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Monthly Archives: September 2015

At Need Credit SMALL logo

Just last week, the HelpCard sent notice to their funeral home customers that they are no longer providing credit for funeral consumers.  I have written many posts (At Need Payment PlansWho Pays Funeral CostsSecret Sauce) concerning the growing problem of funeral professionals face collecting funds for their goods and services from consumers that have limited life insurance (or none), cash or credit card balances.  At Need Credit is accepting inquiries from HelpCard funeral home customers to provide funeral payment plans.

At Need Credit offers 3 tiers of payment plans to funeral consumers ranging from excellent to poor credit ratings with no recourse to the funeral home. As a note, Danial O’Connor of At Need Credit will be a guest for interview on the October 6th Funeral Nation web show (stay tuned for details of how to view the show).  The problem of consumers having difficulty paying for funeral expenses is not going away and companies offering payment plans/credit to those with mediocre to poor credit is diminishing.  For inquiry, visit http://atneedcredit.com/ for details.  From the desk of The Funeral Commander, cheers y’all!  #thefuneralcommander #funeralnation #funeralnews

Sep 25

How is your funeral home “pre-planning?”  Death is inevitable but so are shifts in the funeral marketplace, consumer behavior, the economy, and so on.  Pre-planning for funerals is a tenant of the funeral industry which millions of dollars are spent to compel consumers to make choices prior to their own demise.  I am totally on board for all efforts to propagate funeral pre-planning for a myriad of reasons like easing the burden from those left behind, making personal choices and it most cases it makes good financial sense for the consumer as well as the funeral home.

As a matter of fact, take a look at what consumers are finding in the market place for planning. The conversation and topic is widespread for individuals to get their “affairs” in order.  End of life planning companies like Everplans.com are providing planning platforms offering a vast array of services and advice from wills, trusts, closing online accounts to final wish funeral preferences.

So as an industry if we believe that pre-planning is so important, how are we pre-planning for the future at our funeral homes?  Take a look in the employee break room (some places known as “the bull pen”) or where the work schedule is regularly posted.  Is there a schedule for training anywhere to be found?  Not CEU’s that frankly don’t have impact for maintaining or enhancing funeral directing professional skills (which based on the news reported by the Star Press in Indiana 30 Hoosier Funeral Directors Cited would have been a good idea). Planning for regular, intentional and relevant training should be on every planning calendar in every funeral home.

How about pre-planning for marketing?  This Social Media thing requires more effort and thought than placing obits on Facebook pages (and as note, LinkedIn is NOT the medium for such).  A recent article written by Ryan Thogmartin of FuneralSocial.com  posted on funeralOne’s blog Do’s and Don’ts-Future of Facebook Obits should be a training session in itself.  A well placed plan for posts, topics and editorial not only on Facebook but also funeral home blogs provide returns to the funeral home with positive exposure.  Does your funeral home have a media manager that schedules and plans for messaging/content?  My favorite mediums (yes, I’m being sarcastic) of the paper place mat ads in the diner or calendars don’t usually provide much planning effort, so it’s time to GET SOCIAL!

We all know it’s that time of year; price increases by casket companies which means the majority of funeral home owners change their price lists to reflect and offset rising costs.  Of course, I have much to say on this subject, however for this post I’ll limit the observation to why only now?  Why only once a year?  What type of formula is used by your firm to calculate pricing? It’s all about planning.

Succession planning is a topic that should be put into place at every funeral home, it’s like having a will for the business.  What would happen if the owner gets hit by a bus?  Who takes over and more importantly, who is capable of replacement?  By the way, some owners would answer this question with: “no one could step into my shoes, this place would fall apart without me.”  What type of training is being provided for such an event?  I have personally witnessed and know of funeral home owners making attempt to sell their business and retire only to be abruptly stopped come business valuation time.  A rude awakening comes when dreams collide with reality.  Our industry has professionals such as Succession Planning Associates for such advice.

