By Bob Roberts
My company, CemOps International, was founded from decades experience in the funeral and cemetery professions. I was raised on the funeral side, and later made the move to the cemetery operations side of the business and have remained there since.
Cemetery businesses are complex in nature, and require a skill set that is unlike any other profession in the world. Not only does it require strong business sense and operations knowledge, it also requires the ability to direct employees and families through difficult times in an emotionally charged surrounding. At the end of the day, every family must be left with the feeling they were respected and their loved one is in the right place for all of perpetuity.
Of the 13 cemeteries I have personally managed over my career, each and every one of them has had significant issues that had to be addressed. Whether those issues were in the permanent records, or identification of grave spaces occupied – sold- or reserved, whether the maintenance staff was diligent in their daily duties, the office staff, or the sales (counselor) staff were properly equipped and trained to perform their duties in the midst of the conundrum of circumstances they can face daily, were only some of the challenges that drive the business model.
Couple all this, with the need for a good working knowledge of the laws of the state in which you are managing, and a good grasp on the community you are serving; can make this choice in profession both rewarding and challenging.
CemOps International was designed in 2005 while I was recuperating from cancer treatments and unable to work during recuperative time. CemOps itself stands for Cemetery Operations Solutions. Emphasis is on the solutions phase, given the number of folks out there that find it easy to identify problem areas, but fall short when it comes time for the solutions phase.
When I go into a cemetery location, the first thing I look at is the permanent records. If they are not correct, any number of issues can result from those errors. I have recently inspected permanent records that are all written in pencil. Not very permanent if not written in ink, and concerning for those in the future trying to locate graves, or sell graves.
A short note to genealogists: Please take the time to schedule appointments before just showing up in the cemetery office, especially if you have a long list of burials you need checked. The people waiting on you are commission based in pay, and the time they spend with you is precious. If you just “show up”, you may be interrupting their revenue streams.
For more information on the services offered by CemOps, go to my website at http://www.cemops.com
I lost my Dad at 15 1/2, in a boating accident. He was my mentor in the funeral business, and unlike many kids who have lost a parent, had the honor of giving my Dad the service he deserved. Many children are kept away from involvement in funeral plans, which breeds unfinished business for them that scars them for a long time. My older brother never saw Dad, and to this day questions if he is really in the casket and in the grave. He is now 61, and that’s a long time to carry that. I just spoke on the phone with a Psychologist who just entered our profession, and who lost her Mother at the age of 10. She experienced the same things.
During my career I have found very few Funeral Directors who actively engage the younger set during arrangements, or encourage the family to let the children speak up and be a part of the proceedings. I felt this was wrong and feel the pain for the younger set when they lose a parent. So I wrote this book, kind of an autobiography of sorts, to let kids know they are not alone in their grief.
The last 20 some pages are dedicated as their personal journal, so they can track their progress through grief while they make the journey.