The Times We Live In

Ed Horn's picture

Death has visited all of us. When it knocks at our doors we react normally which means we respond like so many of our clients to the sense of loss and disruption. The pain of death is never less for us. Familiarity does not breed a callousness which dampens our pain.

Suffering a loss may allow us to listen ever more closely to the families that depend on us at their must susceptible time. Hopefully doing what is right for our clients is not subject to mutual suffering. The level of dedication we owe to every person who seeks our counsel must elevate us to act as a physician would.

The clients we encounter expect and deserve the same professionalism and truthfulness regardless the situation, At or Pre Need. The product and the service a Pre Need client is seeking will one day have tearful sad family members standing before us. The family of a Pre Need purchaser has the right to expect that what was arranged in advance satisfies the expectations of the person who gave us their trust. Subsequent Pre Need inquiries will follow the At Need use of the memorial property only if the family is appreciative of our fulfilling the promises we made.

At times the demand to make a sale may cause us to be concerned more about what is good for us than what is right for our clients. But immediate gains that result in dissatisfaction, disappointment and anger have a long term chilling effect on future sales. When we fail to deliver what our client expects the reputation that serves us well is tarnished resulting in long term damage. A disgruntled family will continuously impact sales.

The old days of cemeteries relying upon At Need sales for its income are over. So are the days of having a grounds Superintendent point a finger at a grave as the only recourse available to a grieving family. Our industry has evolved demanding Memorial Counselors who are much more than competent sales representatives. Our Counselors engage people at their must stressful or nervous times of their lives. They must have the personality and sensitivity to satisfy the client while fulfilling their responsibility of driving funds to our business. Additionally, if they perform up to expectations they are our insurance of future sales.     

Our Counselors must be part of an overall strategy that not only keeps the gates open but insures our businesses are profitable today and tomorrow. The days of relying upon cut grass as a sales promotion are gone. Building programs, reformation, and new product development must be joined at the hip to an active sales program and marketing campaign that engages the community. The reach of our business can no longer be defined by the boundaries of our physical location.

Sadly terrorist attacks have shocked many people into accepting the reality that we all one day must confront. Individual and family planning of memorial needs is a subject discussed openly in many households. Though few people have been directly harmed by terrorist attacks the perception now among our clients is that death is part of daily life. Regardless of what our clients say the recent events play a role in their concerns and preplanning.

Our profession is not immune to the repercussions of the war and the awful images viewed on TV. The horror and the devastation repulse us. Being in the business we relate to the mayhem viscerally. We understand the consequences of aiding a family who has suffered such a loss. The deaths wrought by this conflict universally afflict all members of a civilized society. We are the care providers who must sooth the pain and anguish of a grieving family by doing more than attending to the remains of a loved one.

Additionally the realities that plague us today must impact our thinking of how we present Pre need consideration to our Clients. It would be sad and foolish to harp upon the tragedies evident daily in news broadcasts. We should never forfeit the light-sided time we normally share with Pre need buyers. Somehow without appearing like Chicken Little's and pandering to fear we must pursue informing and believing in the power, benefits and rewards of Pre need planning. This would seem a thin line to balance between which once again reflects the requirements for selectively recruiting the right people as Memorial Counselors.

Increasing the qualities of the individuals we retain to present our interests will mandate reconsideration of how we value the very people we depend upon to drive Pre need sales. Quality has a higher price than quantity but guarantees returns and revenue that serves those who rely upon us while fulfilling our never ending quest to fund future services and present day development. Now, more so than at any other time our profession should carefully consider the adage of penny wise and pound foolish.


judyfaaberg's picture

Hi Ed - I'm enjoying reading your posts. Very insightful!

I'd love to include them from time to time in my state association's newsletter (which I edit). It's the Washington Cemetery & Funeral Association Insider. Our website is currently undergoing a complete metamorphosis so I can't invite you to check out our recent newsletters, but it will be up very soon. You can find it at Thanks for your consideration! Keep on writing!

Judy Faaberg, DP, CCP

Ed Horn's picture


Please feel free to reprint any submission authored by me. My only request is that I receive a copy or am informed where I can find it.

Let’s get together at the Convention in April.


judyfaaberg's picture

Thank you! My readers (and I) will appreciate that. If you want to give me your mailing address I'll add you to my mailing list. You can email me directly at Also if you have a photo you'd like me to use (other than the one you have here) please send that as well.

I'll keep an eye out for you at the convention.

Judy Faaberg, DP, CCP