The point of this post: are we as an industry practicing what we preach?  What type of planning does your firm conduct, how often and what are the benefits being reaped from this ever-changing business?  As we all know, life can change pretty quickly (or at least that’s what we tell consumers), what’s your plan?  Speaking of planning, stay tuned for details about the best FN news and commentary show in the funeral industry:

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From the desk of The Funeral Commander, cheers y’all!  #thefuneralcommander

Nope

I don’t think there is a single funeral director, funeral home owner or cremation provider in the funeral industry that doesn’t know that the death rate in the foreseeable future is going to steadily increase due to the Baby Boomers moving on the the permanent Villages in the sky.  Funeral industry pundits, soothsayers and oracles are continually propagating the “Boomer Boom” which will place all on solid footing and growth.

Visions of funerals that “reflect the life lived” with cocktail parties, receptions, doves, fly bye’s, movies, and theaters full of mourners wondering how they can “one up” such send off when their time comes dance in the heads like kids on Christmas eve.  If I had sound to enter this written prose, this is where I would place the screech of nails on a chalk board (I bet some of you hear it and reacting as you read this) to get your attention.

The Baby Boom has potential for Bust for many funeral homes.  WHAT?  Captain, you are such an idiot because we are showing more value and charging more…how could we possibly go wrong?  Take a look at the article posted in My Budget 360 regarding the financial posture of the pending retirement of Boomers.  Couple this information with the financial heath of the Boomer’s Offspring and the visions before mentioned reflecting the life lived are for $695 cremation, a box of Bojangles chicken and a Dollar Tree balloon released “in honor of” because “that’s what they would have wanted” are more realistic.

We are entering the convention season which includes seminars and CEU credit classes.  Just for your own observation and edification, take a look at the fall sessions and see if you can find “Strategies to Serve Broke Baby Boomers and Their Families.”  The seminar would not as flashy, hopeful or sexy as the talk of a lifetime, but it’s worth discussing.  From the desk of The Funeral Commander, Cheers Y’all! #thefuneralcommander

dont forget

Do you remember where you were on 9/11/2001 when we were attacked on our own soil and 2977 innocent people lost their lives by terrorists?  I was traveling to Hertford NC from Greenville NC for a business meeting and I was listening to the radio in my car as the news broke that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center in New York City.  My first thoughts was about my mother in law, as at the time she was a flight attendant. Immediately I called to check on her well being and she said she was watching the tragedy unfold on television.

I stopped at a hotel and went into the lobby where I watched the plane fly into the second tower.  Speculation moved from accident to obviously a more nefarious act before our eyes.  As time inched forward, the news of a plane flying into the Pentagon and a crash was reported in rural Pennsylvania was reported.  I remember the sickening feeling watching people leaping from the buildings and brave rescue attempts…then the buildings came down.

Our country, way of life and beliefs were under attack.  As one that had looked into the eyes of those that wanted to kill Americans in Operation Desert Storm, my first instinct and thoughts were to defend against an enemy which had no thoughts of killing our people in an unprovoked attack. As the day continued and information flowed from various sources, my resolve for innate Patriotism intensified.

I returned home to my wife and sons knowing that we would never be the same, the uncertainty of not knowing what we would face from this moment in time.  At some point during the late afternoon, I went to my mailbox and there it was; my official letter of 20 years credible service as a soldier…I’m now retired.  From November 1980 to November of 2000,  I fulfilled my oath of office to protect and defend the United States of America.  But on that day, there would be no reporting for duty or deployment to fight a battle.

Do you remember how our Country came together in prayer, anger and united with a sense of protecting each other?  What’s happened to us? Why have we lost our way and resolve?  On this day, I believe we should take a step back and remember all the Americans that lost their lives that day; the innocent and the brave people that responded to the call of something bigger than themselves.  Take a moment and reflect, watch this video by Toby Keith to remember:

From the desk of The Funeral Commander; May God continue to bless America…don’t forget! #thefuneralcommander

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