Who’s Laughing Now?

who is laughing

Many current owners, managers, funeral directors, and leaders of the funeral industry grew up in the same era I did.  As for the younger crowd, this will be foreign to you simply because you were not alive during this period and the world has significantly changed…for the better.

There was a time that American consumers made fun of foreign-made Datsun, Honda, and Toyota cars because they were classified as cheaply made and unreliable especially by the American auto manufacturers.  Fast forward to 2016; Datsun (now Nissan), Honda, and Toyota are all on top of the heap for value, reliability, and sales in the U.S.  Evolving from those same manufacturers are the Infiniti, Acura and Lexus luxury brands.  I’m certain the haughty and powerful American auto executives back in the day would be mortified at just how wrong they were having underestimated the resolve of their competition and the change in American consumer attitudes toward these cars today.  Anyone catching on yet?

  • “My families would never cremate.”
  •  “My families would never use someone else.”
  • “My families would not like that.”
  • “You get what you pay for.”
  •  “We are a full service funeral home, not a discounter.”
  • “Using computers in arrangements is impersonal.”
  • “If they want our prices, then they will have to meet with us first.”
  • “We only use American made caskets, urns and fleet.”

Many in the funeral industry have the same echo hubris as the auto exec’s of yesteryear regarding their competition and the consumer market.   But, what if?

What if the competition made a better product or provided a better service, value, and dependability?  What if the competition could reach the same families with a better message moving market share?  What if the competition figures out how to offer the current funeral consumer options they are seeking rather than what is customary?  What if the competition could do what you do, but better?  What if import caskets are a better value (price and quality) than cornfield caskets?  You don’t think this is possible?  Ask the good old boys from Detroit that smoked cigarettes in their offices (if any of them are alive), who’s laughing now?

There are flashes of brilliance out in the funeral world from multi generational funeral providers, forward thinkers, and manufacturers who are executing #FNchange by taking chances as well as simply out #FNhustle everyone else.  Meanwhile, the rest of the herd hasn’t looked inside the door of their American made car to see where the parts come from, still believe that caskets assembled in the cornfield are American made (I guess if Mexico and China are new states, this is true), think cremation is just a fad, and lead the discussion of whether women should wear pants or skirts (below knee with pantyhose, of course) who will continue their decent into the abyss of irrelevance (remember travel agents?).

Got comments or thoughts or are you just going to sit there and smirk?  What are you doing to #FNchange and #FNhustle? From a very thick fog of cigar smoke generated by a 60 ring gauge Maduro in the Command Post, Cheers Y’all! #thefuneralcommander


  1. A datsun?….my families would never drive a Datsun. I’ve been doing this for almost four decades and I know what my families want. They ask “What should we do?” because they trust my judgement. I buried their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other familiy members and they come to me because I am like part of their family. They will do what I suggest and I’m not suggesting they burn their mother up.

    How many guys/gals do you know that if that quote was attributed to them, you would not question it at all?

    Fortune Favors The Bold……

    Good essay, Commader.


  2. 26wendyg said:

    Love it! I’m so glad I can be of some assistance. Just to update, I’ve sold 2 more plans! 🙂  Also, as of today, I have 50 leads just using FB yard sale sites. Hopefully a few will turn into something. It’s not been a long enough time for a true test but so far, it seems to me that my FB lead success rates are comparable to direct mail. Except FB leads are free!  Still loving this. Hoping to secure a laptop this weekend. Loved your post. I’m happy to help with editing anytime.  Have a fabulous weekend!  Wendy Sent from my T-Mobile 4G LTE Device


  3. Howard Beckham said:

    Jeff, Keep preaching change brother! Those who do not change to serve today’s and tomorrows families wants and needs will resemble Wile Coyote as the Road Runner(s) of funeral service run past them.


  4. Jeff Harbeson said:

    Thanks Howard! Let’s connect for a chat soon…Jeff


  5. Love it…. Datsun to Nissan, Honda to Accura… Quality has improved considerably and we accept the imports with open arms as we are saving money and getting good quality stuff.

    We have voluntarily exported our jobs and have our BIG BOX Stores full of cheap stuff made in other countries.
    We are co-dependent. They need our markets and we need their cheap stuff.

    Do you wear CHINESE sneakers or are they NIKE? NIKE of course, but they are made off shore to OUR standards.

    Even the major casket manufacturers have shelves full of boxes of parts marked “Made in China”. Fabrics, springs, clips, handles, corners, etc. (I’ve got pictures).Yes….. all made off shore. Some even have set up factories in Mexico and other countries and tell us to “Buy American” and offer these products made off shore so that they can save a few dollars on production and protect their margins. After all, business is all about margins.
    Families don’t REALLY care, they just want value for their hard earned dollars.
    In a hundred years from now… nobody will care and in the end… we are all just DUST or RUST waiting to happen.
    Thanks Commander.


  6. Jeff Harbeson said:


    Exactly!! I can only attest that I am truly made in America (although some may argue defective parts). Keep the faith and great work as the effort of persistence pays in this industry. Jeff


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