Summer 2021 | Volume 26 | Issue 3 Succession Planning: Why 2021 is the Year to Buy or Sell Your Funeral Home P.40 P.23 Post-life Cybercrime P.26 OGR Award Recipients Pens Down, Eyes Up P.46

The Independent® is a benefit of membership in the International Order of the Golden Rule (OGR), a not-for-profit organization tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code, Federal ID No. 431828432. Published quarterly, The Independent® is mailed the first month of each new quarter. Non-member subscriptions (USD): One year: two years: $60; single copy: $11.50. Send address changes to OGR, Attn: Mailing List, 3502 Woodview Trace, Ste. 300 Indianapolis, IN 46268. ©2021 International Order of the Golden Rule. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Founded in 1928, OGR is composed of independently owned and operated funeral homes located throughout North America and overseas. Editorial material and letters of opinion are invited. Published articles reflect the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Association. OGR reserves the right to edit all submitted materials and does not assume responsibility for unsolicited materials. For author guidelines, contact the editor, (800) 637-8030, or visit www.ogr.org. Advertisers Index Access Financial Group ..................................................................... 45 Chris Chigas, (800) 487-8220, ext. 8233 cc@afinancial.com | www.afinancial.com Answering Service for Directors .......................................................... 42 Kevin Czachor, (800) 868-9950 sales@myasd.com | www.myasd.com Cremation Consulting ........................................................................... 7 Andrew Loos, (816) 808-6828 andrew@cremationconsulting.com The Dodge Company ........................................................................... 11 Timothy Collison, (800) 443-6343 tcollison@dodgeco.com | www.dodgeco.com Express Funeral Funding ..................................................................... 25 John Goebel, (812) 949-9011 john@expff.com | www.expressfuneralfunding.com The Foresight Companies ................................................................... 31 Catherine Belliveau, (602) 274-6464 catherine@f4sight.com | www.f4sight.com.com INEX, Inc. .......................................................................................... 47 Mike Burnett, (888) 829-8362 mike@inexinc.com | www.inexinc.com Matthews Aurora™ Funeral Solutions ................................................. 38 Marty Strohofer, (812) 926-5673 mstrohofer@matw.com | www.matw.com New Memorials Direct ........................................................................ 15 Michelle Bailey service@newmemorialsdirect.com | www.newmemorialsdirect.com Nomis Publications ............................................................................ 20 Peggy Rouzzo peggy@nomispublications.com | www.nomispublications.com Skyways Media .................................................................................. 51 Garry Wayne, (289) 290-4409 garry@skyways-media.com | www.skyways-media.com Starmark Cremation Products ............................................................. 16 Arie Elder, (765) 966-7676 arie.elder@starmarkcp.com | www.starmarkcp.com Thumbies .......................................................................................... 22 Jennifer Myers, (877) 848-6243 jmyers@doughertyenterprises.com | www.thumbies.com 2 www.ogr.org | Summer 2021 Advertising is accepted at the discretion of the publisher. The advertisement of any product or service in The Independent® does not represent an endorsement of such product or service by OGR. Call the communications department to reserve space or to request a rate card and mechanical specifications. OGR does not accept ads that discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national origin, age, gender, disability or any other federally protected class. Publisher International Order of the Golden Rule 3502 Woodview Trace, Ste. 300 Indianapolis, IN 46268 phone: (800) 637-8030 fax: (512) 334-5514 email: info@ogr.org website: www.ogr.org $40; — BOARD of DIRECTORS — President President-elect Secretary-Treasurer Immediate Past President Directors Evan J. Strong Paul A. Hummel, III Chris B. Miller Mary F. Steele Kim R. Hunter Raffy S. Jose Arianna Rule Peter A. Urban, Jr. Jamie L. Wieting — STAFF — Executive Director/CEO Member Resources Director Education & Events Director Communications Director Meetings & Mem. Coord. Communications Coord. Member Services Coord. Wendy King Nancy Weil Emilie Perkins, CAE, CMP Evan Hoffmeyer Alyssa Castille Adeline Border Krystal Flores The Independent® | Summer 2021 | Volume 26 | Issue 3

The Independent® | Summer 2021 | Volume 26 | Issue 3 Table of Contents 4 | 5 | 6 | 8 | 18 5 President’s Message Leadership Summit Veterans Funeral Care Workshop Free, Positive Publicity 34 10 | What's Your Edge? 12 | Member Spotlight: Opsahl-Kostel 14 | Member News 17 | 18 | 23 | 26 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 36 | 37 | Supplier News Grief Support Animals Post-life Cybercrime OGR Award Recipients Foundation Raises $11K New Board of Directors YP Spotlight: Arianna Rule Above & Beyond In Memoriam 39 | Milestone Anniversaries 40 | 43 | 46 | 48 | Succession Planning Self-care Non-verbal Communication Pre-need www.ogr.org | The Independent® 3

You’re only as good as... President’s Message T here is a saying in our profession that I am sure many are familiar with. The adage “You are only as good as your last funeral” is, for the most part, one of those things that we live with, whether we like it or not. Indeed, we have all experienced in our careers times where we just cannot seem to do right for a family we serve. There seems to be a perfect storm, we just cannot do or say the right thing. We feel we have let a family down, we have not met their expectations - or ours - and we do not understand how this negative experience happened. We look at all our positive reviews on Google, the multitude of letters from pleased families we have served and the appreciation from our community, and wonder “How did this happen?” I know personally this bothers me, and I am sure we all feel terrible when this happens, that we have let this family down, that in their eyes the experience was not positive and no number of apologies will ease their disappointment. It is a feeling that sticks with us, no matter how many positive interactions we have with the other families we serve. We recover, and know we do a good job and serve our families well, and this was just one of those things that sometimes happen. Do we feel the same in our interactions with fellow staff members, our part-time help, our suppliers, members of our community, the folks in line with us at the coffee shop? Do we consider any negative experience they have with us, however trivial in our minds, with the same gravity as the families we serve? Do we try to make every interaction with whoever we cross paths with daily a positive experience and one which leaves a good impression? Or do we minimize negative experiences, knowing we serve our families well and that is what really counts? 4 www.ogr.org | Summer 2021 President’s Message We are part of an honorable and trusted profession. We are also part of a profession where our words, actions and mannerisms are constantly scrutinized. We are considered leaders in our communities. Do we always strive to treat those in our community with the same empathy, dignity and respect as the families who have provided us with our high standing and reputation in the community? Are we “good all-around folk” who treat all in a way that leaves an impression, and allows us not only to be part of the Golden Rule but also to live the Golden Rule? As our world has changed, and in many ways may never be what it was before COVID, I believe that our profession can be a beacon of how people should be treated, not only in times of grief and mourning, but also in daily life. It seems to me that we can no longer be “as good as our last funeral” but rather need to be and should be “as good as our last interaction.” We should strive to make these positive and leave an impression that reinforces that funeral professionals are truly “good folk.” I encourage all of my fellow Golden Rule members to join me in making this a priority in our business and our lives. In these summer months, I wish all of you the best. Keep looking after your families and stay safe. Yours in service, Evan J. Strong

Conference Conference Inaugural Leadership Summit will Mark OGR's Return to In-Person Events By Emilie Perkins, OGR Education & Events Director O GR members will gather in-person for the first time in more than a year this September for the associaton's inaugural Leadership Summit. After being flooded with work that forced owners of even our largest members to work "in" their business, this represents an opportunity to work "on" their business with face-to-face networking opportunities with members of OGR's Supplier Network as well as fellow funeral home owners and leadership. Education at the Summit will focus on leadership-centered professional development, with sessions like: • Moving from Panic to Purpose (keynote address); • The Changing Consumer: Marketing Trends, Opportunities and Threats; • The Innovation Challenge: Shaping the Future for Independent Funeral Homes; and • From Ideation to Innovation: How OGR Members can Rethink the Funeral Profession (featuring panelists Evan J. Strong, OGR President; Andy Clayton, Indiana Funeral Directors Association; and Brent Baird, Matthews Aurora™ Funeral Solutions) “We are excited to offer funeral professionals a chance to focus on professional development away from the day-to-day pressures of the funeral home, while also reconnecting with old friends and colleagues, and making new friends,” said Wendy King, OGR’s executive director. The Summit will be held at the Hotel Carmichael in Carmel, Indiana, September 19 - 21. OGR members and non-members alike are welcome to attend, but as a member you get a discount on registration fees. brought to you in part by The Cole Porter Ballroom at Hotel Carmichael in Carmel, Ind. (photo courtesy Hotel Carmichael / Marriott Autograph Collection) Registration is open at OGR.org/Leadership-Summit. Have questions? Feel free to reach out to me at EPerkins@OGR.org or Meetings & Membership Coordinator Alyssa Castille at ACastille@OGR.org. Companies interested in sponsorship opportunities or attending as a supplier can contact Wendy King at WKing@OGR.org. Emilie joined OGR as Education & Events Director in 2020. With more than 21 years’ experience with strategic meeting management, marketing and design, she has extensive strength in collaboration, fiscal accountability, strategic planning and communication. She passionately believes in continual professional development as evidenced by her designations as a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), Certified Association Executive (CAE), Project Management Professional (PMP), Certificate in Meetings Management (CMM) and, most recently, Certified Event Designer (CED). www.ogr.org | The Independent® 5

