Competition You Never Thought You Had: The Customer’s Own Mind

No one in their right mind buys a car today without first researching it on the internet and knowing as much or more than the car salesman.  So by the time they get to the dealership it’s all about price.  The same is happening in DeathCare. 

Although directed at B2B sales this article could just as well be about B2C.

we’ve come to call this trend the “1 of 3” problem, coined from a European head of sales who told us, “We’ve got a world-class product and brand, and that gets us into the customer’s top three every time. But because the customer’s own research has deemed the top three to all be acceptable, they always go with the lowest price.” It’s a tough lesson. For most companies, the biggest competitor today isn’t the competition, it’s customers’ ability to learn on their own.…More at If the Customer Is Always Right, You’re in Trouble – Brent Adamson

What I would Do:

To explore this topic in greater depth click on this link: The Real Victims Of Our Cowardice  

Are Burial Associations A Part of Our Future?

I am reading too many articles like the one excerpted here.

Most funeral homes consider burial associations a part of the unpleasant past.

I am not so sure.  Certainly, in the days before personal computers the cost and headaches of administration made it a very arduous task to keep up with all those $10 and $25 payments.  But given the economic times I wonder if it isn’t time to reconsider…at least in some of our economically harder hit communities.


Buried deep in the obituaries for their loved ones, more families are pleading for donations. They aren’t asking for contributions to a church or money for memori

al gifts to a special charity.

They are seeking cash to cover funeral expenses.

In The Patriot-News alone, there have been more than 20 such appeals in the last six months, and well over 50 in the past year. Nearly 100 during the last two years. Read more

What I would do:

I would ask my attorney to research current burial association laws in the state.  I might even suggest to my state association that they look into creating a master association for the members to share administrative costs. (I don’t really like this idea but maybe we could learn from the past and this could be a project that could be “arms-length” without having anyone’s hands in the till)  I would then create 3 burial and 3 cremation packages (I would not include direct burial or direct cremation) to make available to members and have 3 membership levels to correspond with the three different packages available at different monthly payment levels.

Maybe It’s Time To Start A New Fight

In light of the recent Aurora sale this article really caught my attention.  It gives me a perspective I hadn’t quite thought of for breaking out of our current rut.

All winners lose. The market leader is a dead man walking. The incumbent is cursed with inevitable failure. That seems to be the prevailing sentiment among many in the investment and journalism worlds: The smart money, they argue, bets against the incumbent. Their surmise: The world will change. The reigning corporation will fail to adjust. The right thing to do? Short them (assume that their share price will fall). Short the winners. Bet against those who flourish. Because all winners must lose, and sooner than we think.

I have heard this argument before, but for the first time I am hearing it argued as something unobjectionably and manifestly true. At some point in the last 10 years, “short the incumbent” had gone from being a daring proposition to received wisdom. There is evidence, to be sure. Of the top 25 corporations listed in Fortune in 2000, only 12 were still there in 2010. Let’s put this another way: in the decade between 2000 to 2010, half the winners lost….More at Every Company Should Build a Second Corporation – Grant

What I would Do:

Most of us can’t afford to start a second corporation and invest the resources in it but we can pretend by creating a team within our team that focuses, in concept, in that way.  Kind of like the crow’s nest on an old sailing ship. Lookouts always looking for land.  Always looking forward, thinking about how we need to reinvent ourselves and then when and if necessary beginning the process as pathfinders.  Even the smallest of us can do that.  Think of it this way:  If I own the Smith Funeral Home.  I can have within it a concept group (a skunk works if you will) I call the Tomorrow Group that meets regularly to think about future things and assumes that today will not last. This group needs to read and travel to experience different things.  For instance, my friend Ernie Heffner used to send up and coming funeral directors with their wives to weekends with their wives to luxury hotels.  Sounds great doesn’t it.  But his purpose was twofold: 1. to expose them to first class treatment most had never received and 2. have them formally report to the others ideas they had gotten for improving service back at the funeral home from their experience at the hotel.  In a way it was pretty cheap training and think about what it did for morale.  

Let’s Talk About Death

More examples of the International trend toward bringing the conversation about death out of the closet.  You should be part of this.  Hats off to Gary Wiegand.

 Professor Kathy Black peppers each startled student enrolled in her University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee class with a single question on the first day: “How old will you be when you die, and what are you going to die of?”

“They become aware of their own mortality,” she says. “Many of them change their mind about cremation, or being organ donors. Then they start to question their religion. They start to look at death, life, meaning in a more existential way.”…More at USF students go behind the scenes at a funeral home – Sarasota Herald-Tribune