What are your alternative plans?

A recent fire in a Canadian funeral home has caused the funeral home’s operating license to be suspended due to the fact that the building is no longer suitable to operate a funeral business out of.  You can read a short article here about this situation in Nova Scotia.

According to the article the licensing authority says that the suspension will remain in effect until repairs have been made and the funeral home business is able to operate.

Just reading this reminds me of an agreement that I had for several years with a small local church.  At one time I had viewed the church building and floorplans as potentially suitable for a mortuary.  That thought process led me to a discussion with the clergy about our funeral home’s use of the building in an emergency situation such as a fire or major water damage in our funeral home.  And while we didn’t have a formal agreement, the clergy had always told me that his congregation would be happy to help us if the situation ever arrived.

Seeing this article just reminded me of that discussion and I am wondering what the Canadian funeral home will do for a location until it is renovated enough to pass an inspection.  What if this happened to your funeral home and you had four death calls the next day?

Our funeral home has a tag line on some of our pre-arrangment advertisements that says, “Like an umbrella in a sudden shower, it is good to have some things before you need them”.  It goes on to tell of the value of pre-arrangements, however, when I think of this funeral home case, I think it is not only appropriate, but probably wise business sense to have some type of agreement on where you will operate if you need a location for one to three months.

If you are in a metropolitan area this is probably a little easier situation, because you can use trade services for embalmings and the storage of bodies until either casketed or cremated.  However, if you are in a rural area there probably are no alternative prep room venues in your immediate area.  It would be good to have a visit with a competitor or a short distance colleague about this situation.

My guess is that most families would be sincere in going to an office area for arrangements and then to a church for visitation and services.  People are generally good about that sort of thing if it is used out of necessity.  However, you should also be prepared with your pricing as you probably cannot price a visitation at your regular price if you are using a venue that is not ideally suited for a visitation.  Another thing to think about is that there may be a rental fee for use of the substitue place.

In any regard, this is just one of those items you don’t really think about until you might need it.  But, when you need it you are going to have all kinds of other decisions to make so it is my opinion that you have a plan in place that you can execute rather than formulate at a time of need.

Don’t forget to check on what your insurance policy may provide for this type of business interuption.

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