Successful Transfer Stories
Members Working Together
From the moment a transfer call comes in until the deceased is received at the intended location, success largely hinges on how well the transferring and receiving firms work together. Here are just a few best practices as shared by Selected members.
Michael Schoedinger, Schoedinger & Company, Columbus, Ohio
I did not know the owners of the nearby funeral homes in the area, but sent an email to both John Horan in Denver and Rick Allnutt in Greeley. I think both are roughly an hour away from the disaster. Without hesitation, both firms offered their assistance, even though this was not in their local service area. This was so comforting to my cousin, who was experiencing the most challenging day of her career.
Last month, my uncle, her father, was tragically killed riding his bike in northern Montana. I called the local funeral home, which is not a Selected member, but the only firm in town, and made arrangements to get Uncle Dan back to Columbus, Ohio. There are no airports within 4 hours of his death that can fly human remains. The funeral home suggested we use Amtrak to transport him. I had never done this before, but agreed.
The closest Amtrak station to Columbus is in Cleveland, and his train would arrive at 5:26 am! This meant our team would have to leave Columbus at 3:00 am, drive two and a half hours to the train station, personally carry Dan off the train (the train staff does not assist), and load him into our funeral car. I was extremely nervous about this as it was so unfamiliar. I also didn’t want to burden our drivers with long commutes in the middle of the night.
I texted Jim Busch and Mark Busch for information and advice. Mark called me within minutes and admitted his firm hadn’t done this in a while, but he called his father in Florida and got instructions on how it was done “in the good old days.” Not only did he tell me how this works, but he said, “Mike, let Jim and I offer our condolences on the loss of your family member. Rather than your staff having to do all of this unfamiliar work, allow three members of our care center team to meet the train, pick up your uncle, and bring him back to our funeral home. Your staff can come up during daylight hours and transport him back to Columbus. Furthermore, we will do all of this at no charge to your family.”
Wow! I was stunned. What a wonderful gift to the Schoedingers. The moral of the story is both funerals were great, and our family will never forget the kind gestures from our fellow colleagues around the country. Thank you Rick, John, Jim, and Mark. What a wonderful association we all belong to, and how comforting it was to be served so professionally when we were the customers!
STS Helps Build Reputation Worldwide
Michael Schuett, Seemann & Soehne KG, Hamburg, Germany
When Selected introduced STS, we knew that this program could really be a huge benefit for us in Hamburg, Germany. We signed up immediately. As many of you might know, Hamburg is a big city and we have a lot of international business here. This includes the Airbus headquarters office, a bustling seaport with cruise ships, international shipping, and more. We also recognized that Hamburg has become a "secret vacation destination" over the years. As a result, we have several foreigners each year who die in Hamburg and need transportation back to different countries like Great Britain, the United States, France, Canada, and India just to name a few. We have seen increased numbers of travelers who have died in Hamburg as well.
Since signing up for STS, we have worked together with several Selected member firms in Great Britain and the United States. Sometimes we just need to ask questions about regulations in the country where we needed to transport. On other occasions we have asked for more extensive help. Each time, the families we served were very impressed that we belong to an international group of family owned funeral homes and therefore could provide the right answers at the right time and help better, faster and more professionally than our competitors.
In addition to shipping out, we have also worked with firms to bring families’ loved ones back home to Germany. Since signing up for STS we have helped help 2 families who were on vacation in the United States. Both families experienced horrible accidents, one in the Las Vegas area and the other in Boston. Both families called us in Hamburg because they had no clue what to do. Thanks to STS, we were able to help them to get everything done in the U.S. Because of the fast and professional help, we have gained even more business. Now the word is spreading that our firm, Seemann & Soehne KG, can help even outside of Germany thanks to partnering with other companies who have the same high standards as we do.
Overall, STS is the right program at the right time for the best and most professional funeral homes I can think of! Our families actually talk about it and we at Seemann & Soehne gained more business from the transfer cases that followed
Fellow Members Provide Excellent Service, Instill Trust
Shannon Etzweiler, Etzweiler Family Funeral Home, York, PA
We had two opportunities recently to use Selected Transfer Services, and we were very satisfied. When we received the call to handle the funeral for a young man who died in Pittsburgh-more than 200 miles away from us in York-we immediately turned to Selected's website to search for the closest member firm participating in the STS program. We contacted L. Beinhauer & Son Co. and let them know the man had been ill, and his body was apparently in not very good condition.
