Sunday, March 25, 2012


The following is an article I found in a Michigan newspaper. It pretty much hits the nail on the head, large corporate and pricy independent are driving your options away from you and themselves out the door. Take a good hard look at what is left, it will be the future of a more affordable, personalized funeral service.
How it all begins...
On Jan. 10, Diane and Randy Bathurst were having breakfast when Randy began to feel ill. He excused himself to lie down, and a moment later Diane heard a thud. When she arrived in the bedroom, Randy, 58, was unconscious on the floor. Paramedics couldn't resuscitate him; doctors said he had died instantly of a massive heart attack. Two days later, his widow is in a conference room in suburban Detroit meeting with Tom Macksoud, who runs a business called Simple Funerals. Bathurst, who has little income, wants a basic cremation with no casket and no service—just the way Randy would have wanted it. A traditional funeral home wanted to charge  her $3,200. Macksoud's operation—with no employees, chapel or embalming room (Embalming room AKA "Preparation Room" is required in Arizona, as is a chapel, hearse and conference room for arrangements), just himself and the Chrysler Town & Country minivan he uses as a hearse—can do it for $1,100. "Thank you," Bathurst says, tearing up. "This means I can make two more house payments." Macksoud hugs her and, two days later, single-handedly retrieves her husband's 300-pound body from the rival funeral home and maneuvers it into his minivan, a process that takes more than an hour and leaves him exhausted. "Sometimes I think I should charge by the pound," he says. (In Arizona, most funeral homes charge additional costs over 250 pounds)

Make them go away!

Also Known as "Alternative Funeral Homes"
With its revenue directly tied to the death rate, the $15 billion funeral industry has always been seen as recession-proof. No matter how bad the economy, people always die and families always spend money memorializing them, often equating dollars spent with respect paid, and rarely shopping around. Funeral homes tend to be the oldest businesses in town and generally earn solid profits—one reason why, in the 1990s, large, publicly traded corporations began rolling up the industry. But this recession is proving different—and as it deepens, families are beginning to seek ways to cut bills that were once seen as sacrosanct (That which is very sacred, not to be trudged or changed due to its sacred right of passage). Long-term trends (like the growing acceptance of cremation) are coalescing with the down economy to lead some industry veterans to sense a shift. "There's a major movement toward low-cost options right now," says R. Brian Burkhardt, a funeral director in Wheaton, Ill., who writes an industry blog called Your Funeral Guy. "Those businesses that adjust will do fine—and those that don't will be gone."

For Macksoud, 46, this penny-pinching couldn't come at a better time. For 20 years Macksoud worked in big funeral homes and eventually bought his own in Lapeer, Mich., a blue-collar town about 50 miles north of Detroit. But a few years ago he started noticing a change: fewer people were asking for the extravagant memorial service with the steel casket and limousine-led procession. "I realized all I needed was an office, a computer and my own car," he says. So in 2004 he sold his Lapeer business for $757,000, then took a few years off to spend time with his four kids.

The Rebirth of a Dignified Industry

Last fall he jumped back in with Simple Funerals, which he runs from a 1,500-square-foot storefront in a strip mall next to a dry cleaner. There's a sitting room with an oriental rug, and a wall of shelves holding urns (starting at $90). Toward the back, Macksoud displays three coffins, starting at $495. (He sends folks seeking something higher-end to Costco, which has carried caskets since 2004.) Macksoud subcontracts with traditional funeral homes to use their embalming rooms and to store bodies. With such low overhead, his customer's average bill is less than $1,200, compared with nearly $10,000 for a traditional funeral. "It's not about the size of your funeral home or how many Cadillacs you have—it's about the service you provide," he says. (BRAVO! Well Said...)

Keeping it Simple...

Macksoud is 6 feet 1 with dark, thinning hair and a plain, soft-spoken
A Simple Funeral
manner. If you spot him driving around in his minivan—which carries a whiff of formaldehyde—you might guess he's an accountant or insurance agent. And while laypeople think funeral directors spend all day with dead bodies, much of Macksoud's business involves paperwork: ferrying death certificates to get physicians' signatures, dealing with the medical examiner and then off to the county clerk's office. Along the way, the phone connected to his dashboard-mounted navigation system rings every so often. "Simple Funerals," he says, keeping his eyes on the road. "This is Tom."

