Success Leaves Clues

“Model someone who is already successful because success leaves clues.” – Tony Robbins

I was thinking about this quote while watching a replay of a webinar this past week. It was put on by CANA and primarily featured the executive team from Foundation Partners, the fastest growing funeral operation in the country.

If you’re not familiar with Foundation Partners, you should keep an eye on them. Starting in 2011, they’re up to 150+ funeral homes in 20 states and have been growing steadily.

But Foundation Partners is not just an acquisition company; they’re also very good at increasing the revenue at each of their funeral homes. Interestingly enough, many of the strategies they use for growth are the same ones I advocate for my clients.

In this newsletter, I’ll discuss what I believe to be the secret to Foundation Partner’s success. As I said in the opening, success leaves clues. Let’s see what we can learn from this rising star.

The word “star” is a big hint to the secret of their success.

In his 2008 book, The Star Principle, Richard Koch describes how he identifies “star” businesses. Richard is a serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist, former Bain Capital consultant, and a self-made billionaire. He’s made his fortune by identifying and investing in businesses that have tremendous potential for growth (aka stars).

A star business is #1 in a market that is growing by 10% or more per year. He believes that if you can find the market leader in a market that is growing by at least 10% per year, you have a business that has a high probability of long-term success.

Richard also says that if your market is not growing by 10%, or you’re not #1, then there are three steps to follow.

  1. Identify which part of your market is growing and which is shrinking
  2. Identify the part of this growing market where none of your competitors are meeting a need
  3. Create a solution for this unserved niche

I believe that following these three steps has been the true secret of Foundation Partners’ success. By the way, you can follow the same steps and grow your funeral home business too.

Let’s take a closer look at how Foundation Partners applied those three steps so you can “model.”

Step #1 – Identify which part of your market is growing and which is shrinking

The growing part of the funeral market is the cremation segment, and the shrinking part is the burial segment.

But there’s more to their strategy than just targeting cremation.

The growing part is also the Baby Boomer market, and the shrinking part is the Silent Generation segment. Boomers reject traditional funerals, whereas the Silent Generation embrace the tradition.

Also, the growing part is families without a church relationship, and the shrinking segment is those affiliated with a church.

Step #2 – Identify the part of this growing market where none of your competitors are meeting a need

Are cremation families having their needs met? Only those who want a direct cremation; otherwise, these families are often underserved.

Are boomers’ needs being met? Not by the vast majority of funeral homes.

Are non-churched families’ needs being met? Some funeral homes have Celebrants, but the service is rarely promoted.

The overlap of those three market segments is where Foundation Partners has struck gold.

Cremation + Baby Boomers + non-churched = $$$

Step #3 – Create a solution for this unserved niche

The Foundation Partners solution is called ShareLife. You can learn all about it on their corporate website or any of their funeral home websites.

There’s nothing overly unique about ShareLife. It’s a good combination of marketing, technology, and well-trained staff. Most funeral home owners are capable of modeling what Foundation Partners has created and achieving similar success.

My most successful clients have all implemented a unique solution to offer cremation families who are Baby Boomer who do not have a church affiliation. Foundation Partners did not create this market, but they’ve done one heck of a job of serving the market and reaping the rewards.

Cremation + Baby Boomers + non-churched = $$$

If a Foundation Partners funeral home is in your area, they are focused on this market.

If one of my clients is in your area, we’re focused on this market.

If you want to be a rising star, you should be focused on this market.

Remember, success leaves clues. In this case, the clues are not even that hard to find or to follow.

Until next time,


PS: I’ve often told new clients that they should either implement my recommendations or sell to Foundation Partners. Both of us help funeral homes grow; I just let you maintain ownership!

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