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Dozens of CE Offerings Under One Roof: NFDA Convention Workshops and Seminars Focus on Key Customer Service and Business Issues

April 6, 2015

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Dozens of CE Offerings Under One Roof: NFDA Convention Workshops and Seminars Focus on Key Customer Service and Business Issues

Brookfield, Wis. – During the 2015 National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) International Convention & Expo, attendees will attend engaging educational sessions offering strategies to help them build profitable and thriving businesses that compassionately serve the bereaved. Workshops will address technical skills, business management, the value of ceremony, cremation, marketing and more. NFDA has invited highly-knowledgeable and successful innovators in the profession to lead education sessions during the 2015 Convention, which will take place October 18-21 in Indianapolis, Ind.


The education sessions, which were selected by NFDA-member funeral directors to help convention attendees grow their businesses and better serve families, include:


Sunday, October 18

  • Reinventing and Invigorating Your Funeral Business from the Ground Up presented by Douglas Gober, the president and owner of Gober Strategic Capital in Kenner, La. If a funeral director were to start over, with a blank sheet of paper, a big pile of money, and no preconceptions, what kind of funeral business would he or she design for the modern funeral consumer? How would the new business increase the comfort level of families and heighten the customer service and guest experience? Gober will discuss the elements that comprise the funeral business of the future, including facilities, staffing, products and services, and operating methodologies – and the capital required to put it all in place.


  • The Funeral Director’s Guide to Relevant Funerals presented by Justin Baxley, senior vice president and chief customer officer of Foundation Partners Group in Orlando, Fla., and Lacy Robinson, CFSP, director of professional development at Aurora Casket Company in Aurora, Ind. Funeral directors are facing new challenges about how people want to be remembered. Baxley and Robinson will share actionable ideas to transform those challenges – and ordinary funerals – into extraordinary sensory experiences for all guests. They will discuss specific techniques for gathering valuable information from – and building stronger relationships with – families during the planning process.


Monday, October 19

  • The Funeral Experience of the Future … Today! presented by Brad Rex, president and CEO of Foundation Partners Group in Orlando, Fla. Rex, a former Disney executive, will share his vision of the funeral experience of the future, which is already being implemented in firms nationwide. He’ll share a novel, holistic approach to fulfilling the unmet needs of families and guests before, during and after a funeral. His approach will create a “wow” factor and increase customer satisfaction, create happier employees, and generate significant financial benefits.


  • How to Obtain Community Support for a New Crematory in Your Market presented by Carol Lynn Green, Esq. of the Law Offices of Carol Lynn Green in Bethesda, Md.; Laura Green, Ph.D., D.A.B.T., a toxicologist and crematory science expert from Brookline, Mass.; and Michael Nicodemus, vice president of cremation services for NFDA in Brookfield, Wis. Citizens who live in the vicinity of – or have children who attend school near – a proposed crematory are devising new opposition strategies. Attendees will learn to proactively address community resistance, including concerns about mercury emissions. The presenters will share information about overcoming zoning regulations, navigating environmental permit procedures, meeting regulatory requirements and more.


  • The Role of the Embalmer in Support of Organ and Tissue Donation presented by Sharon L. Gee-Mascarello, a clinical instructor with the Mortuary Science Program at Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich. Gee-Mascarello will explore the priceless and selfless gift of donation, the professional mindset of the embalmer and the procedures necessary to properly care for a donor decedent. She will share a video overview of procurement and embalming procedures and strategies on how to effectively communicate with organ procurement organizations and families.


Tuesday, October 20

  • At the Intersection of Profit and Service: The Funeral Home in 2015 presented by Daniel Isard, president of The Foresight Companies in Phoenix, Ariz. Funeral home profits today are half of what they were 30 years ago. Cremation rates are rising and consumers are using different criteria to choose a funeral home. Isard will discuss key services consumers are willing to pay for and identify techniques that will increase market reach, control overhead and establish a differentiated market presence that will increase profits today and in the future.


  • Making Cremation Profitable presented by John T. McQueen, CFSP, owner and president of Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home in Saint Petersburg, Fla. Rising cremation rates don’t necessarily mean funeral service is on the verge of extinction; however, if funeral directors focus on price with cremation families it could prove deadly to their business. Shifting the cremation paradigm from price to value will increase consumer satisfaction and improve profit. Attendees will learn to become solution-seeking providers that offer real service and merchandise value to the consumers and, most importantly, are the recognized cremation experts in their market.


  • Preventing Professional Burnout – Increasing Staff Satisfaction and Performance presented by Jason Troyer, Ph.D., founder of Mt. Hope Grief Services in Maryville, Tenn. Most professions that deal with death, such as police officers, firefighters and disaster response workers, have clear protocols for dealing with trauma experienced in their work. But funeral directors and cremationists rarely focus on self-care. Troyer will examine the challenges funeral professionals face every day. He will explain how to recognize and minimize the causes of burnout that can impede effectiveness and quality of service to families. He will help attendees create a more positive work environment.


