PRENEED ROUNDTABLE


Preneed remains an important option for funeral professionals and the families they serve. To find out what is the current state of the preneed market, what customers want and where preneed sales are heading in the future, we reached out to Tyler Anderson, vice president of business development at Precoa; Jessica Grann, director of corporate communications for National Guardian Life Insurance Co., who spoke to field reps and company officials for their thoughts; Dan Lodermeier, vice president-field sales, Homesteaders Life Co.; and Todd D. Mannix, vice president of sales and marketing at Cooperative Funeral Fund.  READ MORE...


 

SERVICE THE BOOMERS GET READY FOR THE MILLENNIALS


No generation in history has been more analyzed, scrutinized, hypothesized, advertised, and capitalized than the baby boomers. All through my life, economists and business professionals have been studying this anomaly in American reproductive history like watching a golf ball work its way through a garden hose. At the end of World War II, Americans came home from abroad, reunited with their loved ones and started families. The resulting effect of this was a surge in population. Historians and economists recognized the large and historic increase in babies being born from 1946 to 1964 and have been monitoring them ever since, like a mass population version of The Truman Show (a movie starring Jim Carrey where television crews follow a single individual his entire life).  READ MORE...


 

SPRING CLEANING YOUR FINANCES

The term “spring cleaning” can have a presumptive meaning for those that endure inclement weather during the winter months. Spring cleaning can connote many things,but one can infer it’s a time for a fresh start and a breath of fresh air. For those in the northern climates where the weather has been cold for many months, the calendar date of March 20, the first day of spring, is a promise of warmer days to come.  READ MORE...


 

GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY

While outlining this article prior to attending this year’s ICCFA World Wide Sales (WWS), I had no idea that I had created the precursor to what I would experience. This was my second year at this mind-blowing conference which has given me so many ideas to share with all of you. If you have ever considered attending, I encourage you to do so. It will change the way you feel about what you do, and it will energize you and make you want to be better at what you do. (Yes, I drank their delicious Kool-Aid.)  READ MORE...


 

IN WHAT WORLD DOES AFTERCARE BENEFIT YOUR BUSINESS?

Seriously? You just worked your tail off bending over backwards to make sure every whim of that pain-in-the-butt family was taken care of, why would you want to do anything with or for them “after” the funeral. Rumor has it, if you want to take your business to the next level you need a super duper aftercare program. Oh boy, another thing we got to worry about besides picking up the wrong person at the morgue, putting the wrong clothes on someone, or cremating someone in a solid mahogany instead of the air tray the family paid for. I say we are all just better off not being proactive and waiting to see whether or not families will want us to take care of them at the “time of need”; aftercare, schmafter care. READ MORE...


 

CREATING THE PRENEED EXPERIENCE

On a recent nine-hour flight I was writing down a few ideas for future articles when the plane hit some major turbulence, triggering people to scream, curse and say a few prayers. Strangely, I giggled and thought, “Wow, what a great premise for another preneed article.”  READ MORE...


 

IN THE WEEDS

"In the Weeds" is a common expression in the service industry. It describes a stressful time in which you have myriad tasks of equal importance that all need to be accomplished immediately. Sometimes we get that feeling in our daily jobs, when we’re putting out fires rather than focusing on tasks that provide for the long-term prosperity of our business. Usually this occurs because we are no longer focused on the long-term tasks. How does this situation unfold and how can we get back our clarity?  READ MORE...


 

CREATING THE “WANT”

"I want you to take care of me when I die.” Do I consider this a compliment? Absolutely! When I first started out as a 20-year old funeral director and someone said this to me, it was usually a young man who thought I didn’t get their true meaning— wink, wink. I will never forget the day this sentiment was posed on a whole other level.  READ MORE…


 

HOW TO RE-EVALUATE YOUR BUSINESS DURING DIFFICULT (OR EVEN) GOOD TIMES


Financial measures are a tool almost any business uses to determine how well it is doing. Whether you are a manager responsible for a part or all of the bottom line, an entrepreneur who started a business or a multigenerational owner where the business has, or will be, passed off to you, you can use financial measures to understand how the business is doing.  READ MORE...

