First running a small funeral home, then starting my own company and now writing about the industry, I’ve heard every variation of the line “just buy our product, give it to your client families and add the cost to the final bill.”

When I took these pitches at the funeral home, they were from folks selling memorial videos, internet video-broadcasting services, online obituaries and more.

What I tried to explain to those people is that funeral directors can’t afford to “add it to the final bill.”

Trust me, the client WILL notice that the bill is $50 or $100 higher.

For some funeral home owners, the price competition from their closest rival is so fierce that they’re looking for non-essential services to cut, not things to add.

That’s why I cringe everytime I read a proposal for a new funeral-related business or hear the excited proclamations of a new funeral business owner when she tells me that her clients will just add $50 to the bill and be excited to offer her product.

The suggested retail price of your product should allow your product to operate as a stand-alone offering.  You cannot rely on the funeral home owner tacking a $200 memorial video onto every bill for your revenue.

We have entered the world of more-specialized funeral services, not less.  One size does not fit all, which means directors are looking for ways to add diversity and choice to their offerings.

In my experience, your revenue projections (often based on crazy numbers.  “If we get $200 for each of the 100 funerals he’ll do this year…”) are about 10 times too high. 

I’m sure I’ll meet several excited entrepeneurs in Vegas who think they have the next great funeral product, if only their potential funeral director clients will take the leap and add the product to the final bill.

Will they still be in business when the 2008 convention rolls around?  I don’t like the odds.