Veterans Veterans Learn to 'Speak Veteran' to Better Serve Those Who Served V eterans speak their own language, and each branch of service has its own dialect. A captain in the Army is NOT the same as a captain in the Navy - do you know the difference? If you can't meet veterans where they are, you won't be able to serve this key demographic in the manner they deserve. OGR has partnered with Jim Rudolph of endorsed supplier Veterans Funeral Care to explain how understanding ranks, military culture and other key details will equip you and your staff to serve veterans better than your competitors. "This two-day course was careerchanging for me....I learned so much that I can now put into practice." "This two-day course was career-changing for me. Within the first 15 minutes, I realized how much I didn’t know about caring properly for our veterans," said Elle Heiligenstein of OGR member firm Hoffen Funeral Home in Millstadt, Illinois. "I learned so much that I can now put into practice. I am excited to be able to approach veteran pre-arrangements and at need funerals with insider knowledge that is simply not taught anywhere else." The workshop is split into two, 2-hour sessions. The first session, Serving Veterans and Their Families, covers the knowledge you and your staff need to facilitate a veteran’s funeral. From pre-planning steps to take, to the paperwork that needs to be filed after the funeral is held, this workshop covers it all. You’ll receive a military ranks cheat sheet so you can speak “military lingo” and learn how to read and decode DD-214 paperwork 6 www.ogr.org | Summer 2021 like an expert. If you think you know how to do these things, think again. Jim has a unique viewpoint and process that will allow you to raise the bar when it comes to serving veterans. In the second session, Engaging the Veteran Market, Rudolph explores how tribal marketing is essential to reaching veterans. Establishing trust and building a relationship with both the organizations that work with veterans (VA, American Legion, VFC, etc.) and the veterans themselves is the key to success. However, this must be done with an authentic desire to serve veterans or you will lose their business quickly. This session covers specific examples of the types of programs that work with veterans. You will also learn strategies to making your funeral home and website more “veteran” than the standard template. By the end of this training, you’ll walk away with highly effective tools to honor and connect with veterans. Both sessions are available in OGR's Learning Library 24/7 so you can access them at a time that works for you. OGR members can buy one session for $125 or both for $199 ($51 savings). Attend both workshops and you may be eligible to join the Veterans Funeral Care Provider Network. For a fee, these licensed providers can use the Veterans Funeral Care logo, receive marketing materials, attend a yearly providers Think Tank and take part in VFC’s proprietary programs “Retire Your Flag with Honor” and “Operation Toy Soldier.” OGR members receive a 15% discount off the annual licensing fee. Register today at OGR.org/VFC. Have questions? Call OGR Member Resources Director Nancy Weil at (512) 334-5504, ext. 304, or email NWeil@OGR.org.

The funeral home of the future, may not be a funeral home at all. if you would like to be a part of the future... CONTACT andrew@heartlandcremation.com or jim@cremationconsulting.com www.CremationConsulting.com www.ogr.org | The Independent® 7

Community Outreach How to Get Free, Positive Publicity By Nancy Weil, OGR Member Resources Director W hen was the last time you had press walk into your funeral home? Have you been interviewed on drive time radio lately? Other than the obituary page, where is your funeral home mentioned in your local newspaper? If your answer is “never” or “rarely,” then you need to make a marketing plan…and that plan starts now. Creating Events That Get You Noticed Holding a funeral is not going to get the press to your door. Hosting a Holistic Open House will, as it did for OGR Past President Charles Castiglia of Lakeside Memorial Funeral Home. Plan an event with the end goal of being worthy of press attention, bringing the public into your funeral home and raising community awareness of your business. That may mean doing something that seems incongruous with a funeral home, such as holding a laugher club or drum circle that is open to the community at your place. It could mean holding a mainstream event, such as a community remembrance service, but at an unusual time. Instead of having it during the holidays, consider switching yours to what I call the “forgotten holiday of grief”: Valentine’s Day. 8 www.ogr.org | Summer 2021 What’s Your Pitch? Once you have decided on an event, it is time to start pitching to the press. This will require a call/send/call approach. Call up the local newsroom and be ready with your short “elevator pitch” about the event. Make sure it is skewed toward how your event will help your community (such as a grief support program) or how you need the community’s help to accomplish a goal (such as collecting food or toys for those in need in your town). Do not make it sound like a request for free exposure for your funeral home. That will lead to a referral to their advertising department (or just a polite but decisive, "No thank you"). Once you have made your pitch, offer to send more details in an email and get the correct email address they want you to send this to. That ensures your email does not end up in a general mailbox with hundreds of others. Instead, you will have someone at the station or paper that is waiting to read it. Then you wait…not too long, but just enough to make sure they have had time to review your proposal, share it with their producers and determine if they are interested. How long you wait is based on which media type you approached, how urgent the need is to get the

Community information out (such as if an event is coming up soon), and if you think they will be contacting you instead to schedule the story. Get Ready for Your Interview Each type of media has certain guidelines to follow so you appear to be a polished, media savvy professional. While I cannot do a full media prep course in this article, I can point out a few tips to make you feel at ease when the time comes for your interview. Be prepared • Reporters work on tight deadlines. If they set up a time to meet with you, take it. They do not care about your schedule, so you must accommodate them or you may miss your opportunity. • Look at the reporter during the interview (not the camera) and just have a natural conversation with them. • Speak in short sentences. This allows the reporter to ask another question, and makes it more likely you'll be used (the average bite that makes it to air is only 5-8 seconds long!). "Within two weeks of implementing Nancy's advice, our funeral home was featured on two TV newscasts and a print article. I highly recommend this course." --Lasha August, Infinity Funeral Home, Biloxi, MS Radio • Know what points you want to make and be sure to send background information ahead of time to the specific reporter you'll be working with so they know what to talk to you about. • Find out if this interview will be live, “look live” (pre-recorded but played as if you are in-studio) or pre-recorded with post-interview editing prior to air. • Ask if there will be scheduled commercial breaks so that you can track the time and end your point prior to break. • If you will be interviewed by phone, use a landline as cellular service can be spotty. Print • Meet with the journalist in-person, when possible. • Provide information in written form to prevent errors, such as your business card, event flyer, etc. OGR member Jim Rudolph, right, at a local radio station (OGR Photo / Nancy Weil) • Turn off your phone! I learned the hard way that Amber Alerts and other emergency alerts break through silent and do not disturb modes. Television • Have a few locations at your funeral home scouted out ahead of time to show the crew when they arrive for b-roll and as possible interview loctions. They don't want to talk to you sitting in your desk chair. Regardless of medium, understand you have no control over what is written/broadcast. The best you can do is make your points and do anything you can to accomodate their schedule and workflow. OGR is offering this training as a 30-minute video presentation, a 60-minute video with live Q&A or an in-person event for your state funeral directors association at no charge. More information from NWeil@OGR.org or (512) 334-5504, ext. 304. www.ogr.org | The Independent® 9

Podcast Podcast 'Digital Dialogue Series' Returns with the Question: 'What's Your Edge?' By Evan Hoffmeyer, OGR Communications Director I ndependent funeral homes are always working to show how they are different than conglomerate competitors. Are you especially involved in your community? Do you have a specialized knowledge base, like issues specific to veteran funerals? Whatever the case may be, it can make a big difference to your business for you to take some time and determine what your "edge" is, and how you can leverage that to set yourself apart from the competition. • social media & digital marketing: Mike Hepburn, YourSocialStrategy.com • veterans: Jim Rudolph, Veterans Funeral Care Geri's own work in finding her edge is evident. She just received OGR's prestigious Golden Light Award at our inaugural Golden Circle CeleThat's the focus of Season 2 of our annual summer podcast, the Digital Dialogue Series, with host Geri Oliverie of OGR member firm Oliverie Funeral Home in Manchester Township, New Jersey, focusing on how you can find your edge and put it to work for your funeral home right away. Guests and topics include: • community involvement: Andrew Loos, Heartland Cremation & Burial Society • organ & tissue donation: Kelley Romanowski, LifeSource bration virtual awards event in April. She was also named American Funeral Director magazine's Funeral Director of the Year in 2020, and Oliverie Funeral Home was chosen as the recipient of OGR's Community Service Award in both 2015 and 2019. Geraldine "Geri" Oliverie of Oliverie Funeral Home in Manchester Township, N.J. (photo provided) New episodes will be released each Wednesday, Aug. 18 through Sept. 22. Find each episode as it's released at OGR.org/DDS. The Dodge Company, an OGR Endorsed Supplier, is the presenting sponsor for the 2021 season of the Digital Dialogue Series podcast. Visit DodgeCo.com. Veterans Funeral Care Workshop OGR presents a two-part series that will open a new client base and forever change your business AVAILABLE NOW in the OGR Learning Library Learn more and register at OGR.org/VFC 10 www.ogr.org | Summer 2021

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Member Spotlight Member Spotlight Spotlight on Opsahl-Kostel Funeral Home – Yankton, South Dakota Kevin Opsahl is the owner of Opsahl-Kostel Funeral Home & Crematory in Yankton, South Dakota. He shared his experiences with running a successful funeral home that has been around for more than a century. How was your funeral home founded, and how does it operate today? Opsahl-Kostel Funeral Home & Crematory officially opened in 1903, but we have records going back to the 1890s. We started as a funeral home and continue to operate as such, but we have also been an ambulance service which served the Yankton and surrounding area for a number of years in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. We have expanded to include locations in Tabor, S.D., Tyndall, S.D. and Menno, S.D. Our crematory was added in 2000 and continues to be the sole crematory facility in Yankton. Why do you believe funeral service is important? I not only care for the deceased, but more importantly the care I give for those who survive. The building blocks of grief are laid early and that means that I have a special place in that time element. To be able to walk This welcome plaque greets all potential client families as they walk into OGR member firm Opsahl-Kostel Funeral Home & Crematory in Yankton, S.D. (OGR Photo / Nancy Weil) “Funeral service for me has turned out to be more than a career. It has been a way for me to touch families' lives in a way that my schooling never taught me. It is hard for me to put into words the bond I have developed with families over the years.” a family through their early grief is my most important calling. Also, probably the most rewarding. 12 www.ogr.org | Summer 2021 What is the most rewarding part of working in funeral service? Education! The day-to-day education of the people who I serve. The options before them and helping them put together a service What makes your funeral home unique? We have design that recognizes their loved one's life and helps lay that foundation of grief. at-need funeral directors and staff, graphic pre-arrangement personnel funeral home cremation. staff, and post-funeral care by an on-staff counselor. We are also the only in our area that provides in-house

