Funeral Business Solutions Magazine May/June 2024 Issue

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Your Guide for Funeral Industry Business Strategies | May/June 2024 Radcliffe Media, Inc. 1801 South Bay Street, Eustis, Florida 32726 Duncan Stuart Todd Goes All In on Coolers and Racks in 2024 Page30

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6 | May/June Issue 2024 FUNERAL HOME SUCCESS STORY Lake Shore Funeral Home Waco, Texas FEATURE EDITORIAL 20 Duncan Stuart Todd goes all in on coolers and racks in 2024! MAY/JUNE 2024 VOLUME II, No. 3 20 16 30 FEATURES Duncan Stuart Todd Goes All In on Coolers and Racks in 2024 16 Create a Follow-up Mindset - Every Phone Call, Every Time BY NICOLE WIEDEMAN, CCE
7 | May/June Issue 2024 Innovative Products at the 2024 ICCFA Convention & Expo BY FBS STAFF 24 32 CONTENTS Digestible O.S.H.A. Bites REGULAR COLUMN & CHECKLIST BY MARK HARRISON OF CERTIFIED SAFETY TRAINING 22 Financial Resolutions BY RAYMOND L. BALD, CPA, CFE & RONALD H. COOPER, CPA 32 Five Social Media Marketing Myths BY JOE WEIGEL 44 Buying Basics: Due Diligence BY MATT MANSKE 50 Why You Should be Attending Conventions and Trade Shows BY TIMOTHY TOTTEN 52 44 Are You Serving the Right Families? BY GEORGE PAUL, III 36 22 36 50 52 24

Based in Montana, For Eternity is a wholesale memorial jewelry company that focuses on building individual brands of funeral homes. They feature high quality, one-of-a-kind keepsakes – many that are hand-crafted and made to order.

This couple's transformation from a teacher and salesman to owners of first an RV product supplier to repping products in the funeral industry reveals the insights they've gleaned over their years. This interview charts their journey and uncovers the lessons they've learned.

See what's happening with vendors, distributors, and manufacturers.

Manufacturers and suppliers that make it possible to bring you

8 | May/June Issue 2024
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Nicki Wiedeman is the Customer and Call Experience Facilitator with Dead Ringers. She is on a mission to support funeral homes in creating customer experiences with a focus on phone skills. Connect with Nicki by calling 513.225.5935. Email Nicole@ or visit

George Paul III is a volatile visionary using branding and design to help grieving families honor the legacy of their loved one. Cherished Creative delivers agency-level branding, marketing and design services to busy firm owners. He can be reached at gpaul@

Mark Harrison is the president of Certified Safety Training (CST), the exclusive safety and compliance provider to the NFDA. Mark has launched successful online safety and compliance services in the death care, veterinarian, and monument industries. Contact Mark and CST directly at help@ or 609.375.8462.

Matt Manske is the Managing Member of the company BSF, LLC (website: He can be contacted at 913.343.2357, or by email at

Joe Weigel is the owner of Weigel Strategic Marketing, a communications firm focused on the funeral profession that delivers expertise and results across three interrelated marketing disciplines: strategy, branding and communications. He can be reached at 317-608-8914 or

Ronald H. Cooper, CPA is a funeral home accountant and consultant with Ronald Cooper, CPA, PLLC. He can be reached by phone at 603-6718007, or you may email him at ron@

Raymond L. Bald, CPA, CFE is a funeral home tax accountant and consultant with Cummings, Lamont & McNamee, PLLC. He can be reached by phone at 603-772-3460, or you may email him at


1801 South Bay Street Eustis, Florida 32726

Timothy Totten, Publisher 352.242.8111

Robin Richter, Content Editor 813.500.2819

Funeral Business Solutions Magazine is published bi-monthly (6 Issues a year) by Radcliffe Media, Inc. 1801 South Bay Street, Eustis, Florida 32726. Subscriptions are free to qualified U.S. subscribers. Single copies and back issues are $8.99 each (United States) and $12.99 each (International). United States Subscriptions are $64.00 annually. International Subscriptions are $95.00 annually.

Visit for content that is updated frequently and to access articles on a range of funeral industry topics. Radcliffe Media provides its contributing writers latitude in expressing opinions, advice, and solutions. The views expressed are not necessarily those of Radcliffe Media and by no means reflect any guarantees that material facts are accurate or true. Radcliffe Media accepts no liability in respect of the content of any third party material appearing in this magazine. Copyright 2024. All rights reserved. Funeral Business Solutions Magazine content may not be photocopied or reproduced or redistributed without the consent of publisher. For questions regarding magazine or for subscriptions, email


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AnchorAge, AlAskA seminAr Adds deputy chief of mortuAry AffAirs to speAker lineup

CINCINNATI, OHIO — Rosenacker & Associates (R&A) has announced an additional speaker for their continuing education seminar in Anchorage, Alaska. The newly added speaker, Ms. Brigitte C. Morgan, is the Deputy Chief of Mortuary Affairs Operation Location Pacific, Joint Base Pearl Harbor - Hickam, Hawaii. She also serves as an interim Mortuary Director for the Yokota Mortuary, Yokota Air Base, Japan, where her responsibilities include embalming, restoration, casketing, and returning fallen service members to their families.

In 2023, Morgan participated in Operation Eldridge Glacier, a recovery mission in Denali National Park, Alaska, for the U.S. Air Force C-119 that crashed in 1952. In 2024, she will return for Operation Colony Glacier, the recovery mission for a 1952 crash of a U.S. Air Force C-124 Globemaster II. Her presentation at the seminar will draw on her experience with these missions.

The 2024 Rosenacker Continuing Education Seminar, Alaska: A Funeral Frontier, will be hosted at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Anchorage from July 21 through July 23. In addition to Morgan’s lecture, attendees will benefit from presentations that cover:

- Lessons learned while training and running the Iditarod in Alaska and how these lessons can be applied to everyday life in a funeral home

- A panel discussion on succession planning for funeral service which will also include answers to succession planning questions

- How to develop new and Advanced Planning Workshops that really wow families when looking into preplanning

- How to apply artificial intelligence (AI) in daily funeral home operations, enhancing memorial services as well as harnessing AI for generating engaging content, optimizing search engine visibility, and deploying interactive chatbots

- Informative talks on the Beaches of Normandy and Arlington National Cemetery

The seminar cost includes a Welcome reception on the opening night and a Happy Hour reception on the second night. The seminar will feature an all-star line-up of speakers including Morgan, Frank Rosenacker, Sue Gilkey, Ann Rosenacker, Scott Janssen, Jack E. Lechner, Jr. CFSP, Kurt Rosenacker, Doug Hoog, and Curtis Funk.

A block of rooms has been negotiated at rates well below the hotel’s standard summer room rates for attendees and their guests. As the number of rooms is limited due to capacity, attendees are encouraged to book their rooms as soon as possible.

“Adding Brigitte Morgan and her talk really rounds out our seminar with an exceptional presentation,” commented Frank Rosenacker, founder and CEO of Rosenacker & Associates. “In addition, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the number of attendees who have planned additional excursions with Megan’s Amazing Adventure while in Alaska for the seminar.”

The seminar has been submitted for approval of continuing education credits – with 12 credits currently pending. For more information on the Rosenacker Continuing Education Seminar 2024, please visit or call (513) 923-5230.

For more than twenty-five years, Rosenacker & Associates has been a national consulting firm that exclusively serves the funeral profession with a staff of licensed funeral directors, lawyers, certified public accountants, enrolled agents, tax experts, and business management executives. R&A services include legal, succession planning, business plans/policy manuals, business appraisals/evaluations, sales of funeral businesses, regulatory laws regarding final disposition, taxes, cooperative efforts, and funeral professional liability issues. More information at info@

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stArmArk cremAtion products Acquires AmA contAiners

Purchase enhances comPany's Product Line through Broader container seLection

RICHMOND, INDIANA – Starmark, a leading manufacturer of innovative funeral products, has announced the acquisition of AMA (Airline Mortuary Associates) Containers in Houston, TX. The addition of the AMA Containers brand provides a more comprehensive offering of shipping container solutions to Starmark customers.

AMA Containers was established in 1991 by Jon Bumbaugh. Bumbaugh had previously worked in the airline industry where he developed a professional mortuary shipping program. His airline experience played an important role in pioneering many of the shipping products and processes currently used in funeral service for transporting human remains when he founded AMA Containers.

“Following the acquisition, I am delighted that Jon will stay on and contribute to the Starmark team as a consultant,” said Justin Davis, President of Starmark. “We value the airline mortuary shipping experience that Jon brings to Starmark.”

Over the coming months, Starmark plans to improve and expand its product selection by combining the best features of both AMA Containers and Starmark. The recognizable AMA Containers brand will be retained and used to categorize mortuary shipping containers

within catalogs, pricelists, and the Starmark website. “Both Starmark and AMA Containers are well known for providing excellent customer service and highquality products to funeral directors throughout the country,” added Bumbaugh. “AMA Containers customers are in good hands as the entire Starmark organization shares a genuine and singular focus on the needs of funeral directors and the families they serve.”

For more information about the complete line of Starmark products for burial and cremation, visit For more information about AMA Containers, visit

Since 2004, the Starmark brand has provided Sensible Solutions® for cremation. Starmark prides itself on providing environmentally conscious, innovative, economical, and high-quality products so that funeral professionals can focus on what matters most: allowing families the opportunity to lay their loved ones to rest in a dignified manner.

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springfield memoriAl gArdens to honor oregon's fAllen heroes

Local Veterans Groups Laud New “Court of Honor,” Memorial Day Dedication Ceremony Planned

SPRINGFIELD, OREGON – Musgrove Family Mortuaries & Cemeteries today announced plans to create a new “Court of Honor” at Springfield Memorial Gardens to remember and respect Oregonians who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Located along the main driveway in the northeast corner of the cemetery, the area’s existing monuments will be replaced with a series of new polished granite structures including a distinguished granite flagpole base inscribed with the names and ranks of area veterans.

“There is nothing more important than recognizing and honoring the service of the men and women who risked or lost their lives to defend our freedoms,” said Kristi Pyle, market sales manager. “The new expanded area will offer veterans’ families many new options for permanently memorializing their loved ones. From simple plaques to an ossuary, in-ground burial sites and a cremation niche wall with space for more than 100 veterans, the choices are as varied as the heroic deeds of the fallen.”

