Preserving our cemeteries through proven strategies

Circumstances

When trustees first asked David Shanteau to review the operations of this 160-year-old cemetery in a small Ohio city, it did not take an expert to see that the cemetery had experienced better days.

In many areas of the 100-acre property, workers routinely left grass uncut and flowers unattended. In other areas, downed trees lay rotting where they fell. Despite available acreage, the number of burials had fallen. Income had fallen too, driven even lower by shrinking returns on investments, leaving the cemetery deep in debt.

Resolution

Shanteau Consulting worked with trustees to develop a new management plan. It began with a thorough review of operations. Among other findings, the review revealed that administrators were not spending money efficiently. And despite the cemetery’s rundown condition, it actually had too many maintenance employees.

“What was really needed was to get the employees to believe in what an incredible asset this cemetery is,” David Shanteau said. “By all of them working together to make the cemetery a great place, they would all have a future.”

Shanteau also worked with trustees to develop a new incentive plan for all employees. The plan encouraged teamwork between sales, administration, and maintenance workers. In other words, everyone shares in the rewards. Even with fewer maintenance workers, it was not long before cemetery grounds began to once again look pristine. Sales and income soon rose as well, and eventually debt was eliminated.

Now this cemetery is once again growing and building for a sustainable future. And in doing so, it has regained its place as an important symbol of remembrance, honor, and tradition within the community where it is located.

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