Added Service or Profit Center

Every so often a product or service comes available in the funeral industry that many funeral homes would like to add to the repertoire of things that they do for the public.  One main thing to think about at this time is, “Do we offer this as a service” or “Do we charge additional for this and add to our profit center?”

Sometimes the answer is murky and sometimes the answer changes over time.  I can think of an easy one like pre-paid funeral services.  When I started as a funeral director in 1980 we offered pre-arrangements simply as a service to our consumers as there was a law in Minnesota that no funeral director could profit from the issuance of a pre-need funeral trust — and at this time, pre-need funeral insurance through funeral homes in Minnesota was illegal.  We simply could not make any money – so we did it as a service to our future clients.

Along came the legality of offering pre-need through insurance and keeping commissions within the funeral firm.  It was a pretty easy decision to turn pre-need insurance into a profit center.  A tougher decision was when we added aftercare services to all families.  We continue to fund that department as a service and take no revenue from consumers for their involvement in the classes and activities  — even to the point where our classes are open to the public – not just families that have used our services.  Our goal with aftercare is to increase death care market share by having our brand connected with the leading (and arguably only) aftercare program in the area.

This thought process comes up today because of another service that is dawning on funeral establishments across the country and as the service is added to a funeral home’s list of services –  will it be funded as an added benefit of using the funeral home or will funeral homes recapture its costs and hope to profit by adding a fee for its services.

I’m talking about the services of a “Loss of Life” advocate as described in this article from the San Antonio Express.  A loss of life advocate would go beyond the simple duties of funeral homes with filing for death certificates, insurance, and the like.  A loss of life advocate would truly help a widowed spouse and families  go about doing what has to be done at the loss of life to someone that they are responsible for shutting down that person’s earthly life business affairs.

According to Abby Schneiderman, co-founder of, “Gone are the days when it’s enough to have things in the lock box or file folder.”  Schneiderman’s web-site receives 4 million readers a year on such things as power of attorney.  She believes that this space is rapidly ramping up and that people need help in closing out other’s lives.

At Funeral Director Daily we see a big need for loss of life advocates, possibly employed by funeral homes.  I think it is a real enough possibility to think about adding one as a service with the thought of the concept becoming so popular that it could become a profit center or a positive market share mover when well known.

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