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NFDA Policy Board Report – July 2013

POLICY BOARD- JULY, 2013

By Steve Palmer, Westcott Funeral Homes 

ELECTION

I was not successful in my bid for at-large representative. Scott Anthony from New York, who was the first to announce his candidacy and worked hard to prepare for the job (and a natural leader) and Chuck Bowman, who is John Horan (of Horan & McConaty)’s manager and has served six years on the policy board were elected. Chuck Bowman entered the race late, making it a real contest. If the vote on the first ballot gives a majority vote to one member then that person is elected and the others go in a run off. Chuck Bowman won the majority (then I knew it was over). The runoff was between Scott and I. After two ballots, Scott won. I am disappointed but would have felt badly if I had beaten Scott as he will do well (Chuck will also).

ISSUES

CURRENT FEDERAL ESTATE TAX: NFDA strongly support preserving the current federal estate tax exclusion and rate and oppose any efforts to reduce it. Passed.

AMEND THE FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT TO ALLOW ALL EMPLOYERS TO OFFER COMPENSATORY TIME: NFDA strongly supports acceptable federal legislation that would allow any employer to make compensatory time available as an option for any and all employees regardless of their status under Wage and Hour law and regulations. Passed.

SUNSET THE FUNERAL RULE

NFDA would start legislation over a five year period in favor of state regulation of funeral burial, cremation and related goods or services to the public. Arguments for sunsetting were with the adversarial relationship with the government. Against said that states couldn’t make proper legislation and the void on a federal level would allow groups such as Funeral consumers Alliance to create legislation. NFDA has a recommended proposed legislation for any state that doesn’t have these regulations. The policy position was defeated; therefore NFDA will not ask that the FTC rule be sunsetted. NFDA will continue to ask for certain amendments to the rule (such as entrapment type investigations).

GREAT IDEAS: (A forum for anyone to throw unique ideas)

  • 3×5 cards with “Put your memories of Charlie (or whomever)” The person who brought this idea had her husband die and she looks at it years later.
  • Use several digital frames around the building for slide shows rather than just one place.
  • Using QR codes on your website with any tributes for people. Save obit money by placing a QR code in the paper that will give them the obit or direct them to the FH website.
  • Inviting Red Lady groups over to lunch. Lunch is served by staff. They get all dressed up and really enjoy themselves. (and can these ladies talk-especially about the praise for something like this).
  • Use your Facebook page with common questions. When you are stopped somewhere and asked a question, write it down and post it with the appropriate answer on your page.
  • Another funeral home put personal profiles of everyday pictures (very much alive) with pictures; such as a fly fisherman and a roller derby girl. It shows you are interested in people. Eventually you get a waiting list of those who want to be on your page.
  • Really encourage theme memorial gatherings (such as a Navy theme for a retired officer with naval memorabilia all over the building, more than a memory table).
  • Another suggestion was when an infant dies take a car seat immediately to the hospital room. The mother usually feels the car seat is very safe. Let the mother place the infant in the seat and buckle him or her in. Then when you go back later to do the removal; you simply drape a small infant blanket over the seat similar to what you would do when out in the sun. You simply carry the seat out and the family feels quite at peace with giving over their child.

RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS

Basel III (the group in Basel, Switzerland, that makes recommendations to worldwide banks) voted to strengthen and closely supervise bank operations. It requires banks to have more cash. It encourages banks to buy US treasuries. They recommend reducing funds for commercial loans and corporate bonds. They recommend reducing the flow of credit to small businesses. Increase gold value.  Mortgage rates are rising. Bond market prices falling. Also short term volatility in the equity markets, repositioning of bonds to shorter maturities.

NFDA CEO UPDATE

Increase in individual memberships. We have seen a little increase in firm members. Main locations are down as the businesses change. 51 % of all funeral homes are members (2003 was at 57%, so no dramatic change considering).

Mike Nicodemus is NFDA’s Vice President of Cremation Services. He will be consulting on cremation practices & arranging and revamping the CCOP (Certified Cremation Operating Program).

The CCOP is geared directly for funeral staff. If you have a facility that is large enough for a class, you could host one with discounts for your staff. Mike will also be “on call” for questions through NFDA’s Cremation Hotline.

There will be additional CE courses offered.

The 2013 convention will be held in Austin October 20-23. (www.austin2013.nfda.org)

HOSPICE JOINT WORKGROUP

Promotes better understanding and improve dialogue between funeral directors and NFDA.

FAMIC website: www.famic.org/campaign.

Username: famic Password: campaign

FAMIC does the public survey of  Attitude On Funerals and Death Care (formerly Wirthin study). They have also designed a program entitled “Having the Talk of A Lifetime”. It encourages discussion amongst families about looking at a life. Go to the FAMIC website listed above and see this program. I will be placing a link to a video on my website when I return.

Any questions call me (928)-634-9566 or email steve@westcottfuneralhome.com

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