Member Spotlight Member Spotlight What does your funeral home do in order to create a strong community presence? Do you believe that this is important? This presence is key to my operation. I realized a long time ago that advertisements are not always read by the community. Being in the community that you serve is very important. It’s about showing you care! In what ways do you use technology to further the services you offer? More recently live streaming has been added to our service abilities. That is now and will continue to be something we do for each family we serve. What growing trends have you noticed in the funeral service profession? How do you keep up with these changes? Cremation has and will continue to be part of our industry. The options for services have exploded in this area and will continue to grow over the years. Keeping up with all the trends around cremation has been my greatest focus. A glass hearse at Opsahl-Kostel Funeral Home & Crematory in Yankton, S.D. (OGR Photo / Nancy Weil) Keeping up with cremation has been easier with my membership. Is there anything in particular that you do at work to keep your spirits high or the spirits of your staff high? Staff meetings help every month. Allowing staff to share their experience at home and at work. Cards, letters and positive reviews that the staff has done for our families have been wonderful. What are three future goals that you have in mind for your funeral home? 1. Continue expanding our area of service. 2. Educate our communities regarding death. 3. Help the staff be as comfortable as they can be helping those with questions about their future. Kevin Opsahl, right, and his staff take part in OGR's "Conquering the Conversation" staff training at their facility in Yankton, S.D. (OGR Photo / Nancy Weil) What do you value most about OGR? Why did you become a member? I became a member of OGR to be part of the best funeral service providers I could find. My funeral home would not be in the position it is today without the members of OGR and the programming it has to offer. Kevin is an OGR past president (201011), and served on the Board of Directors overall from 2005 - 2012. A licensed funeral director since 1984, Kevin worked at several different funeral homes before moving to Yankton in 1991 and joining the Kostel Funeral Home. He eventually purchased the business from Laddie and Pam Kostel in 1998. Kevin obtained his Certified Funeral Service Practitioner (CFSP) designation on May 15, 2011. You can email him at Kevin@OKFHC.com. www.ogr.org | The Independent® 13

Member News Member News News from Golden Rule Funeral Homes OGR welcomes 2 new members Infinity Funeral Home in Biloxi, Mississippi, joined on June 24. Infinity is owned by Bishop Rick August and his daughter, Lasha August. Green elected potentate of Shriners Temple in Pittsburgh suburb Donald I. Green of George Irvin Green Funeral Home in Munhall, Pennsylvania, has been elected the 121st Potentate of the Syria Shriners in Cheswick, Pennsylvania. Bishop Rick August his daughter, Lasha, are owners of new OGR member firm Infinity Funeral Home in Biloxi, Miss. (photo provided) Both Anderson Family Funeral Homes locations joined in June as well - one in Cresson, Pennsylvania, and the other in Mount Union, Pennsylvania. Each is owned by Garrett Anderson. Both of our new members are also part of the Veterans Funeral Care Provider Network. Join us in welcoming them to the OGR family! Garrett Anderson, owner of new OGR member firm Anderson Family Funeral Homes in Pennsylvania. (photo provided) Donald I. Green, seen with his wife Debbie, was recently elected Potentate of the Syria Shriners Temple in the Pittsburgh area. (photo provided) Born and raised in Munhall, Don has been a Licensed Funeral Director since 1972. He is married to Debra Lenhart Green, with whom he has three children: Scott Green, Heather Skurek and Todd Green; and three grandchildren. Don has served on many OGR committees as well as the Board of Directors. Currently, the Shriners' mission is serving mankind through the resources of its great philanthropy, the Shriners Hospital for Children. Don’s theme this year is "Having Fun in '21." 14 www.ogr.org | Summer 2021

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Supplier News News from OGR’s Supplier Network OGR welcomes 2 new supply partners - Since 2004, Bogati Urn Company has been a great wholesale urn resource for professionals within the funeral industry for affordable, high-quality urns, keepsakes and memorial jewelry. Funeral homes have come to rely on the hundreds of products Bogati offers as they meet the increasingly diverse needs of the families they serve. Bogati is offering all OGR members a 10% discount on all Bogati-brand products for call-in or emailed owners with Net-30 billing. Ken@BogatiUrns.com | Merchant Cost Consulting specializes in renegotiating and monitoring credit card processing fees. MCC charges no upfront costs or fixed monthly fees. They are a performance-based consulting firm that is only compensated on the savings obtained for clients. Normally, those savings are split 50/50 between MCC and the client. OGR members get a 55/45 split and are only asked to sign a 24-month initial contract instead of the customary 36 months. Patrick@MerchantCostConsulting.com | Passages International introduces new Journey designs - Passages introduced eight new designs to their Journey Lily Green, Lily Blue, Seafoam Green, Earthurn® collection in May, including Dogwood Lilac, Dogwood Shale, Seafoam White, Thistle Royal Blue and Thistle Slate. All of the new designs are available in large and mini sizes, with the smaller sizes allowing for the dividing of remains. The entire collection of handcrafted urns are made from sustainably produced, biodegradable paper, allowing them to biodegrade quickly. They are intended for burial in deep water or earth, and are suitable for the temporary storage of cremated remains and interment. When placed in water, they float briefly then sink, biodegrading naturally. PassagesInternational.com | Thumbies offering 2 new knife options under $100 - The Small Keychain Knife is a slip joint knife with a high-carbon stainless steel blade and a body fabricated from aluminum. It is rust-resistant and easy to sharpen. It comes in either blue or black and can be personalized with a print and inscription of your choice, with two lines of engraving available, in block or script. The Multi Tool Keychain Knife includes a frame lock knife, bottle opener and detachable keychain ring, and is fabricated from 440 Stainless Steel. This sturdy tool is customized with the print and inscription you submit to our team for personalization and can fit two lines of engraving, in block or script. Thumbies.com | ASD - Answering Service for Directors records 10,000th system update - From the early days of call forwarding to the addition of the ASD Mobile app integrations and the evolution of the company’s remote capabilities, ASD’s funeral home answering service system otherwise known as StationMaster (“SM”), has proven to be highly adaptable and customizable. Each version update represents a new stage in the development of ASD’s technical solutions for funeral homes. The company’s ability to continually refine SM has enabled ASD to develop features and tools specifically for the funeral profession. MyASD.com OGR.org/Leadership-Summit September 19-21 Hotel Carmichael Carmel, Indiana REGISTER TODAY! Want to see your company’s news featured here? OGR Supply Partners are invited to send your press releases and other company updates to Communications Director Evan Hoffmeyer at EHoffmeyer@OGR.org. www.ogr.org | The Independent® 17

Getting By with a Little Help from Our Canine Friends by Pat Dunnigan, Thumbies S tarbucks, which recently filed a trademark application for its popular “puppaccino,” is not the only one to have noticed the way we feel about our dogs. Everywhere you turn, hotels, restaurants and retailers are putting out the welcome mat – along with the bowl of complimentary dog treats – for the furry companions who accompany us almost everywhere these days. To say that they are “part of the family” does not really begin to capture the way we feel about our canine BFFs. And while the role that dogs play in human lives has never been a trivial thing, it’s a role that has been growing like a well-fed puppy in recent years. The coronavirus played a part, as millions of people seem to have discovered a dog-shaped hole in their 18 www.ogr.org | Summer 2021 lives in 2020. From the stress and tedium of sheltering in place during a pandemic to many other varieties of emotional hardship, dogs are well suited to the job of soothing our worries, our loneliness – and our grief. Numerous studies, in fact, bear out the effect of pets on our sense of well-being, including changes to brain chemistry associated with reduction of stress and anxiety. So it’s not as groundbreaking as it may seem to learn that dogs are increasingly found in the role of grief support at funeral homes across the country – or that their own lives are increasingly memorialized with the same care and rituals once reserved for human losses. At Lakeside Memorial Funeral Home in West Seneca, New York, Willow is an SPCA-certified therapy

assistant and a 110-pound Great Pyrenees who walks the halls, attends grief support groups and assists funeral director Candace Hawkins with making funeral arrangements. “He is very attuned to people’s emotions,” Hawkins said. “If someone is sobbing, he will just walk up and put his head in their lap.” Willow also attends funerals and visitations and special events, but Hawkins says his most valuable role is in those early moments when grief is still raw and jagged and families are faced with the task of having to make the decisions around funeral arrangements. “I call in advance to ask, ‘Are you a dog person?’” Hawkins said. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, they’re like, ‘Oh, yes. We love dogs.’” Molly from the Evan J. Strong Funeral Home in Calgary, Alberta (photo courtesy Evan J. Strong Funeral Services) www.ogr.org | The Independent® 19

Support Animals The effect of having Willow around, she said, can be dramatic. “It’s a lot like having a baby in the room. It kind of lightens the mood. There are a lot of studies and research that show that interaction with an animal – even just petting them – is great for the chemicals in the brain … and the release of serotonin.” For his part, Willow shows little interest in the research. “I’m pretty sure he has just decided that it is his job to walk around the room and get love from anybody,” said Hawkins. At Lakeside Memorial, Willow joined the team not long after the funeral of a young canine patrol officer whose death during a training exercise in 2017 was mourned by the entire community and whose memorial services were attended by more than 80 trained therapy dogs provided through the Erie County SPCA’s “Paws for Love” program. At the same time, other funeral homes and their clients were discovering the powerful solace such dogs provided in helping families get through the process of funeral planning. The Evan J. Strong Funeral Home in Calgary was one of them. Around 2018, the staff decided to give it a try and Molly, a friendly and fluffy bernedoodle, joined the team. Unlike most therapy dogs, Molly didn’t have any special training but she turned out to be a natural. “She just had that personality and disposition. She was very gentle and understanding with families,” said the home’s founder Evan Strong, who is also the current OGR president. “We had done enough research to know that dogs were a benefit and helped to calm people and get them through the difficult task of arranging a loved one’s funeral,” Strong recalled. Last December, Molly died after a short illness, leaving the team with its own loss to mourn. “She was a member of our own family,” he said. 20 www.ogr.org | Summer 2021 Candace Hawkins with Willow at Lakeside Memorial Funeral Home in West Seneca, N.Y. (photo courtesy Lakeside Memorial Funeral Home) “She was much loved.” And remembered. Molly was honored with a video tribute on the company’s website. Your Real Source. Anywhere. Anytime. As a part of our families, dogs have also earned a place of their own in our rituals of grieving. It’s not unusual, in fact, to see dogs listed among the survivors in their owners’ obituaries. Or garnering full-fledged obituaries of their own. Some dogs, it seems, even have a way of easing their owners’ grief posthumously. Susan Dice, director of customer care at Thumbies, a maker of jewelry and keepsakes that memorialize pets as well as human loved ones, says the company’s nose print pendants, rings and other items evoke the memories of that little wet-nosed nudge that dogs use to cheer us up or finagle a treat, but still, “It does give you some peace,” Dice said. Find exactly what you’re looking for!

