April 2008


When I listed the blogs that I’m reading now, I forgot to mention my friend Lenette of The Urn Garden.

Sorry, Lenette!  I love your site and should have reminded my other readers.

Just today, Lenette shared a very inspirational thought, titled Just Do the Next Thing.

She writes:

One time? When I worked in an office? My manager used to have a saying about staying on track. “Just do the next thing.”

It’s so simple. And it does help when you’re jumbled up and not sure which way to go.

Don’t ignore your intuition if “just doing the next thing” means taking five and stepping out to sniff a lilac bush in bloom.

You won’t be sorry.

So often, the posts here on Final Embrace or on Funeral Words or Funeral Gurus point toward trying new things or making changes to your business plan to increase your productivity and profits.

Photo courtesy of the Matrix Group, a company that provides consumer credit.

But constant change and introspection can occassionally get you stuck.

My advice?  If you’ve been at all successful in your business, you will instinctively know what “the next thing” is.  At the very least, “doing the next thing” will help get the ball rolling again.

And don’t be worried that you’ll upset me if you ignore my advice and do things the way you always have.  Everytime I sit down to write something for Final Embrace, I remind myself that the receptive audience for my ideas is still quite small.  And I remember that our 400-500 readers a day are from many different backgrounds and industries, so few of them will even be in a position to take my advice on a regular basis.

I say add Lenette’s recent idea to my pile of admonishments:  sometimes, it’s okay to just do the next thing without overthinking yourself.

A friend emailed me this note after checking out my blog recently:

Love the blog;  who knew you’d written so much lately!  But why do you share so much personal (and sometimes embarrassing) stuff about your business and mistakes you’ve made?  If it were me, I would accentuate the positive.

So I told her, in a hour-plus phone call, that analyzing and dissecting my mistakes helps me grow.  Plus, it might help others who were headed the same way, either in a business or personal situation.

Then this morning I found a Flickr user who posts funny, ironic or awkward pictures on his photostream.  Now, before you visit mmk_kobayashi’s photos, you should know that there are quite a few pictures of partially naked people in foolish situations.  Might not be safe for work hours.

Most of the pictures made me laugh, but others made me think about some important lessons I think can and should be reiterated.

LESSON:  When you realize a mistake, it might be easier to find a quick fix, but more often, the best solution is to invest the time and energy to do it over again the right way.

LESSON:  Your best marketing efforts can have unintended meanings and consequences.  Spend a few extra minutes thinking through your design or advertising words.

LESSON:  Lots of old people don’t know they’re old.  The outside doesn’t always match the inside.

LESSON:  Don’t assume that everyone is familiar with your technology or your jargon.  Even if the tech was brand new to your generation.

LESSON:  Have backup tools available.  Nothing destroys credibility like being unprepared.  Plus, you’ll look like a complete moron.

I love writing my own blog, but I also love reading what others have going on.

That’s why I read between 20 and 50 other blogs a day.  I like to add a few new ones every day, but there’s some that I just always go back to.

I’m a  big fan of Google’s software, from their mail client (I use Gmail for everything!) to image search, GoogleMaps and more.

But for blogs I use Google Reader.  By adding a subscription to the RSS reader (you don’t have to know what RSS is, just understand that it updates whenever the blog you’re tracking posts new content) I can follow all my favorite blogs.

Right now, I’m reading:

The Simple Dollar (a frugality blog that gives tips to save money in your everyday life)
BoingBoing (an odd compendium of even odder items)
Neatorama (cool stuff on the Interwebs)
CRAFT Magazine
Seth’s Blog (blog of marketing guru, Seth Godin)
Gaping Void (cartoonist and social media thinker Hugh McLeod)
Luann Udell (fiber and jewelry artist with an impressive command of language and presentation)
Funeral Words
Cool Tools
(reviews of great new tools)

I’m busy tweaking our plan for world domination (the plan mainly consists of going to conventions, updating our website and running ads in industry magazines) and I wanted to share a very important secret with you:

Smart vendors offer really good deals to funeral directors who buy product at conventions.

