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Funeral Home/Crematory

freyresecuritygroupfreyresecuritygroup subscriber Posts: 1
edited February 2007 in Business Planning
My wife is a licensed Funeral Director/Embalmer, with my wifes experience and compassion for families, we have decided that a funeral home would be an ideal business for us to start. Even though I am not a licensed funeral director, I can assist where needed and as needed.  This type of business is fail safe as someone would always need this type of services.  She is knowledgable in all faiths/cultures and where she is employed now handles approximately 400 bodies a year.  We have already decided where we would build as there are no funeral homes in the area within a 10 mile radius and the area is becoming riddled with crime as violent crimes are on the rise which would increase sales considerably.  Our only problem is the fact that we do not have the capital nor the credit scores to afford a business like this.  Any suggestions?


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    AllenPAllenP subscriber Posts: 0
    Crime rates aren`t going to contribute to your work load.  The industry is consolidating, and with that comes increased pressure.
    I think if your serious, you need to really get out there and speak with independant funeral home owners....and after that if your still interested...
    it won`t be for money. 
    Consider also that the funeral and death care suppliers are also under margin pressure....
    You know, the average funeral home (that`s still independant) has been in the same family for 2 or more generations. 
    Acquaint yourself with SCI and you`ll see the consolidation in the industry....Stewart isn`t number two because it`s so big you know, just because its still standing.
    (If you`ve no idea what I`m talking about.....you`ve no idea about this industry).
    Why not consider selling a unique product to the industry?  Not cute (those companies come and go)....I mean really unique and innovative.  The considerations to owning a funeral home and perhaps a cemetery with it can be daunting...really, speak with independants...go to a CANA (Cremation Association of North America Trade Show)...or better, NFDA (National Funeral Directors Association Trade Show)....you`ll get a good picture in a one stop location...
     AllenP2007-2-16 0:25:8
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    freyresecuritygroupfreyresecuritygroup subscriber Posts: 1
    The post is not fake.  Part of the market analysis would be crime rate and death rate.  The higher the crime rate the potential for business is there.  As unfortunate as it may sound it is a business dealing with death.  Unfortunately, the families coming from these crime riddled areas will be grieving due to the lost of their loved ones and they deserve to be treated with compassion and have a warm, compassionate funeral home to go to. 
    Why would you build a funeral home where the death rate was extremely low.  In NYC there is a funeral home at least two miles from eachother.
    Please do not view us as feigns nor callous every family deserves to be treated with compassion.  Sorry if I offended you in anyway.
    thanks for the response.
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    freyresecuritygroupfreyresecuritygroup subscriber Posts: 1
    I do know who SCI and Stewart are as my wife has been employed by SCI in the past and now works for an independent funeral home. 
    We would love to own and operate our own funeral home.  These are the early stages.  Why would my wife continue to work and give 110% for someone else, when she can start up her own and apply the same effort if not more and be just as successful.
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    AllenPAllenP subscriber Posts: 0

    I do know who SCI and Stewart are as my wife has been employed by SCI in the past and now works for an independent funeral home. 
    We would love to own and operate our own funeral home.  These are the early stages.  Why would my wife continue to work and give 110% for someone else, when she can start up her own and apply the same effort if not more and be just as successful.

    Good that you know SCI.  Then you know that with their size (they are the microsoft of our world)...they command pricing structures and use foreign suppliers that will make entry for an independant very difficult.  But if your serious there are ways to start.
    While I agree that the desire to work for yourself is strong, you can guarantee that the `same effort` won`t apply.  It will be a lot more.  What does your wife think about this? 
    I`m not trying to discourage you, but caution you.  But here`s something:
    Did you know that in underserved area`s, the National Cemetery Administration (or the organization that establishes national cemeteries) may provide grants for establishing cemeteries that inter veterans?  If there were a way to utilize that in hand with your own funeral home...maybe there`s an idea that can come of something.
    Consider also, working for an independant that may be near retiring.  Perhaps a couple years under their `wing`, then buy them out.  There are a lot of ways to go here.  Its just that each road is a tough one. 
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    AllenPAllenP subscriber Posts: 0
    I want to add one quick note;
    To suggest that the unfortunate loss of life due to untimely death adds to the opportunity to serve the local population, is not something that will add significantly to your business viability.  Consider the reasons behind the event...
    crime doesn`t pay.......you.     (think about that and you`ll see the truth behind it).