Helping You Find a Way.... 

On many calls, he winds up alerting consumers to money-saving options they didn't know existed. For instance, a widow from Pontiac calls about her husband, a veteran who's just died. Macksoud tells her that as a veteran, he's entitled to a free plot, vault and grave marker in the Great Lakes National Cemetery—something the traditional funeral home she'd called first hadn't mentioned. "They would have missed out on selling her a vault and expensive plot," Macksoud says. "She was so appreciative. When things like that happen, I know I'm doing the right thing."


The responsibility of the funeral director is much more than ensuring the funds are collected, the check is cashed and the family is tucked away. The individual has a ethical and moral obligation to ensure that the family is well taken care of during a very vulnerable time. The job of the director is to as if "Keep the wolves away", Not to be a wolf in sheep's clothing. As we do not allow children to indulge in sweets during a time of hunger, we must ensure they receive proper nourishment and care. Not that a family is as if a child, but it is the moral and ethical responsibility of the director to ensure the family is looked after and cared for, for THEIR best interest, not the directors financial best interest.
I didn't know they couldn't afford it..
It's not my job to ask.

I do not think alone, As this article proves, there are those out there that are licensed funeral directors and embalmers that have not strayed from the given path. The Direction of the funeral industry is changing, some are desperately trying to hold on and ride that dying horse........

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Every funeral homes pricing is affordable to someone, but not all funeral homes are affordable to everyone………
Miguel Legaspi
Owner, Avenidas Funeral Chapel

Recently I have started a new approach to advertising that has really made the difference to reaching the community I wish to serve. (that means everyone)
I have noticed that great deals of people that have contacted me are at a point of total confusion by the time we talk. It starts with a very irate person demanding to know what hidden costs are in the cremation package I offer. I tell them none. They insist that there is more because everyone else is double to not quadruple the price of cremation that I offer. I have had people cry, thank me and tell me they would be right down.  I tell them that we will be right here to help them when they arrive.
 Another man came into my facility and asked for some simple pricing. I shared it with him and he could not understand why it was so difficult to get the same answer from another location close by. He was told by a lady:  “if he was from another funeral home, the prices were all the same, but I’m sorry, if you really are from a family, our prices are less than what is on our price sheet”
WHAT THE? He walked out of there lost, dazed and confused.
HEY! That’s pretty scary stuff considering you are trying to find a location that will help you handle the simple arrangements of saying goodbye to your family member. Who is in charge? Are there not laws that protect the community from these types of shady marketing practices? YES THERE ARE!

AZ State Legislature, Chapter 12-Article 3.1 -32-1375. Price lists; telephone information

A. A licensee or registrant (employee) shall provide accurate information about the retail prices of funeral goods or services readily available for sale at the establishment at which the licensee or registrant is employed to any person inquiring about these prices by telephone. (Psst! this means you!)

B. If a person requests a price list by telephone, the establishment shall mail a price list to the caller and may charge a reasonable postage and handling fee of not more than two dollars.

If a funeral home is evasive or cryptic in the way they appear to explaining pricing to you, GET OUT OF THERE! The funeral home is a business, they are not your friend until YOU decide they have deserved your friendship, trying to make best friends with you over the phone is stupid, they should be focusing on answering your questions......

In the funeral industry, people have been forced to shop around looking for the best price but have found that they have to sacrifice in services to afford burial or cremation. This is so far from the truth. There are a few good facilities out there that really do care. They might not be the most glamorous or palatial facilities, but they do provide good service, compassion and understanding, all this for a very affordable price.

Not to sound funny, but the funeral industry is dying a slow death only to have some locations being reborn as we speak with the new definition of service and cost.

