3 Brilliant Tips for Building a Cremation Business From the Ground Up
Building a cremation business from the ground up is hard. You have to establish yourself by differentiating from the competition, it’s expensive, and it’s time-consuming. Knowing the right strategies can reduce the burden of opening a new business and set you up to serve the families in your community faster.
Over the last three years, Eric Neuhaus has built Green Cremation Texas from the ground up. Eric has a lean business model that rethinks traditional operations, focusing on eco-friendly options, maximum efficiency, and transparency. Green Cremation Texas puts the ease, comfort, and needs of families first, with 100% online arrangements and transparent cremation costs. Eric’s cremation business encourages families to do everything online in order to lower the demand for physical visits. This keeps costs low and services streamlined.
As a first generation funeral professional, Eric had to learn the cremation business through trial and error. Through that process he uncovered some novel strategies uncommon in traditional funeral business. He recently shared three tips for building a crematory from the ground up in an interview on the Deathcare Decoded Podcast. Texas law allows these strategies. However, as we all know, rules and regulations vary widely from state to state. Check your own state regulations before implementing these for yourself.
Tip 1: You don’t need a funeral directors license to own a funeral home
In most states, you need a funeral director’s license to arrange funerals and an embalmer certification to care for bodies; but you do not need a license to start a death care business. In Texas, you can operate a funeral home and see families if you have a provisional funeral directors license, operating under a fully-licensed funeral home director. You can apply for and receive a provisional funeral directors license while you are enrolled in an accredited school or college of mortuary science. (There are provisions and restrictions to maintaining and renewing this license.)
Additionally, researching different state requirements and regulations could play a role in deciding which location is right for your business. For instance, the state of California does not require a mortuary school degree to become a licensed funeral director. Likewise, California doesn’t require a degree to start a funeral home. Their only requirements are a funeral director license application, application fee, some college experience, and a passed written exam. Research what the regulations are in your state in comparison to others. Then you can decide what is right for you when getting your cremation business started.
Tip 2: Have a localized presence (even if it’s not pretty)
According to Eric, it’s important for families to know that you are physically in their community. He recommends leasing multiple storefronts in different neighborhoods throughout larger cities to firmly establish your business as local and convenient. This helps establish trust with your families. It also helps to put them at ease during the difficult task of planning end-of-life care for their loved ones.
Additionally, in some states, owners with one fully-licensed funeral home location may have a certain number of “exempt” funeral homes within a certain mile distance from that one location. When considering multiple storefronts, this can save on costs while still allowing your business to fully immerse itself in the local community.
In an interview for Deathcare Decoded, Eric explained, “Having a localized presence is really important with any business, and funeral homes are certainly no exception. We looked at the rules and regulations and noticed that it doesn’t say anything about curb appeal, and we wanted to have a local presence in multiple communities and local neighborhoods in central Texas. The way that Texas funeral commissions has structured their rules and regulations is that you can have one central fully licensed facility, and then within a 50-mile range you can have other ‘exempt’ facilities which essentially means that you don’t have an embalming room in those facilities, which is great for us because we don’t offer embalming.”
Eric has opted for investing heavily in the online experience instead of ramping up the aesthetics of his physical funeral home. He states, “They don’t look pretty, but that is by design [. . .] The other day we got this not-stellar online review because apparently this gentleman drove past and was displeased by the aesthetics of our funeral home. Which, frankly, I was a little bit prideful of because we don’t invest in curb appeal and we are therefore able to save costs, and we pass those cost savings on to families. So, these families don’t have to remortgage their home to have a meaningful cremation experience.”
Tip 3: In order to grow, get mobile
Any funeral home owner knows that, while body coolers themselves aren’t necessarily cheap, their installation can absolutely break the bank. This becomes a real problem if your business needs to relocate as it grows.
Eric’s solution was to invest in a mobile refrigerator. As Eric’s business grows, he won’t have to worry about wasting time, money and valuable resources to relocate refrigerators. Instead of deconstructing and rebuilding, he can simply drive the refrigerator on wheels to a new location. It only moves when a new semi-permanent location is established and can save tens of thousands of dollars.
Especially now in the time of COVID-19, so many funeral homes and crematories are over-capacity with decedents. Mobile refrigerator body storage is an easy solution to that problem. It could also be a huge asset to your wider community in the long run.
Want to hear more of Eric’s thoughts on how to streamline the process of starting a funeral business? Listen to the full interview with Eric in Episode 1 of Deathcare Decoded, titled Clever Hacks for Building a New Funeral Business.