    This industry has really received a `bad rap` by  a few that are by far the exception...but since they get the `press`....we all suffer.
    While I like that your interested in starting a business...its your wife`s skills that are in demand...and familiy business` has its own issues between family members......you are asking to surround yourself in grieving families and friends of deceased, while increasing your wife`s work load and responsibilities...
    This isn`t a `Start it Up`.......your treading on sacred ground in this field...and the comment on `crime contributing to business`....is not the reality of it. 
    Look at the stats from CANA....yes, in the next 5 years we see cremation up in double digits!........but .......that data no matter how amazing on paper isn`t what I`ve seen in reality.  You`ve heard of `robbing Peter to pay Paul`....
    those numbers take from one area to add to another.  People are living longer thank God.   Many are pre-planning.....that means SCI (or others like them).  In pre-planning with a large corporation, they can choose various locations to be laid to rest when the time comes.  Profits have traditionally been in the product more so than the burial.  But now with full disclosure up front of fee`s and costs, the field is leveling.  I`m glad for that. 
    The shift to compare prices will be slow, but with the new openness, people in their hour of grief can in short order seek out something in their financial range that suits the family and the deceased.
    My company started out retail with a product that was very modular and high quality.  But with people traditionally trusting and only seeking out help from funeral homes (and where else would they really).....retail was tough.
    We still believed in our product very much.  So we began to supply established companies and became primarily a manufacturer.  That has served us better. 
    So our website primarily provides very useful FAQ`s and links...while our product is sold to the funeral homes instead of individual clients.
    Was that one last thought?
    ....also, what skills (degrees and training) do you bring to the table?
    another last thought:
    Just from the business side...consider SCI the Walmart.....and you the independant as the mom and pop..........you can`t compete on price!  They have the suppliers and channels...and leverage pressure you don`t have with those networks......
    so you compete by bringing innovative new products that they don`t have, and/or added value....that is, what can you add that distinguishes you from them?
    Why would a grieving family choose you?  That`s where you start.  Perhaps having periodic meetings with grieving families facilitated by a therapist...or you allow them more personalization in their product choices (SCI will and is more standardized...you CAN compete here)...
    Basically, what can you offer your families that allows them choices and involvement in the planning and purchasing of needed items/services?  YOU are an IMPORTANT FIRST LINK in their grieving process...the experience they have with you will be carried with them for the rest of their lives....good or bad!
    I don`t sell widgets or shoes.....I sell a product that will house the earthly remains of a very important person from now on....that is how important the products are.
    It takes its toll on me too sometimes.  A small white urn that would barely hold the weight of a few quarters.....and it holds the earthly remains of someone`s small newborn child......no parent should ever have to go through that......
    To tell you the truth....to do it all over again....I don`t know if I would be where I am now if I saw the raw reality of the human condition several years back.......
    To off set my chosen field experiences....I have a second area of interest that is doing very well.......Inventing and Designing Kitchen Tools.....(licensed Two in the last 3 months!)......
    ....but then....you really need something off the wall in a field where you spend so much time staring at it....
     AllenP2007-2-16 1:25:22
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    freyresecuritygroupfreyresecuritygroup subscriber Posts: 1
    I want to thank you very much for taking the time to share information that the normal person would keep to themselves and not share.  I enjoy dealing with folks that are objective and bring to light the real challenges that you will be faced with and should be articulated as an obstacle on any business plan.
    I read through your website and the urns are very nice.  I am a veteran of the US Navy I like some of your products.
    Regarding my profile, I am currently employed by the US Government for the last 10 years as a Law Enforcement physical security specialist and out with an low back injury and just had spinal surgery.  Not sure as of yet whether they are going to allow me the chance to return to work especially with 12 screws in my lowback.  If they retire me, I will need to jump feet first into a new career to support my family in addition to my wifes income.  I am considering starting up a security consultantcy as this is my forte and post 9/11 commercial businesses are still behind times when it comes to security for facilities and employees alike.  I conduct security vulnerability assessments, I am the powerpoint king, I can develop an awareness program tailored to any business needs.  I can design, develop and implement an emergency evacuation plan.  I can manage an entire contract security guard program to ensure the client is receiving what he/she is paying for.  This is just a taste of what I can do.  I am young and filled with innovative ideas, you will not get an empty suit as a consultant. 