 


 

USING FINANCIAL MEASURES TO EVALUATE YOUR BUSINESS


As the economy continues to slog along, it’s safe to say that many cemeteries are feeling the impact the most. In an industry where money is already a scarce resource, the very long run of declining and low interest rates is felt by every cemetery. For many cemeteries, there is little to no opportunity to drive new revenue from sales. Even in large cemeteries or cemeteries with land available, the lack of consumer dollars to spend and the lower returns on conservative investments are a worrisome reality.  READ MORE…


 

WHO IN THE WORLD WOULD WANT TO BE A FUNERAL DIRECTOR?

Me, me, me – pick me! I want to be a funeral director! It is the world’s greatest career.  But when you stop and truly think about it, only a glutton for punishment would want to do what we do. Seriously, who in their right mind would want to be a funeral director? How many times have you heard other funeral directors saying, “I don’t like hanging out with funeral directors.”  Why would we say this when we are pretty much all the same deep down?  We are crazy, crazy lucky is what we are.  Where else can you work and have all of the free flowers you could ever ask for, a chance to drive really nice cars and people to hang around with who are really “cool.” Ba-dum-bum…READ MORE...


 

IF I ONLY HAD A BRAIN

Everyone has to remember the mantra of my favorite character, “The Scarecrow”. “The Wizard of Oz” opened in theaters on August 25, 1939 based on the book, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” (1900) written by L. Frank Baum. Its classic charm and lessons learned can be shared across many industries. As funeral directors, can any of us forget the Coroner singing as he pronounces the wicked witch dead, “As Coroner I must aver, I thoroughly examined her, and she’s not only merely dead, she’s really most sincerely dead.”  READ MORE...


 

PRENEED ROUNDTABLE

Many in funeral service see preneed sales as a way to grow business, give customers what they want and guarantee success into the future. But, just like all other aspects of the profession, the sale and management of preneed accounts is subject to changing economic conditions and customer expectations and desires. In this first part of a two-part roundtable, we checked in with W.H. “Bill” Williams, president and CEO of Funeral Services Inc.; Todd D. Mannix, vice president of sales and marketing for Cooperative Funeral Fund Inc.; Todd Carlson, executive vice president and chief sales officer, Funeral Directors Life Insurance Co.; and Steve Lang, chairman, president and CEO of Homesteaders Life Co., to learn the current trends in preneed sales and what the future might hold.  READ MORE...


 

BEYOND SELLING:  HELPING PEOPLE TO BUY

Public attitude is changing toward end-of-life ceremonies, and as a result, it is transforming the funeral and cemetery industry. We often see statistics about the rising cremation rate as more people choose cremation for their final disposition.The industry gets fixated on the statistics, and we end up hearing news about some cemeteries experiencing decreased sales because of the trend toward cremation. It is so easy to get hung up on the statistics and the associated news that we tend to lose focus on what we should be trying to achieve.  READ MORE…


 

WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO WHEN YOU DIE?

When asked to write an article on preneed my brain glazed over.What aspect of preneed can be rediscovered? Don’t you feel that you know most of what there is to know on preneed? Are you looking for that next best thing that will make your preneed program stand out from everyone else’s?  READ MORE...


 

TEN TIPS ON HOW TO BE AN UNSUCCESSFUL FUNERAL PROFESSIONAL

As I tried to develop tips on making all of us better funeral directors and thus creating prosperous businesses, I thought I would try some reverse psychology. Please read these tips with a very open mind, especially while reading the words “unsuccessful” and “professional” in the same sentence.  READ MORE...



 

ARE YOUR PRENEED FUNDS EARNING WHAT THEY NEED TO?