The original monument was dedicated on May 30, 1967, through the joint efforts of the Springfield American

Legion Post 40 and Springfield Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3965. Representatives of the American Legion joined the Springfield Memorial Gardens team last week to mark the official groundbreaking and placement of the new memorials. The revitalized Court of Honor will serve as the gateway to the cemetery’s Veterans Garden where more than 1700 veterans and their spouses currently are interred.

”I am sure this will be an important place for veterans and their loved ones to stop and reflect on the sacrifice of those that have gone before us,” said Nick Gillaspie, U.S. Air Force veteran and American Legion Post #40 Commander. “The inclusion of new places for the remains of veterans and their spouses within the Court of Honor makes it all that much more important and meaningful. We look forward to having future events and ceremonies at this location.”

Pyle also encourages veterans’ families to consider the new Court of Honor for permanent placement of cremation urns held in their homes. “Recent research conducted by the Cremation Association of North America found that nearly one in four U.S. households have human cremated remains in their homes,” she said. “That's 21.9 million families with parents, grandparents and extended family members who have not been memorialized in any permanent way. More than half of those remains are U.S. veterans. Veterans’ families that choose to honor their

14 | May/June Issue 2024 INDUSTRY HEADLINES
Nick Gillaspie, commander of American Legion Post #40 (far right) joined (l-r) Randy Van Leuven, Kristi Pyle, Deanna Harbison and James Houghton at Springfield Memorial Gardens to break ground. The original monument was dedicated on May 30, 1967 at Springfield Memorial Gardens. It was a joint effort of the Springfield American Legion Post 40 and Springfield Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3965.

loved ones with permanent memorials create a place where their stories of service and sacrifice live on for future generations.”

Dean Armstrong, president of the Native American Cultural Association of Oregon and co-director of the Native American Honor Guard, said, “It is a great honor to have this new memorial in Lane County. The Musgrove group has honored veterans at their three locations for many years. Veterans and the warrior class hold very high standings in the tribes throughout North America. My grandfather was a World War II veteran and spent 39 months in a Japanese prisoner of war

camp. I am pleased that the Musgrove group continues to honor our veterans.”

Gillaspie, Armstrong and other local veteran leaders will join the Springfield Memorial Gardens team to mark the official opening of the Court of Honor with a special ceremony on Memorial Day, Monday, March 27, followed by a ribbon cutting with city officials and members of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce on Friday, May 31. Springfield Memorial Gardens and Funeral Home is located at 7305 Main Street. For more information visit click here or call 541-215-6911.

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INDUSTRY HEADLINES Exceptional service from a CPA firm that knows the funeral industry. WWW.CLMCPA.COM Certified Public Accountants Raymond L. Bald, CPA/CFE Principal Phone: 603-430-6200 Fax: 603-430-6209 Email: 118 Portsmouth Avenue Suite D206 Stratham, New Hampshire 03885
A computer-aided rendering of the completed Court of Honor at Springfield Memorial Gardens. A computer-aided rendering of the reverse of the completed Court of Honor.

funeral home success story

ForBrent and Carri Shehorn, opening a funeral home during the recession of 2008 was definitely a challenging, but obvious choice. And opening it in a highly competitive, but underserved area of Waco, Texas, nearly equidistant between their families’ original homesteads, made even more sense. Today, Lake Shore Funeral Home is a thriving business, serving 700 families a year, but it didn’t start out that way. I recently sat down with Brent to hear how the couple approached the business, how Carri’s experience as a teacher and counselor helped to grow and manage the business, and what is in store for them for the future.

FBS: I hear a lot of generational stories about funeral service. Did your family own a funeral home when you were growing up? I’m actually the only funeral director in the family. When I was sixteen years old, my best friend was killed in a car accident and I was one of the pallbearers. I was struck by one of the gentlemen who was doing everything he could to help my friend’s family. That left an enormous impression on me. Sadly, I lost two others in our graduating class and I continued to see the effects of death and funerals at a young age.

FBS: So you hadn’t thought about funeral service before then? No, actually my childhood dream was to become a special effects artist in the motion picture industry. I grew up in the age of Star Wars and An American Werewolf in London. Interestingly enough, I think it’s why I have good skills at the technical aspects of preparation. I can apply that skill and gift to restorative work, helping families see their loved one, even when the circumstances of the death might not normally be possible.

FBS: When did you finally decide to become a funeral director? I took three semesters of general courses in college before I decided this was something I wanted to pursue, but questioned myself if I could even handle it. I worked as a delivery person for a local flower shop owner and her husband was a funeral director. I asked him if he could help me decide if I had the temperament

and he was kind enough to let me observe an embalming, just to see if I would be comfortable with that work. So, I started mortuary school at age 19 at Dallas Institute of Funeral Service. I graduated as Valedictorian but also was the second youngest in my class.

FBS: I guess it suited you?

Absolutely. I actually got to work beside the gentleman I’d seen helping my friend’s family at the funeral when I was sixteen. One day as we worked together, he encouraged me with these words: “Young man, I want you to know something - the cream will always rise to the top.” That was such an uplifting compliment from someone who was highly respected in the community and whom I had the utmost respect for.

FBS: You graduated years before you started your own funeral home. What was your early career like and what prompted you to open a funeral home?

I went to work here in Waco right away out of mortuary school and worked for that funeral home for 10 years. Then I was recruited by a competing funeral home but then they went through a buyout about 2 years later. I sought other opportunities. We moved out of the area, and I managed two locations for six years; then came back to Waco. After yet another buyout, my wife and I discussed whether it was the right time to start our own business. Carri was a special education teacher and had gotten her Master’s Degree in professional counseling. When we moved home, she took a job as an adjunct professor at the local college so we would have income while we pursued our own funeral home.

While planning our new venture, I worked at commercial embalming establishments in Dallas, Temple and Waco, and drove funeral vehicles for a DFW livery service in order to just pay the bills. We then had two business deals fall through. I then basically gave up on our dream and took a manager position at another Waco funeral home. Soon thereafter, my realtor called once again with another opportunity at the current location, a large

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church property, and it just happened to be located between the other 2 property deals that did not work out. It was all in God’s timing, not ours.

FBS: Even though owning a funeral home was new, starting a business wasn’t new to either of you, was it?

No, we had actually started two other companies before the funeral home. We had started a transport service (removals, airport runs, overland transport, and casket deliveries) that my father worked for ten years. Then we established the area’s first pet crematory long before the funeral home. In fact, when we opened Lake Shore Funeral Home in 2008, many of our pet families we had previously served were already familiar with us and came to us to service their human family members. We would also offer the choice of whether a pet owner wanted to pick up their animal’s cremated remains at the funeral home or at the crematory. Many chose the funeral home and which, in turn, allowed them to become acquainted with us, tour our facilities, etc. It was a great way to get people in the door and also get the word out about our new funeral home.

FBS: Starting a funeral home is a lot of work. What made you believe it would work in what many considered an already saturated market?

I knew that the northern quadrant of Waco didn’t have a provider at that time, and I knew that I had built a good reputation by serving families well with respect and care over these many years working in area funeral homes and at the pet crematory. My wife and I worked hard to build the business, even putting our children and the rest of our family to work right away. For the first three years, it was just us as a family (3 generations) helping grieving families in our community.

FBS: What makes your funeral home unique?

One of the things that set us apart in the beginning was that client families saw it as a two-way street. We were helping them and

they were, in part, helping (us) a local family. We operated with transparency and they could see that our hearts were in the right place.

We were also from the area. Even in the beginning, when people knew we had just opened, we already had a history with many client families that already knew us. When I worked at other funeral homes, I served families that have later sought me out at our funeral home. My wife is also from the area and she has her own following and many connections that have also helped to build our business.

FBS: What does excellent customer service mean to you?

If I had to use one word, I would say ‘satisfaction.’ A satisfied client is of the utmost importance. I always personally thank families for allowing us to assist them but also, for letting us ‘represent’ them. Because truthfully, we are a reflection of that family during that event. And it is the greatest honor that these families entrust us to represent them at such a difficult time.

FBS: After 35 years in the industry, what do you feel has been the biggest factor in your success?

I am passionate about every aspect of this industry and as far as the demands of the funeral home, I’ve been strong in ‘the front of the house’ as well as ‘the back of the house.’ These two traits are the building blocks toward family satisfaction as well as having a successful funeral home. Ultimately, the biggest factor has been a combination of my wife and Jesus. She believed in me and prayed continuously for our new business. She believed that treating others with the love of Jesus Christ, and not being afraid to share that belief was key in our work and care of families. It definitely is a calling and a ministry to us personally.

FBS: How much influence do those early mentors still have on you? You know, I was at a funeral for a local cemeterian years ago and I realized that I was surrounded by a number of my own

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mentors who had helped me in my early years in the business. As we started to walk away from the site, I stopped the group because I just had to tell them how much they’d meant to me. I shed a few tears and so did they. It was just a short moment to acknowledge their influence, but it meant even more to me when one of those men became ill and passed away just a few weeks later. I am very grateful that I got the chance to tell him (them) what he (they) meant to me.

I am active with the Texas Funeral Directors Association, having served on the Services Inc. Board and currently serving on several committees. At the annual convention, I help organize and participate in the 50- and 60-year licensees recognition ceremony. This is an honorable act that I truly enjoy. I do not want to forget who I’ve learned from or where I’ve come from. Mentoring the next generation of funeral directors is very important to me, as is recognizing those who came before us.

FBS: I see from your staff pictures on your website that you have some young people you’re mentoring now. I also noted that you and Carri have recently made some changes for the future. Indeed. My daughters went to work in the business early on, but after seeing the demands of the business and how hard their parents worked, they spent some time really pondering whether they wanted to get into the business. When it became clear they were on track to other careers, we decided to find a different and definite succession plan.

We became the leading funeral home in call volume in our area around year 8 and it still continues today. We were coming to the

end of the COVID pandemic and our call volume, like most places, were up even more. Also with the country’s new administration coming in to office, and at that time banks were lending more than ever, it made sense to explore and valuate our company’s worth.

FBS: Does that mean you sought out a buyer?

Yes, sort of. We considered a few companies that acquire funeral homes and started weighing all our options. Our priorities and needs were simple: 1. take care of our family, 2. take care of our staff, and 3. continue to take care of the community.

