You Don’t Need Another Licensee

radar oreillyLessons From Radar O’Reilly

Some years ago there was a nationwide nursing shortage. Then some very wise doctor’s and hospitals realized that there really wasn’t a shortage…there was a problem. Too many nursing duties were non – nursing tasks. Things like paperwork, bathing patients, cleaning rooms etc. Doctors and hospitals were using nurses as glorified clericals. Even with this awareness things didn’t change much. Except in a few medical institutions.

What did they find? When they augmented their nursing staff with support staff to do non nursing activities patient care improved; they only needed 1/3 as many nurses; they were able to cut costs; increase pay and improve the work environment for the remaining nurses. Patients were happier, nurses were happier and so were administrators.

The average case load in America for Licensed Funeral Directors is somewhere in and around 85. Why can’t it be 125? What are your funeral directors doing that are really non funeral director duties?

If I were you I would want a Radar O’Reilly on my support team. Radar, as some of you will remember, was the colonel’s assistant in the long – running tv show MASH. What qualities did he have that we should want?

  • Commitment and focus on support. Working ahead of the breaking wave, being proactive and ANTICIPATING needs before they were needed
  • Exceptional task and time management
    • Disciplined focus
    • Continued awareness of time and task and especially vision (Why am I here?)
    • Distinguish between the ‘important but not urgent” and the “urgent but not important”
  • Keen Intuition. The ability to read the Colonel’s mind as well as others and respond in the moment
  • Strong listening skills. Able to listen with an open mind
  • Organized
  • Strong interpersonal skills and relationship management. Ability to get things done through and with people
  • Technologically capable. Know how to optimize technology for efficiency
  • Sense of humor
  • High energy
  • Confident enough to work independently
  • Able to execute projects and communicate with others effectively
  • High in emotional intelligence and self management
  • Resourceful problem solvers
  • Efficient multi tasker
  • Thrives on change but honors the need for stability and completion

Licensees don’t need to work harder…just smarter.


  1. Howard Beckham May 27, 2015 at 1:16 pm - Reply

    Alan, you are so on target. I visit several funeral homes because of my state association positions over the years and I see almost all funeral directors performing every little task relating to the families that they serve. From the removal to the burial or cremation they are involved with hands on. Most of them are very prideful that they do everything involved with their families. They are like the nurses of old in your description. I have found that when you are too busy doing what you have to do, you have no time to really do what you ought to be doing.
    Your top talent should be able to apply most of their efforts where they have the greatest positive effect.
    For some ideas for further thought Google Steven Covey 4 Squares. A little something from “The 7 Habits” that goes along with this subject.
    Thank for what you do sir.

  2. steve May 28, 2015 at 2:44 am - Reply

    I so agree! Just like we need less educators and more teacher aids! Well till you get sued! Sad

  3. Steve Johnson June 8, 2015 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    Alan, thank you for this article. This is right on, as usual! The most effective funeral homes utilize non-licensed support staff to handle the things that do not require a license – things like running certificates and flowers. Setting up the chapel. Working visitations, etc.

    • Alan Creedy
      Alan Creedy June 15, 2015 at 8:19 am - Reply

      and ordering vaults and caskets and contacting clergy and pallbearers and on and on.

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