I am an accountant. As I have watched the financial metrics of funeral service continue in their long slow decline over the past 30 years my natural response was “make it up in volume.”
But then I had the good fortune to get my hands dirty. I actually managed a funeral home and worked along side practitioners. There I discovered that UNDER THE CURRENT MODEL such a theory was easier said than done.
One of the significant challenges facing a 24 – 7 operating model is finding a schedule that enables staff to function on the job at optimum levels AND enjoy a LIFE. One of the personal experiences I learned as a practitioner was that god created a 7th day of rest because we need it. Our capacities actually decline no matter how committed, zealous or eager we are after that 6th day. Science proves it but we experience it.
I have worked in manufacturing. There I learned that a given machine is “rated” for a certain number of units of output per hour. BUT that rating is an optimal level. Running any machine at optimal level hour after hour day after day leads to premature failure. In other words running even the best designed and maintained machines at 80% of optimal rating produced more than running them at optimal continually. So it is with people. A person can only operate at a certain level for so long. And then they start making mistakes or doing sloppy things. Not because they are error prone or sloppy but because they are tired.
The much-awaited Boomer Avalanche has yet to hit us with full force. Under our current model of licensure and outmoded idiosyncratic paradigms we will quickly be covered up. Why do we need a license to make funeral arrangements if mortuary schools don’t teach arranging? Why does it require a license to take a procession to the cemetery or to oversee a visitation?
Unless we can figure out a much more efficient model using non licensees to augment the real places licensees are needed we will be overwhelmed in fairly short order. Briefly we might see more cash flow but that won’t really help when we are forced to take the phone off the hook because we have outstripped our capacity.
Remember, in most states as long as I don’t touch a body I can do anything a funeral home can do and even better. Hospices in certain parts of the country are already coaching their families to say goodbye to mom at home, have the funeral home dispose of the body and then let Hospice help them with a DIY memorial service. Of course there are those that believe that if they suck up to them they can appease them out of doing that in their area. Maybe we ought to start a Neville Chamberlain Society.