Cofounder of Parting Pro, Head of Sales.

Marco Cannestra from Cremation Society of Milwaukee on how earning sales have gone up after Parting Pro.

“It’s really intuitive to learn, and it’s just as intuitive for the customers. I would definitely recommend it."

Marco Cannestra is an funeral director of Cremation Society of Milwaukee. We sat down with Marco to talk about how Parting Pro has helped increase sales and save time. Watch or read our conversation below. 

Parting Pro: Thanks for joining us, Marco. Why don’t you give us an introduction of who you are and where you work, and how you’ve worked with Parting Pro?


Marco Cannestra: I work over at Maxus Funeral in Milwaukee Wisconsin, and we operate the cremation society of Milwaukee, Waukesha, and Madison. Those are all done mainly online for families.


Parting Pro: Let’s start from the beginning because we’ve probably been working together for over a year now.


Marco Cannestra: I think November or October will be a year.


Parting Pro: Yeah. Why don’t you explain to us what you were doing, your day to day process before leveraging Parting Pro? What were you trying to accomplish? What kind of issues were arising, and what your frustrations were?


Marco Cannestra: Sure. Previously we had our own website that was run by a different company and it just wasn’t as intuitive for families, so there would be a lot more problems of people just getting through the steps in order to submit the forms. And so we couldn’t really pull those things up either like you can with Parting Pro. So that took a little bit longer. But then also the cremation authorizations need to be printed out by the family and then physically signed and then they would either have to scan them and fax them back and that would be difficult as well, because a lot of family members are elderly, and things like that. Then there was just a lot of follow up on the phone, asking people to check their email or check their spam folder, things like that. A lot of that has changed in November. It worked out really well too that we were set up and up and running before all that Coronavirus stuff happened, too. With your system, that definitely helped a lot.


Parting Pro: Right. How long would you say you were spending on doing all of the paperwork on average?


Marco Cannestra: I would probably say we spent about an hour to two hours a day just with real minor phone calls that could have been resolved a lot quicker, and then there are results a lot quicker right now – but yeah, I would say about an hour to two hours a day just following up with families, seeing if they have cremation authorizations, or trying to check this page again because this part wasn’t signed… Or something like that.


Parting Pro: I see. It sounds like there was a lot of back and forth on little things?


Marco Cannestra: Yeah. It ate into the time too, that we could be on the phone with other family members or talk to people about prices, or just get stuff done for cremation permits, things like that.


Parting Pro: Yeah. If I remember correctly, were you guys doing a lot of transposing of information as well?


Marco Cannestra: Yeah, we were using folders to write everything down, from what the family printed out online. Then we would enter it into one system, and then into the state line of records system for the death certificate as well. So there was a lot of duplication of writing and things like that.


Parting Pro: Okay. So now that you’ve been using Parting Pro for several months now, almost a year – how would you say your day to day has changed? How has your business improved from doing so?


Marco Cannestra: It’s a lot simpler. Even just before I even begin to start working, let’s say it was my weekend off or my night off, the emails come through but it’s not like a bombardment. I can easily tell if it’s a new case or if it’s somebody that paid for something, so I can always star those emails. Usually, that’s how I start my day. I’ll check the ones that came through overnight and I’ll sort them whether they need to be archived or if they’re active cases, things like that. The other nice thing about it too is if it’s the evening, I can still send off the forms for authorization, the vitals, all of that. But it’s just a lot simpler now. When we go on and see all the new cases that came through, then you can match them up with the phone calls from the night before… If there is somebody that went online and they happened to not call or something, you would know right away. It’s pretty simple.


Parting Pro: If you can remember – let’s say, last November – can you describe the process of getting started with us? It was a little bit… It probably took a couple of weeks to get started and get used to a new system. Can you describe that process? Where you found the most value, and why that is?


Marco Cannestra: Sure. I think the longest part of setting up was just creating the actual site the way our old forms were, and things like that. I know it took a while with the obituary thing because that was something kind of different as well. But beyond that, actually getting used to it – we had that one meeting talking about some of the features, and then we had a longer meeting targeting about how to actually work through everything, and Bridget and I both had notes on that. I think the first couple of weeks, we probably had used that little chat feature quite a bit. Just figuring out what’s what. But that’s been really nice too because people respond usually within just a few minutes. I’ve messaged even after hours and things like that and I’ve got a quick response. But with the Parting Pro portion of it… I’m sorry, I got lost – I apologize.