The effect of inflation on preneed funds always needs to be taken into account, but that’s especially true when interest rates are keeping fund earnings low.  Are your preneed funds earning what they need to?  Engaging in preneed sales involves inherent risks for both the consumer and the funeral provider. Fortunately, if understood, the risks are manageable and can make it a worthwhile venture for both parties. One of the risks the funeral provider takes on that often is not analyzed enough is the financial risk.Everyone pays attention to interest rates. But how many funeral providers pay attention to the impact inflation rates have on the interest they are earning—as well as their profits?  READ MORE...


 

CARPE DIEM.. EVERY DIEM

Here we are in 2016 and no doubt there have been countless articles published that talk about lessons learned from 2015, and countless more offering practical advice for effecting change in the new year. These articles use the new year as an impetus for discussion. On the surface, there is nothing wrong with these articles and many offer interesting perspective and even sage advice. The fundamental flaw is the conventional wisdom that it takes a mile marker to take notice and focus on change or improvement.  READ MORE...


 

MAKING EFFECTIVE USE OF BUDGETS

For anyone who has worked at a large corporation, the word “budget” can invoke interesting responses, many of them not good.  In many large organizations, the budgeting process for the following year starts as early as the third quarter of the current year.  READ MORE...


 

PRENEED ROUNDTABLE

Preneed continues to be one of the most important topics for the funeral service industry. We turned to Todd Carlson, executive vice president of sales, FuneralDirectors Life Insurance Co.; Phil Kreski, vice president of preneed, PhysiciansMutual Insurance Co.; Dean Lambert, senior vice president of marketing and communications, Homesteaders Life Co.; and Todd D. Mannix, vice president of sales and marketing at Cooperative Funeral Fund Inc., to get their thoughts onthe state of preneed – past, present and future.  READ MORE..


 

MANAGING FAMILY BUSINESSES THROUGH GENERATIONS

Many people in the business world are familiar with failure rate statistics of new companies in the 80-percent range. While there are new businesses popping up every day in this industry, it is more prevalent to have family-run businesses handed off from one generation to the next. In a recent episode of CNBC’s The Profit, the statistic was quoted that second-generation businesses have a 60-percent failure rate and third-generation businesses have a 90-percent failure rate. Further research seeking to confirm these numbers revealed that fourth-generation businesses’ failure rate increases to 97 percent.* These numbers are shockingly high and are a reason to take a look at our industry to see if these general statistics hold water.  READ MORE..


 

ENCOURAGING COMMUNITY AWARENESS

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and so begins not only the thoughts of the things we are grateful for but also a gentle reminder of those who we grieve for; the loved ones who are no longer here to help celebrate the upcoming holidays. Just because we are funeral directors does not mean that we are immune from feelings of loss, it only makes us better at what we do. Through personal experience and what we see day in and day out, we know better than anyone about the benefits of what we do. As a young funeral director I relished every moment when families appreciated what we did for them. Thirty years later I still have the letters I received from families who recognized what an important role funeral directors play in their lives. Those letters confirmed that I had picked my true life path. I am positive I was more grateful to these families than they were for what I had done.  READ MORE..


 

TRAITS OF A SUCCESSFUL LEADER: THE FUNERAL DIRECTOR STANDARD

Working in sales I often find myself traveling long distances in my car. My listening preferences are an eclectic collection of music, however to keep awake and make the time fly I enjoy listening to motivational speakers, yes one of my guilty pleasures. This particular drive to the New York State Funeral Directors Convention involved a plethora of success stories from people like Warren Buffett, Andrew Carnegie, Stephen Covey, Henry Ford, Benjamin Franklin, John Paul Getty, Napoleon Hill, Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, J.W. Marriott Jr., Anthony Robbins, Eleanor Roosevelt and Zig Ziglar. 50 Success Classics (2004) by Tom Butler-Bowden comprises the works of many stimulating pioneers of success and leadership throughout history, this trip I was only in the car long enough to hear 25 of the 50 stories, a good and bad thing at the same time.  READ MORE...

