Larry Stuart Jr. is the founder of Raven Plume Consulting. Larry has spent the last 26 years immersed in cremations. From understanding how to run and operate the crematory all the way to marketing to and arranging with the family, he is an expert when it comes to running an effective cremation company.
He is a former member of the Board of Directors of CANA, former editor in Chief of the Cremationist, a Cremation Coach with ICCFA, a past member of the National Funeral Directors Association Exhibitor Advisory Committee and was formerly a Trustee and Past President of the Executive Board of the NFDA Heritage Club.
01:40 🤝 Larry Stuart Jr.'s Journey in the Death Care Industry
- Larry's father's involvement in crematories sparked his interest in the space.
- Larry started in cremation manufacturing and service before transitioning to cremation consulting.
- Raven Plume Consulting offers various consulting services across all aspects of the funeral business.
04:26 💼 Common Mistakes in Funeral Home Operations
- Gaps in chain of custody and identification protocols are common operational mistakes.
- Documentation, processes, and consistency are crucial in preventing and handling accusations and lawsuits related to mistakes.
- Beware of the litigious society we live in - getting sued is a matter of when, not if.
07:11 📣 Common Mistakes in Funeral Home Marketing
- Funeral homes struggle with providing value quickly in their marketing efforts.
- A common mistake is not understanding the funeral service market and who the target audience is.
- Inbound content-based marketing, where valuable content is shared with the audience, helps create awareness and build relationships over time.
09:02 💼 The Evolution of Funeral Service Marketing
- Traditional marketing methods may no longer be effective in the funeral service industry.
- Funeral homes need to adapt to new marketing strategies that resonate with modern consumers.
- The pandemic has pushed the industry to utilize technology and rethink their marketing approach.
10:09 🛡️ Challenges Faced by Funeral Homes Post-Pandemic
- Funeral homes may be sliding back in terms of adapting to new technologies post-pandemic.
- Consumer sentiment has changed, and they now have higher expectations for funeral services.
- Funeral homes need to focus on educating and providing value to consumers rather than just selling their services.
11:20 📚 Funeral Directors as Educators and Trusted Advisors
- Funeral directors used to be seen as experts and trusted advisors, but that perception has changed.
- Technology and easy access to information have shifted consumer behavior and expectations.
- Funeral directors need to establish themselves as educators and build long-term credibility with their clients.
13:12 📈 Enhancing the Value of Funeral Services
- Funeral directors must recognize the value of their services beyond the tangible products being offered.
- Pricing based solely on caskets devalues the professional services provided by funeral homes.
- Building self-value as a funeral director is essential to effectively communicate the value to clients.
14:22 💼 Common Issues in Crematory Operations and recommended Mitigation
- Common issues in crematory operations include gaps in ID and chain of custody.
- Implement comprehensive standard operating procedures (SOP) and policies specific to the crematory.
- Consistent implementation, enforcement, and accountability are crucial for successful crematory operations.
16:01 🗂️ Implementation and Auditing of Crematory Practices
- Developing customized SOP documents for crematories is important but needs consistent implementation.
- Monthly audits and spot checks are recommended to ensure adherence to SOPs and policies.
- Holding employees accountable and enforcing proper practices are essential, even if it means taking disciplinary actions.
18:30 🛡️ Implementation Challenges Faced by Funeral Homes
- Funeral home owners and managers may struggle with implementing new standard operating procedures (SOPs) due to time constraints and resource limitations.
- The over-involvement of owners and managers in day-to-day operations can hinder effective implementation.
- Turning tasks into competency-based roles and cross-training employees can help create a more organized and self-sufficient operation.
21:25 💼 Guidelines for Being Ready for an Inspection
- Consistency in all aspects of the business is crucial to being prepared for inspections.
- Treat every situation and process as if the inspector is present to maintain standards.
- Staffing should also align with the expectation of an inspector's presence to avoid exceptions or inconsistencies.
24:35 🗂️ Importance of ID and Chain of Custody in Funeral Homes
- Good chain of custody practices include logging and documenting every step of handling a decedent.
- Verification of identification details and checking for any discrepancies is essential.
- Funeral home staff, including crematory operators, should take responsibility for ensuring correct identification and prompt clarification if there are any doubts or questions.
25:29 💻 Technological Developments in Chain of Custody
- The importance of chain of custody practices has led to the development of technological solutions.
- Digital systems can track and record each step of the process, providing a more efficient and transparent chain of custody.
- Implementing these technological solutions can enhance the accuracy and reliability of the chain of custody process.
28:14 📃 Importance of Pre-cremation Checklist and Authorization
- Checklists can ensure that all necessary data aligns, providing confidence in cremating the correct person.
- Implementing technology that restricts cremation until the checklist is completed can enhance accuracy and reliability.
- Pre-cremation checklist should include items like authorization, correct documentation, and relevant permits.
29:40 📞 Last Chance Phone Call and Daily Storage Audit
- A last chance phone call between the crematory operator and funeral director can provide a final opportunity to confirm cremation.
- Performing a daily audit of decedents in storage units can help prevent mismatches or missing individuals.
- Consistently checking storage units and refrigeration lists can mitigate potential problems and improve operational efficiency.
32:35 🔒 Strict Unit Procedures and Preventing Mix-ups
- Implementing strict procedures, like maintaining one set of unsealed cremated remains at a time, can prevent mix-ups or confusion.
- Maintaining consistent numbering systems and double-checking each step can ensure accuracy and prevent potential problems.
