How to start a funeral business

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How to start a funeral business
A strong heart filled with compassion is needed to start a funeral home. (thai funeral image by Adrian Hillman from

Starting a funeral business is not for everyone. The entrepreneur must have a strong heart and be compassionate. The business requires you to help family and friends of the deceased to say their final good-byes. There also are a few other aspects that you should prepare to encounter. Some of these aspects are mandatory or required by law. The others are helpful in ensuring that the business always ranks high on a customer satisfaction index.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Location
  • Qualification and training
  • Certification
  • Staff
  • Business plan
  • Attorney
  • Licensing
  • Equipment like urns and caskets
  • Computer and software

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  1. 1

    Decide whether to purchase an existing funeral business or to start from scratch. Taking over an existing business is easier than starting fresh. However, if customisation is your key, you may like to build it from scratch with your own ideas. You will also have to look for a location for the funeral home.

  2. 2

    Get the right training and education at a mortuary school. Learning to be a mortician covers areas like embalming, transportation of bodies and funeral services. Funeral directors also are often given lessons on grief counselling.

  3. 3

    Apply for certification from the Funeral Service National Board. While your education as a mortician will be of great help in running the business, it will not be enough for you to be certified from the Funeral Service National Board. The Board will issue you this certification only if you pass its examination. Having this certification will qualify you to run the business.

  4. 4

    Ensure all workers employed are appropriately trained, certified, and licensed. The staff must take exceptional care of the people who come in and accommodate all requests of the family in grief. They must provide the family with compassion.

  5. 5

    Draft a business plan, including strategic, financial, and operational targets. The business plan should include details like the management plan, financial plan, marketing plan, and day-to-day operations plan. The business plan has a two-fold use. The first is to obtain outside financing and the second is to plan for corporate development, operation strategy, marketing strategy, and financial strategy.

  6. 6

    Create the marketing strategy by analysing potential customers and competitors. Analyse and highlight your competitive advantage over other funeral businesses.

  7. 7

    Hire an attorney experienced in the funeral home business. Legal contracts and other paperwork will need to be completed. Licensing requirements vary by state, so ensure you have complied with your state's laws. Consider your legal needs and meet a couple of lawyers before chosing one to hire.

  8. 8

    Create a compassionate atmosphere. Most of the people you deal with in this business have lost a loved one. Teach your staff to handle strong emotions and people who may be stricken with grief. Having a sombre decor that matches the mood of the customers would also help create a more agreeable atmosphere.

  9. 9

    Arrange to execute pre-planning tasks. These chores are sometimes done by the families themselves, but incorporating these chores in the package might add great value for the customers and help the business gain a competitive edge.

  10. 10

    Consider incorporating obituary writing. Not everyone can write obituaries. Having someone on the staff that can do this well, or partnering with a writing service provider who can offer this, could be a valuable add-on to your service.

  11. 11

    Consider arranging for the presiding clergyman. This is another great value-addition service, which will make customers extremely grateful. If you can guarantee a local clergyman to be available and ready to help you and honour the deceased, it would be something that potential customers would like and pay an extra sum to have help.

  12. 12

    Consider arranging to sort out the death certificate. This entails liaising with the relevant local authorities for the appropriate documentation and releasing of the death certificate.

  13. 13

    Consider starting a cremation service as well. Cremation is becoming popular as it is better for the environment and more eco-friendly. If this is not possible, consider linking with cemeteries and crematoriums. This is vital because not every one wishes to bury their dead. If you are able to cater to everyone's needs, your potential market automatically expands.

  14. 14

    Get your supplies or find out about suppliers. If you do not want to purchase all supplies like urns, caskets, etc, at once, you can do it as per the need. Set contracts with different suppliers for different type of goods.

  15. 15

    Create a price list that includes all of your services. Consider making packages and offering small discounts if someone takes more than one service. At most funeral homes, basic package costs include embalming, cosmetics, professional charges, viewings, and transportation expenses.

  16. 16

    Invest in appropriate computer software to manage the business. Various software is available for daily record-taking, accounts, obituaries, etc.

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