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The Top Three Succession Planning Tips for Funeral Homes

by | Oct 17, 2019 | Funeral Profession

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For many businesses, succession planning isn’t a top priority, but it should be. If your funeral home doesn’t have a succession plan, it creates more stress and problems down the road.

Not only should you create a plan, but you should start succession planning years in advance. This way, you’re not in a rush to determine your funeral home’s fate. After all, you spent years building up your positive reputation and creating trusting relationships in your community. Not having a well-thought-out succession plan can quickly ruin your funeral home’s brand.

To prevent this and other unnecessary stressful situations, let’s discuss a few succession planning tips for funeral homes.

Decide If You’re Keeping or Selling Your Funeral Home

First off, decide whether you’re keeping your funeral home in the family or selling it. If you plan on selling it, you may want to consult a professional funeral home broker to find qualified buyers. They can help you prepare the necessary documentation needed, as well. You also can consider selling it to other reputable funeral homes and funeral directors in your area.

If you’re keeping it in the family, you need to determine what your new role will be, if anything. After retiring as the owner, do you want to continue working at the funeral home or not be involved at all? Knowing this will make the next step, determining your successor, much easier, as you’ll have a clearer picture in mind of what you’re looking for.

Determine Your Successor

If you’re keeping it in the family, the next step is choosing which family member. This can be tricky, especially if more than one family member may want the job. That’s why it’s important to make an honest assessment of who is the most qualified.

Before beginning the analysis, talk with your family members individually and see if they’re interested. It also can help to come up with some questions to ask, so you can get a general idea of how they’d fit the role. Then, when determining who is the most qualified, avoid playing favorites and letting personal relationships persuade your decision. Instead, approach it like a job interview and consider their qualifications and skillsets.

Once you’ve decided who you want your successor to be, it’s important to have an open discussion about it with your family. By doing this, you avoid potential conflicts and miscommunications down the road. Everyone will be on the same page and know what the plan is.

You may be wondering, what if your children aren’t interested in the family business? Then, you may want to consider a loyal long-term employee for the role instead. Or, even if your children are interested in the business, you shouldn’t rule out non-family employees from the running if they’re also qualified for the job.

Start Succession Planning Years in Advance

Succession planning is a major decision that shouldn’t be rushed. In fact, the earlier you start, the better! According to Will Bischoff in an American Funeral Director article, he suggests you start planning in your late 50s to early 60s. This way, you have enough time to prepare for your retirement.

Planning in advance allows time to properly train your successor. You can even do a test run to see how they do. Or, if you’re selling, it gives you time to negotiate a deal instead of settling. You also may want to consult a financial planner to determine your funeral home’s value. Doing this in advance allows you to find ways to increase your firm’s value before the time comes. Ultimately, succession planning makes the transition much smoother, so you’re not rushed and are confident in your decision.


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