Finance Column Collection

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 […]
March 20, 2023

Finance 301: Chapter 15: The Importance of Estate Planning

A cobbler with no shoes is just unheard of, and a funeral director without an estate plan should follow suit. How can you – someone who confronts daily the reality of death – ignore the fact that all of us are going to die at some point? If you respect the fact that you will die someday, then you have the right/obligation to plan how you want to transfer your assets to those around you. This article offers some insight into the key points of estate planning. ASSET TRANSFER METHODS There are usually a few things you’ll want to accomplish when creating your estate plan, the first of which involves determining who should be protected by the use of your assets until your death. Next, decide how to provide for the transfer of those assets to the intended parties. Lastly, […]
February 23, 2023

Finance 301: Chapter 14: Most Important New Metric In Funeral Service Analysis

I just returned from the annual conclave of GIFS (Geeks In Funeral Service), which I have chaired for many years. Our meeting was well attended; we filled every seat in the Volkswagen van we rented (our budget is small). Significantly, every member arrived at the same conclusion: We need to promote a new metric in the financial analysis of funeral homes. You see, before I joined the group in the 1980s, the prior generation of GIFS had created “average revenue per call” and “casketing rate” as key metrics. We used those two stalwart mathematical assessments, along with ratios, to understand “accounts receivable days” and “number of licensees per 100 calls.” Early in my GIFS tenure, we eliminated the word “livery,” which was later to be replaced by “Ubers in the procession.” And now, after exhaustive study, we are prepared to […]
January 23, 2023

Finance 301: Chapter 13: Three Business Resolutions to Make Now

The first funeral home profit and loss statement I ever saw showed that the firm had spent $30,000 on “escort services.” Back then, my immediate, uninformed reactions were, “That’s not deductible!” and “What a pervert!” I have grown smarter in the past 40 years, and my goal now is to leave this profession smarter and better prepared for the future than it was when I first encountered it in 1985. On New Year’s Eve, as we toast to auld lang syne, we often promise to all within earshot our forthcoming resolutions to do better. Thus, we might promise to lose weight, be a more caring spouse, not curse as much and other superficial things. On New Year’s morning, however, while eating our third doughnut, defending ourselves from the criticism of our spouse for eating three doughnuts and cursing the jelly […]
December 19, 2022

Finance 301: Chapter 12: Taxation Basics

As a new business owner, the first decisions you must make involve taxes. In most cases, however, you will feel so elated during your first days of ownership that you’ll just abdicate those decisions to your accountant and/or lawyer. Then, someday in the future, you will read an article, like this one, and wonder to yourself, “Hmm…” You therefore clip the article and send it to your accountant and/or lawyer. They, in turn, give you a long-winded explanation as to why the author of that article is wrong. Or, worse, they will write to the author and tell him why he is wrong. Please, save your breath and your typing fingers. I am not wrong. Here are the taxation basics you need to know. Decision One: Business Entity There are several ways businesses can be classified for tax purposes. The […]
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