Happy New Year and welcome back to another edition of JCG’s E-Newsletter series. As the new year starts off, I have interviewed and discussed with a few of you who mentioned that their year was up in call volume for 2010. That being said, I hope everybody’s 2010 was prosperous as we all look forward to what 2011 will look like! I want to share with you a book which my wife just finished reading. (She is an avid reader to say the least!) The book is called “The Blue Zones: Lessons for living longer from the people who’ve lived the longest” by Dan Buettner (www.bluezones.com)In the book, Dan Buettner researches longevity and finds four “Blue Zones” or areas in the world that seem to have a higher than normal population of people reaching old age who are still relatively healthy and sharp in that old age. These people manage to live longer and better by eating healthy foods, having social ties and a positive outlook on life. The “Blue Zones” are Sardinia (an island off of Italy), Okinawa (and island off of Japan), the Nicoya Penninsula in Costa Rica, and the small Seventh Day Adventist community in Southern California’s town of Loma Linda. We all know too well the inevitability in life, however this is an interesting outlook on health and mindfulness. Why do I bring this up?…Well let’s consider your business and whether you are creating a “Blue Zone” around your business.

Your business in a “Blue Zone”?…At our own funeral homes, we have just completed our budget and strategic plans for 2011. The next question is, have you done so as well? This is a vital part of a successful and thriving business. I recently presented at the Selected Independent Funeral Home “NextGen” conference and I asked the audience the following question: “Do you think structured budgeting and planning is important to a business?”, to which the audience answer was a unanimous yes. The next question was “How many of you budget and plan at your business at least annually?”, the answer was higher given the audience, however the response rate was still less than 40%. The next question was “If you know it’s important to budget and plan, why aren’t ALL of you doing it!?”….We always struggle for time in our day, but this is an important objective to accomplish. Start your year off right by planning and budgeting and I promise you will not be disappointed in the results!

I hope you will enjoy this issue and best of wishes in 2011!

Short Survey

As with every newsletter, we like to put together a short survey and the anonymously share it in our next newsletter. (Follow this link to take this survey…Training and Development Assessment Survey )

Results from Last Survey

In Johnson Consulting Group’s last E-Newsletter in late 2010, we surveyed funeral professionals regarding their business call volume to see how they felt they would finish the year. Interestingly, about 1/2 thought they would be up for the year and 1/2 thought they would be down for the year, but 65% felt they would be at their normal level. Surprisingly 93% thought their case count would be growing in the next 5 years! Scarier are the 31% of the respondents that thought their business value would be the same or less in the future. From an investment standpoint, this is not a good outlook for the 31%. The next question would be, if you are in this 31%, what are you doing to change that outcome!

This Month’s Featured Service for Johnson Consulting Group

Johnson Consulting Group has partnered with TestTeachers Online to create a program that will ensure you pass your Pre-Need Insurance Licensing Exam on your first attempt. Our programs have an extremely high first time pass ratio. We offer Insurance Pre-Need licensing courses in the following states: AZ, CA, CO, GA, HI, IA, ID, KS, MA, ME, MO, PA, NH, NM, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA and WA with more states coming soon!

Click here to get started!

2011 ICCFA Convention in Las Vegas, NV

Visit Jake Johnson and Rich Sells at the 2011 ICCFA Convention at the Mandalay Bay Resort. For appointments during the convention, feel free to email Rich Sells at rsells@johnsonconsulting.com or Jake Johnson at jjohnson@johnsonconsulting.com ahead of time. See you there! 

Sluggish Cemetery Sales??

Rich Sells (JCG Representative)

Has the economy stalled your cemetery sales program? Are you concerned that the buildup of your cemetery heritage is growing slower than your pre need going at need?

Look to us for help!

We have proven sales managers on our team ready to assist you in building your sales team and boosting your sales. Whether you have an existing sales manager, or are looking to build a new manager and team, we can help.

Our unique approach to our existing clients is through recruiting, training and initiating a sales program for your existing sales manager and staff. Johnson Consulting Group can also help you build a new sales program which we will continue to monitor and mentor after the sales program has reached its goals.

An aggressive Family Service and Field Force/Community group that builds heritage are the answers to build market share.

Let us help!

Contact Rich Sells at 619-701-2669 or toll free 1-888-250-7747, email rsells@johnsonconsulting.com

2010 Tax Cut Extension

Brooks Cowles (JCG Field Representative)
Unless you are marooned on an island somewhere (or are an SEC football fan), you are probably aware that one of the most talked about consequences of the mid-term congressional elections is that Congress may extend the so-called “Bush Tax Cuts.” These rates were enacted early in President Bush’s first term, but with a provision that rates would automatically increase at the end of 2010. With the economy in stagnation, however, many fear that an increase in tax rates will further dampen growth. (Follow this link to view the article in it’s entirety… What just Happened? – Or Can Opportunity Knock Twice)

How is YOUR Bottom Line?
Dale Espich (JCG Field Representative)
If we are to believe what I have been told recently, you probably are not reaching anything near your funeral home’s potential. (Profits) According to a national accounting firm with 1500 funeral home clients, the profit margin (as a percentage of sales) of their clients has dropped from 14% in the 1980″s to less than 6% in 2008. That is a massive drop of more than 50% in profits!…(Follow this link to view the article in it’s entirety…How is YOUR Bottom Line?)

