Cofounder of Parting Pro, Head of Sales.

Bryan Stucky: Growing funeral home profit by 32% with Parting Pro

"I've had Parting Pro for about a year. I've been up 32% in profit and 21% in case volume."

Brian Stucky is the Owner of Wallin-Stucky Funeral Home We sat down with Brian to talk about how Parting Pro has helped his funeral home grow in profit.

 

Parting Pro
I think about a week ago, Bryan emailed me telling me about how awesome his progress has been. I asked him to join this call and record a video for me. So, yeah, Bryan, why don't you give us a quick summary of your background and tell us a little about yourself and your business?

Bryan Stucky
Yeah, happy to do so. So, I started in the funeral service probably about 12 years ago, I was managing restaurants and wanted to do something different, and this is certainly different.

Parting Pro
Yeah.

Bryan Stucky
I started with the SCI. So, I worked for corporate-owned funeral homes. I went to mortuary school, got my license, got a promotion or two, and managed a couple of funeral homes for them. But I really wanted to be an owner, and that was the one thing SCI couldn't give me, even though I liked working for them. So, I found a family-owned funeral home and kind of worked out with the owner to take over when he retired, and then he passed away suddenly about 10 months after I started, so that plan got sped up, and then I've been the owner of Wallin-Stucky Funeral Home here on the island since 2018, and since then we've gone from two funeral directors, one location, and 160 families to I think 340 families last year, two locations and funeral directors. So, there's been quite a bit of growth lately.

Parting Pro
Okay, awesome, and if you can think back before signing in with Parting Pro, do you remember what kind of problems you're trying to solve?

Bryan Stucky
Yeah, I mean before Parting Pro... I'm on an island. So, I have limited competition, but I do have some competition, and my main competitors are kind of like a hybrid storefront; we're a full-service funeral home. Like you'd think with a viewing room, chapel, or crematory, we're a big building. So our overhead is a lot more. So, our competitor is kind of like a hybrid storefront, and they charge less than us, and they have started advertising that price on their website. Once they started advertising that price on their website, I saw our numbers start to go down. We've seen... on the island, I mean, they did about 50% of what you did, and I saw it going to 55% and 60%... After about two years of watching them, it was to the point where they were doing almost 70% of what we were doing. So, I've tried to kind of just maintain my market share and bring the trend back in the right direction.

Parting Pro
Gotcha, and what would you say the impact of working with us has been?

Bryan Stucky
Oh, it's definitely been phenomenal. I was skeptical. I mean, I think you and I spoke probably two or three years ago, and it was kind of... "Okay, it's good, but not for me, not now." Probably a mistake in retrospect, but I've caught up. But I mean, in the last year - I've had Parting Pro for about a year. I've been up 32% in profit and 21% in case volume, and I'm not going to say that’s all Parting Pro, but that's really the only major change I made last year. So, I have to at least attribute a good portion of that to Parting Pro.

Parting Pro
Yeah, okay. So, 32% profits, 21% case volume?

Bryan Stucky
Yeah. I mean, sometimes you might get a weird year in a funeral home where you'll gain 10% and then it's back to normal. 21%, that's more than just a coincidence.

Parting Pro
Yeah, definitely. You mentioned you were skeptical. What were you skeptical about?

Bryan Stucky
Yeah, well, I had a few concerns. The first thing was cannibalizing my cremation rate as far as the dollar average goes. I know other full-service funeral homes have kind of done something where they would have a separate website where they would charge like half the cost to do it all online. I had a hard time rationalizing that internally. It's the same staff, it's the same crematory. I couldn't justify that big of a jump. So, I got to where it was a little less of a price point and I can kind of justify that because it's online-only and I don't have to reserve a room. I don't have to reserve a funeral director, and because it's close enough to my "regular cost" than when people come in, that really hasn't been an issue. In fact, I like how Parting Pro makes them click through yes/no boxes based on what they specify. Like Witness Cremation, me and my funeral directors don't always ask, "Do you want to witness the cremation?" But on Parting Pro, you have to click "yes" or "no," and I'm surprised at how many people click "yes," especially since we charge an additional fee for that. So, it's close to the same cost. I was also worried about people seeing one price online and then coming in person and kind of asking for that price. “Hey, you charge this on your website, but I came to meet with you and it’s not charged the same thing.” It's really only happened once, and I just ordered the lower price. So, it happened like I thought, and then my last thing was probably paperwork. I mean with cremation, we're very serious about having the correct signatures for cremation, and if I am never meeting the person, how do I know that it's them signing the cremation authorization? But they're getting their ID and through having conversations - you still have to talk to them on the phone. You still have to make sure - if the daughter does the paperwork, you still have to make sure they're not married, and they are, send the cremation authorization to that person. But I haven't had any issues or any family members come out of the wood work saying the paperwork was done incorrectly or anything like that. So, those are my main concerns as far as Parting Pro goes, yeah.

