Monday, March 20, 2006

s-e-r-v-i-c-e !

some background:
okay, there is this thing in funeral service called pre-need. it is more of a sales job, and is not something woody nor i deal much with, as most of our time is taken up with what we call 'at-need' funeral service. in pre-need, the goal is to sign people up for their funeral at your firm, and hopefully fund their wishes in some sort of investment (insurance, trust accounts, a bank account, etc.). then the funeral home keeps those wishes on file until the time of death of the person, at which time we get the file out and go by what they wanted back when they wrote the pre-need. when a pre-need is fully funded the surviving family members cannot change the wishes of the decedent after they die, but they can be changed before death (in the past families would change a fully funded traditional burial (expensive) to a direct cremation (inexpensive) to get the difference back from whatever the money was held in).

more background:
the mortuary that woody and i work at most of the time in bakersfield was just purchased by his mother in october of 2004. it was built in the 20s and was family owned until 1996 (i think) when the family that owned it sold to a large corperation. the corperation also owned 2 other mortuaries in kern county. well, some time before we purchased it, the corperation decided that kern county wasnt making the money that they thought it should and came to my mother-in-law to see if she wanted the 3. so, she bought 2 of them (both of which were owned by the same family before the corperation). anyhew, most of the staff that were working at the mortuaries before the sale decided to leave after we took over, including one funeral director that had the same name (and a third generation of the family that owned the mortuaries in the past) as the mortuary itself, which we didnt want to change since it has such good name recognition. this guy went to work at a mortuary/cemetery not far from us, and in the beginning of the take-over, a handful of his families loyals switched their pre-needs to where he is currently working.

real story:
so, i got a phone call about a week or two ago from a lady whose mother-in-law has a prearrangement on file with us. i looked up her name in our file and sure enough, a fully funded pre-need. i tell her daughter-in-law that we have it here in the mortuary and she proceeds to tell me that they are wanting to switch it to another mortuary in town, the one where the director went to work after we took over. i told her that it wasnt going to be a problem, and that it was good of her to do this all now, since it cannot be done after the death of her mother-in-law, who is in her 90s. i also let her know that i was going to have to call the company that the money was invested in some 10 years ago to see what they would need from us in order to switch the funds to the other mortuary. she said that was fine and thanked me for my time and i said i would call her back.
so, i call the company, california master trust, and they say that the funds have grown almost $1000 since '96. they also told me that the money cannot be changed to this other mortuary because they are not members of the master trust (i really dont understand that, but whatever). she did say, however, that they could cash out the policy and take the cash over to the other mortuary and start a new policy, but they would loose the guarntee that they have with us (if the policy doesnt grow enough to cover our price increases, which it hardly ever does, we discount down our prices to match what the policy will pay).
so, i call back the daughter-in-law and tell her all of this. but i also let her know that i understand how important it is to have someone you know and trust take care of your family in the time of a death, and that it might be worth it for the family to come up with the extra money so that they can use the other mortuary (they grew up with the guy that now works there). this really impressed her. she even said so, to which i replied something like 'it is something we count on, peoples trust, and when my grandpa started his mortuaries in shafter and wasco he counted on it to. he still works funerals for people that he knows well because of how important his job and the job we do now in his footsteps is.' i really meant it, too. so she talks with me some more about grandpa and funeral service and stuff, and at the end of the conversation, when i told her to come in and get the paperwork that the mastertrust company needs from her mother-in-law, she said that maybe they didnt need to switch after all (mostly, i am guessing, because of the money they would save). and that i was a nice girl for telling her all of that information.

so, maybe they will switch, or maybe not. but either way, i have won. she now has a good view of me, and of the company, which i have a feeling might have been tarnished by the person at the other mortuary. and woody and i are starting to see that the way we handle ourselves and the way we do business is being noticed. so yay!


Anonymous said...

you summed it all up in the last sentence....the way you handle yourselves is being noticed. That is the best way to get your name out there. That is such a compliment to you! I'm so proud of you!!!!

timidvenus said...

okay, i didnt realize it was going to be that long.

Adam said...

I know. I had to read it in three attempts. It needed more pictures of dead people.

Scott & Malisa Johnson said...

Good for you Sarah! I am sure that your family is totally thrilled with the results that you will continue to see because of this mind-set. When I die, I hope that somebody like you is there to deal with my family.

(Notice I didn't say you... I don't plan on you still working at the time of my death)

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