On Momma, Me, and the Riffraff

By Gary Finch

Momma was one of those saintly people that lived by the axiom; “If you can’t say something good about someone, then just don’t say anything at all.” Mom, if you are about to read this, please stop now.

I have no problems with discount funeral homes per se. There is a market for people seeking a no frills service. But when the discount firm starts to run ads suggesting that the only difference in their firm, which is located in a strip mall, and the big mainline firm is the prices charged, that is a problem. It particularly affects customers who rely on advertising to make their choice.

Consider that an analogy and step forward into the world of discount OSHA compliance specialists. It is a world where the experts would not recognize a trocar or be able to explain what 22 index meant.

For $120, this company gives you a CD Rom. It not only gives you everything you need to build your compliance program, but also the tools to do it. I suspect the tools include a Big Chief tablet and a number two pencil. Why not just buy your own tablet and copy the OSHA standards off the Internet.

For $800, another discounter will ship you a customized written program. It includes some training guidelines. This is similar to the way we started out, but that changed when follow-up visits revealed that no one was following the guidelines.

The “OSHA compliance for dummies” programs are poorly conceived and do not work for funeral homes. I’m not saying funeral home administrators are stupid, but this isn’t their primary focus. It’s not even their secondary focus. It’s way down the line. And the bottom line is, compliance is one of the first things to get overlooked when other matters need to be solved.

As a result, most funeral homes need a lot of hand holding to develop, present, and maintain an employee safety program. They need reminders to tell them who and when to train, and they need a gift wrapped written training program. On a yearly basis, they need to know which forms to get out, and which eyes to dot and tees to cross. Like Richard Gere said in the movie, “Pretty Woman”, they need some major “sucking up”.

Just like the funeral profession, compliance consultation is a service industry. We have learned that being responsive is the key to serving funeral homes. That is how it is with any true service oriented business. Evolution is the rule, not the exception.

  • 1992, we initially sent customers an outline and a reminder to conduct their safety training. This was deemed inadequate.
  • 1993, we launched “The ALERT” newsletter. It featured regular safety articles and keep members informed on OSHA inspections.
  • 1994, we offered onsite training. This was fine but inconvenient and expensive.
  • 1995, we launched a second newsletter, “The ALERT Extra”, which guides safety officers in administrating their safety program.
  • 1996, we expanded our program to include cemetery operations.
  • 1997, we hired our first our first out of state representative to train employees in the Midwest.
  • 1998, we began to write a new annual training program each year.
  • 2000, we began to combine OSHA training with Continuing Education in a number of states.
  • 2001, we developed video training for new employees. Surely this would be enough, but more was needed.
  • 2002, we hired our second out of state consultant to train employees in the Northeast.
  • 2003, we developed a shipped program alternative to onsite installations, combined with a follow up phone conference. We were now covering the Continental United States. We still needed more.
  • 2004, we developed written training and recordkeeping guidelines that walked our clients through each step of compliance. By now we were shipping programs all the way to Hawaii.
  • 2005, we developed audio conference training for clients with multiple funeral homes. Employees from multiple locations can call our conference line and be trained by us, without leaving their location.
  • In 2006, we will offer online employee training from our web site, www.kisscompliance.net.

This shows the evolution of our training. I could paint another compelling picture for how our manuals and files have evolved or the way we represent a customer after an OSHA inspection, but the point has been made. We respond. We have to because our customers demand it.

The discount programs are non-responsive, but if you just look at their advertising, that’s not the story they tell. Now that you know there is a difference, you can compare apples to apples, and hopefully, apples to rotten apples.