Parting Pro
Okay, yeah, that's helpful. So, it sounds like everything's going really well. I think for you, you talked to us in 2019 and you ended up signing up with us in 2021, you grew your volume by 20%, 21%, and grew profit by 30+% last year. So, if someone's listening to you right now, maybe they're kind of where you were at in 2019. They're kind of on the fence about it, what would you tell them right now?

Bryan Stucky
Yeah, and I mean, I think my situation is unique. But I think every funeral director thinks his situation is unique. It’s really not. Like I said, we're on an island. My concern was being a full-service funeral home was going to tarnish my image. Am I going to be giving away the farm? Like I said, I'm not getting half the cost, it's just a couple hundred less to do it online. Or for those who are skeptical or wondering if this is for you, I would say do it. Because the dynamics and the culture of what we do are changing. I mean, I look at buying a car and I've gotten to the point where I don't want to go to the car lot, I don't want to talk to somebody and haggle with them and go through… I just want to order it online and have it show up at my door. I am a millennial. But more of us are getting into the workforce, and the old school guards are retiring or passing on, and we can either change with the times to accommodate a much larger number of families and what they want, or we can dig in our heels and say, "We're not going to be an online thing. We're going to say we're traditional. You've got to come in. You've got to meet with us,” and we might get away with that for a little bit longer, but it's to the point where if you don't do it, your competitor will, and you'll start to lose your market share. It's hard to get that back. So, now is definitely a good thing. You don't want to wait on this.

Parting Pro
Awesome. Yeah, well thanks. Thanks so much for that. Yeah, I totally agree. I do think it's changing and if you don't get with it, you’re going to get left behind.

Bryan Stucky
That too. I felt like I was kind of taking the funeral director out of it. I mean, you get to the point where… I mean, we're in Washington state, so I'm percent Direct Cremation. I mean, this isn't Kentucky or Tennessee or something like that. So, we're already getting to direct cremation pretty high. We're just worried - okay, am I devaluing myself as a funeral director? I admit people's values are changing. I mean, some people want their hand held and they want you to be with them every step of the way. Some people say, "I don't want to deal with that. I want to take care of paperwork at 3am. My husband died at 3am, I want to do something tangible at 3am. When they start doing that paperwork at 3am, it kind of locks them in. They've already done some work with me. I would rather get the family through that than not get them at all.

Parting Pro
Right. Yeah, that's a good point. Yeah, I think a lot of people are concerned with taking themselves out of the equation. I hear that a lot. But it's also like if someone wants to do something online, what are you doing right now? What kinds of hoops are they jumping through just to get to work with you online? Right?

Bryan Stucky
I mean, we were doing the whole thing, which I'm sure we're not unique. I would type up the paperwork, I would email the paperwork, they would print it, they would sign it, they would email back. I know some of you have done DocuSign. I've never done that. But it was just a hassle. When we think about people who are elderly and maybe they’ll have a hard time with Parting Pro. They're going to have a whole lot harder of a time with me emailing paperwork and scanning it and emailing it back, and that's a whole lot harder than, “click here and click here.” The idea that we're serving people who are 80 or 90, maybe their loved one was 80 or 90, most of them are online. I mean, we can't use the… Oh, it’s just younger people online. It's just not true.

Parting Pro
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for your time, Bryan. I really appreciate it. Thank you. Thanks so much for reaching out and letting us know how things have been going for you. I really appreciate your time today.

Bryan Stucky
Yeah, thanks for having a great product and if you ever need help in the future, let me know and keep doing what you're doing.

Parting Pro
Awesome. Thank you.

 

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