From the Chairman’s desk:

Welcome back! July is upon us and summer is officially here. Our economy is still fighting its way back but we have a long way to go to regain the confidence needed to get all segments on the same page, “Singing from the same hymnal”, as the saying goes. … But we do see signs of improvement.

Our government intervention in the main stays of our economy like banking, automotive and healthcare has certainly the potential to change the dynamics and the rules of the game. I will reserve my comments for a later issue.

What I read and learn from listening to individuals from all parts of our industry is that revenues are down in both the supplier and provider side of the business and the outlook for the immediate future is more uncertainty than optimism.

Here at Johnson Consulting, our Financing Division has seen first hand how the economy has impacted banks’ ability to finance or refinance funeral home businesses. In this issue, we have included an article on this very subject. We have identified the “Hurdles” that exist between the start and the finish line as to what is required and how to best prepare to jump over each one.

Unemployment is currently above 9% and is forecasted to exceed 10% before we begin to see a decline. Our industry is somewhat unique in the fact that our challenge is retaining mortuary school graduates. One mortuary school dean gave me a startling statistic a while back that over 80% of the graduates leave the profession after two years because of the long hours and weekend work requirements. Yet good well-qualified funeral directors are hard to find. We have also included an article in this issue on “Attracting Great Employees”.

Johnson Consulting is very privileged to have over a 1000 subscribers to our newsletter. Many are our industry’s “Thought leaders”. Bill Bischoff, the Editor of our newsletter, thought it would be interesting and insightful for us to send along a brief 15 question survey to get your thoughts and business perspectives on today’s economy and the impact it is having on your business. Our goal is to get a very high percentage return. We sincerely appreciate your response. You can be assured all responses will be kept confidential.  We will write a summary report of the results and publish the findings in our next issue.

We want to call your attention to our newest program which we are featuring in this issue. It is a state of the art sales tracking and analysis system that will give you timely and vital information to best manage your business. The system will also provide you with a score card to see how your business compares to others in the industry.

In closing, we hope you enjoy this issue and we hope you will take the time to complete our survey. …Until next time “The best to you and your families…”


Tom Johnson


The 7 Hurdles to Funeral Home Financing

.. The hurdles may have been raised, but not insurmountable … It just takes a different approach …

Dating back to the Great Depression, banks have viewed funeral home businesses as low risk borrowers of money. Whether it was for renovating an existing funeral home, building a new location, or even purchasing an established business from another funeral director – banks always felt that lending to the funeral business was a safe bet.

Over the last two decades, the landscape of the “funeral business” changed. Mergers and Acquisitions went into over drive – with the likes of SCI, Loewen, Stewart, Carriage, and other private acquisition firms. PreNeed’s hyper-growth initially changed the future financial outlook of a firm and now may in some cases be seen as a liability. Now, with the current economy and tightened lending practices, the situation has heightened.

This isn’t meant to be all Doom and Gloom, but with a picture painted like that, how else would outsiders see our industry without our rose-colored glasses. Like it or not, we have to overcome the high lending hurdles that we helped erect. But there is hope…

If you are looking for financing for renovations, expansion or acquisitions, you will need to deal with each of these 7 lending challenges [hurdles] in a new and creative way. We can help you, as we have helped other clients come out on the winning side, with financing in hand! It’s all about the process, knowing what the banks are looking for and how to best present your case. A well thought out plan, carefully crafted with sound and factual data will greatly enhance your chances of securing that needed capital.

Johnson Consulting Group introduces an Industry First

Now you can have an essential and extremely valuable management tool that gives you up to date sales analysis on your business, both pre need fullfillments and at need, and how your business compares to others in the industry. It can also be used to track pre need sales mix and average sales as well.

This revolutionary system is all web-based and gives you 24/7 access. It provides accurate analysis and pinpoints your areas of strengths and weaknesses, gives you a trend line by month, quarter, year to date and last year’s results.

Attracting Great Employees – Mark Jorgensen

-in 2009 it’s more challenging than ever before

Synopsis: Despite the economic downturn and widespread unemployment it’s still a “seller’s market” for those with experience in funeral service. Learn more about the challenges owners face and potential solutions for locating and hiring outstanding funeral directors and managers.

Exceeding Your Expectations:

Virginia Lorenzen, June 15th, 2009

Dear Mr. Johnson:

First of all thank you for sending me your letter of engagement so promptly…I also wanted to let you know that your valuation report was outstanding in helping me resolve many issues. Your report was invaluable and used by the Public Guardian attorneys and our CPA in establishing a value for the mortuary and the basis for trying to work out a settlement with the contingent beneficiaries. Opposing counsel accepted your report without any major disagreements. I am confident had I not had your report my team would not have been able to reach a suitable agreement…I believe you and your company’s work was outstanding and cannot express my appreciation and gratitude for your support. I especially appreciate my interaction with you and your staff. It has been a pleasure working with you.


Lucille Lyon

Division Chief