I recently added these two guides to help people going through the difficult process of living through the passing of a loved one. Many people have no idea how to buy a headstone, what questions they should be asking, and what the process looks like. Because of that, I've put together a few resources to help.
I started a project recently that is currently being extensively tested to see if their is a viable, long-term business bringing the headstone industry into the 21st century. Headstones, also referred to as monuments, gravestones, or tombstones, have existed for hundreds and hundreds of years. I could bore you with a detailed history, or I could get right to the point: this industry is a really old industry that moves incredibly slow. There are a number of reasons for this and I'll outline them below:
1. Most headstone companies have been around for decades and most of them are family owned and operated. The only dramatic change that occurs is typically when the company is handed down from parent to child. This period marks a period of potential success or failure for the business. If the son/daughter taking over the business is a awesome, the business will likely thrive. If the son/daughter sucks, the business stands a significantly higher chance of failure.
2. Owners are "older." I don't mean to be the young gun telling 60-80 year old men and women that they are old, so we will just say they are "older" than me. Many of them WANT to retire. They don't want to be lugging stone for another 10-20 years. However, many of these monument owner's kids do not want to take over their businesses. Pretty wild huh!?!?! Fifty years ago, kids would have been fighting for the opportunity to run their own business. But today, many of these monument shop owner's kids would rather work in "sexier" industries than the gravestone industry. I can understand it in a world where public appearance is a big thing. What this means to the headstone industry is that things rarely see rampant change.
3. The market is highly fragmented. Most families own only one monument shop location. There are a few companies who have been able to consolidate the industry to a small extent, but the majority of them still remain solo shops. When you are living life in a silo, you start to understand your business really well... but you likely do not get to understand other people's businesses.
4. As a result of this fragmentation, communication between monument companies is low. Companies do not share winning strategies with one another in fear that another monument company will steal their business. Learning on a day-to-day basis is limited as a result.
5. Present day technology is almost non-existent. Monument shop websites are outdated, visually unpleasant, and typically have close to no calls to action or lead generation capabilities. Many shop owners HOPE that someone will call or email them, when in actually few do. Thus, they rely on someone walking through their front door to make a sale. Yikes! That's not the type of business I'd want to be in.
I could go on for a while. But, I'll spare you. I think you get the idea...
I created HeadstoneHub to serve as the intersection between the offline world of monument shops (which I have strong relationships with), and the online world search. Many years ago, consumers typically asked their funeral directors or cemeteries for advice on where to buy a headstone or monument. Today, this percentage is declining rapidly as consumers look towards educating themselves before taking the word of someone they just met. Consumers are researching what their options are in terms of price, stone type, quality, color, carvings, fonts, inscriptions, etc. At the end of the day, customers will buy based on trust and transparency, and those who choose to adopt this line of thinking will win the internet battle being waged in an ancient industry such as this.
If you are looking for a headstone, monument, granite marker, granite bench, or urn, visit HeadstoneHub: www.headstonehub.com. A member of the HeadstoneHub team will help you with a free consultation, and work with you to customize the perfect stone with unlimited shapes and styles, fonts, and designs.
"For what it's worth: it's never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There's no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of. If you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again." - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
It's a twister! It's a twister! I mean... a blizzard.
Which can only mean one thing: it's time to stock up on supplies! Batten down the hatches. Hide yo kids. Hide yo wife. And hide yo husband. Cus this blizzard is messing up everyone around hur.
And when people need supplies. You know where they go. Two words. Market Basket. The greatest supermarket in New England.
And because I know that people's convictions for their supermarket rank third in line after a person's religion and political party, I know my comment must be sturring people up like crazzzzyyy if you're a Stop N Shop, Whole Foods, Wegmans, Trader Joes, Shaws, Big Y, Hannafords, Pricechopper, Star Market, etc devotee.
Here's why I like Market Basket:
1. Lowest prices around: Market Basket has the cheapest prices. Want milk? Cheaper at Market Basket. Eggs? Cheaper at Market Basket. Bread? Cheaper at Market Basket. Hot Pockets? Cheaper at Market Basket. Brocolli? Cheaper. Burgers? Cheaper. Popcorn? Cheaper. Chips? Cheaper. Olive oil? Cheaper. Candy bars? CHEAPER. The company's slogan is "MORE FOR YOUR DOLLAR" at Market Basket. And it is 100% true. You are likely spending $20-$50 more money per shopping trip going to Stop N Shop, Shaws, Wegmans, etc for the same exact items you could be buying at Market Basket. Over the course of an entire year, we're talking hundreds to thousands of dollars worth of savings. Over the cost of a lifetime, we're talking tens of thousands of dollars.
2. Dress code: At Market Basket, the staff wears shirts and ties to work. Everyone. Baggers? Shirt and tie. Product? Shirt and tie. Stockers? Shirt and tie. Managers? Shirt and tie. They've done it since the start of the business. They run a tight ship and their staff is dressed to impress. They also color code different pieces of the business, so you as a consumer can determine who does what job within the store.
3. Customer service: When Mr. Demoulas started "Demoulas" (which then rebranded to "Market Basket"), he made sure that high quality customer service was a pillar to his business. It is ingrained in the company and all of its employees. Market Basket has impeccible customer service. Even the 36 register Chelsea store, with as busy as the store gets (they do millions in top line revenue each week) still delivers impecible customer service.
Clean up your act and get your butt to Market Basket. More for Your Dollar. RIDE TIL WE DIE.
p.s. If you want to see one of the funnier posts my mom has posted on Facebook, look at the picture below that my wonderful girlfriend, Celeste, took. The best part: after I called my mom laughing at her comment, she had no idea that what she had written was seen as funny. She was dead serious. Poor Denise. She's a good friend. Who got totally owned.
Here's a suggestion. Start every weekly team meeting with a "Theme of the Week."
When I run team meetings, I like to do this. I think it's a great way to kick off the meeting and unify my team around specifics things I want people to get amped about.
Think about it like this. Remember growing up seeing TV shows that would display a theme of the show on it. You know, shows like OPRAH. Or, why don't we get a little bit weird... Maury! Or, a little bit weirder... Jerry Springer! OPRAH, Maury, Jerry Springer, Ellen, Dr. Phil, all do one thing really, really well... they let the viewer know EXACTLY what the episode is about without you even having to watch the show because they quite literally spell it out with text displayed on the program. Here are some examples you may remember from your childhood: "Unforgettable Love" (Oprah) or ""Mother and Son Unite" (Maury), or "Pregnant Teens Seek Revenge" (Jerry Springer). All of these shows had a theme to the hour of madness that debuted.
That is how I like to think of team meetings I lead. I want people in the meeting understanding what the theme is. And I want people thinking about that theme throughout the week. Sometimes the theme is real serious: "Sales Optimization." Other times, the theme of the week should be about moving the ball forward, but also having fun.
Have fun with it. Provide your team with a Theme of the Week to rally around. And (ideally) bring it to a close either at the end of the week (with some sort of surprise or fun reward if everyone crushed the theme) or do it at the next team meeting. Give it a try. It's fun, and I believe it injects team meetings with some color and flavor.
What ever you do. Don't use the theme in this image that I just found online. You might just get that Springer fight you've always wanted to be a part of.
My name is Ryan Durkin. I write so that I will never forget where I came from and what I stand for. I hope that this will motivate young people to realize their potential and become more productive than they ever imagined. That would make me truly happy.