We talked to several companies and looked at how they would align with our goals. In the end, we decided to partner with a company named Beacon Funeral Partners, based out of Sugarland, Texas. The company is less than five years old and right now operates a little more than forty businesses.

FBS: And how well did they match your goals?

We are still serving the community and caring for our client families. They were able to offer our staff more enhanced benefits than we were able to do as a standalone. I am still working day-to-day in the funeral home, but now I can focus on what is most important to me, which is best representing and serving our clients in the community. I would describe our partnership and status with the parent company as a “unique opportunity” and a win/win for both parties.

FBS: I know you’re happy still working in the funeral home, but I want to ask about your side venture- your new marketing business you’ve recently launched on a national scale because it is so

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innovative in today’s funeral space. Tell me what 1-800-CREMATE and 1-800-FUNERAL is about.

I created this business concept during the pandemic. Truthfully, I was in quarantine when I developed the branding tools to assist funeral homes to ‘win’ calls from those who have no relationship or experience with a funeral or cremation provider, and to set one apart from their competition. It’s all about top-of-mindawareness. Look at vanity phone numbers and how they’re used in other industries like law firms, plumbers and other services people need. Having one of those 800- granddaddy phone numbers confers “expert status” in the minds of the public, and I thought surely this would work for funeral homes and cremation services.

FBS: And it’s an easy number to remember. If you need a cremation provider or funeral provider in an area, just call that number. That’s the idea- easy to remember. It’s based on area code exclusivity. A funeral or cremation provider rents from us one

or both of our 800 numbers for their specific area code(s) to enhance their brand in their own marketing efforts. When one calls 1-800-CREMATE or 1-800-FUNERAL from that particular area code, the call is automatically routed to that funeral home’s main phone number. It’s about ‘getting remembered’ in the mind of the consumer.

Of course the Waco 254 area code directs to Lake Shore Funeral Home, but there are over 350 area codes across the United States and we have the infrastructure and technology in place to contract with funeral and cremation providers nationwide. It’s a tool to help funeral homes win calls and increase their call volume and business.

FBS: Anything else you want to share with our readers?

Readers can find out much more at www.TheCremationNetwork. com. Be sure and look at all of the pages but especially the FAQ page and Benefits page. There is definitely proven usage and also a growing interest by funeral and cremation providers, so search to see if your area code is still available. It would certainly be better for you to market using these 800 numbers rather than to compete against another that is using it for their betterment of their business against you, right? I suggest you consider implementing this specific marketing tool if you need to grow your market share and improve your overall revenue.

Thank you for your time and interest in reading my professional testimony. I hope that it may inspire someone in their professional pursuit of their goals and dreams in this honorable and rewarding profession. FBS

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Create a Follow-up MindsetEvery Phone Call, Every Time

I just got my car back 5 days ago after it spent a month in the collision center at a local car dealership. It was me versus a turkey vulture. I’m ok. The turkey vulture and vehicle? Not so much. I filed the claim with my insurance carrier and the dealership took it from there. Over the last 30 days I have continually had to follow-up with the dealership to check the status of the repairs.

My insurance company didn’t help matters either. I was promised a call back from the dealership at one point near the end of this journey. My phone didn’t ring. I would have gladly taken the car off their hands, but since the claim had been filed and the work had begun, the insurance carrier would not allow the car to be taken. The lack of follow-up created huge frustrations. The time and effort to determine the status of repairs fell to me. I was doing their work for them. If I ever have the unfortunate need for car repairs in the future, I will go elsewhere. If they had only offered to follow-up with me along the way. I would have been more understanding regarding the delay in repairs. To top it all off, as I was handed the keys, the collision center manager asked me to give them a good Google review.

I’m sure many of you have experienced something similar with a company. Imagine the lack of follow-up with a funeral. I have a personal story about an experience I had with a funeral home after the loss of my Dad. To protect the innocent, I am not going to share details. But imagine an experience like the one I described above, and apply it to planning a funeral. Follow-up was key. It didn’t happen as it should.

Begin with the end in mind

What is your vision of what happens after you hang up from a customer call? Consider your follow-up expectations for the entire funeral home staff. Do you have a process in place to be sure every call is approached with a follow-up mindset? It can be as simple as ending any call with - “If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.” It’s doing what you say you are going to do.

I recently asked a group of funeral professionals I was training why we don’t set the stage for follow-up in our phone discussions. There were varied answers, but the one that stuck out most to me was that “we don’t want to appear pushy or burden the family with anything more than they are already dealing with at the time.” In the discussion that followed, I posed a question that if any

OTHER business failed to follow-up, how would you feel? Why are expectations any different for our business?

Offering follow-up is a caring thing to do when wrapping up a call. If we don’t, we appear to have no empathy. We know our clients will have more questions, let them know you are there for them when questions arise. No followup = a diminished level of customer care.

Follow-up with Price Shoppers

In the data I analyze for our profession, follow-up doesn’t happen as often as it should, especially with price shoppers. We miss so many opportunities to create relationships. When clients call us, we simply fire off prices and don’t collect personal information. We close the door to further discussions when we are transactional in our pricing calls. We leave ourselves open to losing potential business. Follow-up sets you apart from your competitors, especially in price shopping discussions. Consider these statistics from Dead Ringers regarding follow-up:

- In closing a pricing discussion, only 29% of the time do we let customers know we are available if they have additional questions

- Only 15% of the time do we offer to email or mail additional information that could be helpful to the caller

- Only 11% of the time do we direct callers to our websites for additional information

The “Vital Statistics” of a Price Shopper Call

We are so diligent in capturing the required data when a death occurs. It should also be a requirement for every single pricing call we take. You can’t follow-up if you don’t have a name, a phone number, or an email address. (Note: According to the FTC Funeral Rule, you cannot require consumers to provide any personal information in return for pricing information.) Some callers aren’t comfortable in giving this information and that’s okay. There are non-threatening ways for us to gather this data. Here are some sample questions you may want to try at the beginning of the call:

- “I am happy to answer all your questions, may I ask with whom I am speaking?”

- “In case we get disconnected, is there a good number I can use to reach you?”

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Sample questions to create follow-up:

- “What other questions do you have, John?”

- “If it is convenient for you, I’d be happy to email our General Price List and offering menu to you. This will be a helpful resource for you to review in the days to come. What is the best email address?”

- “I encourage you to visit our website. The information we’ve just discussed, and more, is available there. Click on the link Our Services.”

- “We appreciate you are doing your research. If there are questions that arise along the way, we are here to help. Please call me and I will be happy to help. Again, my name is Nicole.”

Be Prepared

The bulk of our calls at Dead Ringers are price shopper scenarios. Often there are pauses as our funeral directors gather a GPL or other paperwork required to discuss prices. We must be prepared by knowing our material! Be fluent in your service offerings. Prepare follow-up materials to send to your price shoppers. Know your website inside and out. We must also prepare mentally! Create the habit that each time you talk with a potential client family, you will offer follow-up in a manner that is most comfortable for you.

Monetizing Missed Opportunities

At Dead Ringers we track the potential lost revenue when we don’t keep the phone lines open to price shoppers. We document all price quotes given. Even though it is not a hard and fast number, it does provide a glimpse of what missed opportunities can cost us. Of the hundreds of calls

we’ve placed so far in 2024, there is $2.3 million in possible missed revenue because follow-up was not offered. This is in comparison to $1.4 million in gained revenue. Consider tracking your own missed/gained opportunities. Gather the data customers provide you when price shopping. Document the price you quoted and whether follow-up was offered. Analyze how you are performing with gains and misses.

A Lasting Impression

We all want to make a great first impression, but how we wrap up a call can be just as important. Offering followup creates a lasting impression of you and your business.

As you answer that next call, what will you do differently to set the tone for follow-up? FBS

Nicki Wiedeman is the Customer and Call Experience Facilitator with Dead Ringers. Phones became a part of her life when she answered her first customer service call in 1989 for a bank in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1990 she discovered the Death Care Profession and didn’t look back. She is on a mission to support funeral homes in creating customer experiences with a focus on phone skills. Connect with Nicki by calling 513.225.5935. Email or visit

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Understanding OSHA Requirements for Funeral Homes: SDS Management

Funeral homes play a crucial role in honoring the departed and supporting grieving families. However, amidst the emotional aspects of their work, it's essential to ensure the safety and well-being of both employees and visitors. This includes adhering to OSHA requirements, particularly regarding Safety Data Sheet (SDS) management.

What are SDSs?

SDSs, formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), are comprehensive documents that provide information about the hazards of chemicals and how to safely handle, store, and dispose of them. These sheets are crucial for maintaining a safe working environment, as they offer detailed guidance on handling potentially hazardous substances.

OSHA Requirements for Funeral Homes

Funeral homes, like any other workplace, are subject to OSHA regulations designed to protect workers from occupational hazards. OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) mandates that employers maintain SDS for all hazardous chemicals present in the workplace.

For funeral homes, this includes various chemicals commonly used in embalming processes, such as formaldehydebased solutions and disinfectants. These chemicals, while essential for the preservation of remains, can pose health risks if not handled properly.

SDS Management Best Practices

To ensure compliance with OSHA regulations and promote a safe working environment, funeral homes should implement the following SDS management best practices:

Inventory and Documentation: Conduct a comprehensive inventory of all chemicals used in the workplace and obtain SDSs from suppliers or manufacturers. Maintain an updated list of chemicals and their corresponding SDS.

Accessible SDS: Make SDSs readily accessible to all employees who may handle or be exposed to hazardous chemicals. Consider digitalizing SDSs for easy access via computers or mobile devices.


Employee Training: Provide thorough training on the contents of SDSs, including how to interpret hazard information, proper handling procedures, and emergency response protocols.

Labeling: Ensure all containers of hazardous chemicals are properly labeled with the product name, appropriate hazard warnings, and a reference to the SDS.

By prioritizing SDS management and compliance with OSHA regulations, funeral homes can uphold their commitment to both honoring the deceased and safeguarding the well-being of their employees. Through proper training, documentation, and adherence to best practices, funeral directors and staff can navigate the complexities of chemical safety with confidence, ensuring a safer workplace for all. Remember, OSHA regulations are in place not just to meet legal requirements, but more importantly, to protect lives and promote a culture of safety in the workplace. See how the CST App can help you manage your Safety Data Sheet electronically.