 

 


 

WHERE IS YOUR PRENEED COMFORT ZONE?

After working in funeral service for more than 30 years, you would think nothing could surprise you. Most funeral directors do what we do because we truly care. Sadly, the industry has seen many unpleasant surprises, such as unscrupulous preneed scandals. These are always a surprise for those of us who are in it for the right reasons and realize the value and promise we offer to our communities. The difficulty is that in the court of public opinion, all it takes is a couple of “bad eggs” doing something unprincipled and we are all lumped into the same category.  READ MORE...


 

CHAPTER NINE: HIRING FOR PRENEED SALES

Preneed sales are important to your business. By offering preneed, you secure the possibility of future business, you increase your ability to create forecasts for revenue that can help you understand how to manage other aspects of your business and you make an impression in your community.  READ MORE...


 

CREATING A POSITIVE ATTITUDE FOR PRENEED

As a licensed funeral director/embalmer working in the field for just over 30 years I find my sense of humor tested with headlines like these:

Pre-Paid Funeral Plans: Buyer Beware | ElderLawAnswers
The Pitfalls of Preneed - Funeral Consumers Alliance
Prepaid Funeral Plans Can Be a R.I.P.-Off - Kiplinger
Prepaid Funerals Could Be a Mistake - AARP The Magazine
USATODAY.com - Prepaid funeral can have pitfalls
Prepaid Funeral Planning: Don't Do It! – Consumerist
The Prepaid Funeral and Its Perils | Nolo.com

These are some of the headlines of articles I found when I queried google: “is prepaying your funeral a good idea?”  I was stunned at the number of similar headlines toting a negative spin on prearranging ones funeral.  Really?  READ MORE...
 


 

DO NOT OVERLOOK THIS IN YOUR BUSINESS PLAN


A good funeral home business plan needs to have an additional component these days. It has to include a section that defines two sets of customers: the future decedents and those who may be doing the planning for them.  READ MORE...


 

ETHICS:  WHAT GM CAN LEARN FROM THE DEATH CARE INDUSTRY


The annual customer satisfaction numbers came out for the airlines this month and not surprisingly for those that travel, the numbers weren’t good. In what seems to be an increasing trend, the customer satisfaction statistics continued to fall year over year again. It’s interesting that simultaneously the airlines are increasing revenue and adding to profits. For a stockholder or an airline executive, profitability is good news, but the long-term picture should create concern as customers are increasingly disgruntled.  READ MORE...


 

PRENEED MARKETING: DOLLARS AND SENSE

Years ago, I sat on a board for a business improvement district in the town where my wife and I owned a business. I figured I could take a lot of my practical learning and big company experience and help this local community board to be more efficient,have more effective meetings, and use data to help to mitigate some of the arguments that came up among business owners. It was a meaningful experience,and together we were able to make improvements in the community, including planting 75 new trees up and down the main street in the district. However, one of the issues that would continue to cause conflict was about how much to spend on marketing. The money available was put in place to serve all of the businesses in the district,and I felt we had an obligation to make sure that any money we spent not only benefitted as many of the businesses as possible, but also had some measurable return on investment.  READ MORE...


 

AND ON THE 8TH DAY GOD CREATED MORTICIANS BECAUSE NOBODY ELSE WANTED TO DO THE JOB

With April Fools’ Day approaching, it’s important to realize the necessary role humor plays in our lives and more specifically in our profession. As professional funeral directors and embalmers we never consider what we do a joke, however that does not mean we have to take ourselves too seriously. As the month of April rolls around we are reminded of this on April Fools’ Day. Sometimes called All Fools' Day, April Fools’ Day is celebrated every year on the first day of April. Popular since the 19th century, many feel it should be a national holiday. It is celebrated as a day when people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other. The jokes and their victims are known as "April fools".  READ MORE...


 

10 TIPS: MAKING SURE YOUR PRENEED WORKS FOR YOU

Offering a preneed program involves a lot of thought,and you need a program that supports your operation and message. Here are 10 tips to help you evaluate if your preneed program is helping you succeed.  READ MORE...


 

UNDERSTANDING AND PLANNING FOR YOUR CEMETERY'S OBJECTIVES VIA YOUR ENDOWMENT CARE FUND

Following the law by making sure your endowment care fund is compliant with your state’s requirements is necessary, but it’s not enough. To be a responsible cemetery manager, you need to create a long-term plan for your cemetery’s needs and how they can be funded.  READ MORE...


 

PRENEED: REMOVING THE MYSTERY


When I talk to my friends about working in the funeral industry, they often remark about some news item they’ve seen about misplaced bodies or misappropriation of preneed funds. Thanks to the media sensationalizing stories, the public’s perception of the “mysterious funeral industry” is that it is fraught with scandals.  In addition to the perception of the industry being mysterious, many find it hard to understand what to expect when final memorial services are needed. Some products may be purchased, but most of what’s being provided is a service. Unlike a product, services are intangible, so it would be difficult to provide a demonstration or a sample of the service. The level of standard is therefore the customer’s level of satisfaction, which essentially means it’s up to you to manage their perceptions.  READ MORE...


 

THE LUCK OF THE MENTOR

This year’s National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) “Meet the Mentors” program will take place March 16-18 at the Emory Conference Center Hotel, located on the campus of Emory University, in Atlanta, Ga. Fifty licensed funeral directors and embalmers under the age of 40 will have an opportunity to meet, learn from, and talk with innovative and successful funeral professionals.
Wow, what an amazing opportunity! It makes me wish I was under 40 again.  READ MORE..


 

INCORPORATING CREMATION INTO YOUR ADVANCE SALES OFFERINGS


In the past many cemeteries offered advance sales service and merchandise as a courtesy to clients, because it generally was not considered to provide a significant profit margin in relation to the administrative burden it created.  However, with many modern customers interested in cremation, offering service and merchandise items has become an important consideration.  READ MORE...


 

DO YOU PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH?


Here's a thought-provoking question:  Have you, as a funeral director, made your own prearrangement? If you are a smart and progressive funeral director, you have. I, apparently, am not. I work all day long discussing preneed with funeral directors but have yet to sit down and actually go through setting up my own funeral arrangements. Oh, sure, like many other funeral directors, I have mentioned a few things here and there, often with a joke and a laugh. But so far, there’s nothing on paper. As funeral directors, how can we, in good conscience, extol the positive attributes of prearranging one’s funeral if we have not done so ourselves?  READ MORE...


 

SHOULD THE FUNERAL PROFESSION BE THANKlNG BERNIE MADOFF?

The Madoff scandal resulted in the SEC cracking down on enforcement of the Investor’s Act of 1940. This will mean more work for financial advisors, but should make consumers feel safer about investments, including preneed purchases.   READ MORE...


 

10 TIPS FOR EVALUATING YOUR PERPETUAL CARE FUNDS

Whether you call it perpetual care, endowment care or permanent maintenance, the concept and purpose is similar. You are putting money aside so that when the cemetery’s ability to earn from its operations is diminished, you have something to help maintain the grounds. In this sense it’s like a retirement account with two important differences that make it more difficult to navigate as a cemetery. The first difference is that you cannot touch the principal, and the second is that it has to last in perpetuity. Todd D. Mannix, vice president of sales and marketing with Cooperative Funeral Fund Inc., offers 10 tips to evaluate your account to see how you are doing with regard to principal and the fund’s ability to last into perpetuity.  READ MORE...


