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March 2015

Dear Members,

Child Abuse Continuing Education Funeral Directors that have to complete Child Abuse Continuing Education for another profession or affiliation can use those credits earned towards their Funeral Director License, as long as the course attended was given by a provider approved by the State Board of Funeral Directors. If the provider has not been approved by the State Board, the course will need to be taken again through a Board approved provider. The approved list of providers can be found at http://www.dos.pa.gov/ProfessionalLicensing/BoardsCommissions/Pages/Act-31-Child-Abuse-Recognition-and-Reporting-Continuing-Education-Providers.aspx#.VOXr-st0yUk

Online Funeral Director Continuing Education Credits PFDA has partnered with Funeral Continuing Education to offer Funeral Directors with online Continuing Education. Currently there are 16 approved courses available for a fee. Funeral Directors are permitted to get all of their CE credits online. The courses can be accessed from the main page of PFDA's website at www.pfda.org.

Updated Statewide Burial Figures As of December 2014, Pennsylvania's Burial Reserve Limits were updated. The updated figures by county can be found on the PFDA website at

Post-mortem Ebola Guidance Due to the severity of Ebola and that fact that funeral homes do handle remains of individuals who have died from contagious diseases, NFDA has complied various resources so that Funeral Directors are better prepared to protect yourself when handling Ebola infected bodies. You can find these resources and information at www.nfda.org/ebola.

Come into Compliance Subsequent to the decision of Judge Jones in the Heffner v. Murphy litigation, some funeral directors took advantage of the opportunity to allow one individual to supervise multiple establishments or structured their business to allow an unlicensed person to own it (other than those exceptions granted by the Restricted Corporation law). This window of opportunity existed from Jones' August, 2012, decision until the reversal by the Third Circuit on February 19, 2014. If you made either of these changes, you must come into compliance with the old law on or before renewal in February, 2016.
Source: Kathleen K. Ryan, Esquire, PFDA

FDLIC – One Of Texas' 2015 Best Companies To Work For FDLIC has been recognized, for the second year in a row, as a 2015 Best Company to Work for in Texas. The list is made up of 100 companies in Texas that participated in a statewide two-part survey process. Congratulations to FDLIC.

PIMS 150th Commencement On Friday, January 23rd, Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science (PIMS) held their 150th graduation ceremony. Diploma's in Embalming and Funeral Directing were given to 27 students, Associate's in Specialized Technology Degree, Funeral Service Arts and Sciences were given to 29 students, and Associate's in Specialized Business Degree, Funeral Service Management were given to 8 students. Also ten percent of the graduates received the MU SIGMA ALPHA AWARD, which gives recognition to those students that have shown outstanding merit in scholarship, as well as good citizenship. Congratulations to all the graduates and best of luck as they begin their funeral service careers.

Allegheny County Funeral Directors Association (ACFDA) 2015 Officers Recently ACFDA installed their 2015 officers. Those officers that were installed are: President, Patrick J. Konieczny; Thomas-Little Funeral Service, Inc. (Imperial); Vice-President, Daniel F. Bekavac, Jr., Daniel F. Bekavac Funeral Home & Crematory (McKeesport); Secretary, William Brian Schleifer, Maloy-Schleifer Funeral Home (Duquesne); and Treasurer, Stephen D. Slater, Stephen D. Slater Funeral Home (Jefferson Hills). Also, new Board of Trustees' installed: Edward P. Kanai, III, Edward P. Kanai Funeral Home (East McKeesport); David E. Mahlstedt, Forgie-Snyder Funeral Home (East McKeesport); and Andrew Slater, John F. Slater Funeral Home Inc. (Brentwood). Congratulations to all.

How Funeral Homes Can Provide the "WOW" Factor Do you want your funeral home and employees to be at the top of their game and win over the customers? Here are a few fundamental steps to help achieve both of these things: Be friendly; Be helpful by anticipating families' needs; Be creative by thinking outside the box; Be funny to help engage the family and build a bond; Be compelling; Be enthusiastic about what you sell; Be memorable; Be understanding and patient; Be confident; and Be yourself. Following these helpful hints will help you win over customers and gain customer loyalty, which in turn will increase your revenues.
Source: Funeral Service Insider, February 2015

Successful Funeral Directors Do These Five Things Funeral Directors that are successful in their careers practice the five following characteristics giving them the edge over others: they work with a drive to accomplish things, not just fulfill their eight hours; they show drive and desire to meet and exceed goals; they don't make excuses, they find solutions to issues that arise; they focus on success everyday by knowing what goals they want to achieve; and they take risks and aren't afraid to fail because they learn from their failures.

Three NFDA Staff Appointments The National Funeral Directors Association has promoted Anna Bernfeld, CAE, Lesley Witter, CAE, and Gail Marquardt. Bernfeld, who has been with NFDA since 1997, has been named senior vice president of member relations. Witter, who has been with NFDA since 2007, has been named senior vice president of Advocacy. Marquardt, who has been with NFDA since 2011, has been named vice president of communications. Congratulations to all three ladies in their new roles with NFDA.