    Allen, thanks for your guidance, any pointers for my security business?
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    AllenPAllenP subscriber Posts: 0
    Thank you Freyresecuritygroup (long name)..
    I try to offer an honest assessment as best I can.  With so many `look at me` companies in our field, most firms won`t even look at you (as a supplier) until about two years have passed, and your still in business.  Can`t blame them though...to establish a relationship with a supplier is long term, and most companies don`t last beyond 12 months in supply.
    Not sure about the security other than to say you would need to approach not so much the tennants, but the building owners/developers and sell them on your ability to bring `added value` to their offerings.  Those that lease from the owner will feel better knowing there is security consulting and security plans in place....but that`s a whole business plan thing. 
    Have package `deals`...like cameras in parking, well placed signs/stickers for your firm (that`s also adding to your advertising..and the client is actually paying for it...can`t beat that). 
    Develop a brochure with different price points for package services.....then they can`t simply say yes or no.....they have maybe options..and your expectations of yourself and of theirs for you are clear and strait forward...
    ....remind them that increased security may have a positive effect on their bottom line:
    1.  companies and clients want to lease from them as they feel safer.
    2.  insurance rates may be lowered (enough to cover what they are paying you even)..due to added security measures (talk to insurance companies about that and then you`ll be prepared to give real world scenerios to them).
    Win Win.....tennants feel better....you get business....owners/developers save money and feel like their providing something important..which they are.
    Package deals......brochures and meeting face to face......(attend City Club or other type events where your likely to find those owners)...
    Anyway,  its a thought..or two.
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    freyresecuritygroupfreyresecuritygroup subscriber Posts: 1
    The article was referencing how entrepreneurs are becoming creative in industries as funerals.  the original reason why I started this post is because my wife and I are considering starting up a funeral home/crematory.  My wife is a professional in this industry and ofcourse I am there to help where I can.  Where we live there are not a lot of funeral homes that speak spanish and hispanics want to deal with someone they can communicate with.  We will be there for them to provide adequate comfort to them during their time of need.
    Although it may seem confusing to some as my wife is a funeral director and I am interested in the security business.  The end result is we both want to get into business together.  I can adapt to the funeral industry, however, I don`t think she is that interested in the security business which will subsequently remove her from her career path.  We are trying to reach a final decision, can anyone help with this decision.  The funeral home will be more rewarding.
    I want to thank all that participated in this post. 
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    freyresecuritygroupfreyresecuritygroup subscriber Posts: 1
    Now that we have that basically confirmed.  I am presently working on the plan.  I already have a few people-friends/family that are interested in investing some money into this venture however these are the little guys.  How do we get the big fish to participate in this venture?  How do I design a juicier picture(ROI) for the investor. 
    Financially we are in our late thirties with four children in which three are in private school, so financially, it is going to be hard for us to bring in a lot of capital.  My wife and I are trying to break the vicious cycle as our parents never really taught us about money and their parents taught them to borrow from peter to pay paul.  Any advice???
    We can do this..We are ready mentally to take the steps.  The security business will be something on the side on an as needed basis.
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    AllenPAllenP subscriber Posts: 0
    I would contact the NFDA (for funeral homes/directors),  www.cremationassociation.org</A>  (cremation for the stats...can get those right off line...need those stats for a business plan).
    When looking to locate a cemetery/funeral home......in tandem might be the way to go...
    While there are many cemeteries, some may officially be closed.  That is, they are either booked...or have utilized all their space.  Point being, you could be near other cemeteries/funeral homes, and be accepting new internments whereas they may not be able to.
    Remember that under the `Funeral Rule`.....a couple things have changed in the recent past.
    1.  The price for products and services must be provided by the funeral home in advance....(full disclosure)
    2.  families may bring their own urn or casket from another supplier...and by law, funeral homes must accept that item.  They can`t just say you must purchase items from them (though some try that still, but most don`t anymore).
    Also, just an FYI for anyone reading this thread;
    When pricing say a casket, remember that in most cases an outer vault must also be purchased.  An outer vault is basically a concrete box that the casket will be placed into, so that over time when the grounds keeping work is done, tractors that may be driven over those grounds from one location to another won`t crush an unprotected casket and thereby create not only a `sink hole` situation, but much trauma for families.  Casket and Casket Vaults together are generally required in about 85% of cemeteries.
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