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Why Work with a Family-Owned Funeral Home?


What's in a name? In the funeral industry, name recognition means a lot. People tend to trust names they recognize and that are well regarded in the community. When conglomerates acquire some of these small, family-owned funeral homes, they keep the original name because it's a selling point. It's the ticket, if you will. People do choose funeral homes that they're familiar with and are likely to return to one that has provided them with good service in the past.

Your first call, when death occurs in the family, is to your neighborhood funeral home. It's natural for people to call on familiar names, says Dan Rohde, of Geo. H. Rohde Funeral Home in Cincinnati, Ohio. "People come to us because they feel they know us and are comfortable talking to us at such an emotional time."

They would call on us, says Rohde, because "they're acquainted with the funeral director, who's on Main Street and not Wall Street." And he adds, "They trust him and his staff to conduct the funeral in a professional but personal way and the cost is usually less. There's that loyalty to names they have known most of their lives."

The same sentiment is echoed by Jeff Isenogle of the family-owned Dalbert, Woodruff & Isenogle Funeral Home, also in Cincinnati. "We operate in the community, so we know the needs of the people raised here, and we care."

Isenogle says they have been providing services to families here for more than 135 years, and with a foothold in the community they have earned the people's trust. "It's important that people return and use your services," according to Isenogle. "You don't want a one-time use."

Certainly not a concern at many family-owned funeral homes. "When families come here for funeral arrangements, I pull out the files and see that they have used the funeral home before. It goes way back," says Lynwood Battle, a funeral director in a family-owned funeral home in Cincinnati, Ohio, who got into the funeral business began in 1933 with the help of his grandfather.

Battle says that people identify with them-their longevity and continuity and the peace of mind they get. "They get the assurance," Battle says, "that we'll understand and take the time through their toughest hours and not rush."

Battle, who's a third generation funeral director, runs the funeral home with his brother and two cousins, all licensed morticians. Services they provide include everything from guiding the family through all the necessary issues to making referrals if the deceased is a veteran. And, yes, an option to have a video using six or seven photos of the loved one as a living tribute. "We listen, we're flexible, and we execute the family's wishes," says Battle.

For the "family-directed" Fares J. Radel Funeral Home, it's fulfilling every need the families may have. "Whether it's a traditional-type funeral or a cremation, we are there for the families," says Radel, who reiterates the Radel philosophy: "We are neighbors. We are family. We are friends." Radel's family got into the funeral business back in 1878, when his grandfather, John J. Radel, assisted a neighbor with the burial of an infant.

Seems that the small family-owned funeral homes will continue to do well and are here for the long haul. Acquisition groups, which are buying cemeteries and funeral homes, have not obliterated them.

Their commitment to the family and to personalized service will keep them in the game-even if the big guys can continue charging less by buying caskets and other funeral products at volume discount. Not a worry for Lynwood Battle. "It's not like going to Wal-mart to buy a dress," he offers. "But we do give affordable, personal service and provide a funeral experience for the living."


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