Entrepreneurism in Funeral Service
In the death care industry, and more specifically on the funeral home side of death care, we are accustomed to learning how a family builds a successful business over several generations. However, as the death care industry has evolved, a generation of entrepreneurial business professionals have made their mark. Case in point is Kevin Daniels who recently agreed to sell his multi faceted death care business to the Signature Group.
Mr. Daniel’s progression demonstrates the opportunity that exists to build a career without the support of generations of family, or how to exponentially grow a legacy business through acquisition, and how Johnson Consulting Group (JCG) works with clients to build successful death care enterprises.
Kevin began his career working at a Wilmington, Delaware cemetery at age 13; and progressed through sales and management positions at Gibraltar and Service Corp. to achieve the position of Vice president of operations at Carriage Services. Mr. Daniels tenure at the various death care corporations allowed him to create many personal relationships throughout the death care industry, but even with these personal relationships, there were meaningful services JCG provided to facilitate Kevin’s aspirations.
There came a time that Kevin wanted to make a career move based upon personal priorities that would allow him to work and live in New Mexico, but there were no corporate funeral service positions in that region, which meant fulfilling his personal priorities would require creating his own business. Kevin began his business with the acquisition of a group of corporate operated funeral homes near Albuquerque. His early success allowed him to continue to acquire, at which time he employed Johnson Consulting Group to resource the region for funeral homes, cemeteries and other death care businesses. The process of building the business took years, but over time Mr. Daniel’s operations grew to include:
- 22 funeral facilities,
- four cemeteries,
- a monument company,
- trade embalming and livery
With so many funeral facilities spread over many communities, maintaining quality control becomes a challenge. Johnson Consulting Groups customer satisfaction survey became a quality control tool to manage this challenge. An office administrator reviews every returned “Performance Tracker” survey form for opportunities to improve customer satisfaction.
A management representative contacts every family that reported less than complete satisfaction to allow the family member to express their concerns, and to make amends when appropriate. According to Mr. Daniels, “Families need a forum to express their sentiments, whether positive or negative; Johnson Consulting Groups “Performance Tracker” customer satisfaction surveys represented my direct line of communication with the 2000 families we served each year.”
An important part of any entrepreneurial enterprise is knowing when and how to exit the business. Because of the scale of Mr. Daniels business, this was accomplished in two phases, both of which were engineered by the Johnson Consulting Group. Supporting Kevin’s efforts was Frank Puccio, a JCG staff member. “Frank diligently researches every phase of an acquisition project which gives the buyer and seller the confidence they need to make a fair and equitable agreement. Acquisitions would never happen without an intelligent articulation of all the aspects of a complex deal.” Kevin Daniels.
“In an entrepreneurial environment, businesses are bought and sold as part of long term plans. Liquidating Mr. Daniels business interests was a decision based upon his personal priorities.” Frank Puccio. “JCG is the clear leader in the mergers and acquisition business within the death care industry having assisted more family businesses with their succession planning than all others combined primarily because of our expertise, but also because our fee structure is the most competitive in the industry”.
At the same time Kevin was considering his succession plan, the Signature Group was establishing itself as an operator of premier death care properties nationally. Bringing the two together is the ultimate objective of Johnson Consulting Group. “At the end of the day, JCG is about bringing willing and able buyers together with willing sellers, and then providing each party with the information they require to make intelligent decisions.” Jake Johnson, President, Johnson Consulting Group.
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