As the expansive Baby Boomer generation enters retirement, there has never been a better time to enter the funeral industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects funeral homes to add at least 4,000 director positions before 2022. With an average salary at over $50,000, and most jobs requiring only an Associates degree, the position of a funeral director provides a great benefit for a low threshold to entry. However, the funeral industry is not recession-proof -- and as budgets get tighter, directors must find ways to do more with less. Read on to learn more about three specific future challenges for funeral directors.
The rise of cremation
In general, cremation (even with a funeral service and interment) is cheaper than a casket service. In addition, in some parts of the country, cemetery space is exclusive and expensive. For families without means, cremation is increasingly becoming a viable alternative. Over the last 30 years, the cremation rate has risen from less than 10 percent to more than 40 percent, and is expected to reach 50 percent in just a few years.
However, because of the lower costs of cremation (and because few funeral homes do it on-site), there is less profit in this alternative. This does not mean that the enterprising funeral director must simply accept a lower profit. By making more attractive and all-inclusive funeral service options, you can ensure that your funeral home is still able to actively participate in the process.
The cost of caskets
In past years, purchasing your own casket was an idea only for movies or sitcoms. However, the boom in online shopping has extended even to the funeral industry. Shoppers are now able to purchase their own caskets and cremation urns online -- or even at a big box store. Currently, many funeral homes are willing to accept outside-purchased caskets and urns in exchange for a small handling fee. However, this (like the rise of cremation) cuts further into profit margins.
This is a situation in which the funeral director must walk a fine line. You want to remain competitive with other area funeral homes, so raising the handling fee can backfire. However, you'd ideally like the customer to have an incentive to purchase the casket through your funeral home. Networking with other area directors can sometimes help you come up with good solutions.
Despite these challenges, those entering the funeral industry, at places such as Alden-Waggoner Funeral Chapel & Crematory, have a bright occupational outlook. Like taxes, death is the only universal certainty.Share
6 January 2015
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