So You Think You Want to Sell Caskets?

Considering a new profession in casket sales?

Considering a new profession in casket sales?

[Warning! Professionals in funeral service, licensed funeral directors, and funeral industry suppliers need not read this article. You already know this.]

We receive five to ten calls a week from folks who would like to resell our caskets. We find it very encouraging that so many people like our handcrafted caskets and believe they have an "untapped market" just waiting for our natural burial caskets to arrive. We sell caskets to funeral homes, funeral suppliers, and casket distributors. If you are considering becoming a casket distributor or retailer and you are not a funeral home, there are a few things you ought to consider.  If you are already a funeral supplier, there are a few requirements to become one of our partners with access to discounted pricing for resale.

Who do you plan to sell caskets to?

Will you sell to funeral homes or to the general public? If you sell to the general public, you will alienate the funeral homes in your area. Know this. Funeral homes, just like furniture stores, car dealers, drug stores, or any other brick-and-mortar retail business in your market earn a living selling both products and services. Funeral homes earn a mark-up on caskets not unlike the mark-up on furniture and that gross profit pays employee salaries, the mortgage, and the light bill. Don't think you're going to sell caskets publicly and remain in good standing with your local funeral homes.

Most people buy a casket from a funeral home only when they need one. It has worked like this for more than 100 years.  Most people don't buy caskets in advance and most people don't shop online or go to Walmart when they need a casket for a loved one. (Research Costco's attempt to retail caskets.)

That's not to say times aren't a changing. That more people are shopping online, that customer loyalty means less today than it did ten years ago, that attention spans are shortening, that people are asking more questions in funeral service. You will have to ask yourself, however, if you have the capital and patience to set a new trend and wait for consumer's to change their behavior.

Do you have experience in funeral service?

Whether you plan to sell caskets directly to the general public (i.e. a casket store) or exclusively through funeral homes, you will need good contacts in funeral service and a thorough understanding of the applicable laws in your state. If you operate a casket store, your customers will expect you to be as knowledgable as a funeral director on all topics related to planning and conducting a funeral.

If you are selling exclusively to funeral homes, you will need to have a deep understanding of how caskets are sold and delivered in your market. Who are your competitors and what type of agreements and relationships do they have with funeral homes?

At the end of the day, a few trusted long-lasting personal relationships with funeral directors can make your business successful. In this profession, it is far more effective to invest in fewer deeper relationships than it is to cast a wide net and try to manage dozens or hundreds of funeral home relationships.

What is your source of capital?

We handcraft fine wooden caskets. We hold ourselves to a very high set of standards in sustainability. That is our primary business function. We are not a bank and cannot finance the inventory of your casket distributorship or budding natural burial company. We can help with 30 day payment terms once we've established a working relationship and certain agreements are in place. If you're just getting started, you will need $5,000 to $50,000 to finance your inventory depending on the size of your market.

In one sentence, what is your unfair advantage?

Elevator pitch. Shark tank. Call it what you want, you will need to quickly and effectively convince your customers, your suppliers, your business partners, your banker, your spouse, and your family that you will be successful selling caskets. What gives you an edge? What special skill, talent, or resource do you have that others do not that will give you an unfair advantage?  (Yes, if you have an uncle who owns 8 funeral homes, you might have an unfair advantage.) 

Basic requirements for a resale agreement

Ok. So you've read all this and are you're convinced you will be successful selling caskets. Our resale agreement boils down to three key terms in order to qualify for distributor discount pricing.

  1. Minimum Order Volume - The minimum order volume is 12 caskets per month. We offer a six month trial period of 4 units per month for established funeral suppliers adding our caskets to their offering.
  2. Payment Terms - Your first order must be paid in full prior to delivery. After that, we extend 60-day payment terms to partners who remain in good standing (pay invoices on time).
  3. Freight Terms - All orders are FOB Shipping Point (Beaver Dam, WI 53916). We have a trusted freight partner and can help provide good rates and service, but will work with your partners as well.