Tuesday, February 12, 2013


To be on RECORD, this Blog is my PERSONAL opinion. Professionally, That which concerns me the most is that:
  • You are well taken care of
  • You are not lied to
  • You receive all that you have been charged for
  • You are treated with great dignity
  • Your loved one is treated as family

When I started Avenidas Funeral Chapel I was 48 years old. I had lost my job as a Drag line Operator and Heavy Equipment operator due to the recession and was close to losing my home (I did lose it)  I was behind on allot of payments on everything, but I did have about 8 suites.

I bought all these wonders, Grey pinstripe, Hunter Green, Royal Blue and on and on and on for some ridiculously stupid price during my career in the funeral industry......  To go with those fashion forward wonders, I had several white polo button downs that I had purchased new and used from a re-sale shop or sears or wherever, and about a million ties that I had bought on sale or had gotten as hand me downs from friends. I realize now that other than an on the job requirement for the many funeral homes I was employed by, OH! How important I felt and THOUGHT I was respected by the community. (I was wrong...)


I wore those babies when it was cold. I wore them when it was 120 degrees plus outside. I wore them in the sun, late at night doing removals, graveside in the middle of summer, In the cooler. I wore them when families obviously looked at me across the table feeling RELAY uncomfortable with the guy in the suite in the room. I ironed them and when I could I got them dry cleaned. Avenidas Funeral Chapel was started in September of 2010 and over the next few months, starting with those first suits; I wore a suit every work day. I never bought new suits as the business grew. I bought shirts and ties and shoes new instead of used. I went 2 1/2 years without a vacation to make that company work, but I didn’t go a work day without a suit, IN THE BEGINNING!

Someone had once told me that you wear to work what your customers wear to work. That seemed to make sense to me, so I followed it, and expected those who worked for me to follow it as well. BUT I DID NOT MAKE THEM (I insist on name tags); there dress code was a personal preference that they take great pride in enforcing amongst themselves. They must look neat and clean and never ever promote the attitude that they are better than the families we serve. (we are not)
Sorry, I'm to Damn Humble to Wear One
After I hired a manager, (Lorena) I decided that I never would wear a suit to work again. I was able to hold true to that, and up till now, the community really has not expected any more from me other than what I wear now. You see, I am not a suite man. It is not me.  I do not need to doll myself up to convince you I am respectful or respectable. I do not need to sell you this false image, for I am and I hold those character traits without placing them behind fancy clothes to impress you with $900 suits or Cuff Links or lapel pins or any of that nonsense. I am a simple guy that owns a funeral home that wants to help you, that’s all!

When Lorena was hired as my manager, the suit went out the window completely. I vowed to never wear one again other than weddings and funerals (not even my own), and only then because it wasn’t worth the hassle to deal with people asking why you didn’t wear a suit. I’m certain the people getting married didn’t care, and I don’t think anyone is going to be looking down at me wondering why I showed up at their funeral without a suit. Suits make no sense whatsoever.

Why am I such a suit hater? I’m not a suit hater, I just could never think of any good reason for any sane person to wear a suit in the first place (especially in Arizona in the summer).

Exactly what purpose does a suit serve? Why in the world are so many people required to wear a suit to work? Do the clothes make the man or woman in the western world today? Does wearing a tie make us work harder or smarter? Is this a conspiracy by the clothing, fabric or dry cleaning industry to take our money?

Or are we all just lemmings following a standard we all know makes zero sense, but we follow because we are afraid not to?

If you are a CEO, are there not better things your employees could spend money on than multiple suits, ties, dress shirts, dress shoes, dress socks, dry cleaning, and all the other associated costs ? Gee, no suits would be the same as giving your employees a tax free raise. Think that might make them happy? Or do employees consider having to spend money on suits a perk?
I Am The KING!
Now I understand some people think wearing a suit provides them with a certain level of stature. It gives them confidence. It helps them feel good about themselves. Well let me be the first to tell you that if you feel like you need a suit to gain that confidence, you got problems. The minute you open your mouth, all those people who might think you have a great suit, forget about the suit and have to deal with the person wearing it.

Is there a reason other than “that’s just the way it is”? Haven’t you looked at someone in a suit, trying to look important and just thought how stupid and out of place it is? Why do we do this to ourselves?

I know this all is a crazy rant, but come on now. If you have had to wear a suit to work every day, haven’t you wondered why? If you are the CEO or in charge of a company, haven’t you wondered yourself why you are making your employees waste all that money and come to work and spend the day in uncomfortable clothing?

Give your suit wearing employees a raise. Tell them every day is casual day. And if they choose to dress to impress anyways? RECOGNIZE THEM! Take them to lunch, fill up their tank, do something other than making or demanding they wear a suite to work in 120 degree weather...

Monday, February 4, 2013


 NOTE - Due to the cease and desist letter I received from a specific corporation, all names are to be considered fictitious, but then again, I did not write the article.