Ready to implement your custom OSHA Compliance Program and train your Safety Supervisor? Contact CST for custom compliance and continuing education in one place.

Learn more at: funeralservicecomplianceandeducation

Certified Safety Training (CST) is the leader in funeral home, crematory, and cemetery OSHA compliance. Backed by more than 30 years of industry experience and Certified Safety Professionals, CST matches industry expertise with customizable, award-winning programming to make sure that customers have the highest-quality safety programs, plans, training, and advice.

To bring your entire workplace – facility and personnel – into compliance with OSHA, contact Certified Safety Training: help@certifiedsafetytraining • 609.375.8462 •

22 | May/June Issue 2024



We certainly enjoy all of the great speakers and classes, but the highlight for our staff is always seeing the interesting new and refreshed products available on the trade show floor. Here's a sample of the products that were presented by vendors at ICCFA!

We were really impressed by the quality of the custom sympathy gifts offered by this small company. They've already proven the popularity of their products in the consumer market and they're finally bringing their offerings to funeral homes.

laurelbox is a small but mighty boutique female owned and operated business passionate about meeting their customers’ needs and creating and curating beautiful products to thoughtfully support anyone walking through a season of loss.

In the last nine years, they have fulfilled over 50,000 orders and maintain 100% customer satisfaction. Many of their gifts are handmade by laurelbox employees while others are sourced from small, independent artisans here in the US. From high end packaging to personalized engraving, they strive to provide each laurelbox recipient with the best possible experience.

They offer the following three programs for funeral homes:

Wholesale: Offer laurelbox products for sale through their wholesale program. To enroll and see details on pricing and availability, visit

Direct to Consumer Affiliate Program: Showcase laurelbox without carrying any inventory by offering a 10% commission on any orders placed using a custom code created specifically for your business.

Obituary Integration Program: Offer the benefits of online orders to your clients with the Obituary Integration Program. Work with an account manager to integrate your obituary webpage with laurelbox products, and receive a commission on orders placed through this program.


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"Every time I see a cardinal, I know it's a message from my mom telling me she's near." - Overheard at a recent memorial service.

The NEW Transitions Stained Glass urn is Made in the USA in Howard Miller’s factory in Zeeland, MI.

Our staff found this back lit, full size urn to be the new definition of relaxed elegance.

The style comes in 5 lighted stained glass options: the cardinal (our favorite and featured here), a purple iris, dragonfly, hummingbird and contemporary geometric design. 3 AAA batteries are required for operation and the on/off switch is easily accessible without opening the urn.

This is a truly unique design, bringing the peace and beauty of stained glass into the comfort of you own home.

for more information please contact Cressy Memorial at 866-763-0485

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We couldn't recall when we'd seen something new in temporary markers, but then we visited the Crowne Urn Vault display and saw their new temporary grave markers.

These small but striking markers allow funeral homes and cemeteries to provide a simple, affordable way to honor the deceased while the family waits for a permanent marker.

They are versatile, practical and affordable. The coolest thing is that they can be positioned flush mount in the grass or at an angle for easy viewing. No more crouching over to see information. There are color options, plate options and engraving options. The program is designed to meet all levels of needs.

To see a sample or for information on how to order call Crowne Vault at 866-763-0485.

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The FBS Staff was impressed by the dual use (vase/urn). We really loved the way the solid wood separator not only capped the urn but also could be engraved to honor the deceased.

The Sky Urns are a breath of fresh air. Truly stylish and on point with modern home decor. The bottom half of the urn holds a portion of the cremains and the top half is a functional vase for a small bouquet of fresh flowers or greens. The Sky Urns come in 4 colors and 2 sizes, a 55 cuin and 105 cuin. The wooden separator disc can be engraved.

for more information please contact Cressy Memorial at 866-763-0485.

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Recently honored with the ICCFA Keeping It Personal Awards' top prize for Best New Innovative Personalized Product, Life’s QR passionately believes in the power of storytelling. They recognize that each loved one is more than just a name and date; they are a living legacy. By adding a Life's QR discrete sign to a monument, memories are immortalized.

Life's QR innovative solutions for honoring loved ones and safeguarding heritage. Their weatherproof laser-etched QR signs, available in various sizes including 2x2, 4x4, Garden signs, and a new 1-inch heart for Urns, promise ease of setup. A simple scan unveils a user-friendly interface, ready to share cherished stories.

Life’s QR stands out as a cost-effective alternative to traditional obituaries, boasting a one-time fee and security for over 30 years. Users enjoy complete control over privacy settings, unlimited text, and an interactive family tree. Additionally, they can curate a visual journey with up to 200 images and links to videos and songs, complemented by a digital guest book for shared memories.

What sets Life’s QR apart is its commitment to secure, ad-free enterprise-level website hosting and advanced searchable data-based capabilities. Celebrate life's journey with a legacy that transcends generations. For those interested in offering Life’s QR to help families share their stories, contact info@ or call 1-289-547-744. Visit for more information.

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New look, same great features!



We always love visiting the Starmark booth because they seem to bring out something innovative every year. Their new ceremonial casket is not only a lovely real natural pine, but the "pine" inserts look so much like real pine that we didn't realize they were printed cardboard insert until we touched them!

Here's what Starmark says about their new pine Brentwood ceremonial casket:

Pine | Cotton Interior | Natural Finish

Starmark Ceremonial Caskets provide an affordable solution for bereaved families to hold full services. The Brentwood is the first ceremonial casket in the Nature’s Way line. This casket provides funeral homes and families with an environmentally friendly green burial and cremation rental casket insert. Paired with the Brentwood, yet compatible with all Starmark ceremonial caskets, the Nature’s Way rental casket insert creates a low cost and high eye appeal green burial and cremation friendly option. For more information, call or visit Starmark online. | (888) 366-7335 |

29 | May/June Issue 2024 PRODUCT GUIDE

Why Is Duncan Stuart Todd Going All In on Coolers and Body Racks in 2024? An Interview with Joel Soelberg

At the recent ICCFA Convention & Expo, Duncan Stuart Todd featured their commitment to adding coolers and body racks to their offerings. I sat down with DST owner Joel Soelberg to discuss the reasons for bringing these products in-house and how he plans to leverage their skills to improve the experience for funeral professionals.

FBS: Tell me, Joel, what has been your company's experience with coolers in the past?

In over 30 years of care-center design and planning, Duncan Stuart Todd LTD (DST) has found that coolers and body racks are usually the first equipment to be outgrown by a firm.

FBS: So they have to add more sooner. What are the issues you've seen with this strategy?

Too often, customers upgrade cooler systems without considering;

• their loading and storage processes

• their flow patterns through the care-center

• their future capacity requirements

• their employee’s preferences

Lacking a long-term plan, these customers often end up with a hodge-podge of different styles and types of coolers, racks, and lift equipment. Their employees end up playing a nasty game of “Cooler Tetris” each time they need to load or unload a cooler. Poorly planned cooler

and storage areas lead to increased burnout, and a greater occurrence of twisting, reaching, and lifting injuries.

FBS: It seems that would actually create more problems than it solves.

Between the bottlenecks, the safety and efficiency considerations, sometimes just adding another rack, or cooler, may exacerbate an underlying cooler capacity problem rather than provide a true operational or capacity improvement. It’s better to properly plan and build the right solutions, and that is where DST can really help and make an impact and why we chose to go all in on coolers.

Rather than just sell a cooler, DST prefers to take a “consultative” approach to help our customers analyze their current needs, understand their options, and plan for the future. This helps our clients be confident in their purchases, especially now that DST brand coolers and racks are available to them.

FBS: Why 2024?

Since 1991, DST has been designing mortuary coolers as part of outfitting a care-center or crematory. In the past we would take our design to one of the mortuary cooler companies and have them build and ship it to our customers. That system of being a designer/reseller more or less worked for DST and our customers until COVID.

Unfortunately, over the last few years it became a nightmare for us to predict our vendors, and to ensure our customers got the cooler and body rack systems we planned into their projects. We, like many other mortuary professionals, got hurt by the mortuary cooler vendor’s uncommunicated delays, surprise price increases, and lack of availability to the customer.

FBS: Was there one thing that finally tipped the scales?

There was a pivotal conversation I had in late 2021 with the owner of a well-marketed mortuary cooler and body rack company. His company kept having uncommunicated shipping delays, price increases and it was super hard to get hold of him or his staff. I told him the way I see it, IF there is a delay or price change after the initial sale is achieved, we needed to know right away, so we could quickly let our customers know, so they could make necessary business decisions on how to proceed in the face of the upsets.

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Rather than discuss this with any intent to improve things, he quickly ended our conversation by asking, “Where else are you going to go?” implying we were captive customers.

FBS: Wow! I can see why you wanted to change! Yes, and DST never bought another piece of equipment from him or his company after that conversation.

FBS: How did you adjust in the short term?

We leaned on our other cooler vendor partnerships over 2022 and into 2023. While these vendors were less complacent, and their pricing was more predictable, they still had similar issues of poor communication and poor delivery predictability.

By mid 2023, after looking at the opportunity and factoring in our history and experience with so many cooler companies, we decided to go all in on making coolers and body racks by early 2024. 2024’s ICCFA show marked the official launch of DST brand coolers and body racks.

FBS: What’s so different about DST coolers and racks?

No matter what other suppliers may claim, on a parts and component quality level, the mortuary cooler manufacturers are all about the same. Yep. I just said that. This is because most every USA cooler company buys cooler refrigeration units, cooler parts, the foam insulation sheets and surface finish materials used in the construction of coolers from the same vendors nationally.

FBS: I didn't know that. So what is the difference?

So on coolers, the real difference is in DST’s proactive communication, expert planning support, and our unique cooler and door configurations. With over 30 years solving care-center flow, efficiency, and equipment issues, DST has an unmatched ability to understand and solve the customer problem sets better than any company out there. We guarantee a great quality cooler, AND a great customer experience before, during, and after a sale. Plus our Price Match Guarantee helps our customers get the best equipment at the greatest value.

DST's Tyler Cornaby dons hat and scarf heralding the cooler launch at 2024 ICCFA booth. Photo is behind the scenes of Funeral 365 interview held at DST's 2024 ICCFA booth.

FBS: Does this also apply to the racks?