Memorialization Support Animals To learn more about the grief-easing power of dog noses, handshakes, hugs and all-around furry comfort, visit the Alliance of Therapy Dogs website or your local SPCA. Pat Dunnigan is a content writer for Thumbies, which introduced fingerprint keepsakes to the independent funeral home industry in 1998. They are the industry leader in providing customized memorial jewelry and other objects to families across the country. OGR members receive volume-based discounts from Thumbies starting at 20%, as well as a member-exclusive keepsake design. Learn more at Thumbies.com or by calling (877) 848-6243, ext. 107. FOUNDATION Thank you to our generous donors from the past quarter PLATINUM LEVEL ($5,000 or more) Mike & Marie Butler John & Kicki Butler Livingston-Butler-Volland Funeral & Cremation Center Hastings, Nebraska GOLD LEVEL ($1,000 - $4,999) Mary Kopchak Strunk Funeral Homes & Crematory Florida SILVER LEVEL ($500 - $999) Tom Hemmerle Barnett-Strother Funeral Home Madisonville, Kentucky Paul Hummel Hummel Funeral Homes Akron, Ohio Kim Hunter Humphrey Funeral Home Toronto, Ontario in recognition of Mary Steele's leadership Jay & Mary Steele Arnett & Steele Funeral Home Pineville, Kentucky Evan Strong Evan J. Strong Funeral Services Calgary, Alberta Skip, Delores & Peter Urban Anton B. Urban Funeral Home Ambler, Pennsylvania in honor of Doris Slack Make your tax-deductible donation at OGR.org/Foundation www.ogr.org | The Independent® 21 Bill & Linda Brock Vander Plaat Funeral Home Wyckoff, New Jersey in memory of Clarice Dansen

Thumbuddies®! Heartwarming memorial keepsakes. Thumbuddies® is an exclusive line of heartwarming memorial jewelry designed in the spirit of celebrating life. The first six sweet creatures – Bear, Dragon, Kangaroo, Mouse, Monkey, and Turtle - proved to be so popular, we had many requests for a Dog and Cat as well – and now they’re here! NEW Dog & Cat - Available July 2021 Designed, sculpted and cast in the heart of the U.S.A. by the same artisans who create all of our highest-quality keepsakes, the endearing Cat and Dog are available in July, 2021. Every Fingerprint Thumbuddie is an original sculpt, front and back, and is cast in Bronze then plated in Rhodium and hand high-polished. The fingerprint of choice is applied to the front of each. Help your families celebrate the lives of their loved ones with keepsakes they’ll cherish forever. To become a Thumbies® 22 www.ogr.org | Summer 2021 Partner, contact sales@thumbies.com. thumbies.com

Pandemic Accelerated Opportunity for Post-life Cybercrimes T by Christopher W. Huziak, Final Security he world has gone digital. There is no denying that we are living in a digital world, and with that comes new risks and responsibilities. In 2019, there were an estimated 4.4 billion active internet users. With the upcoming emergence of 5G wireless technology, telecoms giant Ericsson projects more than 65% of the world population will have access to the internet by the end of 2025. A global pandemic accelerated this digital way of life. As COVID-19 swept across the world this past year, people focused on keeping safe by keeping apart. And they turned to digital technologies for everything from administrative tasks to virtual gatherings. As a result, digital footprints increased rapidly. What is a digital footprint, exactly? A digital footprint is the information that exists about a person online as a result of their internet activity. This can be everything from photos on social media to financial statements accessed online, and everything in between. Social security numbers. Medical records. Tax documents. Personal conversations. If someone has accessed or entered any of this information online, it’s part of his/ her digital footprint. Data shows just how intensely COVID-19 accelerated growth of digital footprints. For instance, at the onset of the pandemic last April, online banking services saw a 200% increase in new registrations, while online banking traffic rose 85%, according to Fidelity National Information Services. And according to data from IBM’s U.S. Retail Index, the pandemic accelerated the shift to digital shopping by roughly five years. Of course, with the worst of the pandemic behind us, people will get back to banking and shopping in-person, but the habits and comfort levels adopted are likely here to stay. And digital footprints just keep growing and growing. If you’ve entered information once, it’s part of your footprint forever. Digital footprints are a gold rush for cybercriminals. It’s increasingly important to safeguard digital legacies and assets before it’s too late. Cybercrimes often target the most defenseless: those who have passed on. Post-life cybercrime can create significant struggles and financial complications for families of the deceased. The problem: Our current system is slower than criminals According to AARP, it can take six months for financial institutions, credit reporting bureaus and the Social www.ogr.org | The Independent® 23

Pre-Need Security Administration to receive, share or register death records. When we consider that cybercrime has become more profitable than the drug trade, and with widely available funeral announcements, this creates the perfect scenario for criminals to strike. An individual’s digital estate is a prime target for identity theft and other types of financial and digital theft. that person to friends and family. In the first weeks of a passing, extended family and friends are not always aware, and can fall victim to cybercrimes. A common example is a criminal posting from the victim’s account about a problem and asking their family and friends to send money for help. All these crimes can cause families tremendous burden, stress and expense. Pre-need planning plays an important role The unfortunate reality is that criminals are typically ahead of the curve in exploiting vulnerabilities and finding new opportunities, and governments and law enforcement struggle to keep up. Individuals may feel overwhelmed by this reality, especially as they consider the vulnerability of their assets after death. As funeral homes advise clients in pre-need options, they can be a true advocate in protecting their clients by offering modern and innovative solutions to help safeguard How criminals are using the information they find Cybercriminals are seizing the opportunity to target digital estates, but what exactly are they doing and how are they doing it? Criminals with access to financial accounts can efficiently transfer and steal funds without raising flags. Similarly, stolen credit card numbers can be used by criminals targeting the deceased. Those are examples of just the low-hanging fruit for these criminals; more sophisticated forms of identity theft and social engineering can come into play. AARP reports that close to 800,000 deceased individuals are targeted for identity theft each year, also known as “ghosting.” That’s almost 2,200 a day and exponentially growing. Using only a name, address and birth date, criminals can purchase a Social Security number for as little as $10. From there, the criminal can proceed to open accounts and other services under a stolen identity. Criminals have also been known to hack into the social media accounts of the deceased and masquerade as 24 www.ogr.org | Summer 2021 clients’ digital assets and legacies. Christopher W. Huziak, CEO & founder of Final Security, is an Italian American technologist, businessman and entrepreneur. Huziak has over two decades of business, information technology and leadership experience in corporate, academic, healthcare and startup environments. Huziak is known for his ability to create, build and execute innovative companies, brands, products, solutions and forward-thinking ideas. To connect with Christopher, email him at partner@finalsecurity.co or call him at (844) 463-4625. OGR members are eligible for a 40% commission on Final Security’s Life plans. Learn more at finalsecurity.co and inquire about partnership at partner@finalsecurity.co.

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Golden Circle Celebration OGR honored the work done by Golden Rule Funeral Homes at its inaugural virtual awards ceremony April 29 With limits on gatherings still in place across much of the United States and travel restrictions still in effect across much of the globe, OGR opted to start a new tradition by moving its awards to a dedicated ceremony held entirely online to better accommodate our entire membership regardless of time zone. Recognitions included OGR’s Community Service Award, three Exemplary Service awards, two Awards of Excellence scholarship recipients and the Golden Light Award, OGR’s most prestigious honor. 26 www.ogr.org | Summer 2021 Watch the entire event at OGR.org/Celebrate

Awards Awards Oliverie awarded OGR's highest honor G eraldine “Geri” Oliverie of Oliverie Funeral Home in Manchester Township, New Jersey, was the recipient of the 2021 Golden Light Award at the inaugural Golden Circle Celebration April 29. LIGHT AWARD Honoring Professional Excellence The Golden Light Award is OGR’s highest honor, recognizing an individual who has made specific, meritorious contributions to society through his or her profession, community or field of voluntary service as career achievements. “I would like to thank my hardworking staff that supports all my endeavors within the community,” Oliverie said in her acceptance speech. “The dedication and long hours required to make all of our community service projects work effortlessly are a true commitment to the profession they also have dedicated themselves to.” Geraldine "Geri" Oliverie (photo provided) Jersey in 2015, was recognized by American Funeral Director magazine as their Funeral Director of the Year in 2020, and is a charter member of the Funeral Ethics Association. Geraldine "Geri" Oliverie at Oliverie Funeral Home's flu vaccination clinic in Manchester, N.J. in 2020. (photo provided) This award is a true sign of continued dedication to her profession and community. Oliverie has received OGR’s Community Service Award twice, first in 2015 and again in 2019. She was also named Humanitarian of the Year by the American Cancer Society in New Oliverie Funeral Home, which she first opened in 1987, hosts a flu vaccination clinic every year in September and a blood drive every April, and is a platinum sponsor of both Manchester Day and the Lakehurst Fleet Reserve Summer Olympics. Oliverie’s latest venture is the business’s new Life www.ogr.org | The Independent® 27

