This excerpt is reprinted with permission of the author, Chris Boots of CFSA-member company C.J. Boots Casket Company in Anderson, Indiana. The article first appeared in the March/April 2015 issue of the Funeral Business Advisor (firstname.lastname@example.org.)
As a manufacturer of caskets, I realize by writing this article that I’ve crossed the line of good faith and trust from my colleagues in the manufacturing world. I’m breaking every rule by suggesting that a casket would be built with the idea that it will have a life longer than a single use. The reality is that drastic times call for drastic measures. The reality is a rental casket is probably the best kept secret in the funeral profession.
The experts have instructed the funeral profession for quite some time to embrace cremation. Some have found it a very difficult transition to consider; however, those that refuse will surely endure rough seas ahead. The product options available for cremation are nearly endless. The casket/container utilized for a cremation disposition can range from a traditional solid hardwood wood casket to a corrugated cremation tray. Within the realm of these offerings, rental caskets resembling burial caskets are growing in popularity.
A rental casket is really a no brainer when it comes to cremation. When I stated earlier that a rental is the best kept secret I wasn’t kidding. As with any casket selection, whether burial or cremation, it seems as though the biggest fear factor is “selling.” Yes I’m aware the word “selling” is considered a four letter word with an i.n.g. hanging on the end that causes one fear and trembling. However, when we apply the law of “physics of business” to our conundrum, we find that when someone pays you for a product or service, selling has taken place. The plain truth is your consumer needs you in the selection room more than you need them. Let’s replace the word selling with the word education. Your funeral consumer needs and wants you to educate them about the experience and your merchandise. Doesn’t everyone want to be a better consumer? With 2.5 million deaths per year in the U.S. and an average of 2 people involved in making arrangements for each of those deaths, only 5 million out of 318.9 million (U.S. population) or 1.5% of the population has experienced arranging a funeral…
When people find out I’m affiliated with the funeral profession, inevitably the topic of cremation surfaces somewhere. At some point I usually mention the use of rental caskets and the most common response is, “Really, I had no idea.” I would even go so far as to state that a lot of people don’t know that having a visitation for a cremation service is a possible option. All the more reason the funeral profession needs to strive to get ahead of the curve regarding cremation education 101.
Service – The rental casket really is the funeral director’s best friend because it solves a host of issues… First and foremost the rental casket puts a “service” back into your “service…” By leading with a rental casket, the “service” is assumed making your job easier as a funeral service provider.
Value – Today’s consumers want to know they are receiving value for the money they spend. By renting a casket, the family knows they aren’t buying a product to be used for a day, only to be cremated the next. Educating the family on the function of a rental casket by using a replaceable insert leads to peace of mind… At this point the rental casket becomes a reusable resource and this leads to higher value.
Merchandise – For the longest time, the most common rental casket was a button corner oak (those with more wisdom and years under their belt might call this the Spanish Oak). Times have changed and casket manufacturers have really stepped up to the plate to give funeral directors much more variety in rental casket selections. It’s easy to find rental caskets made of poplar, pine, oak, and cherry all in various colors and styles with options in both crepe and velvet. Other than the traditional hardwood rental casket offering, there are now painted MDF (medium density fiberboard) to look like metal caskets and, lastly, metal caskets converted into rentals. Funeral homes who offer 3, 4 or 5 rental casket options create better value for their customer. If burial families can choose from more than one casket option, why not offer a variety to cremation families as well?
Profitability – If there’s a better option for profitability than a rental casket being used for cremation services, I’d really like to know what it is. There’s a one-time cost for the casket which can usually be completely recovered in one or two uses… Rental caskets are typically replaced after 25-30 uses due to wear and tear. The “last use” of a rental casket can be sold for burial as additional revenue…
There are a few things you need to consider when using rental caskets. You will need to find a place to store your rental caskets, and it’s important to keep a casket blanket on your rental when they aren’t in use to protect the finish from any dings or scratches. The staff at your funeral home needs to be educated on handling of a rental casket…
Rental caskets are a great option for cremation. Take the time to do a little research to see what’s available to you. There are cremation and casket suppliers who can ship rental caskets and cremation inserts right to your door. By embracing new and better ways to serve the death care profession, we help families see value in the funeral experience.