At the 2007 NFDA Convention in Las Vegas, we offered 10% off all orders placed during the expo. 

While that might not sound terribly impressive, our typical order if for one DELUXE model cot cover.  Our normal charge is $225, so that’s a savings of $22.50.

As I explained to many of the male directors who visited the booth, “Your wife is probably off at the mall or a casino spending at least that much right now.”

Interestingly, the female funeral directors were easier to convince, as the product seems to make more sense to women.

And there’s little financial risk involved, since our covers come with a 90-day money back guarantee and our new, improved 1-year warranty.  Which means that even if you order from us at a convention and decide later that you don’t want it, we’ll return all your money!

Why do we offer such a big discount at conventions?

Because we want you to say “Yes, I’ll try a better cot cover that will bring more comfort to my families and provide better OSHA protection to my employees!” while you’re with us, when the excitement is high and you’re aware that there’s a better way.

If you wait until you get back home (or, to be honest, back at the casino bar!) you’ll get consumed with all the important stuff (seeing families, if you’re at home or Miller High Life if you’re at the bar) and forget all about the wonderful benefits of our quilted mortuary cot covers with the revolutionary FluidBlocker lining.

Of course, if you see other great deals at a convention, make sure the vendor offers some type of guarantee before you buy.  You’ll want to know if you can return that pallet of pet urns within 60 days if you can’t find any buyers!

Sometimes, we just have to make things better for our customers.

That’s why we’ve improved our 1-year warranty to cover not just our own foibles (problems with manufacture or materials) but also accidental tears and damage by our customers.

Actually, the real reason we’re covering so much more is that our products are so well-made and our customers are so careful with their beautiful new covers that we seldom get a warranty call.

And when we do get a call, the last thing we want to tell someone who’s spent hundreds of dollars is “sorry, but that damage is your own fault.”

So we’re covering it all.  If you accidentally damage the cover that has been so effective for your firm, we don’t want you to go back to a $100 fake fur piece of junk cover.  Call us and we’ll fix the one you’ve got.

Photo by Flickr user kcdsTM    (some rights reserved)

Back when I worked in a funeral home full-time, I saw too many gun deaths, mostly for young people.

And while many were self-inflicted or accidental, a majority were the result of jealousy, gang activity or drug dealings. 

There was the 17-year old who was shot dead in front of his mother’s house while she made dinner inside.  Or the 20-year old found dead on a downtown sidewalk, the only witness unwilling to cooperate because the killer was a well-known local bad guy.  The little girl hit by stray bullets from a drive-by.  The elderly couple shot during a home invasion.  And so too many more.

Handling services for someone closely connected to the current gun culture often means bringing your funeral home and your staff into that culture for a time.

Case in point:  A Baltimore funeral turns deadly as 1 Killed By Gunplay Outside Funeral.

The news is filled with stories of Muslim funerals in Iraq and both Palestinian and Jewish funerals in Israel and the Gaza Strip that attract mass murderers who either fire into the mourning crowd or explode bombs to kill and injure even more people.

Funerals for gang leaders and drug dealers attract their friends and “business associates.”  And while they share the same grief any normal human would feel at such a difficult time, they’re different than typical funeral attendees because they often carry loaded handguns.

And while few directors would refuse to serve a family in this condition, it’s hard to handle these kind of services without worrying that someone at the funeral might reach for their 9mm instead of their handkerchief.

THIS IS A POLITICAL POST.

No way around it, if you choose to click for more of this post, you will read a frank and detailed consideration of a very sensitive topic.  In fact, this topic is volatile enough that you may hate me before you get through the first paragraph of the attached letter, even though I’ve poured my heart out in the remaining portion.

If you’re looking for news about our cot cover business or you want business advice for funeral homes, please read our other posts.

Lenette of the Urngarden responded to my post, It’s Florida Election Time Again, with surprise that I’m a Republican.

So I started a long post explaining my views, but then I realized that simple is so much better.

And while this blog isn’t necessarily a place for my politics, I’d like to share something I wrote to a friend when she asked me how I could possibly support a Republican (in a previous election) over a Democrat.

(more…)

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