Awards Awards Celebration Funeral Home in Jackson, due to open this year. It will feature a banquet facility, store and cafe for a completely new funeral experience. Oliverie graduated with honors from the American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Services as class vice president in 1984. She was licensed by both the State of New Jersey and the National Licensing Board, and is also a Certified Celebrant. Brunswick Memorial Funeral Home wins Community Service Award for Record 4th Time B runswick Memorial Home in East Brunswick, New Jersey, was awarded the 2021 Golden Rule Community Service Award. The Golden Rule Community Service Award is given in recognition of a funeral home’s outstanding community service as demonstrated by activities benefiting local organizations or community events. The Brunswick Memorial Home Care Team used social media to get their message across as they worked to help their community adjust and get through the changes brought on by COVID-19. Those who could help or needed help filled out a form accordingly, and the Brunswick Golden Ruleule Community Service Award (left to right) Brunswick Memorial Home staff members Randy Gagnon, Eugene Norton, Arianna Rule, Peter Kulbacki, Krista Paradowski and Michael Kulbacki stand in front of their East Brunswick, N.J. location. (photo provided) team matched those in need with those who could help during the initial wave of the pandemic in the United States from April - June 2020. As a thank-you to staff for their extra work, the company purchased lunch for them every day they worked during this time. They engaged in good conversation with everyone they helped in an attempt to raise their spirits. They continued to serve their families throughout the pandemic to the fullest of their abilities and what the law permitted. 28 www.ogr.org | Summer 2021 “It’s this type of work that helps bring communities together, and it’s OGR member firms like Brunswick Memorial Home that embrace and encourage community involvement year-round,” said Wendy King, OGR’s executive director. Brunswick won the Golden Rule Community Service Award last year as well, the first time in the award’s 13-year history that the same funeral home has been selected in back-to-back years. It was Brunswick’s fourth win overall, with previous recognitions in 2020, 2014 and 2010. No other funeral home has won more than twice.

Awards Awards Freitag, Montgomery & Steward and Plummer Named 2021 Exemplary Service Award Winners F reitag Funeral Home of Bridgeton, New Jersey; Montgomery & Steward Funeral Directors, Inc., of Pueblo, Colorado; and Plummer Funeral Services of Litchfield, Illinois were named OGR's Exemplary Service Award winners for 2021. The Exemplary Service Award recognizes member firms for the outstanding customer service they provided to families during their time of loss. Winners are selected based on professional excellence as evidenced by feedback from client families who respond to OGR’s proprietary Family Contact Program surveys. chose the service I did. Every aspect of the service was done in a respectful manner and the attention to detail was impeccable. I truly would not do anything differently. I felt completely at peace with what I chose. It was the best way to have the final goodbye. I could not have gone through it without the help and support of the staff. Freitag Funeral Home in Bridgeton, N.J. (photo provided) The comment that led to Freitag’s selection was: I was so overwhelmed with everything I had to do during such a difficult time in my life. That was, until I walked into Freitag Funeral Home. The staff was supportive, compassionate and really eased all the overwhelming feelings I had. They instantly made me feel calm and put my mind at ease. Mr. Freitag and staff went over everything in detail with me. I felt comforted and was treated with such respect. They went above and beyond for me and I appreciated their time and effort. The service was absolutely perfect. The advice I received helped so much and I am so glad I Dian & Gerry Montgomery of Montgomery & Steward Funeral Directors, Inc., in Pueblo, Colo. (photo provided) Montgomery & Steward's winning comment was: The staff at Montgomery & Steward Funeral were very helpful during such a difficult time. I did not have to worry about a thing, they handled every detail perfectly. I would highly recommend them to others. The funeral director could not have been more helpful and made such a good impression on me and my family. He was always available to answer any questions I had. He was very knowledgeable, compassionate, and made me feel that he had all the time in the world to work with me on every detail. www.ogr.org | The Independent® 29

Awards Awards Montgomery & Steward went above and beyond to honor my family and gave my mom (deceased) great dignity and class. I received so many comments on how well everything was done. I would not change a thing. My mother’s funeral was a beautiful tribute to her because of all the attention to detail. Several people came up to me after the service and said that they will be making funeral arrangements at this funeral home. Very impressed! and showed such compassion. I knew my mom was in the best hands! Plummer Funeral Services in Litchfield, Ill. (photo provided) The winning comment for Plummer Funeral Services was: The staff at Plummer Funeral Services are very compassionate and caring. They ensured that our family was treated with respect and that every detail of the funeral was accomplished to perfection. I met Terry Plummer (funeral director) when he came to pick up my mom (deceased). He was so helpful and personally took one of my family members to the funeral home for the service. This meant a lot to me to see he cared Terry Plummer communicated with me many times before and since the funeral to ensure that I am personally doing ok. The funeral home presented my mom beautifully. I was very pleased and proud of the funeral arrangements and I know my mom was 'happy' on her 'final day.' Nothing else could have been done differently. The staff made sure every detail was carried through excellently. Plummer Funeral Services is the best! “The service that these three funeral homes provide are just a few examples of why they received an Exemplary Service Award,” said OGR Executive Director Wendy King. “We are proud that our member firms practice the basis on which we were founded, the Golden Rule.” Three Exemplary Service Awards are given out each year. Read more about this year's winners - Golden Light, Community Service and Exemplary Service - at OGR.org/Awards. Support the next generation of funeral directors by donating to the OGR Foundation! OGR.org/Foundation 30 www.ogr.org | Summer 2021

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Awards Awards Foundation Raises more than $11K at Golden Circle Celebration O GR is excited to announce the largest singleday fundraising event for its charitable foundation in years. Mike & Marie Butler and their children John and Nicki of Livingston-Butler-Volland Funeral Home & Cremation Center in Hastings, Nebraska announced at the Golden Circle Celebration virtual awards ceremony that they would match up to $5,000 in donations. By the next morning, OGR confirmed 13 donations or pledges for a total of $6,545, making for $11,545 in funds raised at the ceremony including the match. “We could not be more honored by the generosity of our members,” said OGR Executive Director Wendy King. “This money will go to support more scholarships for mortuary school students to help usher the next generation into our profession.” Two students were honored with scholarships at this Mariah Banks (photo provided) year's event: Mariah Banks of the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science, who won the Gold level scholarship for $3,500; and Kenneth Wortman of Fayetteville Technical Community College, who won the Silver level scholarship for $2,000. Both demonstrated solid academic performance, community involvement and a dedication to the independent funeral service model OGR stands for. FOUNDATION Donations are still being accepted as the Foundation continues its mission of raising money to fund scholarships and programs benefiting the profession. All donors are recognized year-round on the foundation’s online Tribute Wall and in the next issue of The Independent®. The OGR Foundation was established to advance the standards of funeral service and contribute to the compassionate care of individuals in need. The foundation is registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and all donations are tax deductible. Learn more or donate online at OGR.org/Foundation. Interested in making a non-cash donation? The Foundation is running a Silent Auction in conjunction with OGR's Leadership Summit in September. All auction items will be publicized not only to Summit attendees, but all OGR members as the auction will be available online as well. You can also sponsor the Silent Auction itself. Learn more at OGR.org/Leadership-Summit or by emailing OGR Executive Director Wendy King at WKing@OGR.org. OGR’ OGR P to fi y ine LEARNING LIBRAR Professional development w on-demand to fit your schedule pmen ebin hedul NOW OPEN 32 OGR.org/Learning-Library

Global Perspective OGR News Strong Installed as OGR President OGR installed Evan J. Strong of Evan J. Strong Funeral Services in Calgary, Alberta, as its president for 202122 at the inaugural Golden Circle Celebration April 29. Returning as board members are Kim R. Hunter of Humphrey Funeral Home in Toronto, Ontario; Raffy S. Jose of Arlington Memorial Chapels & Crematory in Quezon City, Manila, Philippines; and Jamie L. Wieting of Wieting Family Funeral Home, Inc., in Chilton, Wisconsin. Evan J. Strong of Evan J. Strong Funeral Services in Calgary, Alberta (photo provided) Mary F. Steele of Arnett & Steele Funeral Home in Pineville, Kentucky, transitioned to Immediate Past President. Paul A. Hummel, III, of Hummel Funeral Homes, Inc., in Akron, Ohio, was installed as President-elect and Christopher B. Miller of Thomas Miller Mortuary & Crematory in Corona, California, was named Secretary/Treasurer. wb e wb wb e ed WEBINAR SERIES e ed WEBINAR SERIES WEBINAR SERIES Upcoming Webinars: July & August Upcoming Webinars: July & August Upcoming Webinars: July & August Filling Your HR Toolbox: Finding, developing and keeping top talent - 3 angles to a common challenge Host: Karl Ahlrichs, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, CSP Date: July 27 | 3 p.m. ET Filling Your HR Toolbox: Finding, developing and keeping top talent - 3 angles to a common challenge Host: Karl Ahlrichs, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, CSP Date: July 27 | 3 p.m. ET The economy has stabilized, but most organizations are dealing with HR issues. Karl Ahlrichs will add tools to your toolbox by covering the HR challenge from multiple angles. Filling Your HR Toolbox: Finding, developing and keeping top talent - 3 angles to a common challenge Host: Karl Ahlrichs, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, CSP Date: July 27 | 3 p.m. ET The economy has stabilized, but most organizations are dealing with HR issues. Karl Ahlrichs will add tools to your toolbox by covering the HR challenge from multiple angles. The economy has stabilized, but most organizations are dealing with HR issues. Karl Ahlrichs will add tools to your toolbox by covering the HR challenge from multiple angles. Peter Urban, Jr., of Anton B. Urban Funeral Home in Ambler, Penn., and Arianna Rule of Brunswick Memorial Home in East Brunswick, N.J. (photos provided) Peter A. Urban, Jr., of Anton B. Urban Funeral Home in Ambler, Pennsylvania, joined the board as a director after serving two years as chair of OGR’s Young Professionals Council. Taking over for him as head of the YP Council is Arianna Rule of Brunswick Memorial Home in East Brunswick, New Jersey. New & Now in Funeral Service: Top 10 Trends You Can’t Afford to Ignore Host: Alex McCracken Date: August 24| 3 p.m. ET New & Now in Funeral Service: Top 10 Trends You Can’t Afford to Ignore Host: Alex McCracken Date: August 24| 3 p.m. ET Join Alex McCracken to learn what funeral homes across the country are seeing, what is working for them, and what new trends are pushing into the funeral space from other outside industries. REGISTER TODAY AT OGR.org/webinars www.ogr.org | The Independent® REGISTER TODAY AT OGR.org/webinars REGISTER TODAY AT OGR.org/webinars 33 Join Alex McCracken to learn what funeral homes across the New & Now in Funeral Service: Top 10 Trends You Can’t Afford to Ignore Host: Alex McCracken Date: August 24| 3 p.m. ET Join Alex McCracken to learn what funeral homes across the country are seeing, what is working for them, and what new trends are pushing into the funeral space from other outside industries. country are seeing, what is working for them, and what new trends are pushing into the funeral space from other outside industries.

