Finance Column Collection

December 21, 2020

Step 12: Tying It All Together

Life is what happens when you’re making other plans. In September 2019, my publisher shared with me his idea for 2020’s editorial theme: “20/20 Vision.” Thus, we meticulously laid out the focus of each month’s article and left my December column – the one you’re reading right now – to arrange all of the pieces and tie the previous 11 months together. Well, guess what? It can no longer be done! For the record, in 30 years of writing articles for The Director, I have never all-capped a sentence. Moreover, I’ve worked with my publisher for at least 25 years, but he did not take the novel coronavirus into consideration. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 220,000 people and scarred the health of millions more, turned his plans and your business upside down! As a study my company […]
November 23, 2020

Step 11: Valuation and Business Succession

The top five uninformed mistakes people make when buying or selling a funeral home. First, dear reader, understand that our relationship involves mutual responsibilities. As the author, I write. As the reader, you, er… well, you read. I promise never to lie to you in my monthly columns. You promise never to plagiarize my articles. Given our sacred relationship, I must therefore make sure you understand this month’s subtitle: “The top five uninformed mistakes…” Note it does not say, “The five uninformed mistakes,” but instead, “The top five uninformed mistakes.” In 35 years, I’ve simply seen too many mistakes to list them all in a 1,500-word article. Maybe, after I retire, I will write another book about all the errors people make. Secondly, dear reader, understand that these errors are not limited to buyers or to sellers but to both […]
October 25, 2020

Step 10: Borrowing and Cash Management

Neither a borrower nor a lender be. – Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3 I quoted Lord Polonius from Shakespeare’s famous play because I needed someone expressing the wrong opinion on the merits of borrowing. Sure, I could have quoted any of 200 different radio talk show hosts, but then I might appear narrow-minded or opinionated. I also could have quoted several funeral home owners, but then they might feel offended. Anyway, in this 10th installment of our 12-part 20/20 vision of rebuilding your funeral business, I will explain borrowing, give examples of when and when not to borrow and note from whom you should and should not borrow. And, of course, I will do all of this without using mathematics or being opinionated… BORROWING DURING A PANDEMIC There is only one certainty during a pandemic to a business owner: You […]
September 21, 2020

Step 9: Collecting Receivables

Four objectives to increase receivables collection and cut down on bad debt. To explore the concept of collecting receivables, I first want to share with you the day I met with the funeral director who handled my father’s funeral. I had been in this profession as a consultant for about a decade, and to prepare for the aging of my parents, I set up a joint checking account with my folks. When my dad, Max, died, I went to the funeral director with my father’s checkbook in hand to make his final arrangements. I picked out the casket and arranged the other service details. (The cemetery plot had been pre-purchased.) When we were finished, I said to Bennett, the funeral director: “I have Max’s checkbook here. How much do I owe you?” Bennett said, “Dan, we will send you a […]
August 6, 2020

Step 8: Alternative Services

What can you do to raise the revenue on each call you get?  In my professional lifetime, I’ve been exposed to many different types of businesses. Some were service, some manufacturing, some retail; I was even professionally acquainted with the casino industry for about three years (remember this, blackjack players, do not split sixes!). Most of my career, though, has focused on funeral service businesses and, comparatively, I can tell you there is no business more difficult to run. Every dynamic of running a funeral business is difficult. Marketing a funeral home is like marketing an intangible service, yet it has a high capital investment and a high fixed cost of operations. It’s more like operating a hospital than any other business. Revenue mix is going through a change in this profession as well. Thirty years ago, merchandise was about […]
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