Death Care Services

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 15,000 death care service providers in the US prepare the dead for burial or interment, conduct funerals, and operate sites or facilities reserved for the interment of human or animal remains. Death care service providers include funeral homes, cemeteries, and crematories. Funeral homes account for about 74% of firms, while cemeteries and crematories account for the remainder. Some companies operate facilities that provide funeral services and cemeteries at the same location.

Pre-need Sales Dependent on Financial Markets

Because the proceeds from pre-need sales are typically invested in stocks, bonds and other instruments, death care service providers are vulnerable to declines in financial markets.

Government Regulation

Because the purchase of death care services occurs when families are especially vulnerable, sales are regulated at the federal, state, and local level.

Industry size & Structure

The average death care services provider operates out of a single location, employs 8-9 workers, and generates over $1 million annually.

    • The death care services industry consists of about 15,000 companies that employ 131,600 workers and generate about $18.6 billion annually.
    • Funeral homes account for about 74% of firms, while cemeteries and crematories account for the remainder.
    • The funeral home industry is fragmented; the top 50 firms account for about 22% of industry sales. The cemetery industry is less fragmented; the top 50 firms account for about 53% of industry revenue.
    • Traditionally, death care service providers have been small, family-owned businesses that are passed down for generations.
    • Large companies include Service Corporation International and Carriage Services.
                          Industry Forecast
                          Death Care Services Industry Growth
                          Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                          Recent Developments

                          Mar 23, 2023 - Funeral Directors See Fewer Calls, Higher Cremation Rates: Survey
                          • The average number of calls managed annually by funeral directors dipped to 394 in 2023, from a most likely COVID-related high of 475 in 2021, according to the 2023 Connecting Directors Deathcare Survey. Cremation rates grew to 53% in 2023 over 52% in 2022 and 51% in 2021. In fact, nearly a quarter of respondents in the 2023 survey ranked rising cremation rates as a top challenge. Half of respondents reported struggling with hiring and retaining staff, up from 45% in 2022 and 33% in 2021. Some good news for hiring is the increase of 24% in mortuary school enrollment, which could grow the labor pool. Respondents also included compassion fatigue and general mental health (35%), difficult/dysfunctional families (29%), educating families and the public at large (27%), and time management (25%) as top challenges.
                          • Nearly half of small business owners reported job openings they could not fill in February 2023, according to the monthly jobs report from the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB). Of those companies hiring or trying to hire, 51% of owners reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. About 21% of owners reported labor quality as their top business operating problem, and 12% reported labor costs as a top concern. According to NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg, “The small business labor demand remained strong in February. Small business owners are working to maintain competitive compensation and are raising compensation in the hopes of filling their open critical positions.” A seasonally adjusted net 17% of small business owners expect to create new jobs in the next three months.
                          • The employment outlook for funeral service workers is projected to grow 8% from 2021 to 2031, faster than the average of all occupations, according to recently updated forecasts in the Occupational Outlook Handbook released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the handbook, about 7,900 openings for funeral service workers are projected annually over the decade. Many of the openings are expected to occur because of the need to replace workers who move to different occupations or exit the labor force by retiring.
                          • New York has become the sixth US state to legalize composting of human bodies as a method of burial, according to the BBC. New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed the law allowing natural organic reduction, also known as human composting, in January 2023. States that have already approved the process are Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, and California. Following the composting process, the resulting soil can be given to loved ones or donated to conservation efforts. While bill opponents have expressed concerns about the ethics and cost of the process, supporters of legalizing human composting say it is an environmental burial option and more practical in cities where land for cemeteries is limited.
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