Funeral Home Owners: Wake The Funeral Up!


The answer, “We’ve always done it that way.”  The question, “What do funeral home owners say when their market share is declining, profits are dwindling, and business in a downward spiral?”  Really?!  Can’t we agree that, by definition, this is insanity – doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results?  Wake The Funeral up!

I am continuously astounded when I talk with funeral home owners and listen to their reluctance to address the real problems they are facing in their businesses.  “I just don’t think I can get our directors to do that” and “It’s never worked in the past” are common laments.  Both statements indicate that the Inmates are running your asylum.  You may be in worse shape than you think!

At some point you are going to want to sell or transfer your business and the value is going to be less than you expect.  Lackadaisical leadership (aka poor business management) is the root cause of funeral home financial failure.  Even more interesting is that owners know they have problems but fail to hire professionals to resolve issues.  If you are a funeral home owner and your profit margin is less than 8%, you have no Human Resources manual or consistent training for your staff, and you have any accounts receivable over 60 days: I AM TALKING TO YOU!

I find it amusing that you, funeral home owners, consistently opine, “People now-a-days just don’t plan and find themselves in a mess scrambling to pay when death occurs.” Funny thing, Mr./Ms. Funeral Home Owner, you are just as bad.  Take a look at your profit margin, accounts receivable, cremation vs. burial revenues, and market share.  Are you planning for what’s ahead or just doing the same thing you have always done?

Snap out of it!  The first step in getting well is to acknowledge something is wrong. Congratulations if you’ve done so – you’re half way there.  Now, get well!  Raise your hand and ask for help. From the Command Post (West) in the cigar bunker, Cheers Y’all! #thefuneralcommander



  1. I agree with your wife, but you better start saying nice things about funeral directors, otherwise you won’t be invited to speak at the best conventions. There are not too many of us that want to pay to travel to nice resorts and then have to sit through a session where we are told we don’t know what we are doing. You should be more like Howard Raether, yea, Howard appreciated us and knew how important we are to our families. All you care about is money when we all know that funeral service is a ministry. Get with it Mr. Harbeson. (for those of you not sure, that was a stab at sarcasm)

    We need to base that ministry with sound business practices. I learned the hard way and when I sold them in 2011, got much less for my funeral homes than I could of, had I been more of a business man and less of a “nice guy.” If I could go back to the day I bought them in 1999, I would do it differently and I would hire Jeff to be my guide to do it more methodically.


  2. Jeff Harbeson said:

    Why Ray, I’m flattered. Of course there are those that will read your remarks thinking “Yeah, tell ’em Ray” without a clue (I’m snickering at the thought). Interesting, not many people got mad at Billy Graham for preaching the Gospel…but I suppose I’m more akin to the Ron White style of delivery..Love ya like a play cousin Ray!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sam said:

    It’s so true, tremendous challenges and opportunities are created by technology and it’s dangerous to be slow to adopt.


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