Long gone or on their way out are the facilities with sad draping curtains, dark rooms, thousand dollar caskets being served up by dark suits in slicked back hair driving high end sports cars that are being paid for with your $7,000 to $10,000 funeral service.
Funerals are becoming a thing of celebration, remembrance and reflection. All this being provided by people who care, don’t look at your car or your jewelry or shoes to see how much you can be taken for.
All I have is a little…..

Yes, I know, and I want it all!
So it has become the norm here in the Valley that everyone thinks that you have a funeral, you have a car wash. At least that is what the high end heavy roller funeral homes hope for.

There is no shame in a car wash, but remember, the next time you find yourself short of funds needed to bury or cremate, try looking a bit farther, chances are you will find a facility just around the corner that provides very professional services at a very affordable price. Don’t be afraid to shop. There is no shame in that. To many times I have been approached by families after the fact with a great deal of remorse and guilt that they spent way to much on services but did not realize this until well after the fact. Perhaps if they were treated with a little bit more fair play and honesty by the facility that served them these feeling would not be so prevalent.


I had a conversation with another local funeral home owner a while back and he told me that he felt any facility that offered funeral servicews for a price below the status quo was as if a cheap whore to society, selling themselves out to the comunity. For the life of me I find it idiotic that ANY business owner wold think that they set the standards or pricing for a service provided, and that anyone that provides service pricing below the status quo is some sort of prostitute. Why can't business just accept the fact that the smarter, more aware general population no longer wishes to pay high prices for overinflated service? What kind of stupid idiotic way of business thinking is that? Some people can not deal with business competition, it is easier to badmouth and belittle your competitor to the consumer than it is to justify service pricing.

Be cautious of a location if they display the following:
  • Having to walk around high end sports cars or luxury sedans to get into the building (Your buying them you know)
  • Evasive tactics over the phone when you call and inquire about pricing
  • Continued invitations to come into the funeral home and “discuss” with them
  • Continued questions as to if someone has passed
  • Inquiries out of the blue as to if an insurance policy is available for payment
  • Nice suits, expensive suits, REALLY expensive tailored suits
  • Grossly inappropriate, over the top empathetic behavior
  • False smiles, fake behavior, robotic fake behavior (you can tell, acts like a robot)
  • Invitations to sit in an arrangement room if all you want is pricing
  • Attempts to separate family members (people talk more freely alone)
  • Asking for a phone number if you do not offer it
  • Bad reviews by locals due to over the top pricing
  • Over the top cremation charges ($600 and up)
  • Over the top casket prices. ($1,800 and up) and being forced to look at them
  • Hearing the word "TRUST ME" 
  • Over the top GOOGLE reviews that hammer on the same person or service over and over and over and over and over......................................  Did I happen to mention.... OVER?
HEY THERE!, These are just a few. Remember something, we all don’t shop at Macy’s or on Rodeo drive in Beverly Hills, we do not all drive Lamborghini's or Ferrari's . I see allot of very SMART people shopping at the inexpensive mom & pops and driving sub compacts. Not because that’s all they can afford, but because it is the smart thing to do. Do the smart thing, look for the inexpensive Mom & Pops.  It's easy to claim to be a Mom & Pop, the proof is in the charges, or pricing. Some think that it is appropriate to charge as if being a Mom & Pop or "Family Owned" facility is a luxury. It honestly just means you care and take care of others like family. Is over the top pricing how you would treat family? I think not.
The past is behind us, time to move forward!

The days of feeding the overrated, overpriced glutton funeral monster are done. We are finding that it is a weak, heartless, money hungry charlatan that has no interest in you or your needs, only focusing on your pocket book. Americans are more sensible and reasonable in their thinking. The last four to five years in America have shown us only one thing and they have grown tired of the haves trying to fleece the have not's for their hard earned savings. There are those at the top that want to work very little to make money off of our hard efforts and savings. Don't get caught in their web. THEY ARE STILL OUT THERE! It's time for everyone to tighten the belt and those that serve to realize that our hard earned savings are not for others to eat up like some sort of potato chip dip at a drunken beer bust. (Or caviar at a fine wine festival in the Hampton's)
Remember this guy? Look for him the next time you find yourself in search of guidance.
Shop around and think before you buy, or sign.............