 

10 TIPS TO BUILD CONFIDENCE IN YOUR PRENEED INVESTMENT PROGRAM

There are many products and services available in which to place your preneed funds. Unfortunately, some poor decision making has led to skeptical consumer sentiment regarding the safety of preneed funds. Todd D. Mannix, vice president of sales and marketing with Cooperative Funeral Fund Inc., shares these tips to help build consumer confidence about investing preneed funds.  READ MORE...


YES, AND...

The first rule of Improv is to say "yes," and the second rule is to run with it.  These rules are meant to remind us to respect what someone has offered and to start with an open mind.  This theory is the total opposite of what so many funeral directors do when a family tells us they would like cremation.   READ MORE...


WHAT GM CAN LEARN FROM THE DEATH CARE INDUSTRY

In the recent congressional hearings involving GM’s CEO Mary Barra we saw the consequences of what happens when ethics in every layer of a business are not considered or taken seriously. GM is examining its process that allowed non-compliant parts to be assembled in certain models resulting in over a dozen reported deaths. From a CEO standpoint in a large manufacturing organization where defects can result in deaths, I understand the necessity to fall back on process to determine the root cause of such an issue and potential cover up. However, I would argue it is a lot simpler than investigating multiple processes to find the root cause. It’s a matter of ethics and the empowerment or punishment (perceived or real) of those who have the knowledge and ability to prevent bad decisions before they become catastrophic mistakes.  READ MORE...


 

CUSTOMER SERVICE: BEYOND NUTS & BOLTS

Good financial services firms understand that it is the relationship with the customer,forged through every interaction, which creates the connection with the product and alleviates the feeling of buyer’s remorse.   READ MORE...


 

MAXIMIZING PRENEED TRUST: TAX MATTERS

Most funeral directors scrutinize over where to put their preneed dollars in order to ensure the funds will be there at need and to make sure the investment maximizes the return while staying within the state guidelines.  It is essential to the business and to the business's reputation to make sure the management of these funds is handled effectively.  READ MORE...


 

FINANCIAL FITNESS:  THE IMPORTANCE OF GOOD MANAGEMENT

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. I’ve always thought that was an odd saying. I mean, who in their right mind would do such a thing,much less need to be reminded of it so often that a saying was coined that still exists today?   READ MORE...


PERPETUAL CARE ROUNDTABLE

Establishing a perpetual care fund at your cemetery is not only essential for ensuring your grounds and those who are interred there will continue to be cared for in perpetuity – in many states, it’s also the law. Todd Mannix, vice president of sales and marketing with Cooperative Funeral Fund, and W. H. (Bill) Williams Jr., president and CEO of Funeral Services Inc., answer some of our questions about perpetual care funds.
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NAVIGATING LIFE AND DEATH

A year ago, my father passed away.  I was out of town at the NFDA Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, when I received the news.  My family was full of sorrow, but we were also relieved.  Our relief came from knowing that he was no longer suffering from his fight with cancer.  He was given a terminal diagnosis in January of that year and passed from cancer's vicious grip peacefully in October at home in his sleep on Canadian Thanksgiving Day.  A further sense of calm was allowed us because we had made all of the prearrangements well before my trip to Charlotte.

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TRUST VS. INSURANCE ROUNDTABLE

Inflation affects everything, including funeral costs. So prepIanning makes financial sense for families and funeral firms. The question for funeral professionals, then, is where to place those preneed funds? Is insurance the best option? Do trusts offer more? Is a combination of both an option? We turned to Tom Hardy, chairman, president and CEO, Unity Financial Life Insurance Co.; Mark Mannix, president and founder of Cooperative Funeral Fund; and W. H. (Bill) Williams Jr., president and CEO, Funeral Services, Inc., for answers.
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UNDERSTANDING INVESTMENT RETURNS IN A TOUGH ECONOMY: WHAT IS YOUR STATEMENT REALLY TELLING YOU?

Making the right decisions about your endowment fund investments is never easy, but if you don’t know how to read the financial statements, it’s impossible.   