Is There a Value of Flowers at Funerals? Recently the American Floral Endowment's Floral Market Research Fund (FMRF) and NFDA conducted a study that reported that both families and funeral directors agree that flowers and plants provide comfort during and after funerals. The goal of the study was to understand consumers' attitudes about the use of flowers in funeral services, and also understand the relationship with funeral directors and florists. The study's findings are as follows: 73% of funeral directors feel families find comfort in flowers and plants; Approximately 64% of families talk about floral arrangements that were sent to them; 84% of families want the arrangements after the service; 33.7% families prefer memorial donations over flowers because of their loved one's involvement in a specific charity; 27.5% families feel flowers aren't needed at a funeral; 73% of funeral directors said they have great relationships with the florists they work with; and 63% of the funeral directors said they have had personal visits from florists in the last four months. The report can be downloaded free of charge at www.floralmaketingresearchfund.org
Source: Connecting Directors February 2, 2015

IRS Imposters – Tax Scam The FTC has reported almost 50,000 calls from consumers complaining that they have received a call from someone claiming to be the IRS. The caller is telling the consumers they will be arrested if they don't pay their due taxes immediately. Consumers are being told to wire the money or put it on a prepaid debit card. Callers are threatening that you will lose your driver's license, and some of them know your social security number, but it's a lie. The IRS will only contact you through the mail. For safety tips visit http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/another-tax-scam-irs-imposters?utm_source=govdelivery.

How To Compete Against Low Priced Competitors When competing against lower priced competitors, it is important to remember that there are those people that base their purchase on solely the price, but that a majority of people buy on value. So how do you show value and prove to customers that "you get what you pay for"? Be clear and explicit – give them details of all the things you offer and how you are different from the rest; Provide actual value and customer service – go the extra mile for the customer by thinking for them and knowing what they need; Raise your prices – customers looking for value will see that you have the best products and know they will get better service; and Don't play the game – no one wins when everyone keeps dropping prices and the value of what your offer is lost.

How To Steal Website Traffic From Your Competitors With there being billions of online websites, how do you get potential customers to your website? First, you must set goals by determining statistically what works on your current site. FuneralGrader.com will analyze your website for you. Second, compare your site to your competitors. Alexa and Open Site Explorer are two tools that help you to review your competitors' sites and see what is working for them. Third, monitor when people are talking about you on websites and social media. Tools to help you with this are Google Alerts, Talkwalker Alerts, and Mention, which all send you email notifications so you know what people are saying about you. Fourth, review social media and see what your competitors are talking about on these sites. Tools to help you monitor what is being said are: Commun.it, Followerwonk, Fanpage Karma and Twitonomy. Lastly, review and analyze your competitors' website and social media content. BuzzSumo and CrazyEgg will help you look at popular content.

Upcoming Events

134th Annual Convention & Expo Registration Brochures for this year's annual convention will be mailed shortly. Information on the PFDA Convention and Trade Show "Own the Future" can be found at www.pfda.org.

Service of Remembrance Ceremony Local Association Presidents and Secretaries and PFDA members are asked to submit names of deceased members and immediate family members to be honored at the Service of Remembrance during the PFDA Annual Convention. The service will be held on Tuesday, June 9 at 11:00am in the Winner's Circle. Return the enclosed forms to the PFDA office by April 20, 2015.

Service Awards Ceremony Please complete the enclosed forms to be honored for 25 or 50 years as a licensed funeral director, and to have your firm recognized for 50, 75, 100 or more years of service. The annual awards ceremony will take place during the PFDA Annual Convention on Tuesday, June 9 at 10:30am in the Winner's Circle. Return the enclosed forms to the PFDA office by April 20, 2015.

Funeral Service Action Fund and Building Fund Silent Auction PFDA invites you to participate in this year's action during the Annual Convention & Expo June 7-10, 2015. Last year over $6000 was raised, and we hope to raise money more this year, but need your help to make that happen. Thank you for your continued support. Return the enclosed form to the PFDA office.


Thanks to those who have contributed to the building fund. As you all know, we cannot do this alone and look to you our members, to help us. We appreciate your assistance in helping us achieve this goal in 2015 so that we can improve the overall working environment and brighten our surroundings.

Tips To Help Funeral Homes Plan Effectively For Taxes Funeral homes need to make sure they have someone on board that can analyze revenue and expenses all year-round to make sure the business is operating effectively. The bookkeeper, accountant, CPA, etc. should be reviewing the following items: Does your revenue per call meet your needs?; Are your cost of goods being recorded correctly?; Does your payroll and staffing levels meet your needs?; Are you getting the best benefits for what you are paying?; Is the bad debt being written off correctly?; Is the right form of deprecation being claimed?; and is your real estate set up right? If these items are not being analyzed, you can't have an effective tax plan at the end of the year. For 2015, to have an effective tax plan, follow these tips: The budget should show expenses and income and the resulting tax due; Your budget should be done in the cash and accrual method of accounting; Your budget should be reviewed quarterly so you can assess profit versus overhead; If your profit doesn't cover your overhead during the quarterly review, you can then reset your pricing to cover the expenses; and don't wait until the year is over to do your tax planning, do this during the fourth quarter.
Source: funeralserviceinsider.com January 26, 2015

Lucas Foundation Provides Partial Help For Infant Burials The Lucas Foundation is a non-profit organization that helps pay for up to $500 in burial costs of infants from 20 weeks gestation up to 28 days old. Currently they service Indiana, Somerset, Bedford, Blair, Huntingdon, Westmoreland, and Cambria Counties in Pennsylvania. More information can be found at www.lucasfoundation.com.

In Memoriam

William "Bill: Norman Spyker, 87, of Alexandria, died on January 29, 2015, at the Memorial Hospital, Towanda. He was the former owner and operator of Spyker Funeral Home in Petersburg.
Frank A. Koren, 101, Churchill, died on January 21, 2015 at home. Prior to retirement he had been funeral director H. Samson Funeral Home in Oakland and Patrick T. Lanigan Funeral Home, East Pittsburgh.

Joseph Bauer, 53, formerly of McKeesport, died on February 9, 2015 at Sentara Careplex Hospital, Hampton, VA. He is survived by his brother John N. Bauer, Funeral Director at Elmer L. Herman Funeral Home, Pittsburgh.

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