Monday, July 25, 2016

5 steps to keeping it in the family

Ross Darby
By Ross Darby, Director of Business Development 

I’m lucky. Right out of college, I found a job that I love… thanks to my family owning some pretty innovative businesses. Knowing that I was going to be the FOURTH generation of Darbys in the death care profession, I studied family business in college and I learned some interesting facts:
  • 90% of American business enterprises are family businesses.
  • 62% of total U.S. employment is thanks to these enterprises.
  •  Only 30% of family businesses in America will pass the reigns to the next generation, even though close to 70% would like to keep it in the family.
The most shocking stat for me was that by the fourth generation, only 3% of family businesses continue to exist!

There are hundreds of reasons why family businesses don’t continue, and I can’t address all of them. But, I have 5 doable steps to help any family business thrive.  

Teamwork makes the dream work.
Routinely complete projects with every generation involved. Not only will you “win” together, but you’ll also be surprised how much you can learn from each other.

Communication is key.
Open communication regarding projects, changes and people will make things run smoother. Many issues and unpleasant surprises can be avoided just by talking.

Don’t go to bed mad at each other.
Sure, it’s a saying used for married couples, but it can be applied to business too.  Never let issues go unresolved. Think before reacting. Don’t stew about things too long.

Don’t let the fear of change rule you.
When one generation starts daydreaming of retirement, it can be stressful on every generation. Big changes are scary, but they can be profitable too. I believe if you aren’t changing, you aren’t growing. Let the next generation know that you expected them to pick up where you left off… yes, and raise the bar even higher!

Have a plan.
The time to start a succession plan was YESTERDAY! Create a step-by-step plan and share that with the next generation.

The death care industry is unique, including its large number of multi-generation businesses. Personally, I love that aspect. It’s something I want to continue. I don’t want to be the last generation. Do you? If you’re a family business, join me in making a commitment to use these steps and grow the passion for generations to come.

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

Friday, July 15, 2016

Our new mission puts new focus on you

Blake Swinford,
Project Manager 

We are more than half way through 2016. Where are you with your New Year resolutions? Have you kept all of them? Half of them? None of them? We often make pledges that we don't keep.

At  Trigard, we have recently made a commitment that we know is here for the long haul - a new mission, vision and set of key values. Best of all, they include you!

Mission: Our mission is based solely upon you. We will be the best partner to our clients, employees, vendors and community.

Vision: Our vision is to be the clear choice; a strong, viable, innovative leader.

  • Passion
  • Integrity
  • Innovation
  • Leadership
  • Family
  • Stewardship 

While you may have not kept the goals you set at the beginning of the year, it’s never too late to start something good.  If your company has an outdated Mission or no Vision or Values, now is the time to get started. Need inspiration? We are here to help. Just pick up the phone and call 800-637-1992.

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

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Do you have the same passion as our Founding Fathers?

Karen Darby-Ritz,
Advanced Planning Manager,
Camino del Sol Funeral
Chapel and Cremation
With the Fourth of July being just a week ago, I started thinking about the principles, passion and faith our Founding Fathers had in changing our great nation. During the process, they worked together and discussed common concerns, ideas and solutions. It was not without arguments, flared tempers or stomping out of the room. But, the important lesson we gather from our past leaders’ hard work is that change takes focus and persistence.

I feel like this way of thinking can be applied to the funeral industry as well. It seems to me that the same message is conveyed over and over again, but not much seems to change. We tire from the struggle to champion our cause.

I recently finished reading a Consumer Connection report from Costco which suggested that families who have lost a loved one buy their own casket or urn, and bring it to the funeral home. They also suggest that families shop around to get three “quotes.” The whole article portrayed funeral professionals to be economic opportunists. It focused solely on the merchandise and very little on the help we can provide families. It was so disheartening! What should we do? Should we just give up and not fight for our cause? My answer to that question is a resounding, “No!” What would have happened if Ben Franklin or Thomas Jefferson just gave up? What if they said, “It’s just too hard to change this, I’m done!” The cost to us would have been great. We would not have been able to win our independence. The American Dream would have been just that, a dream.

As a profession, we understand what values are important to us and our families. We talk to each other, we disagree and sometimes there’s shouting and walking away. But, let us remember it’s all a part of the process. We must stay the course and fight for our industry just as our Founding Fathers did for our nation. Our industry has great value. Let’s continue the fight to solidify the changes we know must happen.

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