Parting Pro: With aspect to… We’re talking a lot about how much time you’ve saved and things like that, do you have any numbers off the top of your head? Like, did you guys gain business, or have you guys sold more merchandise, things like that?


Marco Cannestra: I don’t have the actual numbers off the top of my head. I’ll have to look at that. But I know for sure, our earning sales have gone up from using the previous website as well as things like credit cards, memorial videos… Then just traffic in general, especially for the Madison area, I think it’s been increasing quite a bit.


Parting Pro: You guys have probably been getting more reviews as well, right?


Marco Cannestra: Mhm, yeah.


Parting Pro: Because we’re automating the reviews for you?


Marco Cannestra: Yep. That’s been helpful. Especially in the Madison area, because we were a little bit newer in that area. So that’s definitely been beneficial. Now they’re almost as busy as our Milwaukee cases. That was not the case at all before.


Parting Pro: Cool, that’s good. If someone was watching this video right now and they were in your shoes, what would you say to them to push them over the edge?


Marco Cannestra: I would say to go for it because the transition was very smooth. It’s really intuitive to learn, and it’s just as intuitive for the customers. I would definitely recommend it. It’s super easy, it’s easy for other people to learn – like other staff members and things like that, even if they’re not very tech-savvy, it’s not complicated. It’s not even visually unpleasant – sometimes these programs to enter director stuff like that, it can be just kind of confusing looking. But this is all like really intuitively set up.


Parting Pro: Yeah. I feel like you and Bridget were on top of things as well, so that made it really easy.


Marco Cannestra: Yeah. Well, we definitely like it a lot. Just the fact that you can send a cremation authorization to somebody instantly and they can sign it without having to print it and scan it… That alone saves us a huge amount of time.


Parting Pro: Yeah. How much time would you say Parting Pro saves you, not including Bridget? Like, in a week, compared to what you were doing before?


Marco Cannestra: It would have to be probably about an hour or two at least per day. So it’s a substantial amount of time for sure. It definitely speeds things up. And it’s so nice, too, because when everything started with Coronavirus, we started working remotely and it was way easier for us to transition than the rest of the funeral home because we already had the Parting Pro stuff set up basically.


Parting Pro: Oh, right. Yeah – I forgot to talk about that. So the whole Coronavirus thing is kind of still going on, but are you… were you ever still meeting people in person pretty frequently? Or not so much?


Marco Cannestra: With Parting Pro, maybe I would meet with families once every two weeks, there would be a family that would want to meet. And then it definitely dipped down due to Coronavirus. But I think one of the reasons our traffic picked up too is because families were in a position where they could either do cremation or direct burial, and it’s easier to go with cremation, that way they can do a memorial service later. I think one of the reasons we really spiked, and I think it was the end of March or early April, was because so many people could just order it right online. If you want to, they can have it mailed directly to their house. They don’t have to go anywhere, it’s a lot simpler.


Parting Pro: Cool, awesome. I think the last question would be – is there anything that you could find us improving on?


Marco Cannestra: There are just a couple of things with the website… Just little goofy things, but I feel like they could be fixed with a future version, 1.0 or whatever it is. But like… If the family enters their email address incorrectly when they first go through the whole case, there is no good way to just edit the email and then resend the forms to them. You have to delete it and then resubmit… I usually print it out, and then I re-enter it. Which is fine, but it’s not nearly as time-consuming as the previous program. But other than that, nothing I can think of. It would be nice maybe if in the future for the vitals if there was a thing where the families send it through, and we can edit it and then send it back to them… I guess there is a document scanner, we can send forms that way?


Parting Pro: Yeah – you can both edit the document as it’s getting signed, but then afterward we’ll add a new feature where you can just send out the finalized one for approval.


Marco Cannestra: Perfect. That sounds good. But yeah, otherwise, no – everything has been really smooth. I like it a lot.


Parting Pro: Awesome. Thanks for your time, I appreciate it.



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