This can be a rewarding industry to work in, and many business owners find satisfaction in helping families honor and remember their loved ones. While funeral homes were traditionally passed down through families, the industry is changing, and more funeral business owners are starting their own funeral homes. If you’re looking for an emotionally rewarding and financially profitable business to go into, starting a funeral home might be the right option for you.
Skillset for a Funeral Homeowner and Director
A funeral homeowner doesn’t necessarily need a business degree, but certain skills, experiences, and education programs can increase the business’ chance of success.
Experience in the funeral industry. A business owner who has worked in the funeral industry will be better prepared for the challenges that come with owning a funeral home.
Education. According to the American Board of Funeral Service Education, all states require funeral directors to be licensed, and those licensure requirements vary from state to state. Many states require that a candidate have post-secondary education (often a two- or four-year certificate or degree in funeral service education), complete an internship, and pass the National Board Examination.
Interpersonal skills. Funeral homeowners need great interpersonal skills since they work with families going through some of the worst days of their lives. A funeral home owner who is warm, kind, and compassionate can make a lasting impression on families.
Attention to detail. From ensuring that all of a family’s wishes are met with each funeral to managing inventory, funeral home owners work with important detail every day.
Management experience. Funeral homes need multiple employees, so experience in hiring, training, and managing staff is important.
Organization skills. From coordinating all the elements of a funeral to managing employee schedules, a funeral home owner needs to be well-organized.
Basic Funeral Home Startup Costs
Funeral homes require significant startup costs. Smaller operations can cost $150,000 to $250,000 to start, while larger businesses can cost as much as $450,000 and up.
Common startup costs for a funeral home include:
- Embalming machine
- Preparation room – refrigeration, lifts, and sanitation equipment
- Inventory, like caskets and urns
- Furniture and decorations
- Hearse and funeral lead car for funeral processions
- Building renovations and modifications
- Working capital for the first three to six months of salary, utilities, internet, rent, etc.
- Licensing – funeral home director
Is Financing Available?
Coming up with a good business idea and having the skills to run it are one thing, but getting the funding to start a funeral home is another. In general, banks like to loan money to funeral homes as demand is steady. That said, getting the funding to start a funeral home can be difficult. In order to get a loan, the borrower(s) will need to have good credit and be able to personally invest 15-25% towards the total start-up costs.
Some options on how to finance a business, includes:
- Pledging personal assets
- Bank loans
- Online Lenders
- Credit cards
- Customer financing
- Seller financing
- Business grants
A Note on Business Grants
There are a lot of advertisements for free small-business grant money for businesses and for 99.9% of businesses this is not true! Yes, there are some grants for businesses, but they tend to be for science & technology related companies through the SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) or STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer) programs. Sometimes there are grants offered at the state level for a variety of initiatives like technology startups, agriculture, or tourism. Last, there are occasionally a few not-for-profit groups that provide money to minority-owned businesses, woman-owned business, and veteran-owned businesses. Those aren’t consistent enough to bank any business funding on, especially for an untested start-up.
You can find any government grant opportunities at no cost by going to grants.gov. Don’t pay for information about grants, even those that make guarantees as you will likely be disappointed.
Depending on the type of business, funding may be a frustrating and discouraging experience. Don’t take a “no” from a lender or investor personally or that they think the business idea isn’t good. Every funding source is looking for something different in the projects they fund. Many entrepreneurs will spend months or sometimes years trying to find financing for their business.
As with any new venture, it’s important to thoroughly research your location and your target market to understand the services that will be most in-demand. Prepare your business plan, seek out other professionals who already operate successful funeral home businesses, lean on guidance from professionals like business formation lawyers, accountants, and others. The stronger you build your foundation, the greater chance for your success.
Since our inception, Osiris Software has been helping funeral homes, cemetery and crematory businesses prosper through innovative solutions and world class customer service.