YP Spotlight YP Spotlight Young Professional Spotlight: Arianna Rule Arianna Rule is a 27-year-old funeral director at Brunswick Memorial Home in East Brunswick, New Jersey. She is also the new chair of OGR’s Young Professionals Council. How long have you worked in funeral service? Six years. Why did you begin working in funeral service? It is something I’ve had in mind since I was in high school, but I still wanted to get my bachelor’s degree just in case it didn’t work out. What is the most rewarding part of your occupation? The hugs or the genuine thank you’s from families telling me I made it easier for them. What are your professional goals? I just want to be a well rounded funeral director. I always want to learn and adapt as the years go on and be the best version of myself I can be. What are you proud of that you have achieved so far during your career in funeral service? I completed the certified pre-planning consultant program and became chair of OGR’s Young Professionals Council. What are some important/notable trends that you have noticed in funeral service? More online/digital arrangements and streaming or recording services. Most of that was due to the pandemic but I can see it continuing just for pure convenience. 34 www.ogr.org | Summer 2021 Arianna Rule (provided photo) How do you spend your time outside of work? Is there anything in particular that you enjoy doing? I enjoy being outside on warm and sunny days, whether that is going to the beach in the summer or hanging out in the backyard. I enjoy taking my dog on walks and a good manicure/pedicure. What are three of your personal goals? 1. Making myself a priority and making sure I don’t get burnt out. Focusing on my health, making sure I work out regularly and eat healthy.

YP Spotlight YP Spotlight 2. Travel, both within the country and internationally. 3. Create multiple sources of income. Who or what inspires you? I’m inspired by people who do whatever they have to do in order to fulfill their dreams. What is your favorite phone app? Pinterest. It can distract me for hours. What is one thing your peers would be surprised to know about you? I enjoy luxury sports cars. What is one thing that you think is just “golden,” wonderful or exciting? Seeing animals in their natural habitat, puppies and thunderstorms. What do you value most about OGR? The connections with like-minded colleagues. The organization as a whole tries to ‘follow the Golden Rule.’ What other words do you try to live by? If you’re truly good at what you do, don’t worry about anyone else. Conquering the Conversation How confident are you that EVERY staff member who answers the phone at your funeral home is able to connect with callers? How well do your competitors answer price shopping calls? Stop guessing and let OGR do the work for you! - PRICE SHOPPING - one call included in OGR membership - MEMBER ANALYSIS - COMPETITOR ANALYSIS - STAFF TRAINING - now available in-person or virtually! - DIGITAL ANALYSIS Contact Nancy Weil at nweil@ogr.org for more information www.ogr.org | The Independent® 35

Above & Beyond Above & Beyond These select Above & Beyond comments are about members who have received outstanding comments on Family Contact surveys for providing exemplary service and going above & beyond expected service levels. These members are now eligible for the Exemplary Service Award. Chapel of the Chimes Westland, Michigan The staff was attentive and compassionate to our entire family. They made us feel comfortable and did everything they could to meet our needs. I can only say positive things about them. They were concerned about my wellbeing because I had not been eating. They got crackers and multigrain bars for me to eat and bottled water immediately. Everyone was so caring. The fact that it could be viewed on Facebook was an additional plus for family members and friends who could not be there. I would not do one thing differently. They were so patient and willing to assist us. It made the difficult process to go through much easier. God bless every one of them for the fine job they do. The care of the director and his entire staff should be commended. Opsahl-Kostel Funeral Home & Crematory, Inc. Yankton, South Dakota Very professional and caring people – attention to the finest detail. They felt like family. They called several As funeral directors are forced to change the way they do business amid the pandemic, feedback from the families you serve is more important than ever - and you can get it even faster if you encourage families to fill out the online form instead of using the paper form. Not using online forms yet? Contact Krystal Flores at KFlores@OGR.org to get your funeral home’s custom link. 36 www.ogr.org | Summer 2021 times and texted to see how the family is doing. We could talk to them anytime without feeling like they were in a hurry or being pushy. It felt like I was talking to my family because they were so caring and giving and willing to go the extra mile to make things perfect despite of COVID-19. If my wife could be alive, she would hug Kevin and say thanks for something very special. It was the best. Everything was perfect. It was just the way we wanted it and more. Zwick & Jahn Funeral Home Decatur, Indiana The whole staff at Zwick & Jahn was absolutely AMAZING! Their attention to all details was unbelievable. I never experienced such a high level of care and customer service in the other funeral service I had to plan, as I did with Zwick & Jahn. I was totally impressed. Zwick & Jahn is truly an outstanding funeral home in all respects. Working with Jon was a pleasant experience at this stressful time. Jon was very professional, caring and was a tremendous help in assisting us. I would do nothing differently. Zwick & Jahn Funeral Home far exceed my expectations!

Above & Beyond Above & Beyond Schoppenhorst, Underwood & Brooks Funeral Home, Inc. Shepherdsville, Kentucky The staff could not have been more professional, caring and accommodating. They made the planning of arrangements very easy. The staff is outstanding and incredibly helpful. They went out of their way to help us. Funeral director was amazing – kept in contact with us and helped us with every detail of the visitation and memorial service. They always had a “can do” attitude and helped us to achieve the service we wanted for our loved one. Outstanding service!!! It was such a great experience during a difficult time in our lives. This was an excellent experience with an outstanding funeral home and staff. I would highly recommend this funeral home to friends and family. Great facility and experienced staff. Brunswick Memorial Home East Brunswick, New Jersey The staff was very attentive to our family. From our first phone call, they have answered our questions. They are very compassionate. The staff continues to stay in touch to make sure that we are okay. Our family was very comfortable with Peter and his staff. Krista helped us with making decisions about arrangements. It really felt like the staff personally cared about the family. I do not think I would do anything differently. It was a very difficult time and we felt that Brunswick did their best to help us. The Family Contact Program is a FREE member benefit that is simple to use and offers valuable information on your funeral home’s operations, services and staff through surveying families you’ve served. Join OGR’s Family Contact Program today and you could be one of next year’s Exemplary Service Award winners. For more information or to sign up, visit OGR.org/family-contact-program or contact us by email at FamilyContact@OGR.org or (800) 637-8030. Remembering Family and Friends Kenneth Alan Witteveen March 25, 1946 – April 29, 2021 Funeral Director at OGR member firm Langeland Family Funeral Homes, Inc. Kalamazoo, MI www.ogr.org | The Independent® 37

to Better Serve Families Technology Solutions Built Matthews Aurora™ Funeral Solutions is focused on helping families move from grieving to remembrance and helping deathcare professionals simplify and enhance the way they do business. Our portfolio of technology solutions consistently identifies new ways to help you serve families and adapt to customer expectations. For more information contact your Matthews Aurora™ Service Consultant or visit matthewsaurora.com MAFS-7826-2020 © 2020 Matthews International Corporation, all rights reserved. MATTHEWS® and MATTHEWS INTERNATIONAL® are registered trademarks of Matthews International Corporation. 38 www.ogr.org | Summer 2021 Matthews Technology Solutions include: Arranger An interactive presentation system that helps funeral professionals simplify the arrangement process and sell better funerals. Family Connections Provide families with a private planning website to review and select services, merchandise and record biographical information prior to the in-person arrangement. Funeral Advisor A comprehensive case management and forms automation system that integrates the interactive arrangement presentation and family planning website into a business operating system for large or small funeral homes.

Celebrating Milestone Anniversaries — July, August & September — 65 years | July 1956 Barnett-Strother Funeral Homes, LLC Madisonville, KY 50 years | August 1971 Hummel Funeral Homes Akron, OH 45 years | September 1976 Cooper Funeral Home Tecumseh, OK 40 years | September 1981 Heaton-Bowman-Smith Funeral Home Saint Joseph, MO 40 years | September 1981 Rowland Bros. International West Croydon, Surrey, UK 35 years | July 1986 Applebee-McPhillips Funeral Home, Inc. Middletown, NY 35 years | August 1986 Ramsey Funeral Home, Inc. Middletown, NY 35 years | August 1986 Toland-Herzig Funeral Homes & Crematory Dover, OH 20 years | August 2001 Lakeside Memorial Funeral Home, Inc. Hamburg, NY 10 years | July 2011 Golden Funeral Home Bastrop, LA ®

