Finance Column Collection

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 […]
July 17, 2020

Step 7: Preneed in the Age of Pandemic

COVID-19 has significantly impacted existing preneed agreements.  The editor of The Director, bless his heart, wanted 2020 to be a time of vision and planning, a year during which this magazine might help lay out the future of funeral service. Given that we’re neck deep in a pandemic, this year’s goal must be scrapped because of COVID-19 – and because Henny Penny has risen. In case you’re not familiar with her, Henny Penny is a chicken featured in a European folktale who believes the world is coming to an end and runs around saying, “The sky is falling!” (In the United States, you might know this story as Chicken Little.) Feeling a bit like Henny Penny as I write this, I’m slightly uncertain that I will live to see it published; people go from being alive and feeling fine to […]
July 16, 2020

Step 6: Building and Livery Investments

Some big decisions must be made on these major capital assets. To remind you, the goal of this year’s series of columns is to give you a new vision on every aspect of the management of your business. This month, I want to address the major capital assets – building and vehicles – used in the business. So, in light of our new forward thinking, allow me to pose four questions. Simply answer them in your mind as I’m working with a new AI software to tally these results. (After all, the financial decisions of many owners managing their businesses are made on artificial intelligence, aren’t they? I’m just on the cutting edge.) After answering the questions, you might either write the rest of this column for me or feel like you’ve read it without actually reading it. Here we […]
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