Finance Column Collection

January 26, 2022

Finance 301: Chapter 1: The Future is Cremation

My Knowledge Transfer Plan Chapter 1: The future is cremation Two issues ago, I turned 68 years old. I mention this because I feel I bear a responsibility to this profession, one that has allowed me to build a company and serve more than 3,000 of its members during my career. While I have written more than 500 articles and four books covering many topics, I now want to systematically share all I have learned for the benefit of the next generation of business owners. I call this my Knowledge Transfer Plan (KTP). We human beings know we are not immortal, and I do not want to take any more knowledge with me to the grave than reasonable. (Yes, I will be buried.) With that said, please note that this column is now called “Finance 301.” This is the graduate-level […]
December 20, 2021

Chapter Twelve: The Economics of Preneed Theft

Competition is good, but theft by deceit and unfair business practices is anti-competitive. Sadly, the words “preneed” and “theft” can go hand in hand. I’ve seen people steal preneed deposits, falsify insurance claims and fail to make deposits into various trusts. These people, of course, are crooks. The thing is, they themselves would tell you they are crooks and knew they were breaking the law. There are others, however, who could be stealing preneed funds, but these individuals don’t think they’re doing anything wrong. They even commit their misdeed in the open, and if caught, will not be prosecuted. Who commits these nefarious acts, you ask? Some employees, when they leave a place of employment, choose to co-opt confidential business property and goodwill, then use it to try to convince consumers to move their established preneed arrangements to another funeral […]
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 […]
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