Friday, May 27, 2016

Do you take pride in your work?

Drew Edwards,
General Manager,
Sunset Funeral Home
Just a few short years ago, and after extensive market research, the Darby family purchased a building in Champaign, Illinois, to become the sixth Sunset Funeral Home location. Now, it is a beautiful, modern facility that has a design and presence that is completely different than any of our other funeral homes.

As with any new market, there was a lot of hard work to do. It was a long process to earn the trust of the community before our phone started to ring. Although it was a great experience, as with any new adventure, it had its learning curves. First of all, the new location is only 35 short miles from our main funeral home location. But, to our surprise the cremation rate between the two locations was drastically different, ranging from 34% at our existing location to almost 80% at our new location. Although this number didn’t scare us, we found that you need to operate your business a little differently. One of our biggest obstacles was the loss of the burial vault sale. The cemeteries in this market are very aggressive. Many times when you meet a family you find that the cemetery has already sold the grave space, the memorial, the opening of the grave and even the burial vault. This can equal thousands of dollars of lost opportunity.

A few weeks ago, I was serving a family at our new Sunset Funeral Home location that had already taken care of their cemetery needs, including a burial vault. After a beautiful celebration of this gentleman’s life, we all left the funeral home on a rainy afternoon in procession to the cemetery. Once arriving at the grave, I was completely disappointed in every aspect of the graveside services. The tent looked like an old army tent from 50 years ago, every one of the chairs were soaking wet, we were standing in mud, and you could not even see the burial vault. Just a set of rollers with a covered hole underneath. We had to remove the chairs from under the tent to allow room for everyone to get under the tent, which was leaking in multiple areas.

I tell this story because I want you to remember to take pride in your work. Although we had nothing to do with this graveside service, the whole experience made our funeral home look bad. People will associate that cemetery with our funeral home, and there is little we can do to prevent it. We personally vowed to do everything in our power to prevent this from happening to another family. We will continue to tell our story, and explain the difference between someone trying to turn a quick dollar, and the professional company that places the family first. I hope you will join us and do the same. The families we serve deserve it.

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

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