As a funeral home or cemetery business owner, what does “retirement” mean to you? The question of retirement often means choosing between selling the business or passing it on through succession planning. In the previous episode of Jake Johnson’s (President and CEO of the Johnson Consulting Group) “M&A Minute” video series, Johnson talked about what to expect if you sell your funeral business to an outside buyer. In this latest episode, Johnson discusses how to prepare for succession planning.


The Key to Successful Succession Planning: Start Early

To ensure a solid succession plan you must start the process early. Succession planning is not a quick and easy task—a lack of preparation can often lead to a longer-than-expected timeline, especially if there are unforeseen obstacles. Funeral business owners need to carefully consider their company’s legacy once they are no longer at the helm and develop a detailed transition strategy for the short and long-term. “Succession planning is a big topic for small businesses, and it is never too early to start,” says Johnson.


A good succession plan should include input from internal and external sources. Take the time to seek honest advice from people you trust in your firm about your retirement plans and consult outside professionals for objective guidance and expertise.


Choosing the Right Successor

Choosing the right person to take over the business is key to the succession planning process. The choice of a suitable successor requires an in-depth assessment of their strengths and weaknesses to determine if they are a good fit and if they can step up to the challenge. Whether you choose to pass on the business to a family member or a trusted employee, the rest of the team should also have a clear understanding their roles during the transition process.


“When leaving the business to a family member or key employee, you must be prepared for the pitfalls that come with either such as hurt feelings or confusion,” says Johnson. Communicate early and often and don’t be denial regarding skill-set deficiencies—invest in leadership training programs if necessary, and delegate more work to others so that you have less of your plate. “The goal is to work yourself out of a job for a seamless transition.”


The Johnson Consulting Group team is uniquely prepared to help you create a rewarding succession plan that preserves your firm’s legacy. Contact us to learn how to avoid the Top 7 mistakes of succession planning and ensure a smooth transition to retirement.


Jake Johnson and the Johnson Consulting team created the M&A Minute to help business owners through the process of buying or selling a business. The M&A Minute utilizes Jake and the JCG team’s knowledge to give advice that helps individuals feel confident and at ease when going through one of the most important times of their lives, selling or purchasing their most valuable asset. The M&A Minute is released every other Thursday. You can watch episode 9 now. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to get M&A Minute updates.