The body rack systems are an exception to the “all about the same” quality comment. All body racks are not equal in the industry when it comes to quality, safety, and ease of use. We saw an opportunity to design and build a multi-directional load body rack that ensures ease of use, maximum capacity, and worker safety. DST’s multi-directional loading body rack has superior finishing, structure, components, and nesting, which helps it be the rack of choice in both low and high capacity cooler scenarios. Having one rack style that works for our smallest and largest customers makes it so a small customer can grow overtime, without having regrets about the rack system they chose when they were smaller.

FBS: What do you see as the biggest benefit?

By DST taking control over the entire cooler and rack sales, production, and customer service/support process, we can guarantee quality, delivery, price and the customer experience. Customers now have a notably better experience before, during and after the sale than was possible in the past.

FBS: What if a funeral professional isn't sure of what they need?

It’s no problem for DST if a customer doesn’t know what equipment they need. In one phone call to DST, we can assess a customer’s goals, their use case, and recommend equipment to match their needs. Then we quickly get them the costs and lead times, so they can have all the info necessary to make a good business decision about what they buy, and from whom they buy it. FBS

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Business and Personal Financial Resolutions

Noone said that it must be January 1 to make new resolutions. In fact, today just might be the perfect time to make new resolutions that will result in building a stronger and financially healthier funeral home business and personal life. A prosperous funeral home business is the foundation for building personal wealth and financial independence. All you need is a simple plan, desire, motivation and someone or ones to keep you on track, like a financial coach or mentor.

Old habits are hard to break, and change can be even more frightening, particularly when dealing in an aspect of the funeral profession that is probably not your favorite part, such as accounting and finance. Most funeral directors, probably like yourself, are attracted to the funeral profession because they are caregivers and receive satisfaction from helping families at their worst time.

Why Bother?

If your goal is to one day be financially independent from your funeral home and obtain financial freedom, it needs to start today with a simple financial plan. For most funeral home owners, that will require a change in both business and personal financial policies and a big change in attitude and focus. And yes, that should require input, understanding and cooperation from your spouse or partner. If two people are not on the same financial page, the probability of achieving their financial dreams is greatly reduced.

From a broad financial perspective, your funeral home business practices and your personal spending habits are interconnected, and financial planning requires that they be viewed as one. That can be different from a tax or legal perspective. If you want financial freedom, your goal should

be to create enough wealth through proper investments so that the passive income from your investments is sufficient to cover your personal living expenses, which is a prerequisite for retiring and continuing a quality lifestyle.

Far too often owners commit the cardinal financial sin of thinking that their pot of gold will come when they sell the funeral home business, and they don’t bother to save in the meantime. The cash taken now from the funeral home in the form of wages or distributions is the blood supply that creates financial success. If your funeral home does not have a rainy-day fund adequate to cover a minimum of three months cash outflows or you are personally living from paycheck to paycheck, you have a problem and need to fix it.

Owning and operating a funeral home is more than just a job. It is a profession and lifestyle that is mentally and physically demanding and should afford you a quality retirement. If this sounds a bit like retirement planning, it is. Regardless of your age or your net worth, which is defined as the total fair-market-value of your assets minus all your debt, it is never too early to start acting on your retirement plan.

Resolution 1- Save at Least 15% of Your Gross Earnings

Every month 15% of your gross wages or distributions should be set aside and deposited into an investment account, such as a savings account, certificate of deposit, mutual fund or whatever financial instrument makes you feel comfortable. Part or all of the 15% can go into your SIMPLE IRA, SEP, 401K or any other investment instrument. This resolution is ironclad and cannot be broken regardless of your excuses or rationalizations you dream up.

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If your goal is to reach a point where your passive investments produce enough income to support your future retirement lifestyle, you need to know if you are on track? You are probably wondering how you know. The answer depends on who you ask or which article you read, but just as a reference, this is Fidelity’s guideline: Aim to save at least 1X your salary by age 30, 3X by age 40, 6X by age 50, 8X by age 60 and 10X by age 67. As an example, if you are currently 50 years old and your income is $175,000 annually, your investment savings should be $1,400,000. Note that the amount includes your investments, like savings, IRAs, 401K and not your net wealth.

Resolution 2-Pay Off Your Debt

Having debt may be the American way, but that doesn’t make it the right way. What it does create though are borrowers who are slaves to their monthly payments. For most funeral directors starting out, the only way to purchase a funeral business is to obtain a loan through a commercial bank that is backed by The Small Business Administration, normally with higher-than-normal closing costs and interest rates. That is particularly true for most buyers with less capital to invest and limited banking relationships with local banks.

When considering a loan to purchase a funeral home business or refinancing an existing loan, it is important that the projected monthly cash inflows can support the monthly cash outflows based on a 15-year amortization on the mortgage. That doesn’t always mean that a 25-year amortization is wrong, unless the additional 10-year period is required to qualify for the loan to meet proper debt ratios coverage and other underwriting guidelines. Requiring a 25-year amortization is also a red flag warning that the amount paid for business is too high.

The same principles apply when purchasing a personal residence. If to qualify for a mortgage, the loan officer tells you that you only qualify for a 30-year mortgage, consider purchasing a less expensive home. Just because the lender says that you qualify doesn’t mean that you won’t become house-poor.

Your resolution here is to pay down as quickly as possible both the funeral home mortgage and the residential mortgage by paying more principal each month than the required amounts. Think of debt as a necessary evil when it comes to buying a funeral home or house, but when it comes to using debt for any other reason, consider debt a four-letter word.

Let’s address the root cause of many funeral homes experiencing chronic cash shortages and, even worse, causing some owners and their families to live paycheck to paycheck. The first place to start is by preparing a debt schedule for the funeral home that includes the principal balance, monthly payment, interest rate and maturity date for each loan. The second step is to determine why you thought those loans were necessary and determine the most effective way to pay them off.

It may be common practice to finance, or even worse lease a funeral home or personal vehicle, but it doesn’t make financial sense. Do you really need to purchase new, as opposed to used cars? Why would you finance an asset that goes down in value?


There is no better time than today to start planning and preparing for your retirement. Just by implementing two simple steps and sticking with them can make the difference between financial freedom and financial chains. You may love your profession and want to work until you die, but having the choice and freedom as to when you retire can be comforting and rewarding. FBS

This article is meant to provide general information and should not be construed as legal or tax advice or opinion and is not a substitute for advice of counsel, CPAs or other professionals.

Raymond L. Bald, CPA, CFE is a funeral home tax accountant and consultant with Cummings, Lamont & McNamee, PLLC. He can be reached by phone at 603772-3460, or you may email him at

Ronald H. Cooper, CPA is a funeral home accountant and consultant with Ronald Cooper, CPA, PLLC. He can be reached by phone at 603-671-8007, or you may email him at

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34 | May/June Issue 2024
Order Today!

Honoring Our 10th Anniversary

Serving individuals and families across America facing Dementia with resources, education, life enrichment, recognition, research, and more.

We extend gratitude and thanks to you, the Funeral Director. When you and your staff suggest the Society to receive memorial gifts, you can be assured that your trusted advice provides a remembrance that supports ourongoing mission to help others. As one of the leading causes of death in high-income countries today, you are welcoming more and more families into your Homes experiencing loss from Dementia. We are here to help you, too, so you may serve your families with knowledge about the diseases that can cause Dementia, namely, Alzheimer’s disease, Vascular Dementia, Lewy Body Dementia, Frontotemporal Dementia, and many others.

35 | May/June Issue 2024
Dementia Society of America® | PO Box 600, Doylestown, PA 18901 | @dementiaorg | 1-800-DEMENTIA® Research Grants Critical Programs Helpful Referrals Care Support

Are You Serving the Right Families?

You may think that every family that lives in your community is your customer. However, that’s not the case. Just because you’re a local business doesn’t mean that every family should be working with you if their loved one dies.

Just think about it for a moment. There are some families that you can’t wait until the service is over because of how tough it’s been working with them. There’s also some families when you see their number in your caller ID you need to say a quick prayer before you answer it. LOL. However, there are also some families that make you say, “This is why I do what I do.” There are some families that you wish you could serve 100 like them. Those are the families you should be serving and targeting.

As a business you need to have an ideal family, or target audience. The families in your community have a funeral home they prefer and they’re trying to see which firm fits within those preferences. Thus, you need to be the one they’re targeting.

Now you may ask, if you’re targeting specific families does this mean you turn away families? No. If someone COMES TO YOU that may not be the best fit that doesn’t mean you turn them away. This is especially true if things are tight and you

need the money. You don’t turn away business that comes to you, but you are specific in who YOU go after. So how do you find the right families?

The answer is in the numbers

In theory you should niche your firm first, but that’s not always the case since you may not know who you really want to serve or your business model. But, as you figure out who your ideal family is you will invariably begin to niche your firm to appeal to them.

Therefore, ask yourself, of the last 10 families that you served who were the ones that checked off the following criteria?

- Easy to work with

- Understood the value you brought to the table

- Paid with no issues

- Came back or referred others

- If you had 100 families like them you’d be happy

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funnels are purpose-built to generate hot leads for preened sales. By leveraging social media and paid ads to demonstrate the need for prearrangements, we can move hot leads through your sales funnel and help you book more appointments


Now, take those families and write down how much they’ve spent with you over the lifetime working with your firm. Add to that the amount of money you’ve gotten from their referrals. If you’re not tracking how much each family is spending with you and referring to you then you need to start immediately. You’ll most likely see that your top spenders are your strongest advocates. Let’s create an example.

Leslie Smithers has come to Walter Funeral Home (WFH) for the past 5 years. During that time she’s done 6 service calls and referred 2 other families. The average spend for her service calls is around $7,800 and the referrals averaged $5,000. That means over the past 5 years WFH made $56,800 from Leslie. This is around $11,360 a year.

So, in theory if WFH averaged 100 service calls a year then targeted and got 100 families like Leslie then they could have made over $1 million in annual revenue. It just goes to show that it’s very much quality over quantity. Naturally, you may ask how do I find 100 Leslie’s?

Make them real

You need to create a profile of your ideal family and be hyper specific. Don’t name them after a real client but a name that would be appropriate. Let’s say of the last 10 services WFH did 5 were like Leslie. Thus, we know that his ideal family primarily has a woman taking the lead and is the decision maker.

So, his profile needs to be a woman. Let’s name her Sarah Chastain. He looks through stock photos and finds an appropriate picture of Sarah that is similar to his ideal family. Next, Walter needs to get real meta about Sarah.