Buying or Selling, this is YOUR Market by Jake Johnson, Johnson Consulting Group

Member Spotlight Succession Planning Why 2021 is the year to buy a new funeral home or sell yours 2 021 is shaping up to be a robust economic year. The pent-up consumer desire from the pandemic is driving the market. Throughout 2020, the pandemic wreaked havoc on our lives and livelihoods, creating unprecedented conditions in the stock market, food production, the housing market, the medical establishment — and the funeral business. Now we’ve moved into the next stage of the pandemic — containment. So what does that mean for the market? Some business owners are looking back at 2020 and deciding that this arduous year makes an opportune time to retire. Those sellers leaving the market create a golden opportunity for business owners in a growth phase. To be sure, this presents two-fold opportunities for business owners. Market conditions make this scenario a win-win for the seller and the buyer. Point-by-point, here is how the market appears to be looking in 2021: Business values are high This year is a lucrative time to sell your business in a growth phase. You can ask for more, especially if you’ve done your homework. High business value also means your business is worth more when you go for an expansion loan. A number of factors are working to increase the value of your business right now and this is a solid time to expand. But only expand if you are prepared. You need to have a strategic plan in place that directs your growth. Have you considered what markets fit your business model? Do you know where you want your business growth areas to be — pre-need, cremation? Small Business Administration lending programs are very attractive for buyers The federal government is trying to ensure there are buyers for all of those sellers. If you think you want to grow your business, this is a smart time to act. The SBA lending program has two powerful incentives that make buying better for you: • No lending fees • Six months' loan payments paid by the government These programs won’t last forever and, in fact, are designed to help spur the economy. If you pass them up, you’re also passing up free money to grow your business. As a seller, this can mean there are MORE buyers but are they the RIGHT buyers? Johnson Consulting Group maintains the largest database of qualified buyers. Having multiple buyers at the table helps you get the highest value for your business. At JCG, we’ve negotiated more than $2 billion in divestiture deals, so we’ve been around the block on this process. We’ve seen the horror stories from transactions that have gone wrong. We have expert questions that smooth out a transaction. Interest rates are low Smart buyers know the value of a low rate over a longterm investment. While the SBA incentives offer shortterm incentives, this low interest rate can benefit you for the entirety of your loan. Plus, low interest rates make this a great time to buy new equipment and make other improvements to a growing business. You could even refinance existing, higher-interest loans into a new loan with your purchase of new property, saving money there as well. You can also consider using accelerated deprecation to free up more cash (more on that below). Capital Gains rates ARE going to increase under the new administration An increase in capital gains taxes is not an if, it’s a when. What does this mean for you as a seller? If you are considering selling or planning for it in the next few years, you may want the ink to dry before rates increase and you receive less of your hard-earned equity. If you’re going to wait and sell in the next couple of years — and I don’t recommend that you do — I hope you can grow your business enough to account for the increased taxes you're going to owe — otherwise you're losing money waiting. You will most assuredly owe more in taxes when you sell in a couple of years. www.ogr.org | The Independent® 41

Succession Planning A high case count year in the books with a continued upward trend is good for your value Selling when you’ve had an increase in call volume shows value for your business when you are at the table! Last year, and likely 2021, are high case count years that may taper off in the coming years. One consideration is if the high case count now means a lower case count in the next few years. Depreciation and depreciation recapture Depreciation is a bookkeeping tool that can help free up capital for growth and improvements. This allows you to reduce taxes now so you have more money to buy new equipment or make other upgrades. If you’ve already used this tool for your business, then keep the recapture in mind as taxes rise. Recapture Tax essentially means you will owe a sum of those tax savings (depreciation savings) back when you sell your asset down the road “Depreciation Recapture Tax." Look this tax up so you aren’t blindsided with taxes down the 42 www.ogr.org | Summer 2021 road. Selling now could save you buckets-full due to the rising income tax rate that will impact this tax rule. Finding buyers There's no better way to maximize value for your business than having a well-formulated marketing package and strategy coming off a high-case year like 2020. The fact is, the best time to sell is when you don’t have to. That allows you to seek out and wait for the best buyer. You want the process to work like an auction. You want multiple offers, structured in different ways, so that you can pick the one that is best for your future. At JCG, we have a tailored marketing strategy that seeks the perfect match for your business. Just because the market is ready doesn’t mean you are Even though the market is ripe, it may not be time for you personally to sell your business. Additional considerations affect your selling decision, such as staff succession, retirement income needs, age, etc. It’s never too early to plan your exit strategy, and we can help you lay the groundwork for top results. We can start by reviewing your performance in the areas of customer service, workplace, marketplace and financials to see where you are and what you can do to get the most value from your business. Jake Johnson, president and chief executive officer, is known as an innovator, change agent and thought leader. His strong foundation in accounting, financial analysis and EBITDA forecasting is complemented by technology savvy and broad general management qualifications in business development and operations. OGR members can get their choice of a high-level demographic analysis or revenue forecasting analysis from the experts at Johnson Consulting Group - for free. Reach out at info@JohnsonConsulting.com to get started.

Self-Care: Essential When Facing Changes at Work by Amy C. Waninger, Lead at Any Level Why Self-Care Matters: The Physical Impacts of Stress T he Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory ranks 43 life events that can cause stress. The word “change” itself appears 14 times. Nine are work-related. Even changes we might regard as positive, such as getting a promotion, can cause a lot of stress. Stressors accumulate. They wreak havoc on our bodies, with potential impacts on every major system. We exacerbate these problems by paying more attention to our stressors than to our own physical needs. Sleep patterns change. We are less likely to eat healthy foods and exercise. If we don’t take care of our bodies, our brain is not equipped to function during the day. Have you ever been on a big project, working really hard, going through crunch time, everything coming at you, and you’re really super busy? What happened at the end of that really super busy time? You probably got sick. Your body had had enough, and it let you know it! 5 Self-Care Essentials After the birth of my third child in 2015, my doctor insisted I attend a support group with other women experiencing postpartum depression. The facilitator asked each of us about self-care every single week. Each one of us. Every week. I’ll be honest, I got annoyed by the repetition. Each one of us. Every week. You get the picture. What follows is everything I learned from the group. Only I won’t make you go through pregnancy, labor, delivery, and the experience of locking yourself in your closet to cry for hours at a time. You’re welcome! Morning Routine Get a little bit of sunshine every day. When you get up in the morning, get to a window, and just let the sunlight hit you. Sunlight tells your brain to WAKE UP! Full disclosure: I also use cup of coffee for that purpose. My brain is probably not as thrilled with me about that, but it does get the job done occasionally. Eat Make sure you’re eating. Some people, apparently, forget to eat during times of stress. Personally, I cannot relate. If you are not eating, your body cannot renew www.ogr.org | The Independent® 43

Self-Care Self-Care itself and will start to shut down. You will not think clearly. If you have to, put fresh fruit on the counter or keep granola bars in your bag. Whatever you do, make sure that you’re not skipping meals. If, like me, you are a little too good at remembering to eat during stressful periods, make sure you’re eating the right foods. Probably not a party-sized bag of BBQ kettle chips. Stop judging me. Walk Go for a walk. A simple 15 minutes will clear your head. If you can do more than that, great! When I was training for a 5K, I noticed that the more time I took for myself, the more I felt worthy of that time. I eventually trained for and completed a half marathon. Not because I loved running, but because I enjoyed the feeling of investing in myself. Sleep Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. This is difficult when we’re stressed, because our brains turn into a three-ring circus as soon as we lie down. Funeral directors in particular can have a harder time getting your suggested amount of sleep because of on-call shifts interrupting your sleep cycle. If getting enough sleep is a challenge for you, try one of the following techniques: • Listen to a relaxation, meditation or hypnosis podcast at bedtime. Don’t worry, you won’t wake up clucking like a chicken when your alarm goes off. • Follow a healthy bedtime routine. • Practice this military method for falling asleep quickly: » Sit on the edge of your bed with only your bedside light on, and your phone silenced. » Relax your facial muscles. First tighten them up in a wincing motion, then naturally loosen. » Let gravity pull your shoulders naturally toward the ground. Let your arms dangle too, one side at a time. » While doing this, breathe in and out, letting your chest relax further and then let gravity relax your thighs and lower legs. » Try to clear your mind for 10 seconds. If thoughts come naturally, let them pass–just 44 www.ogr.org | Summer 2021 keep your body loose and limp. » Now picture one of the following two scenarios: you lying in a canoe in a calm lake with clear blue skies above you; or you in a velvet hammock, gently swaying in a pitch-black room. Look Forward to Something Put something on your calendar that you enjoy. You might be surprised to learn that planning a vacation gives us a big happiness boost. Book a tee time or schedule a mani/pedi. Plan lunch with your best friend. Anything you can do to imagine yourself happy in the near future will change your mood right now. Don’t believe me? Consider how miserable you can make yourself when you spend all day worrying about the worst-case scenario. Self-Care Is Essential I was skeptical. “Can a person really overcome debilitating depression with just these five steps?” Here’s the thing: These steps alone won’t solve all your problems. But without appropriate self-care, your brain and body lack the resources to cope with and heal from the stress you’re facing. Amy C. Waninger works with organizations that want to build leadership bench strength from a diverse talent population. She is the author of numerous books, including "Network Beyond Bias: Making Diversity a Competitive Advantage for Your Career." Amy is a Certified Diversity Professional, a Professional Member of National Speakers Association, a Certified Virtual Presenter, and a Prosci Certified Change Practitioner. Her other credentials include two degrees from Indiana University and a "World’s Best Mom" coffee mug. Amy will be the Keynote Speaker at OGR's Leadership Summit, Sept. 19 - 21. Learn more and register today at OGR.org/Leadership-Summit

Pens Down, Eyes Up: Nonverbal Communication with Families by JD Slack, Slack Funeral Home, P.A. How we behave in our silence can sometimes have an even greater impact on the families we serve than the words we say to them. I t wasn’t long before the COVID-19 shutdown that I found myself standing outside baggage claim at BWI airport awaiting my ride, when the exit door burst open and a well-dressed, professional-looking gentleman scurried across the traffic lane digging in his pockets as he dodged the traffic. When he reached the traffic island where I stood waiting, he extracted his “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou 46 www.ogr.org | Summer 2021 Marlboros and a lighter, lit his cigarette and took a drag that any smoker (or former smoker) would recognize as the, “Man, that flight was long!” first smoke after landing. Presently, he was approached by a younger man in jeans and a hoodie with an unlit cigarette dangling from his lips. The newcomer slightly raised his eyebrows and tilted his head up in an informal greeting, which the first gentleman acknowledged with a similar gesture. The younger man then held his closed fist in front of his face and flicked his thumb up and down. The first man reached in his pocket and extended his hand holding a Bic lighter. The gift was accepted, utilized, and handed back to the older gent. As their hands met, they both nodded, and the young fellow turned and walked away.