Wednesday, October 21

  • Funeral Directors Are Poor Business People: Perception, Reality or Opportunity to Disrupt the Paradigm? presented by Erin Whitaker, CFSP, CPC, financial and management consultant with The Foresight Companies in Phoenix, Ariz. Is the adage “funeral directors aren’t good business people” really true? Whittaker will explore how a sometimes lenient approach to client families can negatively affect profitability and the market value of a funeral home. Attendees will learn how to articulate their professional value to families and convert the qualities that make them a good funeral director into smart business practices that will ensure success.


  • Cremation Liability Issues for Crematories and for Funeral Homes Using Third-Party Crematories presented by Jack West, national account executive with Federated Insurance in Owatonna, Minn., and Michael Nicodemus, vice president of cremation services with NFDA in Brookfield, Wis.  The cremation rate has nearly doubled in the past 25 years and, according to the FTC, cremation procedures “are the largest sources of risk exposure and liability in the funeral industry.” A funeral home or crematory could be one cremation away from becoming uninsured. West and Nicodemus will help attendees raise their liability awareness so they can manage risk, operate safely and avoid costly fires.


NFDA will offer three preconvention seminars on Saturday, October 11 (additional registration fees apply):

  • NFDA Certified Crematory OperatorTM (CCO) Program, presented by Michael Nicodemus, NFDA vice president of cremation services; and Michael Watkins, CFSP, NFDA senior vice president of operations. This seminar is essential for funeral professionals who currently own or operate a crematory, are thinking of opening one, or want to evaluate a third-party crematory. The NFDA CCO Program sets the standard for excellence, compliance, and integrity in cremation services, and provides the information you require to address potential cremation liability issues. It is the only cremation certification program specifically created to protect funeral directors and the families they serve. CE and certification require passing the online CCO test.


  • Specialized Techniques for Embalming & Restoration presented by Vernie Fountain, CFSP, embalmer and postmortem reconstructive specialist, Fountain National Academy, Springfield, Mo. This information-packed seminar not only focuses on basic embalming techniques but other specialized methods that an embalmer can use when preparing challenging cases, including highly-traumatized remains. Fountain will also explore strategies for discussing the value of embalming and its connection to the funeral experience.


  • NFDA Certified Preplanning ConsultantTM (CPC) Seminar & Exam, presented by Colleen Murphy Klein, NFDA vice president of professional development. Preplanners can promote exceptional funeral preplanning and preneed standards by earning the internationally recognized NFDA CPC designation. Ethics, preplanning principles, FTC compliance, basic contract law, customer service, funding options, communication skills, marketing principles, consultative sales, and the value of the funeral are covered. Attendees must meet eligibility requirements.


The complete workshop and preconvention seminar schedule is on the NFDA Convention website, (click on the “Education” tab). Attendees should note that they must register in advance and pay a fee for preconvention seminars; other education sessions are included with convention registration and do not require attendees’ advance registration. Preconvention seminars and workshops have been approved for CE by APFSP and licensing boards in most states and provinces; consult the NFDA Convention website for more information about approved CE hours.


The NFDA International Convention & Expo is the world’s largest gathering of funeral directors. It offers funeral service professionals unprecedented opportunities for learning, networking and discovering new products and services. The latest information, including details on how to register for the Convention and reserve hotel rooms, can be found by visiting or calling 800-228-6332. Those who wish to attend convention can save up to $100 on the registration fee when they register on or before September 11.


NFDA thanks its 2015 International Convention & Expo sponsors:

  • Platinum: Chrysler, Federated Insurance
  • Gold: Batesville, Frazer Consultants, NGL Insurance Group, Physicians Mutual
  • Silver: ASD – Answering Service for Directors, Bass-Mollett Publishers, Carriage Services, The HELPCard, Homesteaders Life Company, Implant Recycling, Live Oak Bank, Madelyn Company, Messenger, Nomis Publications Inc.
  • Bronze: Doric, Hunter-Warfield, Inman Shipping Worldwide, LoveUrns


NFDA is the world’s leading and largest funeral service association, serving 19,700 individual members who represent more than 10,000 funeral homes in the United States and 39 countries around the world. NFDA is the trusted leader, beacon for ethics and the strongest advocate for the profession. NFDA is the association of choice because it offers funeral professionals comprehensive educational resources, tools to manage successful businesses, guidance to become pillars in their communities and the expertise to foster future generations of funeral professionals. NFDA is headquartered in Brookfield, Wis., and has an office in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit