Articles

December 28, 2023

Finance 301: My Final Column

After 39 glorious years, which went by in a nanosecond, this issue marks my final column before I turn over this printed space to Chris Cruger, my business successor. I’m also fortunate to hand over ownership and control of The Foresight Companies, which I founded four decades ago, to Cruger and the irrepressible Doug Gober. Selecting them as my successors was one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made, but it took risk, patience and trust by all three of us to achieve a great outcome. With that said, I now seize my chance to bid you, my audience and friends, adieu in my own way. Well, not really “my way” since there will be no math involved. Past I entered the world of funeral service at an amazing time and, ultimately, the evolution of my career was totally on […]
April 19, 2023

Finance 301: Chapter 16: The Importance of the Side Hustle

In the disco age, the “Side Hustle” was a dance move. For me, growing up in Philadelphia, the side hustle was something altogether different. Today, that phrase has been resurrected by “gig workers” and others looking to make a little extra cash. Now, I’m not suggesting that funeral directors should try to generate extra money by dancing or otherwise. I’m just thinking about the future because the future for funeral service is vexing. I see costs for labor skyrocketing, assuming you can even find licensed people to hire. I see the number of price-focused consumers rising from the current 5% of at-need families to almost 20%. I see more pressure on the amount of revenue generated per call due to limitations on consumer spending, shortfalls on preneed crediting rates and the increasing preference for cremation. Unfortunately, any time businesses experience […]
April 18, 2023

PTO

If you grew up on a farm you probably learned that PTO stands for “power takeoff’ and that it is the connection point on a tractor for other implements and attachments. But today we will be talking about PTO as “Personal Time Off’ or “Paid Time Off’ as a system to replace the traditional vacation, sick leave, and personal leave policies that you may be presently using. Simply put, PTO combines vacation time, sick leave, and personal time into one “bank” of time-off available to your employees as the need or desire arises. Employees have more flexibility for a work-life balance while no longer having to be untruthful or deceitful when obtaining time-off. You don’t have to have a very large operation with very many employees before you will recognize that you have at least one “warrior” and one “wimp” […]
April 18, 2023

Go with the Flow

Bringing your marketing blueprint to life requires a solid plan but also the flexibility to try new things and change what doesn’t work. I recently finished a book in which the main character and I shared a few things in common. We both love football and we both use algorithms in our careers. Her algorithms were focused on using data to analyze and predict game strategies and mine are focused on crafting the appropriate elements for a marketing strategy. Now, if only I could also marry the star NFL quarterback like she did… But I digress. Every marketing and social media platform uses an algorithm, and whether you like it or not, you need to understand it to be successful in marketing your funeral home or cemetery business. The algorithms determine which content people see every time they check the […]
March 20, 2023

Succession Planning

What Is the Solution for the Continuity of a Perpetual Business? The age of most companies in the United States is relatively young. Even those huge companies on the Dow Jones (DJIA) are on average barely 20 years old. When we use the concept of a cemetery, they are intended to be perpetual. Perpetual is forever, which is longer than 20 years. While the anticipation of an on-going concern might be into perpetuity, no company on the DJIA can assert that they are committed to running their company in perpetuity. That is what makes a cemetery business so unique. Funeral homes are a bit different in their on-going concern mentality. Funeral home owners have a mentality of a perpetual provider. However, their historical reliance on a building makes the funeral home a business that is immobile. This means the business […]
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