, you can’t steal it. And no, you can’t copy it from your competitor. This new thing, however, will help you increase your profit and the value of your business by thousands. Will it bring a smile to your face? Absolutely! Is it advertised in the pages of this magazine? No. In fact, if you add it to your repertoire, you will be the only one to have it. You should be warned that it is as infectious as any virus, though, so it will infect your staff and those […]
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 […]
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 […]
July 20, 2021

Chapter Seven: The Staffing Crisis

How long will this peril haunt funeral service businesses? If you measure funeral service by universal crises, the crisis echoing in the 1980s was the FTC’s Funeral Rule. In the ’90s, the crisis was heralded as The Rise of the Acquisition Companies. Ironically, the crisis of the 2000s was The Fall of the Acquisition Companies (although it seems that everyone who hated them then somehow loved their money when they were ready to get out later, and now the market has crashed). Anyway, I would label the challenge of the 2010s The Cremation Crisis, as a 50% cremation rate became a reality in the United States. What about the 2020s? While it’s still early, I believe that for those of us who survived a pandemic and now progress from looking day by day to longer term, this span’s awakening peril […]
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