Fact #1: It’s tough to find and keep good employees

Fact #2: It’s impossible to grow your business without good employees

One of my roles as a business consultant is to help my clients find and fix the issues limiting their growth. Of course, we always start by improving their marketing, but in almost every case, we eventually arrive at the same issue.


I can develop a marketing strategy that can significantly increase the funeral home’s revenue, but if the client has a weak team, the business won’t grow.

Consider the following diagram.

On the left axis, you have Performance. On the bottom axis is Trust. 

We all want employees who can perform at the highest possible level every day. We also want employees that we can trust to do their job correctly every day.

We can all agree that no one wants Larry Loser – low Performance with low Trust. That sounds like someone you should fire right away.

The only exception might be if the person is brand new to your funeral home and straight out of mortuary school. Their skills are low, and you can’t trust them yet. Hopefully, they’ve increased both Performance and Trust within their first year.

We can also agree that everyone wants Susan Star – high Performance with high Trust. But those employees are incredibly rare! 

If you have a Susan Star, be sure to reward her well.

If she is also ambitious and entrepreneurial, you are looking at a future competitor. That might be someone that you should consider partnering with for a new location. You’re better off creating a business partner than a strong competitor. 

So what do you do with Perry Pain – high Performance, low Trust?

First, I would consider why you don’t trust Perry. Is it an ethical issue? Does he mistreat other team members? Does he have a substance abuse problem that makes him unreliable?

If Perry Pain is a high performer, it’s worth some effort to salvage him. But you can only try so hard. The best thing you can do with Perry Pain is either fix him or fire him. 

Also, it’s vital that you never let Perry Pain train other employees, or he could ruin a future Susan Star. 

Paul Potential is low Performance but high Trust

The best thing you can do with Paul Potential is to give him a detailed plan to follow. Whereas Susan Star is naturally gifted and knows precisely how to care for a family, Paul Potential needs a plan.

If Paul can learn how to follow a plan while serving families, he should be able to improve his Performance significantly.

I would also consider whether you might have Paul Potential in the wrong job. Funeral home owners tend to be “jack of all trades.” They started out doing every job at the funeral home and can still do it all if need be.

But most employees are not like that (or they’d be owners). Paul might be someone who is outstanding in the prep room but terrible in the arrangement room or vice versa.

If it makes sense financially, Paul Potential might be better off doing the tasks he’s good at and letting someone else handle the rest.

To summarize…

  • Larry Loser – fire him.
  • Susan Star – reward or partner with her.
  • Perry Pain – fix him or fire him.
  • Paul Potential – give him a plan or a specific role.

Susan Star and Paul Potential can help you grow your business. Perry Pain and Larry Loser will never help you get your business to the next level.

When a team member is not working out sometimes, it’s a problem with that individual. But sometimes, the real problem is the leadership.

Remember that the skills that made you a great Funeral Director are not the skills that make you a great business leader. For example, when dealing with an underperforming employee, being overly caring and compassionate might be the worse thing you can do.

It’s hard to grow a business without good employees. But it’s also hard to grow a business if you’re not a good leader. 

Growing a business requires you to stop being a Funeral Director and become the business leader your team needs you to be.

Until next time,



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