 The Obituary Business is Changing – Are you going to be a part of it?
John Heald, A Licensed Funeral Director and Owner
The professional goal of death-care is to provide comprehensive and compassionate customer service to those in your community who call upon you in the darkest moments of their lives; the business goal of death-care is to generate revenue. These two diverse goals are not mutually exclusive. You or someone on your staff may well remember the days when it was simply enough to provide ample parking, an air-conditioned facility and up-to-date livery equipment. (Follow this link to view the Letter in its entirety…The Obituary Business is Changing)

Coaching for Accountability
On November 9th, 2010, Johnson Consulting Group kicked off their inaugural in person training program, Coaching for Accountability. This was the first training program offered by JCG in their new facility and the first of quarterly in-person training programs. The Coaching for Accountability program was designed to assist managers with ways to improve employee motivation, confidence and accountability. During this training session, strategies and tactics were provided for improving employee accountability through coaching. The two primary coaching skills or tactics taught during this training session were listening and providing feedback. This article will highlight ideas for anyone considering coaching…(Follow this link to view this article in its entirety…Coaching for Accountability)

Toastmaster – July 2010
Stacey Hanke – Can You Hear Me Now?
How to make sure your communication isn’t breaking up.
We don’t know what we don’t know, and this is why communication can be challenging. How many of us can honestly say we’re 100 percent certain our messages are heard and that we’re consistently perceived as confident, credible and trustworthy?
As a leader you must be able to clearly communicate your organization’s strategy, vision and value. Most of us are under the blurred assumption that if we communicate a message, it’s heard. In reality, your message may not have been heard at all. Worse, it may have been unclear or misunderstood.

Funeral Home Valuation: Part 1
Alan Creedy – The Creedy Commentary
Funeral home appraisal, funeral home valuation, cemetery appraisal, cemetery valuation
Multiples and how they are chosen
For the past 20 years Funeral Home Values have been expressed most often as a multiple of EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization). It was not always so. Prior to the 90’s values were often expressed as a multiple of revenue. The most common “Rule of Thumb” being 1.7 and 1.9 times Net Revenue.

Quotes and Blogs

“Look at the weaknesses of others with compassion, not accusation. It’s not what they’re not doing or should be doing that’s the issue. The issue is your own chosen response to the situation and what you should be doing. If you start to think the problem is “out there,” stop yourself. That thought is the problem.” – Stephen R. Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

“Our business improvement program involving our comprehensive Business Performance Analysis has proven to be a valuable tool to all our clients regardless of size by improving each client’s performance in Marketplace, Workplace, Customer Service, and Financial Management.”

Company News

Johnson Consulting Group’s PerformanceTracker™ (Customer Survey and Sales Analysis Program) is experiencing large growth due to its low cost and easy to use format.

Johnson Consulting is now offering online insurance licensing training and continuing education. (Follow this link to view our online insurance licensing…/funeral-home-business-services-overview/preneed-insurance-licensing/)

Our business improvement program involving our comprehensive Business Performance Analysis has proven to be a valuable tool to all our clients regardless of size by improving each client’s performance in Marketplace, Workplace, Customer Service, and Financial Management.

Recent JCG Business/Clients

Cook Funeral & Cremation Services, Grandville, MI (Providing monthly surveys and contract analysis, PerformanceTracker™)

Farris Cremation & Funeral Home, Abingdon, VA (Accounting Services)

Inglewood Mortuary, Lancaster, CA (Management Services Engagement)

Musgrove Family Mortuary, Inc., Eugene, OR (Accounting Services)

St. Louis Cremation Funeral & Cremation Services, St. Louis, MO (Management Services Engagement)

Howard K. Hill Funeral Services, New Havent, CT (Accounting Services)

Thompson, Hall & Jordan Funeral Homes, Forest Park, OH (Management Services Engagement)

Gramer Funeral Home, Clawson, MI (Management Services)

Dahl Funeral Chapel of Bozeman, Inc., Bozeman, MT (Management Services Engagement, Providing monthly surveys and contract analysis, PerformanceTracker™)

Alnutt Funeral Service, Inc., Fort Collins, CO (Providing monthly surveys and contract analysis, PerformanceTracker™)

Bartlett-Chapman & Chapman Funeral Homes, Hurricane, WV (Management Services Engagement, Providing monthly surveys and contract analysis, PerformanceTracker™)

Bunker Family Funeral Homes, Mesa, AZ (Providing monthly surveys and contract analysis, PerformanceTracker™)

Schrader Funeral Home, Cheyenne, WY (Providing monthly surveys and contract analysis PerformanceTracker™)

American Funeral Partners,  Pilot Mountain, NC (Providing monthly surveys and contract analysis, PerformanceTracker™)

Crosby Funeral Homes, Burlingame, CA (Providing monthly surveys and contract analysis, PerformanceTracker™)

Gwen Mooney Funeral Home, Inc.,Cincinnati, OH (Acquisition Services Engagement)

Kennedy Mortuary, Clinton, SC (JCG provided representation for Price Kennedy and Walter Chandler in the purchase of Kennedy Mortuary from Jim Chandler)


Atlanta, GA and Phoenix, AZ – Brooks Cowles and Jake Johnson, President of Johnson Consulting Group have announced the successful transfer of L.D. Pearson & Sons, Louisville, KY. Johnson Consulting Group represented the owners in a sale of the firm to buyers David Owen and John Keith, both established business owners in the area.

