Research in the funeral industry trade from A Team Master's Casket store.

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Hard questions answered about the death care industry today, growth and future trends.

Industry size --- In the USA there are about 23,000 funeral homes, 100,000 cemeteries and approx. 700 casket stores, and many more sellers in the trade, insurance, vault companies, cremation vendors, monument suppliers, flowers, printing, manufacturers of product and so forth. If all these individuals are totaled -- it adds to an awesome amount of people that depend on the death care industry to make a living.

Trends --- There is a very low rate for failure in the funeral home business. As most are with no competition. Large conglomerates have bought out independents and not changed the name, but increase prices considerably. This domination of the market also cuts down on their competition. The state of NY <a href="">; for example, </a> had so many buy outs of smaller parlors from SCI that the state forced the reversals and sell off of some. People then could have more freedom of choice and at a fairer price. Also, pre need sales have risen with these aggressive firms. Most morticians are professional people, some however work for large corporations that are “profit pushy” or are involved in questionable practices that drive the bad press and incidents. It is a business -- a significant puchase and exorbitant mark-ups or fraud and abuse does happen. Must say the trade has many fine upstanding caring people as well - working within a chosen trade that sometimes demand unusual working conditions and hours.

Stability, and Cost of employment --- There is or can be quite a turn over in the lowest paid workers at a funeral home. They are required to do everything from mow the grass, wash the cars, answer the phones - to helping pick up the deceased. It is for the most part, non union and overtime is included in a salary. More can be found at <a href="">;</a>; The owners and select few are highest paid.

Profit drivers in the industry --- Cremation used to be a money savings' way for the families' funeral purchase. Now however, some funeral directors have found ways to make it more costly (read profitable). Boomers are ordering custom made caskets, urns and services. The cost of a funeral and burial (including grave plot and monument) often run into $10,000.00- $14,000.00. “Funeral expense adjusted for inflation, has risen 26 percent since 1991.” (From BULLETIN BOARD "The Rising Price of the Final Curtain. 6/2002") This scare is often used to sell pre need plans - not always the best choice. "Paying in advance costs report from ABC News. <a href="">;</a>;. This $20 Billion Business of pre need has many loopholes in state and federal laws that permit failure in protecting your investment, allowing badly managed or fraudulent preneed programs. Planning Ahead Does Make Sense and putting your money in your

local bank, in a "PAY-ON-DEATH" BANK ACCOUNT, taking care of ESTATE PLANNING and writing your will, directing someone as to where it all is -- avoids many problems and safe guards your wishes.

Cost structures and margins --- Numerous morticians have been well known to charge for product 3 or 4 times to what the cost of a wholesale price is. They also have a non declinable basic service fee that can also hide a lot of profit, although it is supposed to be for overhead. Most casket stores mark up the fee of the retail casket or product 1 time the wholesale cost .

Factors influencing growth and decline ---Death is seasonal, more happen in the colder months, and the age of the “baby boomers” (the largest segment of population in the USA) is near the expected death rate - for over the next 10-15- 30 yrs it will grow. Many might choose cremation, but with the funeral home having the non declinable fee, they will still be required to overpay if they do not shop around. The FTC is supposed to be reviewing the funeral rule, but it is taking years. More can be found out about the FROP at <a href="">;</a>;

Expected trends, barriers of entry --- Because the funeral trade had no competition for nearly one hundred years, they were/are hard to break into. They have built a “good ole boy's network” and many suppliers such as Batesville, York and Wilbert refuse to sell directly to the casket retailers, for fear (??) of boycott from the morticians. In fact, the retailers can and do get these products to offer to the public, by going through a broker. It is getting more well known, the product is always going to be less expensive by going outside of the funeral home. The funeral directors have for the most part, become aware it does no good to try to bad mouth the competition, or haggle with their customer once they find that the sale of the casket is lost, although, some of that still happens. Detailing this is <a href="http://www" onclick="linkClick(this.href)" rel="nofollow">">http://www. </a> also showing a price list of caskets. Any casket by any brand is available -- just ask. Offering a large variety of UNRESTRICTED PRODUCT

CHOICE at bargain prices.

Industry Regulation, does the industry fall below the government's radar --- While the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) does try to monitor it, the FTC has so limited staff that there is little threat to non complying issues if unreported by the public first. To file a deserved complaint online <a href="$.startup?Z_ORG_CODE=PU0">;$.startup?Z_ORG_CODE=PU0 </a> The FTC strives to track and settle concerns, but file a report so they're informed. Not only is a warning issued when the FTC does a sweep in a given area -- if caught non complying , that parlor gets a second visit -- to see if indeed it was by mistake or not (that the General Price List or what ever information wasn't handed out). Then if caught again, they are given a choice. They can enroll in a self industry monitored (Nat. Funeral Dir. Assoc.) NFDA “class” or are subject to be fined $11,000.00. The cemetery is not under the FTC rule, nor are casket stores. However they have many other federal and state regulations that apply to their business. We have all heard of horror stories involving funeral directors, cremations, cemeteries but none on casket store retailers. So the FTC rules seem to matter little, or not as much as being an honest business person, proud of the firm's reputation, prices and service. The funeral rule is important, and adding the whole death care trade under this “RULE” would not be a bad thing, if more strictly enforced. The death care industry works within a trade that is in demand, and trust should be foremost before all. Research into the subject by the public is needed so that the price paid is fair and open. This field has been in the dark too long. Please don't be one of the overwhelming majority of consumers who are unaware of what the FTC funeral rule is. Or hesitate to expose firms not complying with a complaint to the FTC, BBB or others.

What technology factors play in the growth and future of the industry --- Firms using the internet and computers are more forward thinking and able to keep up with trends better. Firms like Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Calif. have taken it one step farther, recording a tape to play at the push of a button, that will allow the survivors to hear and see a 10- 15 min. segment of the deceased, at the grave site. Casket retailers can use lap tops to show perspective customers a full line of caskets that the store has available, without the need to have them all on hand. Funerals are also being broadcast on password protected internet for those unable to make a trip to the loved one's funeral -- by select funeral homes. Traditional is not a tradition any more, people are customizing and they do not just provide an open wallet in this sensitive purchase, they shop! Forward thinking people hate "bundles" or "packages" and get better value without them, by individualized choices, that are perhaps more

meaningful also.

Key success factors --- Like any business, advertising is a must. Keeping the name out in front of the public is important. More ideas seen at <a href="">;</a>; Customer service, compassion, dependability and pricing are important as well as being knowledgeable about what the person's needs are. In the mix of things, it is really best for the public to learn all they can about the purchase of funeral product and services, before the need. A great site for this showing statistics, reports and links is at <a href="casketstores.org"></a>;

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