The Realities of Today

Ed Horn's picture


During this economic downturn pre need sales will suffer. Families will select less expensive options. Cremation will gain greater appeal as an inexpensive alternative to burial or community mausoleum alternatives.
Some funeral homes and cemeteries will be sorely tried, extended and financially stressed. Unfortunately some holding trust funds may act inappropriately hoping that better times will enable repayment guaranteeing survival. Rationalization is a human trait permitting illogical acts to seem reasonable.
Personnel costs will be closely examined resulting in staff reductions. We will expect fewer workers to do more. Tough times and the releasing of staff will have those left more than willing to do so glad to still be employed. A salary earned is a godsend when the alternative is unemployment insurance.
There are those who work within our profession earning a living based on commission only. They are incurring the heartache of this downturn substantially. They suffer dislike, ridicule, anger, jealousy and disdain when sales are good reflected in higher paychecks than their salaried bosses. Down now due to economic circumstances that are beyond their control or cause they receive passing sympathy sometimes blemished with a wry nasty smile.
Yet these are the very people so needed to insure a future for every business dependent upon sales. They assume the risk of not earning a cent for their time but always believe the next big sale is just a phone call away. Their enthusiasm is of a champion competitor ready, willing and able to tackle opponents, rejections, objections and the open hostility of bosses who fail to comprehend their value.
At times like this the question should be asked within our Boardrooms whether aid is warranted to help those who are hurting. It is a tough question for most times the conversation is how to limit and diminish their incomes.
It is true that many cemeteries have extensive trust funds that have historically been the financial backbone. Compounding interest, dividends and a rising stock market tempered appreciation of sales as an important or necessary component determining viability. The crash that began in 2008 has redefined that mantra due to markets half of their prior levels.
So many of our properties are controlled by relics of the past who believe holding on will return the world to where it was. Assuredly the dinosaurs hoped for the same. As their world disappeared into extinction it is time for those with courage and understanding to accept that life will never be as it was.
Only when the old ways are deemed over will a new mindset replace it. It would be a shock to witness ascension of a commissioned sales rep to overall management. It would be a new vision to witness institutionalized appreciation of commissioned sales reps.
Perhaps no crisis should be wasted as quoted often from the confines of the White House. Is it too much to hope that one of the oldest professions may get the message and change?
                                                                   Ed Horn