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AmericanCemetery201210SusannaPau_Page_1.jpg

ENDOWMENT CARE: MAKING A LASTING IMPRESSION

Cemeteries are complex businesses that require commitment for eternity. They are an important part of the community as a place for the living to visit the final resting place of their loved ones. They are landmarks memorializing important events or people in history. They are places of natural refuge surrounded by big cities and urban sprawl, and they are distinctive centerpieces in many small towns, giving them character and uniqueness. 

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MONEY FOR NOTHING

Anyone involved in operating a cemetery knows the importance of maintaining a healthy perpetual care fund.  But in an environment where interest rates are historically low, it’s more challenging than ever to get what you need out of them. With some long-term strategy and planning, your cemetery’s perpetual care fund can be in better shape.

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FOOL ME ONCE, SHAME ON YOU

Funeral service has seen far too many negative headlines about preneed. Most of us either have been or know of a colleague who has been directly affected fiscally. While the details surrounding these improprieties are different at their core, the resulting actions taken by state governments to protect consumers are similar.  These measures highlight an effort to limit the ability of financial impropriety, but greed has found ways to abuse the system nonetheless, proving that there is no legislation that can provide a silver bullet to make this problem go away. However, there are steps funeral directors can take to prevent the next scandal from befalling their firm.
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PRENEED: SHOW DON'T TELL

As a writer who primarily works with fiction in her spare time, I have learned that one quality rings true through the majority of readers universally: they want the writer to show them the scene, not tell them what it is. The difference between, “It was a pretty night,” and, “the sunset cast hues of purple and blue across the sky above the darkened lake,” is a subtle one but makes all the difference in the world between a decent story and a better one.  READ MORE...


 

ENDOWMENT CARE: SUSTAINING FUTURE PROFITABILITY

Managing your endowment or perpetual care funds in today’s economy can be a challenge to say the least! As a cemetery professional, you have the objective to try and maximize the cash flow generated from your endowment care funds to provide the cash for the ongoing maintenance of your interment properties. The question is, how do you maximize the investment income available for your cemetery maintenance? 

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ILLINOIS STATE TRUST:  BREAKING FROM THE TRIED AND UNTRUE

It is not my intent to impugn Illinois funeral directors who used the Illinois Funeral Directors Association (IFDA) Trust or current officers of the IFDA. I don’t claim to know more than what has been published. I would like to review the situation, raise some questions and suggest some measures that would prevent any recurrence. 

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PRENEED ETHICS:  GETTING THE FACTS

The mishandling of preneed funds has occurred with provider companies, funeral homes, individual funeral directors and even with a state trade association. In an effort to combat the distrust spawned from unethical dealings regarding preneed funds, it would be wise to educate your clients, and to carefully select your vendors as a means to avoid fiscal calamity. 

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PRENEED ETHICS: DO WHAT IS BEST FOR YOUR CLIENT AND SUCCEED

As many of you are aware, there have been many scandals concerning prepaid funeral funds that have plagued the funeral industry. This has occurred with provider companies such as Mechem Financial in 1988 and National Prearranged Services (NPS) in 2008. It has also happened with funeral corporations and with individual funeral homes or funeral directors. There is even a trade association that is involved with multiple law suits for mismanagement of preneed funds. Numerous claims have been made against funeral directors for misplacing and outright absconding with client funds. In my opinion, 99.5 % of funeral professionals are honest individuals with only .5 % giving the industry a bad name. 

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INSURANCE OR TRUST OPTIONS: WHICH IS BEST FOR MY CLIENT AND ME?

This article is in response to publications and corresponding retorts within relevant industry publications. These articles either extol or denigrate the preneed funding vehicles of insurance and trust. Not surprisingly, they left many of you confused as to fact versus fiction. Because our company offers both insurance and trust products for preneed funding, we are uniquely capable of advising you in evaluating which is the best product to meet the needs of your funeral home and your clients. 

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