How much does Sarah make per year?

Is she married or divorced?

Kids? How many? What are their names and ages?

What kind of car does she drive?

Hobbies and activities?

Where does she go on vacation?

What’s her education level?

What type of house does she own?

What part of town does she live in?

Race? Age? Job?

Shopping and clothing preferences?

TV shows?

Community activity and organizations she’s a part of?

Now that you got the demographic information you need the even more crucial psychographic info.

What are her values?

What was the situation that led her to you?

Did she look at other firms? How many?

What is she looking for in a service?

What’s the real problem she trying to solve with regard to her service and who she chooses?

What made her pick your firm?

What are the things she needs from you to solve her unvoiced needs?

What status is she trying to achieve?

What emotional needs does she need filled from her funeral home?

The more you can answer that the better equipped you’ll be to position your firm as the best choice for Sarah. If you don’t have the answers to these questions then conduct surveys of your families to get it. If you have to pay families for participating in the surveys then do it. The data is literally worth millions.


Armed with the right data about your ideal family change your entire branding to match what they’re looking for. That means your website, content, messaging, logo, your entire brand is reformatted to appeal to your Sarah. Will it cost a lot? Yes, but this is an investment in the future of your business. If you put $1 in a machine and got back $5 would you keep feeding the machine $1? Of course you would. That’s what investing in branding does; it keeps giving you back more dollars than what you put in. But you need to start making the investment. It’s literally worth millions almost in perpetuity.

So, is every family the right family for your firm? No, but as you position yourself to serve your ideal family every family that you do end up serving benefits. In doing so you fulfilled your ministry and will sleep even better at night. I wish you the best honoring the legacy you’re creating. FBS

George Paul III is a volatile visionary and Funeral Experience and Growth Specialist. For over 10 years his company, Cherished Keepsakes, has helped funeral homes stand out and grow. Through personalized keepsakes and proven branding strategies, he transforms how families remember their loved ones, turning every service into a memorable experience that drives referrals and repeat service calls. He can be reached at URLs:

38 | May/June Issue 2024
Let them hug them again! MemoriaLeaf Remembrance Coin. Cutomizable, pouched, or Gift Boxed Can also be added to Urns, Markers, and Monuments. Lovely for pets, too. 1.5" in Antique Gold metal or Call 908-475-1711 or Call 908-475-1711 Remembering the one. who fell from the family tree Photo, Stock, and Custom Designs

M a r k Z .

“The aftercare team was so incredible and beyond anything we thought was possible - and they truly do think of everything for you in stressful time of need ”

S a r a L .

“The very best part of the experience for me was Aftercare process Ashely was EXTREMELY helpful in taking us through all the business of what happens after - Social Security, Medicare, fraud, etc. It was incredibly helpful. Thank you for offering this service.”

K a r e n C .

“I also want to recognize Kathy with the Aftercare program that Menke offers. She met with us over the phone and was so very helpful and knowledgeable of how to proceed to make notification of my father passing. I cannot recommend this company enough for all their help and support! Thank you!”

S c o t t C .

“The Aftercare follow-up call received from Carol was very informative and reassuring. Thank you again to everyone who helped and supported us through this difficult time ”

(Federal Retirements)

Social Security
Goverment Benefits Finances Pension
Wills/Trusts/Probate Real
Insurance Wills/Trusts/Probate Real
Protection Services Estate
Alert Stop Junk
Phone Calls Deceased Registry Over
F u l l - C i r c l e A f t e r c a r e i s a c o n c i e r g e s e r v i c e t h a t h e l p s f a m i l i e s n a v i g a t e t h e c o m p l e x i t i e s o f s e t t l i n g p e r s o n a l a n d e s t a t e m a t t e r s a f t e r l o s i n g a l o v e d o n e . V i s i t o u r w e b s i t e t o l e a r n m o r e ! W h a t F a m i l i e s h a v e t o s a y :
Veterans Administration
Plans 401K/IRA/Annuities
Estate Title
Estate Title
the phone, our team helps families take care of the following:
Actual Google Reviews

Our Partners See Benefit in:

“I can say that the relationship we have with Full-Circle Aftercare has been so beneficial for us and also for our community Our families will tell us after a service just how much they benefited from the Aftercare and they were surprised at how much they were able to help them. I can also attest to providing a lot of referrals and word of mouth because families are just taken aback by all the help and tell their friends about it. I think it’s the right move and your families will thank you for it ”

Josh Blake, Wilkirson-Hatch-Bailey Funeral Home

“Thank you so much for the services of the entire estate and support team at Full-Circle Aftercare We’ve only been up and running for a month now - but have already seen firsthand the benefit this has served families and are excited about the added support we are now able to provide.”

Tatyana Fowler, Ballard-Durand Funeral & Cremation Service

“Matt’s team has exceeded my expectations in terms of performance, but what I value the most is their heart for my customers His staff are good listeners, empathatic, & create a calm and nurturing environment for our families And yet at the same time, they are persistent & assertive to achieve the results needed with external agencies. Matt has succeeded in achieving this unique balance that comforts the grieving & produces the results needed to accelerate the healing process!“

Turn satisfied families into 5-Star Reviews Online Reviews Analytics Personal Touch Contact us to Learn More 888-713-4625
Professional We empathize with each family’s unique situation and take our time to make them feel comfortable. Our Estate Specialists are professional, approachable, and ready to assist every step of the way. Understanding Compassionate We understand the need for a personal touch during a very difficult time
O u r T e a m i s : We have helped over 25,000 families after the death of a loved one Trustworthy W h a t F u n e r a l D i r e c t o r s h a v e t o s a y : Turn satisfied families into 5-Star Reviews Online Reviews Get in-depth feedback from your families Analytics Unlimited one on one help for every family Personal Touch Press releases, social media posts, videos, etc Marketing Support Provide a service that sets you apart from competition Differentiate Each family receives the same level of service Consistent Service

Who is For Eternity and what products do they provide?

Based in Montana, For Eternity is a wholesale memorial jewelry company that focuses on building individual brands of funeral homes. They feature high quality, one-of-a-kind keepsakes – many that are hand-crafted and made to order. Premium and exclusive urn designs are also available.

How did For Eternity get involved in the funeral industry?

Owner Casey Doran began selling pet cremation urns online that were made by his dad, Rod. Rod was a Finish Carpenter and a dog lover. Over two decades, the product line grew to encompass cremation jewelry, photo engraved jewelry, fingerprint jewelry, Ash Infused jewelry and, most recently, Eternally Sealed jewelry.

What is “Ash Infused” and “Eternally Sealed” jewelry?

Ash Infused jewelry is a memorial pendant or ring that has a loved one’s cremains incorporated into the design. Ashes are mixed into gemstone quality resin set in sterling silver, 14k yellow gold, or 14k white gold. The result is a beautiful oneof-a-kind creation that can be passed from one generation to the next.

Eternally Sealed jewelry is For Eternity’s latest creation. It is a traditional cremation pendant that is made in-house, filled, and then permanently sealed – with no unsightly screw – by the craftsman at For Eternity in sterling silver, 14k yellow gold, or 14k white gold.

What makes For Eternity unique?

For Eternity is unique because the mission of the company is to enable funeral homes to increase profit margins while building their brand, not For Eternity’s. Product catalogs

feature a funeral home’s logo on the cover with the products their clients can order, and gift packaging comes with the funeral home’s logo. A catalog stand and hardwood jewelry display stand for three pieces of jewelry, both featuring the funeral home’s logo, are also available.

What are the benefits to funeral homes using For Eternity?

Funeral homes enjoy an average of 80% profit with flexible MSRP, allowing them to adjust prices for their market and even build sales into funeral packages. When a funeral home chooses For Eternity, it cuts down on any stock they need to have on hand because most products are made to order. Most pieces are made in the USA and there is a quick turnaround time. Funeral homes can also place all their orders online.

How does For Eternity provide a solution for Funeral Homes?

For Eternity provides an easy way to enhance services offered to families & increase overall profit. There’s no minimum to buy or need to stock cremation jewelry, photo jewelry, and more on hand. With the full color catalog, families get a visual of all that is available. Combined with a jewelry display, clients can see and feel the quality before they make a purchase.

How would a funeral home contact you to start selling your products?

You can reach For Eternity at or by calling 406-205-4579. Our full catalog is also online at

COMPANY SPOTLIGHT For Eternity 406-205-4579 42 | May/June Issue 2024
406-205-4579 | WWW.FOR-ETERNITY Star t making 80%+ profit on your Mem Jewelr y sales. Call to set up your account an

Five Social Media Marketing Myths

And How Funeral Homes Can Address Them

Many funeral homes employ social media as a component of their marketing plan. They utilize social media marketing to build funeral home awareness, to share content, and to increase engagement with families.

There are multiple social media sites, and some have been in existence longer than most people realize. Many believe Facebook, introduced in 2004, was the first social media platform. However, LinkedIn is the true frontrunner as it was launched a year earlier. Twitter soon followed in 2006, with hashtags introduced in 2007. Pinterest started in 2008 but did not allow business accounts until 2012.

Some of the more recent social media platforms include Instagram (2010) and Snapchat (2011). These platforms, and others not mentioned here, have served distinctive functions in the marketing realm for funeral companies.

Social media marketing is still relatively new and constantly changing. This means it’s easy to fall victim to many of the untruths surrounding how to conduct social media marketing. Here are five tips for steering clear of a few of the common ones.

Social Media Marketing Myths

Myth #1: Social media marketing is free. It’s not a myth that starting a social media account is free. All the ones mentioned above are indeed free and available for anyone and any funeral home to use. However, some of the functions of these platforms only are available for a price. These social media channels all offer paid advertising to expose a funeral home’s brand, business, and content to a wider audience. Paid advertising via social media is different when compared to traditional media. In traditional media, there is a set price for a 30-second radio commercial or a half-page

newspaper ad. Social media advertising involves paying for ad impressions, link clicks, and conversions, also known as cost per click (CPC) or pay per click (PPC).

Moreover, there is a time investment involved with learning and managing social media marketing. This type of marketing involves:

- Regular posting on one or more platforms (sometimes multiple times, daily)

- Creating content, whether written, photos, or videos, for the platforms

- Monitoring the platforms

- Interacting with families on the platforms

- Understanding the ever-changing nuances or analytics of the various platforms.

