Modernizing the funeral business

(Readin’ time: 1m 39s)

This “cremation gap”/changes in the funeral business thread just won’t die. And I’m delighted about that!

Because this gives me an opportunity to show off somebody else’s thinking here.

Tim Freund wrote in response to my recent email, Funerals, cremations, VINDICATION. Here’s what he said, shared with his permission:


Philip –

This one hit close to home! I’m a software dev and SRE manager who volunteers at a Victorian era cemetery. I live across the street, so what’s good for the cemetery is good for my neighborhood. Your post focused on the funeral aspect, and I can give you a bit of insight into the cemetery side of things.

It’s a tricky spot: most of the original burials did not pay for perpetual care because families would visit every few weeks to maintain the family lot, so many older cemeteries are under-endowed for their size/burial count.

And everyone assumes that a headstone will last forever because it’s made out of stone, but that’s just not true for reasons ranging from chemistry to weather to vandals. Many small scale restorations can be done by lightly trained volunteers, but repair of broken monuments can start at $400 and go up from there.

So what are we doing to stay solvent and relevant?

  • Focus on the park like setting: picnics, ice cream socials, and walking tours get folks in the gate.
  • Planting native plant pollinator gardens: gets more people in the door, and reduces the burden of cutting grass.
  • Digitizing our records. There’s a treasure trove of information, but much of it is in ledger books dating back to the 1850’s.
  • Turning the caretaker’s house into a community gathering space.

We’re 22 acres of green space in an otherwise urban environment, and we see our path to success wrapped up in how well we help our neighbors learn about and enjoy the space.

And I’m taking notes on the digitization process – it’s a fun challenge and could be a satisfying niche market. Most cemetery management software today is focused on modern active cemeteries, not older historic properties.

Three cemeteries that are doing a fantastic job of this are

thelaurelhillcemetery.org/

woodlandsphila.org

oaklandcemetery.com/

Have a great day!

Tim


Even cemeteries need digital transformation! 🙂

Thanks for the share, Tim! I love how it shows how a consultant approaches an interesting problem.

-P

Oh! And Malcolm sent this: www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2013/feb/07/ghana-coffins-in-pictures

It’s these amazing pictures of crazy coffins made to look like other stuff. One of them is a giant Coca Cola bottle.