There are, in fact, many firms today that remain in denial that our profession has changed dramatically and will continue to change into the foreseeable future. We cannot help them.

I have lost count of the financial statements I have analyzed over the last several years. What strikes me is that virtually all of them have experienced a three year decline in average sale. WORSE, THE OWNERS WERE UNAWARE. Try it yourself. Take your total revenue minus any cash advances (this is your net sales) and divide that amount by your TOTAL number of calls for the last three years. My bet is that the overall average has declined.

While it is only my opinion, it is impossible for us to continue this trend without doing SOMETHING! So let’s start with the number one error most business owners make: lack of urgency.

If you are an owner then part of your job in these tumultuous times is to BE the change champion and to develop a base of allies within your firm. People resist change. We know that. According to John Kotter, retired Harvard professor and author of the book “Leading Change.” There is no urgency until at least 75% of a company’s management is honestly convinced that BUSINESS AS USUAL IS TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE.

An old axiom says: “People will tolerate the conclusions of their leaders…they will only act on their own conclusions.” It is not enough to TELL people you have to change you must create an urgency to change within your constituency.

HOW do we do that? I have found over my career that the truth is surprisingly compelling (assuming your people trust you). A calm well prepared meeting with key staff is in order. Panic is not.

Here are some facts you might want to share:

  • Over the past 12 years the national Compound Annual Growth Rate in cremation is approximately 4.17%. Notice that up until 2000 cremation basically absorbed the marginal growth in deaths. Burials remained flat. Since then there has been an actual erosion of burials.Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 8.18.09 AM
  • Analyze your own average sale and share it with them. Ask them what conclusion about change they draw? What impact might it have on salaries and size of staff?
  • Invite them to join you in creating urgency for change and developing an action plan.