Some marketers use management tools, which typically are not free, to assist with creating, scheduling, and posting social media updates. Investing in social media marketing means either paying an employee or an outside firm to handle all the daily, weekly, and monthly components of social media marketing. With the time, money, and resources needed, social media marketing is not free.

Myth #2: Social media marketing produces instant results. There is plenty of information on how to successfully perform social media marketing to achieve quick results. Yet, because of a firm’s uniqueness, what works for one funeral home may not work as rapidly for another (or may not work at all). For most businesses, including funeral homes

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and cemeteries, developing a social media presence and digital strategy is a long process. It’s important to figure out your purpose for using social media marketing: is it to engage with families, deliver engaging content, or build brand awareness? Once this is determined, long-term strategies then can be developed to build a social media presence based on this purpose.

Myth #3: Followers equal success. An easy trap to fall into is setting a goal of increasing followers as a measure of social media marketing effectiveness. Many celebrities and popular brands seem to accumulate huge numbers of followers in the blink of an eye. There are paid services available that will do it for you. But should you be focused on amassing thousands of followers? The simple answer is no. Just because the number of followers on your social media platforms is high, it doesn’t mean that they all are seeing your posts. And, they may not be the families you are targeting.

The most effective method for increasing your social media followers is to produce engaging content that encourages interaction, such as commenting on and sharing posts. Measuring social media engagement is a better metric than the number of followers.

Myth #4: Social media has replaced the need for traditional media. In a 24/7 social media world, it might surprise many to learn that traditional media is still alive and succeeding as a tool for getting the word out about your funeral home. Sure, the ways that many families consume information have changed, but traditional marketing should still be an important part of your business. Not sure? Consider this: The average person listens to a minimum of two hours of radio and still watches almost 5 hours of television per day. Over half of all newspapers are still print only, but most have digital editions, though some of the content can’t be read unless you’re a subscriber.

And, more importantly, for those who use traditional marketing, two-thirds of people still trust the things they read in the paper or see/hear on television and radio.

While new media forms such as social media platforms, forums, and others have their place in marketing, one must remember that traditional media has a much longer relationship with families due to decades of communicating with the masses.

If you are still uncertain about the use of traditional media, consider these factors:

- Traditional media allows you to reach a mass audience at once in a very targeted fashion.

- Traditional media gives you third-party credibility – in print or online with reputable media outlets.

- Content published on news sites can improve your Google ranking and be repurposed as social media posts.

It’s best to use both traditional and social media to promote your business to the fullest. The most important thing is to understand your target market and decide which outlets make the most sense for your families.

Myth #5: Funeral homes need to have a presence on all social media channels. One aspect of social media marketing is how often and when to post on the different platforms. One article might state that funeral homes need to tweet five times a day. Plus, they need to post on Instagram at least 10 times daily and at least three times a week on Facebook to be effective at social media marketing. Yet another article might stress that it’s important to produce at least four Facebook videos monthly. In addition, schedule 3-10 pins daily on Pinterest and have at least one Snapchat story each day.

Does your funeral home have the time, resources, and money (see Myth #1) to be active on all channels? Instead of trying to corner the market on every social media platform, determine which platforms will generate the best results, are better suited to your type of business, and are frequented by your families. Then focus your efforts on being successful only on these platforms.

From Fantasy to Reality

It’s time to examine each of these social media marketing myths.

First, social media marketing takes time, resources, and money.

Second, while there is no secret formula to get quick results, building a strategic presence will produce relevant results over time.

Third, instead of striving to build a large number of followers, just focus on reaching your families.

Fourth, social media marketing has not replaced traditional media marketing, but the two can work well together to deliver your marketing message to families.

And finally, you don’t have to be everywhere on social media. But on whatever platforms you are present, be consistent. By creating a social media marketing plan that is unique to your funeral home and tied in with a solid digital marketing strategy, you can avoid these social media marketing fallacies. FBS

Joe Weigel is the owner of Weigel Strategic Marketing, a communications firm focused on the funeral profession that delivers expertise and results across three interrelated marketing disciplines: strategy, branding, and communications. You can visit his website at He also can be reached at 317-608-8914 or

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Toll Free 1-888-275-7763 100% Hand Made in North America Everafter Collection

Ray & Mary Lou Cressy Cressy Memorial & Crowne Vault

Ray and Mary Lou Cressy have a long history in business. As founders of Cressy Memorial, they bring years of knowledge to the industry. We sat down with Mary Lou recently to talk about their experience both in the funeral industry and beyond.

FBS: How did all this start?

Ray and I were married on August 7, 1971. On that day, neither one of us had a job. Ray was finishing his last semester at the University of Dayton and I was about to begin one year of teaching special education at an area high school (followed by two years as a field representative for United Cerebral Palsy). I saw social work as a way to help people but later had to reflect on Ray saying, “What is a better way to help families than by providing jobs? “

FBS: When did you start your first company?

After 15 years in sales for Ray and both of us raising our 4 children, we started Cressy Marketing, a manufacturers representative group for the Marine and RV Industries in 1986. In 2004, one of our good vendors, Howard Miller Clocks diversified and asked us to take their new beautiful wooden urns into the funeral industry. The following year we formed Cressy Memorial and Crowne Vault, representing suppliers and manufacturing our own urn vaults. Almost overnight, I changed from marketing plumbing, electrical and lighting to marketing memorial products with beauty, emotion, and comfort. I loved the personal connection.

FBS: How do you market to the funeral industry?

Our small tight knit company typically does 10 or more trade shows a year but we use phone calls, virtual meetings, email blasts, post cards, and print ads. Ray works as a consultant and he and Sarah Tepe, our Company President, find new product ideas which are innovative and value-priced. We began to manufacture high-quality polymer Crowne Urn Vaults in a medium and tall size. We wanted every family to know the vault was beautifullystyled (despite the low cost) and that they would be proud of

the presentation at church or the gravesite. Also the family can personalize and leave final messages with permanent markers on the urn vault. This enhances the ceremony by allowing the warmth of touch and personal expression.

FBS: Do your clients sometimes suggest new ideas?

Oh yes. A few years later, we “tooled up” (very expensive!) for a compact Crowne Urn Vault because we had listened closely to the funeral and cemetery professionals who said some families do not buy an urn and are satisfied with just burying the temporary crematory container. So we designed an attractive, compact urn vault to fit the temporary container with the extra benefit of it being the perfect size for second right interments.

FBS: I saw some new things in your booth at ICCFA, didn't I? Our newest product is an inexpensive Crowne Temporary Grave Marker which can use a lovely engraved plate or a laminated card (done at the cemetery quickly, and inexpensively). Marketing is enjoyable when you can explain the efficacy of a new product presentation. For example, to the funeral director or cemetarian, "Perhaps Grandpa has passed away and Grandma wants to visit the cemetery three times a week. The family is very relieved that Grandma can drive herself. But when Grandma gets to the cemetery, she HAS TO KNOW she can find the 'right place' which can be challenging with the long wait time for permanent monuments." A temporary grave marker takes care of this.

FBS: Tell me about the marketing approach you took with Howard Miller's Scattering Tubes.

A funeral director knows that “Scattering Cremains” usually means that the funeral director cannot guide the family though the very important ending ritual and that there is no revenue from an urn or vault sales. We encourage the funeral director to join the family in planning the Scattering Ceremony by asking questions like these:

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Who will be coming? When will it take place? Was your loved one a veteran? Can I arrange military honors? Would you need chairs, a tent, a minister, music? Then a really important suggestion: Can I split your Dad’s cremains into 26 scattering tubes? That way, everyone gets to participate. Maybe they would all want to say a few words about your Dad when it is their turn to scatter (thus helping set up informal but meaningful eulogies-even the hospice nurse will say something). The funeral director helps the family host a wonderful scattering and gains the revenue; the funeral home becomes known for partnering with scattering.

FBS: What do you see as the challenges for the memorial industry? Good question. One is a cavalier attitude about memorialization. Cremation memorialization has no real timeline. Many families become too comfortable with having the urn at home and accepting the Zoom memorial and online condolences as enough. Another challenge is providing enough incentive for more memorial professionals to attend state or national funeral and cemetery shows.

One bright spot I see for cemeteries and funeral homes is second rights of interment - with good marketing of course. Land-locked cemeteries embrace second rights but some other cemeteries do not. Many families have no idea what second right interment is or what the cost savings are. Also, there can be a warmth and comfort for family members to share “perpetual” space with loved ones.

A funeral director can educate the family about choices and we know the funeral home is actually the referral agent for many choices of cemetery decisions. To increase sales, the cemetery can research their burials and the deed holders. So many Americans have moved from city to city and have strong emotional connections with their hometowns (not their recent big city or retirement city). This is a big advantage for a hometown cemetery to reach out to family deedholders - business they could never have imagined possible. Truly, a homeward bound opportunity.

FBS: What's the best advice you've received about trade shows? It was from another exhibitor/supplier at a trade show where the attendee participation was disappointing. I was complaining when this other exhibitor gave me a focus. He said “Look, half the exhibitors on this convention floor, I sell to. The other half, I buy from!” After that I saw the conventions in a new light and recognized the new possibilities for growth. The bond with the other vendors/exhibitors can be fun and friendship filled.

FBS: How does this industry compare to others?

We love working in the funeral industry. After doing industrial sales presentations in factories, I enjoy the hospitality of the funeral industry and the high interpersonal skills of funeral professionals. I remember one of my first presentations in 2005 (before we had our wonderful distributors) where the director motioned me to a beautiful seating area and offered me coffee! I figured this meant he was going to buy my products… he didn’t, but I still appreciated being so graciously treated. To those entering the industry, these interpersonal skills are essential as a funeral director, cemeterian or industry supplier. Even more important now, since the funeral director and cemetarian’s role is often pastoral for the families.

FBS: Your company achieved the Nation Women’s Business Enterprise Certification (WBENC). Tell me why that is so significant.

We women have “all of us” sat out of the market place or worked part time when our children were young and when our parents became old. We always try to accommodate the personal family needs of our small company because we strive everyday to put faith and family first. Despite “falling short” at times, our personalities and strong work ethic drive each of us to meet tremendous business goals. Being recognized by WBENC has helped motivate our efforts in a traditionally male-dominated, but changing, industry. We believe our “family first” life skills serve us well at work because who better than a mother to multitask, juggle personalities, and redirect with new ideas when things go wrong?

