From the Chairman’s desk:

Welcome back. This will be a summer to remember. It has brought record high temperatures in the west and northwest and record low temperatures in the Midwest. The rain fall in the mid west has been way above average. July was a record month for the stock market. Our economy has shown some positive signs of recovery although we have a way to go. When we close the books on 2009, the year will be one for many record books.

Fortunately, we have been very busy this summer bringing on new clients for our Accounting, Tax Services, Management Services and M&A. We have two new services, Sales Analysis Program and Families Surveys that will be ready to introduce in Boston at the NFDA Convention. Our M&A activities have picked up considerably and we are experiencing good results working with the buyers and financial institutions.

We want to thank our hundreds of subscribers for giving us valuable feedback on how we can better serve you and the many of our subscribers that participated in the Survey we did in the last issue. Bill Bischoff has summarized the results and highlighted the answers to the two questions we asked.

What is the greatest challenge to your business?

What new products or services have you introduced that have achieved success?

We did not see any real surprises, but there is no doubt that the economy and the growth of cremation are a big concern to many. There appeared to be a high degree of pessimism in the responses. What was encouraging for us at JCG is the fact that we have been there with clients and we have helped them significantly improve their situation. We did some very interesting work with funeral homes that had these concerns, especially in the areas of account receivables, accounting, and improving their operational efficiencies.

Last month I wrote an article on this very subject which I want to share with you in this newsletter. Most firms that we talk with have some idea of what they need to do, but they just don’t know how to do it. And then, there are times when we do a thorough Performance Analysis, we both discovery that what we thought was needed was entirely different. The exciting thing is that the results have been excellent and we all had a lot of fun making the necessary improvements and bring more dollars to the bottom line.

See an excerpt of my article below

We hope you enjoy this issue. We feel we are making progress, in everything we do, as we strive for perfection. We sincerely appreciate all of your feedback.

Until next time… the best to you and your family.


Tom Johnson

We Value Your Opinion…

(Do to the tremendous response to the Industry Survey from the last newsletter, we are going to seek your opinion on various topics in the future, and we are usually looking for a response of just a few words.)

This months question:

* This summer our nation lost two very influential and trusted public figures, Walter Cronkite and Ted Kennedy. We ask you: Who, in your estimation, is the most influential living person in the funeral service industry today?

Click here to fill out the online form: Monthly Survey
Or simply press REPLY to this email and let us know.

When the right Improvements are made… the Worst of times can become the Best of times…

We have heard the expressions to determine if one is an optimist or a pessimist; ‘Is the glass half full or half empty?… If you have lemons you make lemonade …when the pessimists sell the optimists make money… and so on.’

Our economy is struggling, unemployment is at an all time high, businesses are closing their doors, banks have stopped lending, cremation is on the rise and families are becoming more conservative in selecting a funeral service. Does that mean the glass is half empty? I definitely do not think so …Well then – what do I think?

Continue Reading Here…

Funeral Service Industry Survey Results

Thank you to everyone who participated in the survey, to see the results to the following questions, please visit:

1. What is the greatest challenge to your business?
2. Has the death rate in your market area….
3. Do you see the current decline in the national death rate as a blip or a trend?
4. Have you had to lay-off employees?
5. Has your receivables increased?
6. Are traditional families choosing cremation or spending down on merchandise and services because of the current economic conditions?
7. Are Green Burials becoming a part of your service offerings?
8. What new products or services have you introduced this year that have achieved success?
9. Do you see Chinese caskets growing or declining in the USA?
10. Do you see Costco growing or getting out of the casket business?
11. Will other Big Box discounts enter the casket business?
12. Has your preneed sales suffered in this economy?
13. How do your preneed fulfillments compare to your current at need sales?
14. Where do you see your revenues in the next 5 years?
15. Does your firm have a succession plan in place

Exceeding our Client’s Expectations’:

Danville, VA. – Swicegood Funeral Home and Barker Funeral Home, both of Danville, VA, have been sold to a new firm managed by A.J. Daoud of Cox Needham Funeral Home in Pilot Mountain, NC. After operating the firms for many years after the death of his father, Turner Swicegood decided that it was time to find someone else to carry on the tradition of the firms.

Brooks Cowles of the Johnson Consulting Group represented Turner Swicegood in the transaction, which closed on August 3, 2009. Turner Swicegood says, “Brooks has advised me on various planning and estate matters for many years. When I decided to consider a sale, I knew that’s who I wanted to advise me. From advice on value, marketing and negotiation, Brooks and the team at the Johnson Consulting Group were there every step of the way, including finding the final buyer, who I had not previously known.”

As an experienced operator, with other locations nearby, A.J. Daoud plans to build on the traditions of these firms to continue as the market leader in Danville and Pittsylvania County. “I am excited about joining the Swicegood – Barker family and especially want to thank Brooks Cowles for seeing through a complex deal to conclusion.”