What Are You Doing At Your Firm To “Dot Your I’s And Cross Your T’s”?

May 23, 2013
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Article from: Jeff Harbeson, Funeral Finance, LLC

If you have been anywhere near a news source, you have witnessed the dilemmas government leaders are facing explaining what was actually supposed to be reported about the Benghazi attack, the IRS intrusion into private citizen’s information for unsavory reasons, and eves dropping on the Associated Press.  Let me be clear, I am not writing this blog to respond in any way to these issues.

However, I thought about the oversight of those in charge of the “scandalous actions” and their response so poorly rolled out thus far.  So, to correlate such problems to the funeral industry; what are you doing at your firm to “dot your i’s and cross your t’s”?  From my experience, most funeral homes have a “policy and procedure” manual, but it’s something that an employee signs after they get the job…basically a perfunctory action.  I personally know of firms that have no such documents or process.

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To manage crisis, we must work to prevent crisis.  Simply putting in place guidelines, procedures and policies are not the answer.  Training, review, and consistent leadership focus sets the tone for employees to understand their operating parameters, and if outside those guidelines, stop and ask up the chain of command for direction.

As I meet with funeral homes across the country conducting arranger training, I am continually confounded by the inconsistent performance by funeral directors of some of the basic tenants of our industry.  I am shocked that many funeral directors do not understand their own GPL prices and information listed.  Just recently in a group training session, a funeral director shared not ever providing families a GPL…just explaining the prices charged from of the goods and services statement at the conclusion of the arrangement.  The funeral home owner almost passed out!  That’s only a $10,000 fine from the FTC.  But why should the owner be surprised?  What are the arrangement procedures, is it a written policy of the firm to provide a GPL, how many times has the funeral director been trained and observed for arrangements?

So if you are a funeral home owner and a crisis occurs, how are you going to respond to not only the governing authorities (State Board, FTC, OSHA, etc.) but plaintiff (not if you are sued, you will be) attorneys, and the press about the mishap?  Will you have the guidelines and training in place to show that this was a “rouge event/employee”?  Or will you just have to explain how you are running a business that not only performs procedures on dead bodies, but you get paid substantial sums of money from consumers for your goods and services with no credible policies, procedures and training for your staff?

Based on what I’m personally witnessing with the current “scandals” on the news, I would urge that if you own a funeral home, get out in front of the problem and take charge.  Or, just continue to do nothing.  If one day you are in front of the “microphone” explaining your position, you’ll wish you that you were proactive, not reactive.

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