FBS: Finally, what advice would you give others in the industry? If it was easy, everyone would do it. Expect struggle - not just a single struggle. Keep close to your team. Take care of them. Grow together. Pitch in. Go for the best idea, even if it isn’t yours. FBS

You can reach Mary Lou Cressy by emailing her at or call her office at Cressy Memorial at 866-763-0485. You can also see the range of brands they represent at

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Ray & Mary Lou Cressy in their booth at a trade show. Mary Lou with Sarah Tepe & Traci Presley.

Buying Basics: Due Diligence

Unlike buying a house or a car, buying a business is a process of determining the true value of the business while uncovering any issues that may enhance or detract from the future operation of the business. The process of analyzing the business prior to the purchase is referred to as “due diligence” and the time period for performing these actions is referred to as the “due diligence period.”

The purchase of a business takes the cooperation of several parties including a lender, an appraiser, an attorney, an accountant, and a consultant. The lender is needed to underwrite and finance the transaction. The appraiser is hired by the lender to determine the real estate value. The attorney is needed to prepare and review the purchase agreement, bill of sale for the business and deeds for the property. An accountant is needed for reviewing the tax implications of the transaction. And the consultant, facilitates due diligence, negotiates transaction and financing terms, maintains open communication lines with all parties and helps ensure all required documents are communicated to facilitate a timely closing.

Unlike buying a house or a car, buying a business is a process of determining the true value of the business while uncovering any issues that may enhance or detract from the future operation of the business. The process of analyzing the business prior to the purchase is referred to as “due diligence” and the time period for performing these actions is referred to as the “due diligence period.”

The due diligence process begins when a buyer identifies a target business to buy. The length of the due diligence period is determined by the complexity of the acquisition. There is no set time limit for the due diligence period other than what the buyer and seller agree upon.

In business transactions, the due diligence process varies depending on the type of business being evaluated. Common areas of concern include financial operations, business operations, personnel, marketing, property and equipment. Other areas of concern include legal and tax matters, insurance coverage, review of outstanding debt, employee benefits, labor costs and availability.

In reviewing the financial operations, the buyer will examine the financial records and accounting methods to determine the company’s historical cash flows, receivables will be analyzed to determine collectability, payables and debt will be reviewed to determine the quality of vendor and lender relationships and product pricing and service mix will be reviewed to determine consistency with industry

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norms. Note that the quality of recordkeeping practiced by the target business usually goes a long way in giving the buyer a feel for the quality of the target business.

The personnel of the target business will be reviewed to determine the necessity and pay level of each employee. In small business acquisitions, most employees are rehired at the same pay rate as long as their services are necessary to business operations. Any employees that are not essential to operations are normally not rehired and their pay and benefits are added back to the expected cash flow of the business.

Property and equipment owned by the target business will be reviewed to determine the useful life and appropriate fair value of each. Appraisals are conducted and the values will be used in the allocation of the purchase price to establish the depreciable values of the assets and equipment. Leases, rental agreements and property deeds are also reviewed.

Business operations are reviewed to assess the location, inventory, vendors, management, customer relations, insurance policies and any other items specific to the industry of the target business. The main point is to question each item to see where improvements can be made. Is the business located in the right market area, is inventory adequate, are vendors providing quality goods


at reasonable prices, has management run operations effectively, are customers satisfied with the services provided and are insurance policies adequately protecting the company from liabilities.

Marketing practices, advertising campaigns and public relations programs are reviewed to determine the effectiveness of each. Is the company using an appropriate marketing and sales strategy? How does the competition market their business and products? Could any of these practices be enhanced or changed to produce a better return on investment.

When commercial real estate is involved in a purchase, environmental due diligence refers to site assessments performed to uncover any potential liabilities associated with the property. These assessments are called Phase One and Phase Two Environmental Reports. A Phase One is almost always ordered by the lender for commercial real estate transactions. A Phase Two is not normally required unless a potential liability issue is uncovered by the Phase One. FBS

Matt Manske is the Managing Member of BSF, LLC (website: He can be contacted at 913.343.2357, or by email at

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Why You Should be Attending Conventions and Trade Shows

Funeral conventions and, by extension, trade shows, have been a staple of the industry for more than 100 years. The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) formed in 1882 with their first convention in Rochester, NY, with various state organizations forming and creating their own gatherings around the same time.

The National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association (NFD&MA) celebrates 100 years in 2024, with an annual convention and exposition in Maryland from August 3rd to August 7th, while another nationwide organization, the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Assocation (ICCFA), recently held their convention in Tampa, Florida. That is in addition to the dozens of state and regional associations that hold trade shows during the summer months.

With so many options and so little time for funeral professionals to get away from their businesses, it seems like more and more licensees are opting out of trade shows and conventions and choosing instead to remain at home. Let's explore some of the reasons why you might want to budget time for a convention and what benefits you might bring home from a few days with other funeral professionals.


While it can be argued that the funeral industry moves slowly in terms of innovation or changing techniques, there are still hands-on demonstrations and roundtable discussions that can't be replicated in the pages of a magazine like this or through a computer screen during an online class. Many funeral professionals are on "islands", working alone or with just one other funeral director/embalmer in daily contact and may not be aware of new techniques that are benefiting professionals across the country.

In addition, a funeral director's schedule can be filled with Chamber of Commerce meetings and church functions and other important community events, leaving very little time between removals and embalmings and evening visitations to get the necessary continuing education credits on their own. State and national conventions typically provide enough classes in just a few days to meet all the necessary continuing education requirements for an entire year or more.


Strolling the trade show floor at a convention is a great way to see all of the newest products and services offered by vendors without having to visit 100 different websites and have 20 different sales rep call on you. Often, it's the only way that companies in this industry get to see their customers face to face to either show off new items or to take feedback on the services and products your funeral home is using.

For large purchases like hearses, retorts, and more, it's usually the only place you can research several brands in person all at one time. Until someone creates a funeral coach superstore in your own neighborhood, that is.


Remember those "islands" I referred to earlier? Even in a firm with four or five funeral directors, there is an isolation where you typically only socialize with and learn from those three or four other people you see most often. Even going to a small state convention will bring you in touch with the most funeral directors you'll probably see all year.

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Attendees at the 2023 NFDA Convention in Las Vegas. Session at the 2023 ICCFA Convention in Kansas City, MO.


Most funeral professionals experience what I would consider a "work / life imbalance." Ask any funeral director when she took her last vacation and you might get a blank stare. You're thinking about your last vacation now, aren't you? Was it pre-COVID?

Convention organizers typically locate their events in attractive locations, both for the convenience of most of the funeral directors who will drive but also for amenities that will attract a good crowd. For that reason, a funeral convention can also be a great vacation, whether just for you or for your entire family. With a typical state show only 2-3 days, you can arrive a day or two early and spend time with family, then let them explore while you attend the convention.


And by connecting during classes, on the trade show floor, during Q&A sessions with speakers, or at one of the casual get togethers, you can form new bonds and find a person who is doing the exact kind of work you're doing on the other side of your state. It's an opportunity to not only find professional connections but to create a friendship with someone who understands the demands on your time and energy.

There are, of course, so many other benefits, from reuniting with old friends to enjoying a new city and from sparking new ideas for business - how many pet crematories have been started after going to a trade show? - to finding your next star employee among the newbies strolling the halls. At the end of the day, in person events may have taken a hit after a national pandemic, but these gatherings are still the best places to meet vendors, learn from the experts in the industry, reconnect with your colleagues, and get re-energized for the countless hours of serving your community that lay ahead of you.

Check out the list of state and national shows coming soon on the following pages. FBS

54 | May/June Issue 2024 CONTINUED S ave Money, Time & Headaches! Run your funeral home more efficiently
The 2024 NFD&MA Convention will be held at the Gaylord Hotel in National Harbor, MD. Venues like this offer a lot for the entire family.
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Virginia Funeral Directors Assocation 136th

Annual Convention

June 2-5, 2024

Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront, Virginia Beach, VA

Michigan Funeral Directors Association

Annual Convention & Exposition

June 3-5, 2024

Blue Water Area Convention Center, Port Huron, MI

Funeral Directors Association of Kentucky Annual Convention & Mid-West Regional Funeral Trade Show

June 4-5, 2024

Kentucky Exposition Center & Crowne Plaza Hotel, Louisville, KY

Missouri Funeral Directors & Embalmers

Association 2024 Annual Convention

June 8-11, 2024

Lake of the Ozarks Margaritaville Resort, Osage Beach, MO

Louisiana Funeral Directors Assn. & Mississippi Funeral Directors Assn. (Joint Convention)

June 9-11, 2024

Windsor Court Hotel, New Orleans, LA

Tennessee Funeral Directors Association

2024 Annual Convention

June 9-11, 2024

Franklin Marriott Cool Springs, Franklin, TN

56 | May/June Issue 2024 UPCOMING CONFERENCES

Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association

2024 Convention & Expo

June 9-12, 2024

Wind Creek, Bethlehem, PA

Texas Funeral Directors Association Annual Convention & Expo

June 9-12, 2024

Renaissance Austin Hotel, Austin, TX

Montana Funeral Directors Association

2024 Convention & Trade Show

June 23-25, 2024

Holiday Inn Downtonw, Missoula, MT

Illinois Funeral Directors Association 2024 Annual Convention

June 24-26, 2024

Walker's Bluff Casino Resort, Carterville, IL

California Funeral Directors Association Convention

June 30 - July 2,2024

Omni Rancho Las Palmas, Rango Mirage, CA

National Funeral Directors & Morticians Association Annual Convention & Exposition

August 3-7, 2024

Gaylord Hotel, National Harbor, MD

57 | May/June Issue 2024

Alan Creedy



Continental Computers

Cummings, Lamont, McNamee PLLC

Dementia Socierty

Duncan Stuart Todd


Final Embrace

For Eternity

Kanga-Woo Legacy MemoriaLeaf

National Guardian Life

New Paradigm Marketing Solutions

RK Productions



58 | May/June Issue 2024 40-41 51 53 39 11 37 47 55 60 33
Advertiser Index
Precious Metals Refining, Inc.
9 54 59 2, 45 15 35 Cover, 13, 30-31 34 4-5, 23 43
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