Funeral homes and cemeteries are typically some of the most revered institutions in any city. Funeral homes play the role of comforting host to hundreds (or even thousands) of guests each year, all of whom are in various stages of grief over the loss of a friend or loved one. These special places, designed especially to be a beacon of hope during a trying time for a family, are undoubtedly never given enough credit for the vitally important way they serve the people of their home towns. (Not that their proprietors would have it any other way, mind you.) And, likewise for cemeteries. These too-often-forgotten places are the curators of family memories and community histories. Indeed, the importance of funeral homes and cemeteries is too often understated, but the people who run the establishments are typically well-compensated for their contributions to their communities. Funeral homes and cemeteries are often listed among the most profitable types of establishments in the United States, and, with a relatively recent development in which most active cemeteries today are now co-owned with funeral homes, the funeral homes and cemetery business has become even more profitable thanks to consolidation factors. This article looks at several ways in which combining funeral homes and cemeteries has been a benefit to consumers, owners, and the communities they serve.
Consumers benefit when funeral homes and cemeteries are one establishment for the same reason they have benefited from the rise of supermarkets over the last half of the 20th century. The convenience of having all relevant services and products available to them in one location and through one staff may seem like a small thing at first glance. But, as one considers the relative ease of life is today with advent of stores that offer meat, vegetables, cleaning supplies, baked goods and even pharmaceuticals all under one roof, it can be staggering to think of how the simple task of grocery shopping once required many different stops and many different transactions with many different people – all on a weekly basis. The same is true of funeral homes and cemeteries. Before companies that run funeral homes began investing so frequently in the purchases of cemeteries in their towns, grieving families often had no choice but to work with multiple institutions in order to arrange memorial services for their loved ones. Human nature being what it is, this often led to conflict, misunderstands and other, related types of maladies that sometimes made an already difficult time even more complicated for families. In today’s world, it is now quite common for a single family member to step into a funeral home’s office and speak to a single staff member in order to confidently arrange an entire memorial service and burial in a matter of, say, less than an hour. This is possible only because funeral homes and cemeteries are now often operated under the same roof.
To be sure, while this sort of convenience can be a boon for grieving consumers it is important to remember that it often does make good sense for funeral home and cemetery customers to search elsewhere for the products that will be used during the memorial service and burial. Just as supermarkets themselves tend to charge a little more for products (such as school supplies and hardware) that they provide as a convenience, funeral homes and cemeteries are often not the most economical places in which to buy memorial products such as caskets, headstones, and cremation ash containers. These types of products are often best purchased from independent retailers who specialize in the goods, but not necessarily the services of the memorial industry. Fortunately, United States Federal Law requires that products bought from these “outside” vendors always be allowed for use in burials and memorial services conducted by any funeral home and cemetery. For best results, consumers should take advantage of the convenience that funeral home and cemeteries provide by being operated by the same staff, but they should be careful to not let that convenience translate into paying more than necessary for the products used by the funeral home and cemeteries for the service.
The benefits of combining funeral homes and cemeteries into one business should be more or less self evident for a business owner. Any time a company can eliminate redundancy in its operations, thereby creating a smoother, leaner outfit, profitability almost always increases. And, of course, this usually translates into a better experience for the customer, and, in this case, we noted in detail how consumers can benefit from combining a funeral home and cemetery in the paragraph above. It us the unfortunate case that some owners of funeral homes and cemeteries have done a bit too much trimming and combining of the staffs of their outfits, and that has resulted in fewer services offered and less maintenance conducted (particularly at cemeteries) in some cases in recent years. So, it’s important that funeral home and cemetery owners, in their quest for profitability of their businesses, not fall into the trap of letting their operations become too lean. If they can afford that pitfall of consolidating funeral homes and cemeteries, however, then such an arrangement will usually be quite beneficial to their business bottom line.
And, finally, combining funeral homes and cemeteries can be a boon to just about any community. An active funeral home plays host to many visitors each year and, therefore, needs to maintain an impressive appearance (afterall, who would want to take a moment to sit on a memorial cemetery bench, only to be surrounded by falling monuments and overgrowth). When that same funeral home owns a cemetery, it then, has a vested interest in keeping the cemetery looking nice and neat – for the visitor’s sake if nothing else. So, while the nature of most cemeteries would lead them to eventually become weed-infested and potentially hazardous eyesores over time (unless a good number of gracious volunteers agree to keep it maintained and safe without any pay), having them owned by a business that, by its nature, must remain committed to good maintenance, assures that cemeteries do not completely become an aferthought for a community. (Thought the temptation by many community members would be to do just that, unfortunately.) This arrangement, then, works wonders for those who have taken it upon themselves to keep a community’s history and culture alive through the ages. These people, who already work tirelessly and with little (if any) pay, deserve all the support they can get for their work at keeping a community’s core spirit in tact, and it can be comforting to members of a community that, by the simple fact that their cemetery is run by an active funeral home, their historians are all-but guaranteed to be able to do their important work for the ages.
So, funeral homes and cemeteries are a perfect combination from a variety of perspectives. It’s comforting for grieving family members to know that funerals and burials can now usually be arranged by dealing with a single person at a single company. And, for a city, knowing that this company now has a vested interest in keeping its history alive and useful can bring about a multitude of blessings for the ages.