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How to Become a Casket Distributor

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Casket sales have been heavily influenced by laws that permit individuals to purchase caskets from sources other than funeral homes. If you want to become a casket distributor, you will need to develop professional relationships with manufacturers and funeral homes. You also need the ability to sell to the public at large. It is important that you have knowledge of the funeral business and an understanding of how to access inventory in a timely manner. This knowledge can be gained through networking, research, professional experience or a combination of all three. On the plus side, you can become a casket distributor without any type of special certification or formal education.

Familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of the funeral business, beginning with state and federal laws. While some funeral directors contend that only licensed professionals should be allowed to sell caskets, few states impose this restriction. Check the laws in your state for the latest information on licensing and other regulations. According to the Federal Trade Commission, funeral homes must accept a casket purchased from outside sources, including independent distributors.

Gather product information and trends relating to caskets by attending trade shows and consulting publications such as American Funeral Director magazine and the Funeral Home and Cemetery Directory. To build a network of business contacts, consider membership in the Casket and Funeral Supply Association of America. You should also consult the National Funeral Directors Association, which offers a free online supplier directory that includes a listing of suppliers and distributors of caskets.

Develop relationships with manufacturers that can supply caskets at a range of price points. For low price options, consider suppliers based in China. They can be located through companies, such as One Source China, that specialize in importing caskets directly to distributors in the U.S. Compare finance terms and billing. Look for manufacturers that will provide you with literature and brochures to present to funeral homes and other potential clients.

Launch your business with a virtual store supported by a website that includes a gallery of products and other information. Ensure you have inventory on hand using warehousing or self-storage facilities. A distributorship can operate with a modest selection of caskets if the stock is quickly replenished as needed.

Offer your services to funeral homes in your geographic area by stressing competitive prices and timely delivery. While consumers can buy directly form a distributor, many still prefer to let a funeral director handle all the arrangements. Use direct mail and phone calls to schedule sales calls with funeral directors.

Develop a consumer sales effort through your website as well as through ads in local media. Focus your marketing efforts on the cost savings involved in buying direct from a distributor. Emphasize that your distributorship can deliver to funeral homes in your area.

Tip

Begin with a limited geographic region and build your business incrementally.

Be prepared to process orders any day of the week at any hour.

Acquire a suitable delivery vehicle that can ship as many as four units at a time.

Warning

A physical location will subject your business to addition regulations that do not apply to an online business.

Do not rely on one supplier. A ready supply of inventory is essential to success.

About the Author

Al Stewart's 30-year background as a writer/editor includes staff positions at "Adweek," "Billboard," "Chain Drug Review," "Cable World," "DNR" (men's fashion), "National Floor Trends," and "Variety." A native New Yorker, he is now a writer/editor living in Los Angeles. He has a BA in political science from Wagner College.

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