Monthly Archives: December 2013


“Business is not doing deals; business is having great products, doing great engineering, and providing tremendous service to customers.  Finally, business is a cobweb of human relationships.” Ross Perot perfectly describes the funeral industry; its really not about doing “deals.”  Our product is providing families the opportunity to honor the life of their deceased loved one. Supporting the business are countless companies such a casket, vault, fluid, insurance, cemetery, flower, technology, vehicle and multitudes of others that produce goods/services making the funeral industry work.

The great engineering is meeting the needs of the ever changing funeral consumer.  The funeral industry offers a broad spectrum of service providers with varying degrees and levels of offerings.  We have firms that date back 200 years in funeral service history and others that are providing from a new source, the internet.  Whatever the business model, we all seek the same result; providing the family with the service they are seeking.

But as Ross said, we are a cobweb of human relationships.  In the funeral industry, think of all the relationships we have between funeral home owners/directors, vendors, the families we serve, the communities we live, etc.  At some point in all of our lives, we end up in a funeral home. We are an industry that has intertwined relationships for ultimately one purpose, providing families the opportunity to honor the life of their deceased loved one.

I am grateful to be part of such a noble group and enjoy the relationships brought about by serving others.  Happy New Year to my fellow funeral industry professionals and I pray for a prosperous 2014 for you, your family and your staff.

Christmas Eve 2013…early in the morning.  I’m reflecting on Christmas Eve’s in my past with an early memory of being in Puerto Rico.  My dad was in the Coast Guard and I remember coming out of the Christmas Eve service at the base Chapel wondering how Santa Claus is going to land in such a place…coconut trees and all.  I recall the Christmas Eve where I was preparing to deploy to the Middle East for Desert Storm…leaving my pregnant wife behind as I go off to war. Flashing through my mind was my first Christmas Eve as a father wondering if I was really up for the job, and a later Christmas Eve using a hammer to put my second son’s big wheel together.

Earlier this year, I had a near death medical event; this Christmas Eve I see things differently.  This afternoon my baby boy drives home and my other baby boy is home from school.  A woman that has loved me for over 30 years has made our home warm and inviting along with special treats the men in her life look for her to make this time of year.

Late this afternoon we’ll go to our church for an early Christmas Eve service and we will be the family all dressed up but giggling; my youngest will try to mess up my hair and the oldest trying to give me “a wet Willie.”  My retaliation will come when we start singing; no need to punish when you can embarrass…of course my wife will be praying, pinching our legs and giving us “the look” to behave.

Afterwards, our annual tradition “Lady & Gentleman” dinner.  The Gentlemen wear suits and the Lady puts on her finery. We go to a fine dining restaurant and have a dinner that exemplifies manners and grace…but we can’t stand it.  Lively discussion, laughing and memories of our life together as a family will be the theme of discussion.  We do use our manners; linen napkins in our laps, we don’t talk with food in mouth, and the boys address their mother as “ma’am” and I “sir,” Southern Gentility is required of my sons.

We’ll get home bloated with food and a cigar will be in order accompanied by my favorite libation…we’ll laugh some more, mostly my baby boys (both larger than I now) jabbering at me about how they are ready to “take me on”…but never really try.

So for me, I don’t want a silent night…I want what makes me happy; laughter, banter and love…

Merry Christmas Y’all.Christmas at Frankies


I believe that every family should be provided information in order make an educated funeral decision.  There was a time when collective thoughts were the earth was the center of the universe…until Copernicus proved different.  Combined with Kepler’s theory of the earth rotating around the sun, significant changes of beliefs and even the foundation of our modern day calendar was created.

OK, to be clear, I’m certainly not claiming to be Copernicus or Kepler, but there are many in our industry that believe the funeral home is the center of the funeral universe, and everything else revolves around it.  Yet in actuality, the funeral consumer is the center of the funeral universe, and it is our obligation to revolve around them.

The funeral consumer is consistently evolving. Think not?  A short 25 years ago cremation was barely a conversation and the average casket purchased was a stainless steel…and today?  Where did consumers get their information 25 years ago about funerals?  From the funeral director during arrangements…and where do they get their funeral information today?  Primarily from the internet prior to making arrangements.  Information on the internet varies dependent on the Google search by the researching family member.  They could read anything from the Money Magazine articles about the high cost of funerals to online cremation companies that boast $795 cremation prior to landing on a local funeral home website.

My point is that not long ago the funeral home was the center of the universe and the primary source of information to consumers about our industry.  Whatever was presented to families, like the value of service, types of caskets displayed in a showroom or whatever the funeral director said, was pretty much the only information the family had to make their decision.  How about today?  Families are educating themselves, forming opinions and often making decisions prior to walking through the funeral home door.