“We are very pleased to have been able to complete this transfer with David Owen and John Keith.  We believe they have the service orientation and vision to continue and build upon the traditions of Pearson’s,” said Robin Pearson.  For the Pearsons, the firm’smotto says it all: “Louisville’s Oldest Family-Owned Funeral Home.  Serving Our Community Since 1848.”  The current location at Breckenridge Lane, St. Matthews, was built in 1951 and became the main location in 1978.  Pearson’s was most recently owned by cousins David and Robin Pearson, the fifth generation of Pearson’s to own the firm.  A minority interest was owned by Larry D. Robbins, Manager and Board member.

The owners had originally planned for the firm to be taken over by David’s son, Courtney Pearson, until his unexpected death in 2007.  At that time, the owners determined that the best course was to make the firm available to a new owner.  “We appreciate the Pearson’s legacy of service to the families of Louisville.  We have worked hard to develop a plan to continue the firm’s great service, while also planning some upgrades and additions to meet the evolving needs of the families we serve,” said David Owen.  John Keith added, “Both David and Robin will continue to be involved with Pearson’s, and Larry Robbins will assume primary responsibility at Breckenridge Lane.”

The sale completes a multi-year engagement for the Pearson’s by Johnson Consulting Group, beginning with the negotiation of the sale of their interest in the Pearson – Ratterman Brothers Funeral Home on Shelbyville Road in 2008.  Johnson Consulting Group provides valuation, divestiture, acquisition, accounting and management services to funeral home and cemetery companies across the country from their headquarters in Scottsdale, AZ. – L.D. Pearson, Louisville, KY

“I’d like to thank you and your team of professionals for an extremely thorough valuation of my firm.  Your company’s reputation as an industry leader in Funeral Service Consultation is more than well deserved. From the very first contact, your staff members,  Mike Bishoff put me at ease and made the entire process as painless as possible. Regarding record-keeping and sales analysis, they certainly helped me gather and provide the myriad of information required.  Yet without the personal attention, thorough explanation and a bit of “hand-holding”, the task would have been much more daunting. Likewise, Mike Bishoff’s  explanation of the Valuation Summary was expertly done and easy to understand.I must say that working with you and your team has been an educational and pleasurable experience throughout. Thank you for a job well done!” – Michael A. Weber of J.S. Burkholder Funeral Home, Inc., Allentown, PA

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Johnson Consulting for the professional working relationship they have provided since coming to Restland.  Your code of conduct has been exemplary.  For the first time in many years, I have hope for a prosperous future for all involved. Cyndi Rice has an unrivaled work ethic and is tireless once she sets her goals.  Her financial acumen, in my opinion, has no equal. Since May when Cyndi came on site, the morale of our entire work force has changed 180 degrees.  She had an insurmountable task in this respect alone and won the accolades of the employees in short order.  She has been tireless in building a good rapport with customers and mending broken bridges from the past. This has been astonishing for everyone around here. Rarely a day goes by that we do not receive a compliment on the cemetery, which has not happened in over fifteen years.  I have every confidence that Cyndi will turn sales around.  She has laid the base for a good foundation.  It is inevitable that good things will follow.  I would like to thank you for your willingness to help me.  I really cannot believe what Cyndi has been able to accomplish in just five and on half months.  She is the best thing that ever happened to me and to Restland.” – Mark Lehnert of Restland Memorial Parks, Inc., Monroeville, PA

“When it came time for me to retire and to sell my late husband’s and my funeral business, I turned to Johnson Consulting Group to analyze its value.  Their knowledge and expertise produced a well considered valuation report.  Dave Hirt and mike Bischoff were generous with their time to make sure I understood how Johnson Consulting Group analyzed the value of the business and to advise me concerning how to prepare the business for sale.  Because of my confidence in their valuation services, I chose to use Johnson Consulting Group to market my funeral business.  They were with me every step of the way to facilitate the due diligence process and worked well with my accountant, attorney and advisors.  In the end, Johnson Consulting Group found a buyer for our business that will carry on the values and traditions that my husband and I built over our lifetimes.” – Dr. Julia Marshall of Marshall’s Funeral Homes, Inc., Washington DC

If you haven’t already, be sure to join our social media sites as well. Click on these links below to go to our FaceBook, Linkedin, and Twitter company pages. We routinely update these sites with interesting articles and company news!


Jake Johnson

Johnson Consulting Group

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