Disclaimer - If none of this information pertains to your staff or your funeral home, don't worry about it. But don't be angry with me for speaking the truth......
FIRST CALL - The initial visit of the funeral director (rarely), their staff representatives or their "Removal Service"  to the place of death for the purpose of removing the deceased and to secure certain information for which he has immediate need.
REMOVAL - Transport of the deceased from the place of death be it a Hospice facility, the residence, the Medical Examiners office or the Hospital to the funeral home for refrigeration, storage or preparation while the administrative duties and responsibilities of the facility are conducted. This is done by either the funeral home staff or the "Removal Service".


Of all the concerns I have heard from the community, probably the biggest and most concerning has been, "How do I know your facility is going to be the one that picks up my Mom when she dies, HOW WILL WE KNOW"?
You won't know, unless you do your homework and handle your affairs prior to the death. As much as the funeral home may want to ensure everything goes as smooth as it can, as much as they may want to release the burden of the moment or soften the blow from the loss of your loved one, the funeral home can not step into your shoes and tell the Hospice facility or hospital that "YOU" chose "US" at the time of death. This is illegal and for a "care facility" to accept the call or name from a funeral home is illegal. It is also illegal for a hospice or care facility to tell you that they work "specifically" with any one facility. By law, they are required to give you a choice of 3. (Arizona). I have always recommended to the family that at least one person, family representative or friend stay with the deceased until the funeral home of your choice arrives and identifies themselves as your selected and preferred facility. We usually respond in 1/2 hour so the wait is not long to give you a bit of comfort. If you want to ensure you are not getting a removal service, when the staff member arrives, ask who took the "first call?"

What if she ends up elsewhere?

Guess what, this happens also. This happens when the deceased passes away late at night and the hospice has not been notified of a facility or location. This happens late at night when an unethical hospice worker that is doing this for a "kick back" (this happens, I don't care what anyone says, not all the time, but it does). They hope that the family will not question the location selected, especially for just cremation. The bottom line is that no matter what, if the deceased ends up at a facility you did not ask for or select, even if you DID NOT pick one at all, you are not obligated to pay the removal charges. Tell the funeral home to bill the hospice that they selected without your permission.

The Funeral Home is Here.....

A knock at the door, some of the family is in the room with Mom, some are in the kitchen, one of the family members answers the door and a younger looking guy is there in a shirt and tie, its usually not what you expected. He is kind, he says "hi, my name is  ......" from such and such funeral home. You stop and turn your head and say "The Funeral Home is here!" Guess what, most of the time, they are not. In fact, they probably don't even work for the funeral home. It's a contract company that drives all over the valley doing what is called "REMOVALS". this is the term for picking up a deceased person and transporting them to the funeral home.

The guy comes in and asks to see were the deceased is. He then asks for the person in charge. Not much is said and he will not say much. He gives the business card and fills out some paper work. He then speaks to the hospice nurse and asks when you are ready, just let him know. The hospice nurse will share with the family, "Perhaps you would like to leave the room while he places Mom on the gurney" Now, I discourage that, "IN FACT" I encourage family members to help if they wish, it is very comforting helps Begin the grieving process.

The "Removal guy" or "Staff" from my funeral home then bring in the gurney, they lower it to the level of the bed and place a device called a "slide board" under the deceased. It is a flat plastic very smooth board that is used for "sliding" the deceased across the bed onto the gurney. The gurney has two straps to secure the deceased to it. The staff then covers the gurney but I encourage the staff to not cover the deceased face until they get to the front door. It has been my experience that the family walks with the deceased out to the van, again, I encourage this. I ask the children "Walk with your Mom or Dad". We get to the van and the deceased is placed in the back. The staff member then tells the family, "You will be contacted in the morning by the funeral home. Then you leave. Allot of staff from removal services are collage kids trying to get through collage or someone going to mortuary school. Remember, it is illegal for a removal staff person to pick up a deceased with alcohol on their breath.

Were do you go then?

Well, the "removal service" runs to the next removal and on and on and on at times taking your loved on a 3 to 4 hour "tour" of the city. Yes it is legal, and yes they are that busy. The "Funeral Home" staff go to the funeral home that they work for, but more and more removal vehicles go to a central processing unit were they take all the bodies that the company either cremates or buries. The corporate funeral homes use usually one facility in the area. We at Avenidas take the deceased to the funeral home, our funeral home in AVONDALE, Arizona. by our funeral home employee drivers. Thoompson Funeral Chapel of Goodyear AZ uses a "Removal Service" as does THE "no name" funeral home in Tolleson AZ, Avdantage Crystal Rose take the deceased to it's central "Prep. Unit" in central Phoenix, AZ. (Also known as CSI or The Dingity Memorial guys)

Why do they do that?

Got to get to the next removal...........
Ring! Ring!.. not now
 I'm sleeping.........
Because they can? I don't know, because the funeral director is to lazy to get out of bed in the middle of the night? (or the middle of the day or to busy playing video games)  Save money? (not for you! not at the prices these other facilities charge) Who knows. Removal services are a good thing, most are very professional and courteous, but still, I have a staff and chose to run a funeral home so WE can serve you, not a removal service. It's a really good feeling when a family comes into see me and tells me. "Your guy was very nice and professional last night" and I can tell them, "May I bring him in so you can thank him personally?" I like that and they earned the re recognition.