6 Lessons Learned From The Growing Pains Of a Successful Funeral Biz


Growth is good, right? Of course! 

But, it is only good if that growth is managed… and your staff is ready. 

You need to actively recruit, train and pay attention to the operations that will support your growth. Otherwise, your growth may end up being a disaster rather than a dream. 

Mr. Gino Merendino is the owner of Merendino Cemetery Care, helping to serve scores of families each year with his landscaping business which services cemeteries all over the US. 

Earlier this year, Merendino shared some fantastic advice on growth at the annual ICCFA  conference that is still so potent to this day, we’ve decided to share it with you all. 

His deep insight was into how funeral businesses can grow sustainably with training, mentorship, and communication.

1. Identify your goals

Identifying goals is an important first step. You might assume the number one goal for your funeral growth is more money, right? For Gino, that isn’t necessarily the case. Gino doesn’t see himself as being in the landscape business.  As far as he is concerned, he is working each day to serve families. The goal that wakes him up every morning is: How can I serve my families better? When you’re in this for the right reasons, with human-centered goals, growth is almost destined for your funeral business.

2. When you grow, scale the business at every level 

In order to serve more families and grow, careful attention needs to be paid to scaling the business on every level — not just one. From training advisors, to the arrangement process, to regular audits. He recounted a story about a funeral director who once told him that the most important thing that a funeral home needs to do is make sure to get the right body in the right grave. 

This sounds like an oversimplification, but growth often begets growing pains and mistakes. In this business, there are some mistakes which simply cannot be made. If you don’t have the basics right, then nothing else matters. “Make that mistake once and you are done,” declared Gino… and we all can agree that he is correct. 


3. Monitor operations with the “4DX” model

Scaling up to serve more families means that you must be sure to actively monitor operations and employee training. Though it is exciting to have a growing and thriving business, it is essential that owners stay laser-focused on their goals, or they risk missing the mark. To do so, Merendino recommends using the 4DX model, also known as the “Four Disciplines of Execution”, developed by Sean Covey, Jim Huling, and Chris McChesney: 

Discipline 1: Focus on the wildly important.

Decide what is most important to your business and then go after it with gusto and passion. Let other lesser priorities go if need be. 

Discipline 2: Act on the lead measures.

Lead measures are high-impact, high-leveraged measures. It’s all about that laser-focused mentality. Leveraging these measures will help you do more with less. 

Discipline 3: Keep a compelling scoreboard.

Keeping score and talking about the numbers creates a sense of urgency and is also fun. Make sure leaders are passionate in order to engage and excite employees.  

Discipline 4: Create a cadence of accountability.

Drive accountability with regular meetings to go over goals and hold the employees’ “feet to the fire.”  Demand and expect follow-through. 

4. Train your employees properly for growth

Perhaps the single most important aspect of training well is telling employees why they are doing something, and not just how to do it. This is an easy way to reiterate goals and engage them with the company’s overall mission. Once you’ve trained them, holding regular meetings to check on goals and enforce accountability will help them to focus on their priorities and the priorities of the business. 

5. Take it a step further and INVEST in your employees

Investment = Retention. It’s a pretty simple formula. Retention of employees as you grow is every bit as important as recruiting. Even the smallest investments of time and money into your staff can bring huge rewards. In the end, people do that which serves them. 

Merendino shared a story about employees who were given weekly hour long ESL (English as a second language) sessions in order to improve their English communication. He was pleasantly surprised to hear how much this meant to his staff. This highlighted the point that money is not the only motivator for retention, although it is certainly a factor. 

6. Remember, growing pains are a part of the process

Growing pains are inevitable but focus and accountability will help keep your business on track. In the end, we know things will also be in motion in our funeral businesses, so we might as well become masters of motion.

If you want a funeral home website platform that is just as adaptable as your business, check out f1Connect, the funeral profession’s leading all-in-one website platform. Click here  or give us a call at 1-800-798-2575 to talk to one of our Website Success Specialists today!


What other lessons have you learned from your growth at your funeral home? Tell us in the comments below!

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