What is your funeral home doing to revolve around the ever changing funeral consumer? Are you leading the conversation in your community about the funeral industry?  What information is provided on your website?  What training is being conducted at your firm to provide families information in order to make educated funeral decisions? Does your firm offer the latest <fill in the blank> services and products that families are seeking?  Or, do you actually still believe that the funeral home is the center of the funeral universe?

you are here






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During my normal 5:30 am wake up routine, I let my dog Chylie out the door for his morning routine and I walked out onto the deck.  It’s warm!  Like 65 degrees warm on December 22 in the mountains of Virginia.  Coming back inside, I turn on the coffee maker, settle in my office, turn on the television, and fire up the computer (all part of my morning routine).  I see that our local weather forecast is for rain and a high of 71 degrees…but change is coming.  West of here traffic is snarled, power is out and the challenging weather is coming our way.

What a great metaphor for our life.  We expect something for the day, wake up and its not what we really wanted.  We wish for a change, but that may be worse than what we currently have.  Perhaps if we accept what is given to us and have joy to relish in our current circumstances, we may find life a little easier.

As for me, I am going to follow my own advice this morning.  Maybe shorts, flip flops and a Christmas sweater for church would be in order.  The song “Let it Snow” will be in my head all day…


The signs of Christmas are everywhere from the decorations of our city streets, the neighborhood Griswold family house lit up with lights, displays in stores, shows on television, advertisements, and even wreaths affixed to the front grill on cars.  So, it must be the Holiday season.

I have seen and talked to some that their Holiday season begins this afternoon when their office closes until 2014…now that must be nice.  But for many of us, the door never closes.  Remember that there was no room in the inn for Joseph and Mary?  Hotels don’t close during the Holidays.  Hospitals, nursing homes, hospice facilities that care for the sick and elderly of our society, never close.  Police, Fire and EMT respond to our emergency needs…they never close.  Our Military personnel protecting us from our enemies never stop laying their lives on the line so that we can enjoy the Holidays…never close.

Death does not come at a convenient time, so there are funeral professionals that will serve families of a loved one died during the Holidays.  Many of our fellow funeral professionals will answer calls from families in the coming days that lost their loved one…some of those calls will be tragic and unexpected deaths.  But, no matter what’s going on in our personal lives, funeral professionals, like those others listed above are called to care…others depend on us.  Funeral homes never close.

So, to my fellow funeral professionals, thank you for caring during this Holiday season and being dependable to those that will require your services.  I ask that you recognize and offer your personal thanks to the other people just like us that are called to care in their own chosen professions.  Merry Christmas Y’all.

Merry Christmas

How many times have I heard “no, we don’t do/offer/provide that at our funeral home, our families wouldn’t like it.”  When I hear the statement, I usually follow with my standard “well, I can understand after all of the research and testing you have conducted, I probably wound not do/offer/provide it either.”  Of course knowing there is no shred of truth to my sarcastic remark.

Are personal biases, fear of something new, laziness, or stubbornness the reason that we in the funeral industry suppress change?  Are we preventing families from hearing about, understanding, being educated or provided the opportunity to choose based our own personal preconceived notions?  Now before everyone gets their feathers ruffled, I’m not picking up the first stone to throw, so we are all guilty.  Think not?  Which casket, vault, urn, fluid, fleet, stationery, brand does your firm use and why?  Even more serious, which is your favorite football team or brand of shoes?

What propels a funeral home owner, manager and director to finally try something different?  What is the impetus to make the change?  Is there any research methodology to find the best presentation, positioning, price, service, packages, and family response to formulate a fair assessment?

I am going to solicit my fellow funeral professionals to comment share and experiences of “our families wouldn’t.”  Even more interesting, share if and when the skeptics changed their mind  and proclaimed “I can’t believe it, but our families do like…”

old man

Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit.~Napoleon Hill

I am blessed to be associated and working with very bright, energetic people.  By innovating, developing and now testing their products and services, these funeral industry entrepreneurs exemplify the quote from Mr. Hill.  January 1, 2014 will be the launch date and announcement of a new service that will make a positive difference in both the lives of the families we are serving and the funeral homes we dedicate so much of ourselves.

So for a question as you start your day, what are you and your team working on and refuse to quit that will make a difference in the funeral industry?

little dog





The Personal Saving Rate is at 6.5% (according to the Financial Reserve Bank of St. Louis).  Only 44% of households have an individual life insurance policy, and 30% have no individual or employer-provided life insurance, according to a survey by Life Insurance Market Research Association.

What challenges do these facts present to families that are faced with paying for funeral expenses of a deceased loved one with little savings and no life insurance?  What plans and options are in place at your funeral home to meet the financial needs of the families you are serving?

broken pig

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