Funeral homes and cemeteries compete for the vault sale. And, the price of a grave space will impact what a family will pay for a traditional funeral and burial. So, when a cemetery faces economic challenges that impact the maintenance of graves, should competing funeral directors be allowed to serve on the cemetery’s board and establish policies regarding pricing?
If the funeral directors serving on the cemetery board vote to keep the prices of graves artificially low, then the cemetery has to mark up the prices it charges for merchandise or services. To the extent the vault is priced higher than what competitors charge, the cemetery loses out (and the funeral home gets the sale).
If the cemetery raises the price of its grave space and services, the family may decide it can’t afford to pay as much for a casket.
While the historic divide between cemeteries and funeral homes is fading or blurring, certain differences will always exist. Funeral directors that assume a fiduciary position at a cemetery must consider the ‘perpetual’ nature of a cemetery, and the costs of the maintenance and care.