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July 20, 2021

Chapter Seven: The Staffing Crisis

How long will this peril haunt funeral service businesses? If you measure funeral service by universal crises, the crisis echoing in the 1980s was the FTC’s Funeral Rule. In the ’90s, the crisis was heralded as The Rise of the Acquisition Companies. Ironically, the crisis of the 2000s was The Fall of the Acquisition Companies (although it seems that everyone who hated them then somehow loved their money when they were ready to get out later, and now the market has crashed). Anyway, I would label the challenge of the 2010s The Cremation Crisis, as a 50% cremation rate became a reality in the United States. What about the 2020s? While it’s still early, I believe that for those of us who survived a pandemic and now progress from looking day by day to longer term, this span’s awakening peril […]
June 23, 2021

Nonprofit Boards Are Not for the Bored or the Inexperienced

I got the following letter about a year ago: I have been a successful business owner and was asked by my local cemetery to come onto their board almost 20 years ago. In the past few years, I was made the president of the board. I can see that we need to be more than a graveyard but so many of my fellow board members do not take an interest. They show up to our quarterly meetings just for the free lunch we provide. As president I am paid a salary and have the day to day responsibilities for the nearly 400 interments we provide and the care of our 80 acres. Yet, I cannot get board approval for any of the changes we need to make to provide for the future. Am I alone in having a bored board? […]
June 23, 2021

Legal Check: Funeral Home Contracts

Scenario: Kramer Funeral Home is an established firm that has been serving its community for over 35 years in the Northeast. The original owner, Gary, recently retired after a few years of gradually stepping back and grooming his successor, Dennis, who now owns and operates Kramer Funeral Home. While Dennis has less than 10 years of experience in the profession, he had proved to Gary that he is a very good lead funeral director and business-minded. Plus, the younger, less-experienced funeral staff, who brought many great ideas to serving cremation families, connect with and look up to Dennis. While the cremation rate had been increasing, Kramer Funeral Home is able to still serve a good number of burial families a year. Under Dennis, Kramer Funeral Home is poised to continue serving its community with a superb reputation and excellent service. […]
June 23, 2021

If You’re Not Growing, You’re Dying

One of the sexiest topics out there is always growth. The only question is, what does growing really mean? For the purposes of this discussion, let’s consider growth becoming greater over a period of time. Growth doesn’t necessarily mean an aggressive acquisition binge, but it does mean being in a constant state of evolution. As we have seen in the 2021 Foresight Consumer Behavior Study, 32% of consumers have a different attitude toward the funeral and cemetery profession or their expectations for memorialization have changed as a result of the pandemic. Consumers are embracing a new way of doing things – and they have no intention of going back to the old way of doing things. Technology is rapidly becoming the bedrock of the profession. Over the past year, three groupings have emerged – there have been clear winners and […]
June 23, 2021

Back to the Basics of Leveraging Technology: Building a Robust Website

“When used right, technology becomes an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it” — Jim Collins, Good to Great The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all of us in the profession—client families, guests, funeral homes, crematories, and cemeteries—into having to adopt new ways of doing things. And once we are open to doing things in a new way, we can never really go back to doing things exactly how they were done before. It is human nature. We have been forced to lean on technology in order to serve families—virtual meetings online (via Zoom, WebEx, etc.) for arrangement conferences, DocuSign to obtain signatures for contracts and approvals, online streaming of services, etc. However, this article is not about pioneering technology in deathcare services, nor is it about technology for tech’s sake. Internet, virtual meetings, and streaming services are no longer […]
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