Professional Development It struck me immediately that I had just witnessed a completed and totally functional social exchange; a social contract, if you will, that was absolutely without any verbal communication whatsoever. That seemingly unimportant, commonplace encounter got me thinking of how we as funeral service providers often communicate non-verbally. Are we able to still our minds of the myriad of details and thoughts coursing through our brains when a woman in our arrangement office needs to tell us every single detail of the last hours of life of her husband of 53 years? Do we hear? More importantly: Are we truly listening, or are we miles away in our thoughts? “We have funerals every day; the families we serve do not,” is emblazoned on a sign our staff sees every time we leave the business office. It is a reminder of the responsibility we have not only to use our technical skills to the best of our abilities, but also those non-technical skills such as active listening. My friend and OGR Past President George Darte has said that at his firm, the rule for arrangement conferences is that for the first 15 minutes, it is “pens down and eyes up." I would encourage us all to adhere to those sage words. Listen to what is being said and to what is NOT being said. It can truly make a difference in someone’s journey. John Dallas Slack, CFSP, is vice president of OGR member firm Slack Funeral Home, P.A. in Ellicott City, Maryland. He is a second-generation funeral director and embalmer, and has been managing his family funeral home since 1983. John has been active as a member of the MSFDA Disaster Response Team and is a certified Forensic Investigator and a licensed insurance agent in Maryland. JD Slack is an OGR member. Any member may submit content for publication consideration, free of charge. Reach out to Evan Hoffmeyer at EHoffmeyer@OGR.org for details. Bridge To The Next Generation In Your Families Every death leaves an estate to be settled. The executor is your connection to the next generation of the family, and Closing Affairs is the bridge to make that connection. Closing Affairs has been a leading executor tool kit for over twenty years, and it is now available in a printed U.S. edition. • Agendas/Schedules • Step-by-step guide • Form letters for Government/Business entities • Access to more resources on ClosingAffairs.com So Many Opportunities To Build Relationships You can use many of the features of Closing Affairs to maintain contact with the executor and provide assistance. For more information and introductory pricing, call 1-888-829-8362 or email info@inexinc.com www.ogr.org | The Independent® 47

Pre-need: The Lifeblood of Every Funeral Home by Jon Billetdeaux, Vantage Point Preneed

Pre-need What's Your Excuse? R egardless of the size of your firm, if you do not have a dedicated pre-need program, you are doing your funeral home a disservice and only kidding yourself. Throughout the year, we hear a multitude of reasons/excuses as to why a particular firm does not need a dedicated pre-need person, writing agent or even a set plan. The smaller funeral homes are quick to report that the families they serve do not like to prepay or that they do not have time for pre-need because they are simply too busy. They then will round out the conversation with the fact that they do not believe in time pay. If you relate to any of these excuses, I urge you to change your mindset a little or I believe that your entire business will flounder. Larger firms lacking a solid pre-need program will cite various reasons that are typically apparent within the first 5-10 minutes of conversation. “We have multiple funeral directors on staff who handle pre-need” or “Our secretary schedules and coordinates pre-need appointments,” they share with us. Sometimes it is a financial concern of not wanting to give up any commission dollars to an outside firm. Could be a belief that families only want to meet with a funeral director, not a sales agent. You name the excuse, we have heard it. I think even the larger firms with the best of intentions fall short with a solid plan mainly because they are wearing so many hats and pulled in too many directions without even realizing their pre-need program is falling way short of what it could and should be doing. Most funeral home owners go to mortuary school and have little or no business background beyond what they received working on their funeral director’s license. At their core, most funeral directors and owners are caregivers but are still expected to handle and be well versed in business and operations management. They are called on to serve as their funeral home’s bookkeeper and auditor, human resource officer, marketing specialist, legal, IT, sales and customer service representative, run a funeral, do a little embalming on the side and the list goes on. When considering all that an owner does in their daily duties it is not hard to see how pre-need does not get the attention it deserves. The truth is pre-need is a job in and of itself that cannot be done or overseen by one person if it is going to be done right, and typically requires a team effort to reach its fullest potential. Make it Happen Revamping an entire wing of your business – or starting a new wing for the first time – can seem daunting, but many practices can be tailored to your firm’s size, culture, market area, market share and the resources you have available. Larger firms can typically draw on additional resources, like larger cash flow, more trained staff, stronger name/ brand recognition and even multiple locations. These are funeral homes that are obviously doing a lot of things right already or they would not be serving the number of families they are. For these reasons I believe that with the right support and guidance a great pre-need plan can be implemented with little disruption to daily activities or additional responsibilities and workload being added to the staff or owner. Most funeral home owners have little or no business background beyond what they received working on their funeral director's license. Larger firms: Utilize your resources The first step in implementing any good pre-need plan is to partner with a company that can provide what you need to achieve your goals. The days of partnering with a pre-need provider who has a friendly, good-looking sales rep knocking on your door or just a decent commission schedule are long gone. Your pre-need partner must have the experience and capabilities to recruit, hire and train a dedicated pre-need sales agent or agents. Dedicated trainers on staff with your partner are an absolute must! You should also look for marketing expertise and access to turnkey direct mail pieces, social media campaigns, ability to perform market research analysis for your specific situation, plus support and resources for public speaking engagements are some of what can be provided. A pre-need partner www.ogr.org | The Independent® 49

Pre-need COVID-19 also offers multiple insurance carriers to be able to offer up the best in commission dollars, growth rates and accommodate whatever goals are set for your company. Without having access to multiple insurance carriers, money is always left on the table. As with any vendor, you need a partner you can trust and feel comfortable with because they are going to know your business inside and out if they do a good job. After vetting and selecting your pre-need partner to pilot your program, it’s time to recruit, hire and train the pre-need employee(s) to run your pre-need sales. This can be a grueling, time-consuming process but, by using an outside pre-need company, they do all the work, leaving you to run your funeral home. Once fully trained and embedded within your funeral home, it is imperative that all of the staff, including funeral directors, are rowing in the same direction and working in unison to fill the same sales funnel, which requires some staff training as well. When working with a pre-need company, these agents are their employees. As such, they will oversee all agents, coordinate all marketing and lead sources, as well as continue to train and implement better techniques for them to master their craft. It may be tempting to try to step in and manage the pre-need sales area of your business, but this is when it is important to trust the process and the company you have brought on board. If you let your pre-need partner do their job and give them the support they request, you are on your way to having a solid pre-need program. Smaller firms: Getting outside your comfort zone For smaller firms, implementing a great pre-need plan takes a little different approach. An open mind is a must, along with a willingness to leave your comfort zone a little. Typically, there is not enough money to go around for a dedicated sales agent, so "pre-need sales agent" is another hat to be worn within your funeral home staff. Your vetting process should be like the bigger firms with an emphasis put on the resources and knowledge of the sales representative because they will most likely coordinate and take the place of the trainer in a smaller scale model. Budgets and goals will go hand-in-hand to get a program off the ground. It is imperative to be disciplined enough to allocate a certain 50 www.ogr.org | Summer 2021 amount or percentage toward a dedicated marketing budget. Direct mail, social media campaigns or lunchand-learns will all help increase pre-need volume and results may be noticeable immediately if you have not done anything consistently in the past. Your pre-need partner will be instrumental in developing the program and budget, but you have to believe in the process and execute the plan. Invest Today or Lose Tomorrow It is a simple fact that without a tried-and-true program in place you are leaving money and at-need growth on the table. Pre-need increases and drives at-need business. It is the absolute fastest and easiest way to increase market share as well as create top-of-mind awareness for current and future client families, which equates to brand recognition. Pre-need may also increase annual revenue and create new opportunities to connect with members of your community. The one thing that is difficult to gauge is what is in your competitors’ pre-need drawer. Either you take the steps necessary to fill your drawer now, or run the risk of being blindsided several years down the road. Once pre-need market share is lost, it is lost forever. By taking the steps now to build a solid pre-need program, your funeral home will realize the benefits for years to come and fully understand why pre-need truly is the lifeblood of all funeral homes. Jon Billetdeaux is an experienced sales director with a demonstrated history in the insurance industry, currently serving as president of sales for Vantage Point Preneed. He is skilled in negotiation, business planning and operations management. You can reach him at JBilletdeaux@ VantagePointPreneed.com OGR members get a 50% discount on any of Vantage Point's direct mailers when you use one of their insurance companies to fund your pre-needs. Learn more at VantagePointPreNeed.com

WOULD YOUR FUNERAL HOME BENEFIT FROM 1000 HIGH QUALITY INFORMATION GUIDES - EVERY YEAR - AT NO COST!? CUSTOM DESIGN & TAILORED CONTENT INC. PRE-PLANNING We work very closely with you to ensure we individually design guides that perfectly represent every funeral home we work with, your values and your individual needs. INCLUDE YOUR OWN UNIQUE SERVICES, STAFF BIOS, FORMS, IMAGES, MAPS & MORE Our guides are uniquely designed for your funeral home, incorporating your logo, branding, images, location maps, key personnel photos and staff profiles/bios within each guide. USED & APPROVED BY OGR MEMBERS - AT ZERO COST! Skyways Media have successfully produced planning guides for many OGR members. These high quality, rich, full color glossy printed guides were supplied at zero cost and they have been extremely satisfied with them! PROVIDE YOUR LOCAL FAMILIES WITH THE LATEST COVID-19 INFORMATION & PROCESSES LET’S TALK! USA West: 1-702-329-6677 USA East: 1-646-810-5748 www.skyways-media.com SKYWAYS M E D I A

International Order of the Golden Rule 3502 Woodview Trace, Ste. 300 Indianapolis, IN 46268 www.ogr.org Presort Std. U.S. Postage PAID Indianapolis, IN Permit #279 September 19 - 21 Carmel, Indiana Early Bird Discount ends August 8 Register today! brought to you in part by The Leadership Summit is an opportunity to reunite with your colleagues and make new friends IN-PERSON for the first time in over a year while delving into topics that focus on leadership and innovation. Visit OGR.org/Leadership-Summit

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