Saturday, June 18, 2011


So what do you do if you find yourself sitting with a family and presenting to them everything that they ask for only to find out what they are requesting is above the family budget? (a good counselor will ALLWAYS remind you to stay within your budget at one point in you conference)

That's a real tough dilemma. It is for me anyways because I know that the family wants to do their best, but can usually see that the budget will not accommodate what they interpret as the best. Love is love, "DOING" something, anything and not abandoning the deceased to the county is a sign of love, please remember that.

The three Sides...

There are three sides to the funeral process:

1. SERVICES (non-Taxable):
  • Basic service of the funeral director and staff
  • Removal
  • embalming
  • refrigeration
  • dressing and casketing
  • visitation service (set up and supervision)
  • church service (set up and supervision)
  • graveside service
  • Hearse
2. MERCHANDISE (taxable):
  • Casket
  • Urn
  • Book
  • Folders
  • Prayer Cards
  • Casket Cross
  • Vault
  • Marker
  • Flowers
3. CASH ADVANCES (non-taxable):
  • Funeral Escorts
  • Church fees
  • Cemetery charges
  • Death certificates
  • Airline charges
  • Permits and fees
Now, of the three items listed above, the one most likely to be negotiated in price is "SERVICES".

"Cash advances" are non-negotiable. These are outside of the funeral home charges that are paid to third parties.

That Mountain Bike!

Of all the merchandise sold, do not let them hold out on that "CASKET" price. You will know if a casket price is high, its almost like a natural feeling, You will look at a vessel made out of plastic cloth and metal, it has maybe two moving parts and other than putting a body in it, it serves no purpose. IT DOES LESS THAN A HIGH END MOUNTAIN BIKE AND COSTS THOUSANDS MORE.  Ask yourself, "Is this really worth $4,500? Probably not. NEGOTIATE that casket price down, SAVE SOME MONEY! Also, if you negotiate down the price of the casket, the Taxes also go down... You should be able to purchase a nice casket for under $800.

Your Money, GET IT?
Understanding that things are negotiable, remember one thing, a funeral home has to make money, they just don't need to make "ALL THE MONEY". Bills need to be paid, chemicals need to be purchased as well as merchandise. The facilities must be maintained and the staff must earn a basic salary or income. Electricity, water, automobiles maintained, gas, business insurance and on and on and on. I think and hope you get the point.


Tips are far and few between so what the staff earns is what they earn. Few funeral homes with the exception of corporate offer bonuses and most staff is part time to keep costs down. Consider a tip to the staff, not the owner. they truly do appreciate it.


Exceptions can be made  family to family to assist. But then when that happens and the family that pays more finds out, they tend to get a bit upset because this consideration was not afforded to them. My philosophy is that if ones pricing was affordable in the first place, then they would not be put in the dilemma that they have to decide to help or afford a family the opportunity to walk.

I fail to understand why a business would let a family walk on a few hundred dollars. I mean its kind of ridicules. Why not accept the loss and serve the customer. Some facilities feel that if they do this it will make them appear cheap or "low cost" or even second class.

I remember once that I was helping a friend of mine purchase a truck. All the time we kept asking for the "invoice" we wanted to see it. The guy said no, no, no, no, no. When asked why he said. "If I sell you the vehicle at cost, then how and the hell am I going to make a living and who are you to gauge how much we need to make on each car to keep the doors open" GOOD POINT!

As you can see, there is nothing wrong with asking for a little help or negotiating a price if you are trying to make ends meet, BUT!

  • If you are doing it because you refuse to shop around
  • If you are doing it because you prefer the more majestic location and cant afford it
  • If you are doing it because you are embarrassed to go to a simpler or smaller place
  • If you are doing it because you are use to paying higher prices before the economy went to hell
  • If you are doing it because you are extremely budget oriented (a budget is fine, but not at others expense)
  • If you are doing it to impress your friends
  • If you are doing it out of guilt
Then my friends, you are negotiating for all the wrong reasons and the business owner is not obligated to assist you.

Skilled, and they know it, you don't.

Usually the staff is skilled enough to know why you are there and how sincere you are. They can read into your reasoning and your desire for help. They have been doing this for many years, They are very skilled at this negotiation process, you are not, you may feel you are in control, but you may not even remember this day due to the fog of losing your loved ones. They know what to look for, from the shoes you wear, the car you drive to the cigarettes you smoke, they have learned to determine what you can afford, and what you cant. This is a very "old School" technique.

Funeral homes may deduct a certain amount, maybe a token amount to assist you or even to keep you from shopping around, giving you a bit of incentive to stay with them out of loyalty because they did you a favor. This is a common practice. There is nothing wrong with it. But it is up to you as a consumer to shop around for a better price, BUT ONLY IF YOU CHOOSE TOO!


A small story, My friend Brandon lost his Mother, after she passed he was reasonably calm and seemed aware of all that was going on. Up to two weeks after she passed, to this day he had little memory of what happened and were he was or what he was doing. He did not even remember a movie he went to see. I have sat with MANY families that long after the fact do not recall the arrangement process that we did, even though they seemed fine and even in good spirits when we did the arrangements. So please do not think you will be in control of your senses and faculties. Most of the time you think you are, until time  passes and you realize you had no idea at all what you were doing, nor could you remember it.

Good luck and remember, all funeral homes can charge what they want to, some of us just charge less than others.

Miguel Legaspi

No comments:

Post a Comment