Closing His Funeral Home….for good

He was closing his funeral home for good.

That was the message I received from a funeral home owner recently. He had reached out to me with the hope that I had a magic wand and could somehow save his business….but it was too late.

About a month earlier, we had a lengthy phone conversation in which we dissected his business to understand what had happened and to explore solutions. His call volume was down but the real problem was that his traditional funeral business had practically disappeared. His chapel and visitation room were going unused and he hadn’t embalmed a body in months.

I was a bit surprised because I knew he had been featured in a case study from a social media vendor highlighting how his new Facebook following was creating a flood of phone calls.

The phone was ringing but it was price shoppers looking for the lowest possible price for a direct cremation. Even if he slashed his prices to win the call, there wasn’t enough margin to support his overhead.

The business was losing money every month, cash reserves were gone, and he was putting his personal savings into the business to keep it afloat.

One of the things I checked was whether this was unique to his funeral home or was the same thing happening to his competitors. A quick look at his competitors obituaries showed that the traditional funeral business in their market was in free fall.

Almost every obit we checked was for either “no services planned” or a one-hour visitation followed by a short chapel service.

The net impact…his competitors were not in any better shape than he was. In fact, one of them had recently investing millions in a new beautiful funeral home that was sitting empty. I’m guessing they were regretting that decision.

The saving grace for the owner who called me was that a real estate developer wanted his property. Not the business, not the building, just the land.

My advice to him…. sell it asap.  Pay off the business debt, replenish your personal savings, take a break and when you’re ready consider opening in a location with less overhead.

Are you in a similar situation?

Have the basic economics of the business changed so radically that your profit margins are getting slimmer and slimmer?

If you are looking for a magic wand, I have one and it’s called marketing. More specifically, it’s the creation of a powerful marketing strategy that guides every element of your business.

Marketing is the art and science of helping people who need each other find each other. It’s about bringing buyers and sellers together into a transaction in which the buyer’s needs are met and the seller makes enough profit to sustain a business.

Your marketing strategy is the blueprint or master plan that guides everything. Without it you are just guessing and wasting money.

Working on your strategy also involved taking a hard look at the economics of the situation and having a clear plan for how you will generate a bottom line profit.

If you are a funeral home owner or manager, my #1 recommendation for 2019 is that you have to create your own marketing strategy. You may be the best funeral director in town but if you do not learn how to market your business, your future is in jeopardy.

By the way, you cannot outsource this problem (even to someone like me). Outsourcing your marketing strategy makes as much sense as outsourcing intimacy with your spouse. It’s a REALLY bad idea.

You can contact trusted advisors to help with your strategy (that’s where I come in). But as the business owner you must own the strategy. Outsource the implementation if you want but never forget who owns the problem and solution. You do!

To help you learn about the new world of marketing, I’ve pulled out some of my training videos from my vault and started posting them on my Facebook page. Here’s the links to the first two in the series.


Some of you may have seen these videos in the past. I recorded them a few years ago but the concepts are definitely applicable to today’s marketing. There are 10 videos in the series and I’m going to publish all of them between now and Christmas.

Start by studying these videos and if you want to learn how to create your own marketing strategy visit

Remember, a clear marketing strategy is your magic wand for 2019. Now is the time to learn the skills that can save your business before it’s too late.

Best Wishes

John Callaghan, Funeral Success Marketing











Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *