Branding 28
topThe Insider
News for Death Care Professionals
Vol. III
 Issue IV

In our last issue of  "The Insider" we featured the article "LAUREL HILL WOOS VISITORS IN FEBRUARY WITH LOVE STORIES" courtesy of the ICCFA Magazine. Not only did we neglect to attribute the article to the source but we also did not mention its author Susan Loving, the managing editor of the ICCFA Magazine and a most excellent writer and photographer. We appreciate the ICCFA's and Susan's ongoing courtesy in letting us reproduce their articles for our WCCFA audience.



Mausoleums and Columbaria Roundtable


with Betsy Baldry, Thomas Burrington, David Dahl


Cremation is having an impact on all segments of the death-care industry, including mausoleum and columbarium construction. We talked to industry professionals Betsy Baldry, marketing director for Dakota Granite; Thomas Burrington, vice president of mausoleum and feature sales for Rock of Ages; and David Dahl, president of Milne Construction, about how the industry has changed, what families want and what the future looks like.


How has the mausoleum and columbaria business changed over the past five years?


Dave Dahl

Baldry: As a fabricator of mausoleums and columbaria we have steadily increased production of these buildings. These are memorial products that will continue to be in high demand. The biggest change we have seen is the growing need for large-scale buildings to accommodate not just family cremated remains but community as well. Many large-scale memorial areas have been installed in highly populated city cemeteries and in smaller communities as well. This is an area of large growth, and it is exciting to be part of creating these tranquil memorial areas.


Burrington: The past five years have seen a dramatic increase in Internet brokers and importers. The quality of product in the marketplace has suffered as a result.


Dahl: There has been an economic stall in inventory needs. We saw smaller jobs with more phasing options.


What are you hearing from cemeterians about what they want and need?


Betsy Baldry

Burrington: They are looking for a quality product at a fair price with a warranty that protects them.


Dahl: Cemeterians want smaller structures. They want to show value and full service while providing unique lasting products for the next generation.


Baldry: We are asked by cemeterians about additional options they can provide with the increasing number of cremation burials. Cemeteries continue investing in above-ground cremation memorials that create areas of reflection and meditation. These areas have a small real estate footprint and provide an additional option to families.


We expect creation of above-ground memorial areas to continue to be invested in by both large and small cemeteries across the country in order to provide additional options.


There's a lot of talk about the need for personalization in every step of the process. How are you answering the call?


Thomas Burrington

Dahl: Milne has been providing full-service design/build solutions for years, and we are always looking for new lasting products.


Two of those new products are now endorsed and sold by Milne Co.'s Life Memories: they are Pet Memories and Heaven's Address.


Baldry: Our company is not directly involved in the steps of a family's funeral process, but personalization is important to us. Personalization in creating a memorial certainly plays a role in design and ultimately the end result of fabrication. The close relationships we have with our customers and communication during the design and creative process is our key to answering the call and providing families with a personalized memorial. Dakota Granite is a proud partner of professional memorialists.


Burrington: As designers and fabricators, our business was founded on personalization. The memorial-mausoleum is the only lasting symbol after the funeral. We approach each project as telling a family's story in stone.


link to rest of article           


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Attention WCCFA Supplier Members:

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with this issue of the Insider


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And the survey says... 

 by Daniel M. Isard for American Cemetery Magazine April 2014 reproduced with permission


"The modern survey is not paper. It is not conducted by phone banks calling homes at night because many people are not using their landlines any longer. It is being done by email."


Author Dan Isard

Many cemeteries operate with the same business plan they had hundreds of years ago: Someone dies, and he or she gets buried. But the progressive cemetery has enhanced the business plan: Someone dies, he or she gets cremated, and then he or she gets inurned.


Cemeteries are businesses, and they need data to run at their maximum efficiency. We need to be able to use the electronic world to capture the data. The problem is that most cemeterians do not know what data to capture.


The data capture is simple when you realize that more than 75 percent of all cememtery sales (interment or inurnment is immaterial) come from people who already have family or friends interred within your gates. WE need to be able to find out more about these consumers, and we need to do it on a proactive basis. Customer surveys are a key part of that ability.


If you gave me the contact information for 100 people that spoke to a salesperson from your cemetery about acquiring interments rights, what could I learn from them?

  • I can learn if they bought somewhere or are still looking.
  • If they bought, I can learn where they bought.
  • If they bought somewhere else, I can learn why they bought at the other location and not at your cemetery

Do you comprehend how valuable those three insights could be?


First of all, if they bought somewhere else, I can determine my true competitors. However, if they haven't bought anyplace else, now I can determine who to remarket to and what needs to focus on.


Assume half of the 100 people have not bought. That is 50 possible consumers, and on average, that is about four interments each. That is a chance at 200 interment rights, with opening/closing fees, and some percentage of them will buy markers. That is conceivably a million dollars in added revenue.


Let's go back to those who have bought elsewhere. I can survey them to determine what they bought. Maybe they bought interment but are still shopping for merchandise. Maybe I can address the problem as to why they didn't buy with me. Maybe it is a salesperson's error. Maybe it is the impression my property is giving. Advance cemetery sales are usually not lost due to price.


It's All about the Data


Do you know what a lead costs? A direct mailing program can have lead costs that are $50 or more per person. However, if we look at these costs on a per closing basis, the total cost could be 10 times that amount!


So, how much would you spend to retrieve a chance at a sale or the data upon a failed sales effort? I would think this is a small cost, and if you compare those costs to the results of identifying some people that are still in the market, it is not a cost at all.


As a management and financial consultant to this profession, I have to constantly find tools to keep my clients on the most progressive edge of the business. My company, The Foresight Companies, has experimented with customer surveys for years, but we never liked them. That is, we never liked them until now, because now the survey has met the electronic age.


The modern survey is not paper. It is not conducted by phone banks calling homes at night because many people are not using their landlines any longer. It is being done by e-mail.


link here to continue 


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Five surprising statistics

about social media and older adults


Author Matt Frazer

When I talk to funeral directors and other industry professionals about the importance of using their websites and digital marketing best practices to connect with customers online - for example, by posting obituaries to Facebook - one response I hear all too often is, "My customers don't care about that kind of thing." Well...are you sure about that?


87 percent of adults are online and using the internet


According to data collected by the Pew Research Center's Internet Project, 87 percent of adults age 18 and older use the internet, whether at home or at another location, like a public library for example.


As you might expect, usage rates are highest among younger demographics, but even older users are becoming increasingly active online. An estimated 88 percent of survey respondents ages 50-64 use the internet, as well as 57 percent of adults ages 65 and older. These adults are looking for all types of information online, and if your funeral home doesn't maintain an active website (22 percent of firms don't) or social presence (only 41 percent of funeral services do), you're missing out on a powerful opportunity to be the one who answers their funeral-related questions.


73 percent of online adults use social networking sites


Of these 87 percent of adults who are active online, the Pew Research Center's Internet Project Social Media Update 2013, released on December 30, 2013, estimates that nearly two-thirds maintain at least one active profile on a social networking site like Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Digging deeper into these stats reveals that 42 percent of online adults have multiple profiles across several different social media sites.


Certainly, not all of the adults that use social networking sites will be your target customers. But, as you'll see in the statistics below, Baby Boomers and seniors are using social sites more than ever, making the value of investing in these platforms clear.


Users ages 65+ have roughly tripled their presence on social networking sites over the past four years


Further data from the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project tracking surveys demonstrates that not only are adults using social networking sites at unexpectedly high rates, their adoption of these new media channels has roughly tripled over the past four years amongst the internet's oldest users. No other demographic group has come close to matching these overall engagement rates!


Simply put, older adults are interested in social media and they're using it. If you think that your older customers aren't interested in hearing from you on these channels, thing again!


57 percent of online Baby Boomers are using Facebook, along with 35 percent of online seniors


So now, knowing that older adults are engaging with social networking sites at unprecedented rates, the natural next question to ask should be, where should I focus my online efforts? The answer is simple: Facebook.


Of the 88 percent of Baby Boomers who are active online, 57 percent prefer to use Facebook for their social interactions, according to the Pew Research Center's "The Demographics of Social Media Users - 2012" report. In addition, of the 57 percent of online seniors who use social networking sites, 35 percent prefer to use the web's top social network - which currently boasts over 1 billion users - for these purposes. And given that Pew's research cites the desire to reconnect with past friends and acquaintances as the top reason older adults use Facebook, sharing your funeral home's death announcements on this social site is a natural fit for its users' preferred interactions.


The fastest growing demographic on Twitter is the 55-64 year age bracket (which has grown 79 percent since 2012)


Finally, if you've already established a Facebook presence for your funeral home [or cemetery] and want to further expand your social media marketing efforts, your next stop should be Twitter. Although adoption rates are still relatively low among older adults (only 10 percent of Baby Boomers and two percent of seniors are using Twitter), the 55-64 age bracket does hold the distinction of being the social service's fastest growing demographic.


Getting started on Twitter isn't as difficult as it sounds, and most funeral homes can get by automatically sharing their obituaries alongside a few helpful pieces of information about the funeral planning and grief process. All told, updating both Facebook and Twitter profiles for your funeral home can take less than an hour a week. But in exchange, you'll benefit from the ability to connect with prospective customers in a non-threatening environment in a way that allows you to maintain top-of-mind brand awareness in your community.


If you're able to secure just one new service from your social media marketing campaigns, you'll find this minimal investment to be well worth your time!


Matt Frazer is the owner of Frazer Consultants, a personalization, technology and consulting company for the death care profession. Founded in 2003, Frazer Consultants's top product lines include the stylus-based Tribute e-Guest digital register book app, the all-in-one Tribute Center personalization suite, the Life Journey stationery collection, funeral home website design and the new revenue-generating Tribute Store plugin. Matt can be reached at 866-372-9372, email or visit for additional information.


Article by Matt Frazer sourced from Funeral Home & Cemetery News for May 2014


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Wilbert Precast PNG  

Everything you need to know

about recycling your post-cremation metals

(but were afraid to ask) 


by Sheldon Goldner (Sheldon will be a guest speaker at the Fourth Annual Death Care Professionals convention in August)


Author Sheldon Goldner

If you're running a crematory, by now you're well aware of the growing number of businesses offering to recycle the metal you recover from your cremations. The post-cremation metals recycling industry is growing quickly and for good reason. The first reason is that much of the post- cremation metals from dental work and bone implants are valuable and these companies know it. The second reason is that the Federal law requires "heavy metals" such as gold, silver, platinum, palladium and iridium to be properly disposed of or recycled, not just buried.


The fact is, not all recycling companies care about environmental compliance or your liability in the matter, but you should. According to Federal code, the ultimate environmental liability for non-compliance lies with you. So now, given all the recycling companies ready to take your metal and return the proceeds back to you (at varying amounts depending on who you choose), the question you should have is how do you select the right company that will pay you a fair return but will also keep you in environmental compliance.


Recycling companies serving cremationists come in two flavors. A direct refiner (the one who actually owns the refinery) is always the best choice. Just as all that glitters isn't gold, not everyone offering to buy your post-cremation metal is a direct refiner. Most recyclers, scrap dealers and waste haulers are essentially middle-men who don't have the equipment or expertise to properly recover and refine precious metals themselves. They have to hire a refiner, which adds costs that eat into the money they can return to you. Some will tell you they are a "refiner" when in truth they are not. What is a crematory to do?


When you do business with a direct refiner, you not only avoid the middle-man and have more of the proceeds returned to you, but it also puts you in the very best position should the EPA come a-knocking to see how you've recycled the metals.


Seven Questions You Should Ask

When choosing a recycler, you should consider asking these seven important questions. Don't be timid about asking since a reputable refiner will be all too happy to answer.

  • Does the "recycler" operate a true refinery or is he just acting as a middleman with a furnace that can melt metal? You can test them by insisting on a tour of their facility. If they say no or make excuses because of insurance, they are hiding something and must be a middleman.

  • How long has the refinery been in business and how long have they been working with post-cremation metals? (It matters!) Unfortunately, many so-called "refiners" are here today and gone tomorrow. Let the company prove their authenticity and longevity with Articles of Incorporation or other documentation. And don't forget to Google them (and their owners) as well to see what you can find.

  • Does the refinery employ the latest technologies to recover all of the precious metal present? Do they own either an ICP Thermal Analysis unit or an Atomic Absorption unit for analysis? If they only have an x-ray fluoroscopy unit to identify whether or not precious metals are present, you're speaking with a middleman and not a direct refiner.

  • Does the refinery pay for all four major precious metals: gold, silver, platinum and palladium? If they say that they do, ask how they separate the platinum group metals from the gold (which are present together in the alloys used in dental implants). If they cannot quickly provide an answer, you're most likely speaking with a salesman, not a refinery professional.

  • What percentage are they charging for their fees? Only a large direct refiner with additional non-funeral industry business can afford to pay as high 98% on gold and 95% on all other metals, accepting the smallest of margins.

  • How quickly will they pay you? A true refiner can, if you wish, pay within 24 hours of receipt for the gold in your dental scrap and the balance of the other precious metals within 5 to 10 working days from receipt.

  • Are they EPA-compliant? Can they produce an official numbered Federal EPA manifest that will protect you if you're ever contacted by the agency? If they can't provide such a manifest or merely tell you that they have a letter that says they are environmentally compliant, that's a big red flag.  

link here to continue 


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Cremation Round Table 


with Julie Burn, Keenan Knopke, Mark Matthews


There's no question that cremation continues to be a story for funeral service. So how is it affecting cemeteries? More importantly, how can cemetery operators bring cremation families to their properties? To find out the answers to these questions, we turned to three industry experts: Julie Burn, director of cremation services for StoneMor Partners; Keenan Knopke, CEO and president of Curlew Hills Memory Gardens in Palm Harbor, Fla.; and Mark Matthews, president of Wiefels Cremation and Funeral Service in Palm Springs, Calif.


What are the biggest cremation trends of 2013?


Julie Burn

Burn: The continuance of the introduction of innovative products to memorialize a loved one as well as advances in computer technology to enable consumers to make online cremation arrangements were prominent in the marketplace.


Knopke: What cemeteries faced in 2013 will continue into 2014, and that is how do you communicate the value to cremation families of memorializing their loved ones? It's the number one issue facing cemeteries, and it's an issue that has to be faced head on.


One way that can be done is for funeral homes and cemeteries to partner together for cremation families. It's been done for years with casketed burials, with funeral homes talking about where the body is going to be buried, but when it comes to cremation, that discussion is just not taking place. Forget about the politics, the idea that cremation is killing the business, and focus the discussion of the importance - the value - of having a permanent memorial.


Mark Matthews

Everyone needs a place to go and memorialize a loved one, and that can be as simple as a name on a wall like the Vietnam Memorial, or a niche or a scattering in a pond. They need a place to go and sit and remember.


Matthews: We can't blame the cremation rate on the economy anymore. A growing number of consumers prefer cremation because they are less enthusiastic about "traditional funerals" and despite our best effort do no see the value charged.


What will be the big cremation story in 2014?


Matthews: Regulatory costs and zoning restrictions on crematory installations will pit the rising cremation rate against the increasing difficulty in siting a crematory in a community.


Burn: In a perfect world, the most significant cremation story would be that more cremation consumers begin to see value in having some type of meaningful ceremony and permanent memorialization for their loved one. This can be accomplished through proper cremation arranger training for both funeral directors and counselors. In the real world, this scenario will take some time and most likely won't have a big impact in one year. What we don't want is a negative story that will affect the way consumers view our services. Sometimes no news is good news.

Keenan Knopke

How important are cremation graveside services?


Matthews: If a family chooses to do one, it is my experience that it is near family and friends and not the type of crowd that would attend a funeral Mass or memorial service. Nonetheless, they are important to families who place cremated remains in burial or a niche.


Burn: When cremation families choose to bury, a meaningful graveside service adds dignity and offers families an opportunity for ritual often lacking in cremation service.


Cremation families deserve the same type of graveside service given to traditional burial families. Too often, the setup for a cremation graveside service has an urn and some type of outer container sitting on a grass cloth, while a traditional burial graveside service includes a tent, chairs and lowering device. While is some cases it may not be possible to erect a tent for the burial of the cremated remains due to space requirements, one can still set up a table on which the urn and urn vault can be placed along with items that reflect the deceased's life, such as personal photographs and mementos (similar to what was present at the funeral or memorial service).


A cremation graveside service is another option for families to memorialize their loved one through personalized services, which can include readings from families and friends sharing memories of the deceased, balloon and/or dove releases, and the inclusion of music selections, either recorded or live.


Knopke: They are just as important as casketed services. They bring closure and help a family to move on. Families that have a cremation but no service have no closure, and I think they struggle with that ... and there's always that "Why did I do that? I wish I had done this."


What can cemetery owners do to attract the attention of the cremation consumer?


Burn: The number one thing that cemetery owners can do to attract the attention of the cremation consumer is to offer an adequate array of choices for permanent memorialization. Mausuoleums with niche options have been around for a long time and are still frequently chosen by cremation families. However, over the last several years we have seen the growth of unique outdoor columbarium niches as well as the emergence of beautiful cremation gardens.


Cremation gardens provide a fresh new approach to a cemetery's memorialization offerings. Families and friends can visit their loved ones in a serene park-like setting with lush landscaping, including waterfalls, bridges, even live swans. Benches, rocks, pedestals, plaques and ossuaries all allow for some type of permanent memorialization. Most cremation gardens will include a special place for scattering, with features that include a plaque where the loved one's name can be recorded.


Sightlife 6-2013 One of the positives about cremation for cemeteries is that often small or odd-shaped spaces that are unusable for traditional sections can be creatively used for cremation, and of course the same piece of land can handle many more cremated remains than traditional burials.


Knopke: Cemeteries have to be less rigid. By their very nature, cemeteries are rigid - everything lines up, structures, bushes, everything. But cremation families are a different animal, and cemeteries need to be flexible, to create things on the fly for these families.


I think that it's important to keep in mind the big picture ... and that is cremation families are not afraid of spending money if they see value. Cemeterians have to be visionaries and be able to create value for each family, whether it is a pond scattering or something very personal that speaks to that family.


It's also important to listen to what cremation families are saying. Don't assume you know what they want.


Matthews: At the time of release of cremated remains to a disposition other than a cemetery, a professional should provide an envelope with information about what a family can do with cremated remains that were taken home when time has passed and the cremated remains move from the mantle to the closet of memories at home. When this happens, information about a more permanent memorialization option should be present. This is the time when the information may be most valuable to the family. 


Article by Patti Martin Bartsche, sourced from American Cemetery magazine for December 2013


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Maintenance: Cemeteries & the city 

By Lauren Moore


Cemeteries are forever - at least, they're supposed to be. When a cemetery assumes the responsibility of laying someone to rest, that person's family and friends expect the remains to be cared for in perpetuity. To see an ancestor's grave site overgrown with weeds or a headstone broken or sunken into the ground is upsetting. While there are many examples of cemeteries that are well managed, with solid perpetual care funds, pristine grounds and reverence for those buried there, there are some that fall into disrepair and debt.


Whether it's a case of changing demographics, poorly managed funds or some other unfortunate circumstance, there are cemeteries around the country that become abandoned eyesores instead of tranquil places for remembrance and reflection. When that happens, who becomes responsible for setting things right? In some communities, the onus is on local governments.


Which is what happened in Northbridge, Massachusetts. In October 2013, it was decided that after being privately managed for 135 years, Pine Grove Cemetery, a roughly 35-acre historic cemetery, would be handed over to the town.


"The trustees felt they couldn't operate the cemetery successfully long term," said Northbridge town manager Ted Kozak. "The trustees had hired individuals to do the work and couldn't maintain operations. They weren't making enough funds to continue operating, so they offered it to the town."


The transition process is ongoing, Kozak said, but the town should be taking over the cemetery within the next couple of months.


An article in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette reported that under Massachusetts state law, a town must provide at least one burial ground for residents within its limits. The town's sole municipal cemetery, Riverdale, is expected to be full within 20 years.


Polyguard 7-12 Kozak said there is still room for burials within Pine Grove Cemetery, and that it will be maintained by the town's Department of Public Works.


While Kozak reportedly supported the measures, not all municipal workers that find themselves in similar situations are enthusiastic about assuming responsibility for a cemetery.


"I don't think there's any municipality that says, 'Oh boy, we get to take over a cemetery.' I don't think anyone really willingly does it or rushes into it," said Robert M. Fells, executive director and general counsel of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association. That might be because cemeteries are unique among businesses, with long-term plans that span decades. "It's the only business that services what it sells forever. There's no five-year warranty and then that's it. Maintenance is on ongoing thing that never has an end," Fells explained.


link to continue 


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 USPS announces new shipping standards for cremated remains


In an effort to expedite the shipping process for cremated remains the Postal Service has adopted new domestic shipping standards.


Human (or animal) cremated remains being shipped with the U.S. must use Priority Mail Express service only. International shipping standards remain the same as they have been.


Click here for the publication "How to Package and Ship Cremated Remains." 


The Gift of Aftercare


While preparing for a few presentations, I ran across a very interesting article in the Louisville USA Today supplement for March 31, 2014. It really caught my eye one of the things I have been working on is ritual and how the later Baby Boomers are such control freaks. They want everything their way and are willing to do what it takes to get it. In fact, the subtitle of the article written by Maria Puente reads Boomers seeking control to the end, turn to do it yourself obits.


Ms. Puente goes on to explain that boomers are so into control that a company has created a kit for writing your own obituary called the Obitkit workbook written and sold by Susan Soper since 2009.


Another aside about obits and boomers is that they are going viral on the internet, YouTube and has seen as many as 10,000 results. The interesting part of this is that people are finding ways to leave messages to their families, say things they just couldn't say personally and leaving life messages that just might help those left behind. An example of this is the mother who died at the age of 37 and had been an alcoholic and drug addict who wrote, "I have quit now, but I am dead; don't wait as long as I did." Soper says, "People are talking about death in ways they never did before."


Here are 10 tips the article gave about tackling your own obit. I thought it might be helpful to share these with the clients you serve.


  1. Don't put it off. You're not getting any younger. Just get started, even if you don't finish.
  2. Think of it as a final letter you're writing to your family and don't worry about whether it will be published for the world.
  3. Gather important documents and take a deep dive through family photo albums.
  4. Ask yourself questions: What are the facts and dates about you - birth, education, marriage, children, military service, career achievements and spiritual life?
  5. What are your hobbies, your favorite trips, your greatest indulgences, your happiest times?
  6. How do you want to be remembered by your family?
  7. What do you most want to say to your loved ones?
  8. What is the most important thing you learned on your life journey that you want to pass on?
  9. Mix seriousness with humor, whimsy with sobriety.
  10. Leave your obit where someone will find it after you are gone.


If nothing else, this list might help you help a family write the obituary for their loved one. The idea alone may help them in planning the funeral service so that it tells the story of their loved one's life and create a service that is meaningful for everyone.


Article by Sherry L. Williams-White sourced from Funeral Home & Cemetery News for May 2014.


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Tips from the top: advice from experts

10 Tips for Cemetery Preservation 


Cemeteries are places of learning that tie the young and old together to who we are where we have come from. It's important, then that those responsible for the grounds keep them well maintained. Mary F. Striegel, chief of materials conservation at the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training in Natchitoches, La., offers these 10 tips for cemetery preservation.



A wise first step in preserving a historic cemetery is the development of a master plan. Good plans include an integrated approach for gravesite documentation, treatment and maintenance.



Create a field survey sheet for the documentation of each gravesite. If possible store information in a computer database. It is important to train volunteers on identification of monument types and ways to note condition prior to field surveys. Try to identify the material from which the grave marker is constructed.



Assess landscape elements including the trees, shrubs and plants, as well as the pathways, roads, benches and lighting. Think long term about the landscape. Will trees cause damage in the future? Are they healthy? Consider how the cemetery is currently used, and determine circulation of people and/or cars within its boundaries. Consider security issues and the need for fences. Don't try to apply your personal aesthetic to a historic cemetery.



Inspect gravesites on a regular basis for structural defects. Are the grave markers broken? Is standing water present that can aid in plant growth, or accelerate deterioration of masonry joints? Is vegetation growing on surfaces? What is the condition of the landscape around the tomb? Keep this information of field survey forms.



Consider the needs of the particular cemetery, and create a list of projects based on those needs. Is the cemetery secure? Has it been documented? Are all graves identified? Are any tombs at risk of collapse? Is historical research needed? Keep in mind the need for short-term and long-term efforts.



Cleaning stones should be done with the gentles means possible. Begin with water and a soft brush. Do not use household bleach or abrasive techniques. The repair of tombstones and monuments requires previous experience with historical materials and treatments. Only skilled conservators should undertake restoration of tablets and sculpture.



Regularly scheduled maintenance is an excellent way to practice preventive preservation. Maintain the landscaping next to tombs. Keep in mind that caution must be used when operation power equipment hear masonry or ironwork. Training maintenance and ground crews will minimize damage to markers.



Conservation treatments are frequently time consuming and expensive. Contract with people who have experience with historical materials and who respect the original fabric of the tombs. Ask contractors for details about their previous work. Can they provide a written plan for their proposed work that includes materials to be used in the treatments? Are they members of professional organizations? Are they insured?



Seek volunteers within the community. Use the cemetery as an educational and historical resource. Consider involving students in projects. Cemeteries can be places to learn about science, math, art, ethnography and history.



Perhaps one of the most difficult things to do for your historic cemetery is to find funds for the work needed. Create a list of projects that need funding and create a budget of funds that you need. Seek out your state historic preservation office to determine if your project is eligible for state grants. Involve the community fundraising efforts, such as cemetery tours. See out fundraising ideas from others.


An earlier version of this article was first printed in NCPTT Notes in November 2004.


Sourced from American Cemetery Magazine for April 2014


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In Memorium: Darcie D. Sims 


Darcie D. Sims, 66, Seattle, Washington, died February 27 at home. An internationally recognized speaker about grief and bereavement, she was president and co-founder of Grief Inc., a grief consulting business, and the director of the American Grief Academy. She was a certified pastoral bereavement specialist, a certified thanatologist and a licensed psychotherapist and hypnotherapist. She wrote or co-wrote several books about grief and was an editor for Bereavement Magazine for 15 years.


She was director of training and certification for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors and served on the national board of directors for The Compassionate Friends, the Association of Death Education and Counseling and on the board for the National Catholic Ministry to the Bereaved. She received The Compassionate Friends Professional Award in 1999. Darcie had been a guest presenter at several WSFDA and WCCFA events.


Survivors include her husband, Robert Sims, a daughter and granddaughter, and a sister. She was preceded in death by an infant son.


A memorial service was held at Bonney-Watson Washington Memorial, SeaTac, Washington. Memorial contributions can be made to The Compassionate Friends National Office to the Darcie Sims Memorial Training Fund,


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Mausoleum round table continued


Cremation rates continue to rise. How is this impacting your business?


Burrington: The decision to cremate does not preclude a family's ability to memorialize, whether it is in a community columbarium, a family memorial or a private mausoleum. We now devote a larger portion of our design team's resources to cremation products.


Dahl: We are seeing more requests for custom-style niches with art glass and lighting. Life's Memories product works well for niches.


Baldry: Cremation is impacting our business, and we have added different product designs in order to offer various choices of cremation memorials. Traditional headstones and granite benches have the capability of being designed in such a way to incorporate a cremation urn. Placing remains in a columbarium is not the only option. People are unique in their personal requests and ideas, and we continue to be open and creative in order to meet those needs.


Many cemeteries are - or will be - finding themselves with limited space in the future. How will they be able to manage this challenge going forward?


Baldry: The challenge of limited space has led many cemeteries to find a variety of solutions. Creating areas within the cemetery for community buildings has been one valuable solution to this issue. We believe going forward these types of memorial areas will play an important role in providing additional space for memorialization. Dakota Granite has designed mausoleum buildings with 96 +/- crypts and columbaria with 320 +/- niches to meet this specific need. These types of buildings utilize vertical space and allow cemeteries to provide the necessary memorialization area to additional families.


Burrington: Areas not normally considered for memorialization will have to be utilized, such as curbing or benches along roadways, cremation gardens in wooded areas and above ground interments on areas with ledge; community columbaria are also an efficient vehicle to maximize revenue within a limited space.


Dahl: Cemeteries will need to review their master plans and perhaps acquire land. I believe forms of limited tenure will also come into play. I have also coined the term "deferred disposition." I believe in the United States we could write in the deeds if families choose to reuse a crypt or grave space by exhumation then cremation after three decades or so.


Where is the industry headed?


Milne 2013 Dahl: I see economic strength in the market that will spur competition for unique products that will draw the end user back to the cemetery.


Baldry: Our industry is going to continue to create new products and designs in order to provide personalization for memorials. The baby boomers' desire to create non-traditional memorials will continue to challenge innovative design and fabrication.


Cremation will continue to rise, and I believe more and more churches and cemeteries will build areas for final resting places for the cremated remains of their members.


Burrington: Cremation rates will continue to rise, but we are seeing that more families choosing cremation are discovering that they want and need to memorialize. This should result in an increase in cremation gardens and community columbaria.


article by Patti Martin Bartsche sourced from American Cemetery magazine for April 2014


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Survey continued 


The e-mail asks the consumer to take a survey. The company surveying its consumers should not expect a 100 percent response rate. I have seem response rates in the 70 percent range, but that is also rare. What types of response you get all depends on the type of survey being conducted. A survey of existing interment right owners could be 35 percent or up to 50 percent. A survey of those that haven't bought from you might be in the 25 to 35 percent response rate.


We can increase the rate response by offering promotions that will give inducements to people for completing the survey. These inducements are very cheap. They can be coupons for meals at local businesses. This could double the response rate.


When we offer this, the survey can be lengthier, as people are answering your questions for the prize. Remember, Cracker Jack never puts its prize on the top of a box (not intentionally at least). It puts it in  on the bottom so people eat through to the reward. Do the same thing with the survey: seek data but reward the people who give it to you.


Matthews 7-1-13 In cemeteries we can survey different groups of people, such as nonbuyers, people who have bought interment rights but not merchandise, interment right owners who have not used the interment right (to see if they want to move to other sections of the cemetery), families who just had an interment, and so on.


The modern survey is not like the paper survey. Imagine if you will that I can have some base questions and subject to the response on any of those base questions and subject to the response on any o f those base questions, I can ask follow-up questions. In the electronic world of surveys I can do this. I can't do this in the world of paper surveys. This is called an A-B or Logic Reply question.


For example, if a consumer buys an interment right by advance sale, I can ask him or her certain base questions. One might be, "Do you know what funeral home is going to serve you at the time of need?" The consumer has only two answers, "yes" or "no." If he or she replies, "yes," my survey would then ask, "Do you believe it is important to make an advance arrangement with that funeral home?"


Again, the respondent can answer "yes" or "no." If he or she answers "yes," I can either sell this lead to a nearby funeral home, sell preneed funeral plans for that funeral home or sell final expense insurance directly to the consumer. Do you see how the survey gives you a game plan to provide the best possible service to that consumer?


The key to being the best cemetery in the 21st century is having the most complete objectives and the most complete means of meeting those objectives. That is why you need to think about how surveys can help you serve families. 



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Recycling continued


How is the Assay Determined?

Typical post-cremation metals include dental crowns, surgical implants and casket parts. These are generally alloys and it takes skill to refine and separate out the precious and non-precious metals. Some refiners are better at it than others and can recover more saleable precious metals from a load of metal scrap. 


An accurate assay method is essential to getting a fair return, and so is a proper assay report. It takes scientific knowledge and sophisticated equipment to produce the most accurate assays. The best refiners use a fire assay, which is a complex and time-intensive process that is accurate on gold to 1 part per 1,000. In addition to the traditional fire assay, the really good refiners have either an atomic absorption unit that will yield an analysis down to a molecular content or an ICP unit that will do the same.


A professional direct refiner will provide an assay report that states in simple-to-understand terms the types, amounts and purity of the metal recovered. This is important because purity and amount affects the value and therefore reflects the money you will get back from the refiner. The assay report should make it easy for you to verify the amount of money you will receive and how that refund was calculated.


Staying on the Right Side of EPA

When you recycle with a direct refiner, you protect the environment and yourself at the same time. The Environmental Protection Agency views post-cremation metal as "hazardous waste" per Title 40 of the United States Code of Federal Regulations. Under the EPA's "cradle-to-grave" concept, the crematory owner is liable for the safe, legal and environmentally-responsible disposal of such waste. It is an individual and a corporate liability that can even pass to the operator/owner if he sells the crematory or to his heirs should such liability be discovered after his death.   


All materials that contain precious metals must be sent to an EPA-licensed facility for recycling and refining. The facility must maintain a Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest certifying that all EPA laws concerning collection, shipment and refining of such materials were followed properly.


A proper EPA manifest will resolve the crematory's cradle-to-grave liability question of chain of custody. Merely presenting a letter stating that a facility is recycling in an EPA-compliant manner is not sufficient proof. It's up to the crematory to ask a refiner if they are registered with the EPA and can produce an EPA-compliant manifest for all their collections and/or for their EPA ID number.

Getting Your Fair Share  

One of the biggest differences among refiners is how much they pay the customer and on what percentage of recovered metal they base their payment on. Be wary of vendors whose primary pitch is simply "We pay more." That's a blanket statement that doesn't tell you anything. For instance, two lots of dental scrap weighing the same will yield different values of precious metals: If a crown is for a back molar, then there would be more gold present, as this crown is going to be doing a lot of grinding; if the crown is positioned towards the front of the mouth, it will contain less gold and more palladium. So the gross weight of the outgoing metals is only a small part of the equation. That's why when you hear, "We can pay you more than what you're currently receiving," you are only getting partial - even inaccurate - information.


Some vendors pay on 100% of the metal recovered, but charge additional fees for assays, refining, and other treatments or services that reduce your proceeds. Other vendors pay on as little as 80% of what they recover, keeping the difference for themselves. One vendor we know says they pay 100% of "the money due you," which is really misleading, as it means all the money due you after they take their 15% cut.


Furthermore, pay close attention to the quoted payout rates. Many customers are savvy about gold prices, so some refiners will offer a higher payout percentage on gold but lower percentages on platinum, palladium and silver. The majority of dental scrap contains palladium as it is a very functional and strong precious metal with varied uses in the dental industry.


premier 2013-2014 for web A reputable refiner will tell you their rates in advance of your order. That way you won't have any unwelcome surprises when you receive your payment. You shouldn't have to pay extra for shipping, either. Competitive direct refiners will offer free containers, free secure shipping via Fed-Ex or other common carrier.


A good refiner will also offer one-to-one customer service with a knowledgeable representative who will be your link to the refinery and will ask and answer any questions that may arise as your material flows through the process of refining. If you have the opportunity, visit the refinery to see and follow the melt and refining of your material. It's a fascinating thing to see!


Giving Back What You Get Back

For many cremationists who don't like the idea of directly benefiting from the precious metals and titanium implants that they are compensated for, there is another option for them. One could either support their community or charity of choice. But don't leave it to the recycler to do that for you, since you really don't know how much they're taking for their cut. The more you get back, the more good you can do. And you also receive the charitable deduction on your taxes.


I know of a number of cremationists who have found creative ways to do wonderful things with the revenue generated from recycling. One firm purchased jerseys for the local high school football team. Another made a four-figure donation to a local children's hospital. Several non-profit organizations have used the money to add new shrubs and flowers for all client families to enjoy when they visit a loved one in that cemetery. 


Whether you choose to donate the proceeds to charity or put it to use for growing your business, with precious metals being as valuable as they are, why not get the very highest return you can on your post-cremation metal? Taking the time to find a reputable direct refiner will pay very good dividends.


Sheldon Goldner is CEO of Progressive Environmental Services, a division of Precious Metal Refining Services, Inc., an EPA-licensed Inc. 500 company. 


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Cemeteries & the City continued 


But, Fells added, there are many cities and states that do have laws dictating that the government can assume responsibility for a cemetery if it isn't properly kept up. "Many governments allow themselves this authority to com in and take over," he said. "They don't have a choice. They have a cemetery that's abandoned, neglected, or there's no one else around that's going to pick up the responsibilities. It might be a matter of statute, where upkeep falls under the government. Taking on a cemetery is a big responsibility for an entity that knows nothing about cemeteries."


But some local governments have departments that are dedicated to the upkeep of public cemeteries.


Myrtle Hill Mausoleum in Rome, GA has 596 niches and 580 crypts (photo courtesy of Stan Rogers)

Rome, Georgia, has its own cemetery department, overseen by Stan Rogers, vice president of the Georgia Municipal Cemetery Association. In addition to his staff, Rogers said his department works in conjunction with Floyd County Prison. Inmate crews perform daily lawn maintenance and day-to-day maintenance and upkeep of the city's four cemeteries. The cemetery department crew also maintains the grounds, and is responsible for opening and closing all the graves. "We're kind of a self-sufficient department. We don't have to go outside the cemetery in order to take care of it," he said. "A lot of little cities, their garbage men might weed it one day, for example. They don't have the luxury we do to have their own staff in house. It varies from city to city, who would perform daily maintenance."


