Friday, January 29, 2016

5 steps to better implement your thoughts

Jason Murphy,
Director of Family Services,
Sunset Funeral Home
Recently, I began reading, “Thinking for a change,” by John Maxwell, which is an inspiring book based on the simple premise of first thinking well in order to do well in life. I have found his concepts to be very fitting to those in a leadership role. At times, we have thoughts or ideas that would benefit our companies, but we don't pursue them because of our busy schedules. But, by following Maxwell's five-step process, I believe we can productively develop our thoughts and implement them into our organizations without wasting time and resources.

The five main steps to this process that Maxwell discusses are:
  1. Find a place to think your thoughts. Whether it’s in your car, on an airplane or in a quiet room, finding a place to think is very important. Maxwell states, “I often get thoughts because I make it a habit to frequently go to my thinking places. If you want to consistently generate good ideas, you need to do the same thing.”
  2. Find a place to shape your thoughts. Rarely do ideas come fully formed and completely worked out. Most of the time, they need to be shaped until they have substance. While you are shaping your thoughts, you need to ask lots of question. This way you gain perspective on your own ideas and begin thinking deeper. 
  3. Find a place to stretch your thoughts. This stage follows a basic formula to successfully stretch your thoughts. “The right thought plus the right people in the right environment at the right time for the right reason = the right result.” 
  4. Find a place to land your thoughts. In order to properly apply your thought, you need to decide who the key players are and who it will affect the most. Landing your thoughts with the influencers of your organization will only increase your influence.
  5. Find a place to fly your thoughts. Give plans the right amount of thinking time and you’ll find that the implementation time decreases and the results are better. Maxwell states, “Your thinking time is like the runway of an airport.  Just as larger planes need a longer runway to fly, big ideas need a long runway of thinking to get launched.” 

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, January 25, 2016

Save money on your cell phone bill

Beth Vadeboncoeur,
In business, when we examine our expenses to look for cost savings, we tend to focus on our cost of goods because they make up a significant portion of any business' expenditure. One area that I think is overlooked is our business’ fixed overhead costs. Some of these fixed costs include insurance, rent, cell phones, copiers, Internet, garbage removal and uniforms.

On many items such as cell phones, Internet and copier leases, we are required to sign a contract for an extended period of time. Many times we fulfill the contract terms and continue to pay the same monthly rate for months or even years after that. In today’s market and with technology changing so quickly, contracts need to be reviewed each time they expire. Are you paying to maintain an older piece of technology because you think it is cheaper than getting a new one? Many times, we have found that by signing a new lease agreement, we were able to save money and obtain better equipment.

The same applies to insurance. It is an expense that no one likes, but we have to have it. There are many different kinds of insurance including health, property, liability and workman’s compensation. Each year when you renew the different policies, do you get multiple quotes from different insurance agents? This is an area where getting quotes can help keep your rates low and save you thousands of dollars.

Spotting and rectifying waste in your business can take a little extra work and attention to detail. But by spending some extra time to renegotiate contracts and obtain quotes, you can realize cost savings that occur every month and not just a one-time savings.

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, January 12, 2016

How does your selection room work?

Drew Edwards,
General Manager,
Sunset Funeral Home
At Sunset Funeral Home, we focus our time with the families we serve on the life of their loved one. And, at some point, we begin to finalize the funeral arrangements. So, before entering the selection room, we always try to educate the family on the purpose of a burial vault and explain everything they will see behind the doors. As funeral professionals, we must remember that a selection room is scary and overwhelming for families. Especially, if it is their first time planning a funeral.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet the family of a 91-year-old
gentleman that passed away. He and his wife were married for 65 years. While meeting with her during the funeral arrangements, she told me many stories. She went on and on about his experiences in the military and could tell me minute by minute of his time in WWII. She showed me pictures of him during the war, and even of his life as a farmer. Very little time was spent arranging the funeral. Instead, we spoke mainly about her husband and all of his experiences. This, to me, is how a meeting with a family for an arrangements conference should be.

When we entered the selection room, the gentleman's wife immediately gravitated toward an Aegean® burial vault that we have on display in the middle of the room. Then, she noticed the graphic on our wall with the military emblem on the vault and the American flag flying proudly above the vault display. She turned towards her two daughters and said, “That is what I want for your Dad. He deserves it.” She walked out of that room so proud of her decision and not once did I have to “sell” her anything.

Two days later, we stood at the cemetery with a beautiful Aegean burial vault, an American flag flying high above the cemetery tent, army emblems proudly displayed on the sides of the hearse, and a fine bunch of military comrades that were proud to give their brother his final salute. As taps began to play and a lump formed in the back of my throat, it was at that moment that I realized how fortunate we are to serve these families in their time of need.

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, January 4, 2016

New year, new SMART goals

Sheryl Baumeister,
Human Resources
Whether it's time to put your New Year's resolution in motion or you're looking to get more motivated, goal setting will help you begin thinking about the possibilities and opportunities in your life. It will help you start thinking about different types of changes you can make, including financial, health and wellness, friends and family, work, personal, and of course, long-term.

Setting goals is a healthy, positive habit.

A great resource to begin setting goals is to use the SMART model. It asks you to make your goals Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based. It’s not an easy process, but by using this tool, your goals will become more understandable and relatable.

For lasting changes to your life, you must start small. The reasoning is simple. The smaller the changes you try to make in your life, the more likely you’ll actually make them. Small resolutions take less time, willpower and motivation. This means you will actually keep them, and become more confident in your ability to change.

And, something to remember is just because your goal is small, doesn’t mean it can’t be challenging. One reason we fail to keep our resolutions is they become boring or uninteresting or just not challenging enough.

We know not every goal can be accomplished this year. But these dreams, wishes and plans are probably always present in your thoughts. These will be your long-term goals, which can be set for any area of your life. Whether you’re trying to get out of debt, change your career, start a family or stick to a healthier diet, you can turn your wish into a long-term goal. They may be more important to our sense of happiness and well-being than many people come to believe. They direct our actions, provide us with a sense of purpose, and even shape our attitude towards objects, people and circumstances that surround us.

So, how do you get started?  Just take the first step.

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