Friday, January 30, 2015

3 qualities every vendor should have

Jason Murphy,
Director of Family
Services,
Sunset Memorial Park
As the sales manager of a cemetery, I don’t get the chance to work with our vendors on a daily basis. My days are focused on meeting with families and helping our sales team. However, I certainly know that I can count on them to serve our families in the way we wish them to be served.

In my opinion, funeral homes and cemeteries should look for three main qualities when hiring a vendor:
  1. Trust. It's an important quality to have, no matter what industry you work in. But, it's especially important in the funeral industry. Are your vendors trustworthy? Are you confident in knowing that when you aren’t around they are representing you in the best way possible? Ultimately, the vendor you choose will reflect on your business, so choose one that you feel comfortable with when you can’t be around.
  2. Educating families. Make sure your vendors provide materials to help you educate the families you serve on the importance of burial vaults and other important products. We all know that as cemetery and funeral home employees, we don’t always have all the information when educating our customers on burial vaults. That is why it’s so important for vendors to provide you with educational materials to help families understand and appreciate the value of a burial vault and all other products.
  3. Quality products. You want a vendor that provides quality products. Great service is one of the most important aspects a vendor can provide; however, a quality product is equally important. You can have the greatest customer service around, but you can never mask an inferior product. Make sure that your vendor has a reliable and attractive product that the families you serve will love. When a family can see the value in a product, it makes the sale that much easier.
Vendors and dealers, if you are worried you aren’t offering your customers at least these three qualities, it’s time to take a good look at your overall business model. Sometimes, we just need a little reminder and a path in the right direction.


This article originally appeared in Trigard Tuesdays, our weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at http://www.trigard.com/tuesdays.

Friday, January 23, 2015

What are your financial statements telling you?

Beth VadeBonCoeur,
Accountant
With the beginning of another year, brings a great time to reflect on the past year, and set goals for the year ahead. We do this all the time with New Year’s resolutions. But, do you do this with your business?

To understand your business better, all owners and managers should review the financial statements of their business at the beginning and end of each year. Financial statements show the strength or weakness of a company, and the success of their operations during recent or historical periods. There are three different financial reports: balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement.
  • Balance Sheet is a snapshot of the company’s financial position at a single point in time. It shows the assets, liabilities and equity of your company. 
  • Income Statement displays the income, expenses and profit over a period of time. 
  • Cash Flow Statement shows the cash that is being generated by the business and how the business is using the cash.  
I like to compare financial statements from year to year. By doing this, you can determine whether the status of your company is improving or declining. On the balance statement, managers should monitor the level of accounts receivable and inventory. These two areas can grow larger and can cost a company cash flow if not monitored. Debt levels are also a good area to compare from year to year. On the income statement, total sales and net income are always the first thing we look at to see if the company is growing, staying steady or declining. It is also nice to compare these two items over several years.

In the death care industry, sales can fluctuate from year to year. So, by only looking at two years the information may be a little misleading. By comparing expenses from year to year, you can uncover areas in your business where costs are increasing. The income statement can tell management how well they are controlling their costs and compare that to the revenue they are bringing in.

Your financial statements are telling the story of your business. They can show you where the business is succeeding and failing. Are you taking the time to read the financial statements and fully understanding the facts that they are telling you?


This article originally appeared in Trigard Tuesdays, our weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at http://www.trigard.com/tuesdays.

Friday, January 16, 2015

People make the world go 'round

Drew Edwards,
General Manager,
Sunset Funeral Home
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Illinois Inauguration. Illinois welcomed a number of new faces into office, including a new Governor.

As you all know, the State of Illinois has had its share of troubles, and has one of the highest debts in the nation. It was intriguing to see the enthusiasm and energy that the people of Illinois were showing for their new leadership. If you think about it, the problems that existed in Illinois before the inauguration are the same problems that will exist after the new leadership has been sworn in, correct?

Although many of you offer strong burial vaults, beautiful facilities and even modern vehicles, do you think that the products are what make your business successful? The difference, my friends, is in the people.

My challenge to you in 2015 is to invest in the people who make your business work. Without great employees, there is not a business out there that will succeed in today’s economy. Consider investing in your people and bringing back the enthusiasm and personal touch that your customers deserve.


This article originally appeared in Trigard Tuesdays, our weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at http://www.trigard.com/tuesdays.

Monday, January 12, 2015

On the road with Trigard in 2015

Attending a convention is a serious commitment. Whether you are an exhibitor, a speaker or an attendee, going to convention requires you to commit both time and dollars.

As a proud supplier to the funeral industry, Trigard enjoys attending industry conferences to share new ideas and products, have more face-to-face conversations with other funeral professionals, see what’s new in our industry and meet new people. In fact, we will be traveling to a number of different conventions this year and we hope to see you there.

Where will we be?
Call Customer Service at 800.637.1992 for additional information.

This article originally appeared in Trigard Tuesdays, our weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at http://www.trigard.com/tuesdays.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Health insurance penalty to rise in 2015

Sheryl Baumeister,
Human Resources
Most Americans have health insurance through their employers or through government programs like Medicare for seniors and Medicaid for those with lower incomes. However, there is still a portion of Americans who haven’t purchased healthcare as mandated by the Affordable Care Act.

Healthcare insurance is available to everyone for purchase at www.healthcare.gov. If you ignore the law, and did not have health insurance in 2014, you may pay a price at tax time. Part of the Affordable Care Act mandates that all Americans have health insurance, or pay a tax penalty as a result. In 2014, the penalties are 1% of your household income or $95 per person – whichever is greater. It’s too late to avoid the penalty for 2014.

However, you have until February 15 to sign up for 2015. By doing so, you can avoid the penalty for 2015. Those penalties ramp up to 2% of total household income or $325 per person. That can really add up for a middle-class family of four. If you're not covered and paying a penalty on your 2014 taxes, make sure you get health insurance as soon as possible to avoid penalties as we enter a new tax year in January.


This article originally appeared in Trigard Tuesdays, our weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at http://www.trigard.com/tuesdays.