While it can be difficult to make a profit in a municipal cemetery, Rogers hopes to buck that trend. Myrtle Hill Cemetery, one of the cemeteries under Rogers' jurisdiction, recently unveiled a mausoleum that he hopes will turn a profit.


The mausoleum, according to the Northwest Georgia News, includes 596 niches and 580 crypts.


But even Rogers, who runs an office dedicated solely to the town's municipal cemeteries, can't grasp the notion of a town taking on the responsibility of a new cemetery unless it had to. "That, to me, would be probably the most popular way for a city to acquire one - for it just to be pressured into it," he said. "I found out that in Georgia, most cities do have municipal cemeteries, but I don't know of many, if any, of the cities that actually profit from those cemeteries. It's just like a liability that the city has to take care of because it's in the city limits, and it's just an obligation to take care of the places of rest in the city limits."


Myrtle Hill Cemetery in Rome, GA recently unveiled a mausoleum. Stan Rogers, VP of the Georgia Municipal Cemetery Assn., oversees Rome's municipal cemeteries department, and hopes the mausoleum will generate a profit (photo courtesy of Stan Rogers)

Fells pointed out that even national cemeteries aren't getting enough federal funding to maintain the grounds. He cited a situation in the late 1990s, when seven cemeteries in Hawaii were desecrated with graffiti - including National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl in Honolulu. "What surprised us is considering these are national cemeteries, veterans organizations and private groups had to get together and raise private funds to repair Punchbowl Cemetery," he said. "Doesn't the government have funding or something for repairs, or vandalism? No."


Fells tends to notice the opposite scenario as more of a trend: Municipalities are turning their cemeteries over to the private sector. "A number of municipalities are eager to sell off municipal cemeteries to the private sector because they've found the ongoing maintenance requirements drain their funds," he said.


A statue in one of Rome, GA's municipal cemeteries (photo courtesy of Stan Rogers)

But Rogers pointed out that he couldn't understand why a private company would want to inherit a cemetery that's almost fully developed. "It takes a lot of maintenance just to keep up what we have," he said. "The way my cemeteries are, they're so old that if you acquire one of ours, you create a lot of maintenance and liability for yourself, and you don't have that many assets as far as land, to develop, to make money. It's going to cost you a lot of money to keep up what's already here."


He could, however, see a private company taking over a cemetery that had extra land to be developed, or where the company could see the potential to make a profit in the future.



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New WCCFA Member/Director Liaison List 


As mentioned earlier, the WCCFA Board has put together its 2014 Liaison Committee. You can link to it here. Member properties are listed alphabetically in the yellow-highlighted column. Your Liaison on the board is listed in the far-left column.


The purpose of the Liaison Committee is to link every voting member of the association directly to a board member, someone you can call when you have a question, an idea, a problem or, yes, even a complaint. More active members already know many of the board members, but those who can only attend conferences and conventions occasionally may feel somewhat isolated.


For the board's part, they can come to you with questions when the board is seeking member input, or let you know when something is going on you should know about right away.


Your Liaison contact will be in touch with you soon - but don't wait. You can contact your Liaison anytime you like. Link here for the list, including how to contact your own Liaison.


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ICCFA installs new officers

at 2014 annual convention


The International Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association installed the following new officers during the 2014 Annual Convention and Exposition in Las Vegas.


  • President: I. Frederick Lappin, CCE, president and chief executive officer of Knollwood Cemetery Corp. in Canton, Mass.
  • President-Elect: Darin B. Drabing, president and CEO of Forest Lawn Memorial Parks & Mortuaries in Glendale, Cal.
  • Secretary: Daniel L. Villa, executive vice president and general manager of Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, Cal.
  • Treasurer: Gary Freytag, CCFE, president and chief executive officer of the Spring Grove Family in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Vice President of Membership and Marketing: Jay D. Dodds, CFSP, owner of the Signature Group in Houston, Tex.
  • Vice President of External Affairs: Christine Toson Hentges, CCE, vice president of cemeteries at The Tribute Companies Inc., Hartland, Wis.
  • Vice President of Internal Affairs: Scott R. Sells, CCFE, market director for Service Corporation International
  • Vice President of Education: Michael R. Uselton, CCFE, managing member of Gibraltar Remembrance Services LLC in Palmetto, Fla.

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Assorted Useful Links


Washington State Funeral and Cemetery Board


WSFDA: Washington State Funeral Directors Association


 ICCFA: International Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association


CANA: Cremation Association of North America


NFDA: National Funeral Directors Association


CAO: Cemetery Association of Oregon


 OFDA: Oregon Funeral Directors Association


MBNA: Monument Builders of North America


PNMBA: Pacific Northwest Monument Builders Association 




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The WCCFA Insider is published ten times per year by and for the members of the Washington Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association. Portions of the information in this publication are taken from other sources which we believe to be reliable and which are not necessarily complete statements of all the available data. The services of an attorney or an accountant should be sought in connection with any legal or tax matter covered. Conclusions are based solely upon our best judgment and analysis of technical and industry information sources.

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In This Issue
Convention News
Mausoleum and Columbaria Round Table
Advertise in The Insider!
And the survey says...
Five surprising stats about social media and older adults
Recycling post-cremation materials
Cremation Round Table
Cemeteries & the City
USPS announces new shipping standards
Gift of Aftercare
10 Tips for Cemetery Preservation
In Memoriam: Darcie D. Sims
Liaison List Updated
ICCFA installs new officers
Bulletin Board