Headstones and Technology: Bringing an ancient industry into the 21st Century

October 6th, 2013

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.

 

 

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