Monday, September 29, 2014

Let's give them something to talk about

This article originally appeared in Cremationist

When it comes to conversation, do most women really talk more than men? A recent study, conducted by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, found that women use an average of 20,000 words per day, compared to men who average only 7,000 words per day.

As women, what are we using all of those words to talk about? There are so many things that we experience in our lives and so many big moments that shape us; from graduation to getting our first job, to falling in love and getting married, to having children and grandchildren. When we reflect on our lives, it’s these memories and milestones that may come to mind first. But everyone’s life story is much more than the landmark events. The small moments and people we meet along the way are a part of us and help shape who we are and what we value.

But regardless of how many words spoken in a day, there is one subject that most people probably haven’t brought up in casual conversation: how they would like to be remembered.

Think about the people who matter to you. You probably know most of the big moments in their lives. You might have even helped celebrate these milestones. What about the other things that really matter to them? Do you know what kind of legacy do they want to leave?

With the fast paced world that we live in, we are not taking the time to listen to each other’s stories. As a result, there is a continuing trend of people wanting everything done quick and easy, including memorialization. Now, more than ever, it is vital to educate the families we serve about the importance of memorialization. We need to get them talking.

As I hope you already know, the Funeral and Management Information Council’s (FAMIC) has launched a powerful consumer campaign. “Have the Talk of a Lifetime” encourages families to have conversations with their loved ones about life, the things that matter most to them and how they would like to be remembered. Our industry is coming together and speaking with one voice, and FAMIC is inspiring the conversation.

These conversations are already happening across the country. An NFDA survey conducted in April 2014 reported that almost 60% of consumers who had heard of the campaign said it encouraged them to talk to their family about memorialization. That’s a lot more conversation about a topic that is usually left off the table.

How do you get people in your community talking? As a member of CANA, you have access to download multi-media materials from You can contact CANA for login information. You can post the video and images to your website, print customized brochures, talk about the campaign during pre-need appointments, speak to groups in your community and share on your social media.

The time is now. Your involvement will be what helps us begin to change consumer opinions and attitudes toward memorialization. Whether you are a woman who uses lots of words during her day, or a man who uses fewer, when you endorse “Have the Talk of a Lifetime,” you can enrich the fabric of our communities and grow your bottom line.

Linda Darby is Chief Executive Officer for Trigard, Trigard Memorials, a memorial park and seven funeral homes across Illinois, Indiana and Arizona. She is the current FAMIC President. Her family has been in the funeral industry for four generations, helping families remember, celebrate and heal. Learn more at



Start planning your year end taxes

Beth VadeBonCoeur,
It's hard to imagine, but another year is almost over. Business owners often don’t think about reducing their taxes until tax season, but by then, it’s too late. The next three months are the prime time to evaluate your taxable income and to take action.

Section 179 

Section 179 of the tax code allows companies to deduct equipment in the year it is purchased. It provides an immediate deduction versus the normal depreciation over its lifespan. In past years, the limit was up to $500,000 per year, which encouraged companies to spend money on capital expenditures to spur the economy. This allowed companies to significantly reduce taxable income while investing in new equipment for their company. This year, the Section 179 limit was decreased to $25,000. Even though the deduction is smaller, it should not be overlooked. If your company has not spent more than $25,000 on new furniture and equipment this year, you should reevaluate your company’s needs to see if there are items that you should purchase before the end of this year. Could your business benefit from a new vehicle, tents or lowering device?

Timing of expenses
Are there routine repairs or maintenance that will need to occur within the next 6 months?  Do you purchase office supplies on a monthly or quarterly basis? Another easy way to reduce your year-end tax bill is by reviewing the needs of your business and your cash flow. This can help you can decide whether it would be beneficial to take care of these needs before the end of this year, instead of next year.

