Tom JohnsonFrom the Chairman’s desk:

Welcome back… Spring is definitely in the air with the flowers and tress in bloom and the farmers in the fields signaling the start of a new growing season. Our economy seems to have stabilized somewhat. Many of the major banks are reporting fairly strong first quarter profits which should begin to loosen up the credit market. We are seeing some positive signs.

I always look forward to Spring, not only for the weather, but it is the time I can look at my businesses and get a good idea of the kind of year we will have. The first fiscal quarter is now behind us and as we know in funeral service: As the first quarter goes often times, so goes the year. But what is also great about this time of year is the fact that I have the time to change some things, make needed adjustments and get my staff involved in those changes.

This issue we will devote to some ideas on how you might think about doing your spring house cleaning a little differently this year. What I find is we are all guilty to some degree of doing the same things the same way and not taking the time to see if we can, in fact, do it differently and better. It falls in the category of “Complacency.” Yet we should have that attitude of “Continuous Improvement.” Large corporations today actually have a senior management position titled “Lean Management”. That position is focused full time on findings ways to eliminate waste and to do things better and more efficiently.

We hope you had a chance to tune in to our webinar this week on our Management Services Division. With our economy where it, many businesses are experiencing a sharp decline in revenues. For that reason, our Management Services Division is experiencing a very strong first quarter growth. If you missed the webinar, you can go to our website and listen in at your convenience.

This issue we will feature two articles: one on “Kaizen” the Japanese word for continuous improve and how you may apply it to your business. John Prentice offers some thoughts and ideas. Our Work Flowing Analysis and Better Solutions is our answer to Kaizen.

In addition, our associate Bill Bischoff has written a thought provoking article on Family Surveys. At Johnson Consulting, we use client surveys and at our funeral homes we follow up with every family we serve. It is truly a gold mine of information from consumers that know you best: clients that have used your services.

We hope you find this issue informative and most importantly useful in your business. We are here to help. We find most businesses that we work with do not need a complete overhaul of their operations. They just need a tune up and perhaps, a new set of plugs. We are confident we can put the spark back in your business.

In closing, I leave with this simple quote from B C Forbes:

It is only the farmer who faithfully plants seeds in the Spring, who reaps a harvest in the Autumn.

Let us help you with your Spring planting…. Until next time


Tom Johnson

John PrenticeKaizen Your Way to Dramatic Results

There is a New Paradigm for Profit

There’s a new sheriff in town, and you’ve met him. It is the new paradigm for making a profit. It used to be that you would add a markup to your cost, baking in your profit, and that would be your selling price. “Cost plus profit equals price.” Not any more. Today the market sets the price, you subtract your cost. Your profit is what’s left over, if anything. “Price (market driven) minus cost equals profit.” For funeral products and services today that are highly competitive, the way to profit is to reduce cost. That’s the pressure you’ve been feeling.

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Bill BischoffJust When You Thought You had all the Answers, They Changed the Questions…

The challenges of running a successful business today require a different approach and skill sets than perhaps the past generations. The answers to current challenges come from a different set of questions than were asked in the past.

I have consulted with funeral homes owners and managers for many years and the first question I always ask about their operations is, “Why do you it that way?” The standard answer is [you guessed it], “We have always done it that way…” This leads me to the conclusion that they probably achieve the same good or poor results over and over again.

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Bill Bischoff is an associate partner with the Johnson Consulting Group located in Scottsdale, Arizona. He has spent his last 33 years in senior level management positions with the leading suppliers to funeral homes and cemeteries.