Controlling your sales program

Date Published: 
June, 2005
Original Author: 
Ken Varner
Cypress Lawn Cemetery & Funeral Home, Colma, California
Original Publication: 
ICFM Magazine, June 2005

Adapted from a presentation at the 2005 ICFA Convention

If you are going to run a sales program, you have to have a cost model that you're going to maintain. In any sound cemetery operation, I suggest that 70 percent of your sales ought to come from prearrangements; 30 percent of your revenue should come from at-need services.

Your cost of sales should be managed somewhere around 23 percent or less, providing a gross margin of 77 percent.

Your marketing should be 25 percent or less. Maintenance expense, 21 percent; administrative expense, 12 percent; operating expense, 58 percent; and net operating margin, 19 percent.

You need a weekly report for your sales program. Financial statements are always behind or done late, so it's hard to monitor your sales program without a weekly sales report.

I meet weekly with my sales managers, my administrative managers, accounting managers and operations managers to review our sales results and to determine what we can do to support the sales program.

We also analyze our sales reports every week so we know on an annual basis how we're doing, what pace we're keeping.

The weekly sales reports monitor:
• your at-need and preneed sales compared to budget;
• your staffing goals, average contract, unit sold;
• individual performance of sales managers, unit managers and memorial counselors; and
• family service ratios of preneed families to at-need families.