Bad debts
Do you have any outstanding customer accounts that should be written off before the end of the year? If the probability of collecting on an open account is low, then write the account off as a bad debt. Don’t worry, by writing an account off as a bad debt, you are not preventing future collection on that account.

If your company has additional income this year, consider paying bonuses to employees. Bonuses should be paid during the tax year to be expensed against taxable income. They are also a good way to show recognition and appreciation to employees that have helped make your year profitable.

This article originally appeared in Trigard Tuesdays, our weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at

Monday, September 22, 2014

Leave the office and return with more

Drew Edwards,
General Manager,
Sunset Funeral Homes
Last week, we had quite a few visitors come tour Trigard and  Sunset Funeral Homes, including a young couple who started a funeral home from scratch. They have grown it into a prominent business that is well respected in their community. We spent two days sharing ideas, philosophies and, of course, good food and drinks.

When they left, my notebook was full of great ideas that could change the future of our funeral homes and even add some revenue to the bottom line. It is my hope that they left Danville with just as many notes and ideas.

This experience reminded me that none of us needs to reinvent the wheel. We are all here to serve families and help them during one of the most difficult times in their lives. We need to work together and continue to share ideas with each other. In order to do that, we have to leave the comfort of our own offices. That means pulling yourself out of the day-to-day operations and experiencing something new.

I challenge everyone to leave the office for a few days and find something that will make your business better when you return. Whether it is touring a manufacturing plant, having a discussion with a different funeral home, cemetery, or vault dealer, or simply talking to other business professionals in your community, you owe it to yourself, your staff, and most of all to the families you serve.

This article originally appeared in Trigard Tuesdays, our weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at

Monday, September 15, 2014

Trigard unveils new funeral home app at NFDA

The register book line is about to change forever. Trigard Interactive will unveil its new app during the 2014 NFDA International Convention and Expo in Nashville, Tennessee.

The app goes far beyond a mobile version of a funeral home website. The flagship app features:
  • iBeacon technology to tackle the problem of long lines to sign the register book at visitations
  • The ease of downloading, registering and customizing a condolence message in the comfort of their own home
  • The ability to send out push notifications to users informing them of upcoming events, specials or other news
  • The ability to generate pre-need leads because the app keeps people in your community connected to your funeral home
Expo attendees are invited to visit Trigard booth #2030 for a live demonstration. Can't wait for NFDA Expo? You can sign up for email updates about Trigard Interactive at

This article originally appeared in Trigard Tuesdays, our weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Charitable giving boosts morale

Sheryl Baumeister,
Human Resources
What's the best way to boost employee morale? New office chairs? Company apparel? Time off? These are all great ideas, but have you ever thought about rallying your team around charitable giving?

Encouraging employees to participate in company-sponsored charity events can increase morale and create a stronger team environment. Surely you've heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. You may have even participated like our staff at Sunset Funeral Home & Cremation Center, Champaign-Urbana Chapel.

But you don't have to dump water on your heads to rally your team. What about volunteering on a Habitat for Humanity house build, walking for March of Dimes or hosting a Salvation Army toy drive? Gather ideas from your employees and see what happens when you all work together. 

This article originally appeared in Trigard Tuesdays, our weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Employee spotlight: Larry Leonard

Larry Leonard,
Shipping and Receiving
By Ryan Snyder 

Larry has been with Trigard for 13 years. He is responsible for all of our shipping and receiving functions. This includes getting all of our orders ready for shipment, making all UPS arrangements and coordinating freight for both inbound and outbound on common carrier and for customer pick-up.

Larry really enjoys when the customers pick up their freight at our facility. He explained, "It's always nice when a customer comes in because you get to see and talk to them about how they are doing and how their business is going." He believes in providing our customers with not only a quality product, but also quality service.

When asked what our customers mean to him, Larry commented, "without them, Trigard wouldn't be what it is today."

Thanks to Larry for his hard work and dedication to providing quality services to our customers. 

This article originally appeared in Trigard Tuesdays, our weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at