- Following strict procedures and consistently adhering to them can help prevent lawsuits and mitigate doubts from families.
34:33 🏢 Process of Establishing a Crematory and Permitting
- Establishing a crematory involves navigating administrative processes, such as zoning and air district regulations.
- Zoning issues, variances, and public ignorance about cremation can create challenges in obtaining permits.
- Modern cremation machines meet or exceed strict air quality requirements, and most pollution issues result from poor maintenance or operation.
38:00 🏢 Governmental Challenges in Setting Up a Crematory
- Setting up a crematory can involve navigating complex governmental processes and rules.
- Different states have varying regulations and requirements regarding zoning and permits.
- Challenges in setting up a crematory may include opposition from neighboring property owners and public misconceptions about cremation.
40:03 💰 Cost of Setting Up a Crematory
- The cost of setting up a crematory can vary greatly depending on factors such as location and desired facility.
- Land prices can range from $50,000 to $50 million, depending on the area and business model.
- The initial cost of a basic retort can start at $100,000, with higher-end units and additional equipment costing upwards of $300,000.
43:49 ⏳ Timeframe and Supply Chain Issues in Setting Up a Crematory
- The timeframe for setting up a crematory can be influenced by supply chain issues and manufacturing capabilities.
- COVID-19 has impacted supply chains, resulting in delays for certain components, such as burners.
- Increased demand for crematories has put pressure on manufacturers, leading to longer order-to-startup timelines.
46:57 👎 Challenges with Clients' Resistance and Lack of Collaboration
- Some clients may disregard professional advice and insist on doing things their own way, only to come back later seeking help after their approach fails.
- Resistance to collaboration and a lack of willingness to adapt to change can hinder the growth and success of businesses.
- Collaboration and open-mindedness among peers in the funeral industry can lead to mutual growth and improvement.
48:46 📚 Importance of Collaboration and Openness in the Funeral Industry
- The funeral industry has traditionally been secretive and resistant to change, but the free-flowing exchange of information can lead to positive advancements.
- Collaboration and openness among like-minded professionals can facilitate learning and adaptation to a changing industry.
- Professional growth and improvement can be achieved through sharing experiences and learning from the successes and failures of others.
51:58 💼 Challenges of Ego, Insecurity, and Resistance to Change in the Funeral Space
- Some sole proprietors in the funeral industry struggle to separate their personal ego and insecurities from making necessary changes for business growth.
- Resistance to change and fear of adapting to new trends and practices can hinder success in the funeral industry.
- Ego, insecurity, paranoia, and fear can prevent individuals from embracing collaboration and making the necessary decisions to thrive in a changing market.
52:52 🔍 Newest Trends in Death Care and the Role of Parting Pro
- Parting Pro is viewed as an innovative and exciting development in the funeral industry, addressing the need for convenient online arrangements.
- Technology advancements in tracking, identification, and online arranging are emerging trends in the death care industry.
- The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of online funeral arrangements, leading to a paradigm shift in the way funeral services are conducted.
56:34 💼 Challenges and Solutions in Funeral Home Communication
- Using tools like Microsoft Outlook and Parting Pro can streamline communication processes in funeral homes.
- Parting Pro's software includes features for sending and retrieving signed documents, saving significant time for funeral professionals.
- Focus on using tools that can help facilitate efficient communication, allowing funeral directors to spend more time providing empathy and support to families.
57:42 🔍 Innovative Memorialization with Parting Stone
- Parting Stone offers a unique and exciting way to memorialize individuals who have been cremated.
- The company's branding and marketing strategies have contributed to its success in the funeral industry.
- Parting Stone provides an alternative to traditional plastic containers and offers a more personalized and meaningful option for families.
01:00:07 💼 Challenges of Introducing New Technologies in Death Care
- Introducing new technologies and products in the funeral industry requires patience and persistence.
- Adoption of new technologies and acceptance of new companies in the death care industry can be a slow process.
- Building relationships, trust, and networks within the funeral industry are crucial for success and widespread adoption.
01:02:27 💼 Collaboration and the Spread of Innovative Ideas in the Funeral Industry
- A transparent and collaborative environment can lead to the faster spread of new ideas and technologies in the funeral industry.
- The willingness to share ideas and experiences among colleagues is essential for the growth and improvement of the industry.
- Collaboration can help funeral professionals discover and implement better practices and solutions for their businesses.
01:03:14 💼 Raven Plume Consulting and Diverse Expertise in the Funeral Industry
- Raven Plume Consulting, formerly known as Cremation Strategies, offers consultation services for various aspects of the funeral industry.
- The company has experts in cremation, embalming, restorative art, arranging, funeral directing, and HR management.
- Raven Plume Consulting aims to provide comprehensive support and guidance to funeral homes with different needs and challenges.
01:05:30 💼 Raven Plume Consulting and Employee Retention
- Raven Plume Consulting addresses the challenge of employee retention in the funeral industry.
- The company offers a range of consulting services, including graphic design, advertising, strategic planning, and branding.
- Their expertise in the death care industry allows them to provide comprehensive support to funeral homes.
01:07:03 💼 Transformation of Death Care in the Next 10 Years
- Technology will play a significant role in transforming the death care industry in the next decade.
- New disposition methods like alkaline hydrolysis and natural organic reduction will gain more prominence.
- The future of traditional funeral services, including embalming, will depend on the evolving needs and preferences of families.