Without hesitation, Beinhauer's staff assured us they could take care of the removal and preparation. Their communication with us was very helpful, and we were never left in the dark. They also did an excellent job of embalming the body. They just handled everything very well. The family here in York was very pleased.
Over the years, we've seen a lot of situations where the preparation of a body coming from out of town was not very good. But with STS agents, we can be assured of a higher level of professional skill and integrity. It's another benefit of being a member of Selected, and the word that first comes to my mind is 'trust.' If you call one of the '1-800' shipping companies, you never really know what funeral home they are going to use. And that's worrisome, because the job they do is a direct reflection on us in the eyes of the client family.
Just last week, we were notified of a death in Stuart, FL. The deceased's family here in York has many friends in Florida who were throwing out a lot of different recommendations for which funeral home to use. But my father wanted to look for a Selected member first. We contacted Haisley Funeral & Cremation Service in Fort Pierce, just a few miles north of Stuart. We worked with Quinn Haisley, and she was very helpful.
In this case, the survivors in Florida needed to go to a funeral home to sign release forms, and we were so happy it was a Selected member they visited. The family was well cared for by Haisley's staff, and they were very pleased with everything that was done for them.
Minimal Transfer: Overcoming Challenges To Provide Quality Service
Jason Faris, Horan & McConaty Funeral Service/Cremation, Aurora, CO
One of most important factors for a successful shipping transfer from our funeral home is what actually occurs at the receiving funeral home. This is especially true if it is a minimal transfer, where the family does not view the deceased at our facility. What the family will remember about their Horan & McConaty experience will be how well they were treated by our staff and, even more so, how well they were treated by the receiving funeral home. If that firm does not meet the family’s expectations, the focus of negative feedback will rest on us, because we suggested the firm.
A recent example of this is a family whose deceased loved one had purchased a preneed contract with us. They asked us to ship her body to a cemetery in Brookfield, Wisconsin. We discovered that Wisconsin state law requires cemeteries and funeral homes to operate as totally separate entities. In other words, we could not use the cemetery as the receiving facility; an actual funeral home needed to act as the liaison between Horan & McConaty and the cemetery. As such, the staff at the cemetery recommended a few local funeral homes in the Milwaukee area.
The next of kin, the deceased’s granddaughter was surprised about the fact we had to involve another funeral home in Wisconsin, and that the cemetery was not willing or able to receive her grandmother’s remains, hold her for a day or two, and assist with the graveside ceremony. I told the granddaughter that I wanted to make sure the receiving funeral home would charge the family a fair amount but also make sure they could carry through with finding a priest in the area and coordinate with the cemetery to set up a graveside service. She appreciated that I wanted to find the best funeral home for her in this situation, especially considering that the preneed contract failed to recognize this requirement in the first place— a lesson we have certainly learned.
From the cemetery’s list, I finally found Krause Funeral Homes and Cremation Service that has a good working relationship with the cemetery, charged what I thought was an equitable amount for the services being rendered and is privately owned. The deciding factor for me was when the funeral director told me he knows John Horan and Horan & McConaty’s reputation for excellence.
I felt that Krause Funeral Homes actually went above and beyond what they were charging us for. They provided detailed information to me about when and where things would occur for the graveside service, so that I could relay everything to the granddaughter who did not have any contact with them. She met the director who assisted at the graveside service for the first time at the gate to the cemetery. Her time in Wisconsin was very limited—she flew in and flew out—and did not have the inclination to take care of anything directly with Krause Funeral Homes. All of the arrangements were coordinated between me and the staff at Krause. This was also the case with the cemetery. I was able to get them to fax all of the necessary paperwork to me. Horan & McConaty was the only entity with which the granddaughter had to work. So, in the end, Horan & McConaty stood out to her as the primary handler of all the arrangements for her grandmother.
Doing the Right Thing: Working Together To Best Serve The Client Family
Graham Kramer, Kramer Funeral Home, Alexandria, LA
“I had the refreshing experience of dealing with a colleague of the highest caliber recently. A death occurred in Texas in late October. The family contacted Rader Funeral Home in Kilgore as well as our firm, Kramer Funeral Home. There were to be no services in Texas, so we engaged Rader for the removal and preparation. The family also wanted to look at the caskets at Rader’s prior to activating the transfer. I sent Kyle Barton, the funeral director, a copy of our casket and outside container price lists for reference. Referring to our lists, he assisted the family in selecting a casket, advised me of the selection and thanked me for allowing Rader’s to be of service to the family and to Kramer’s. Both sides of the family were pleased with the choices. This was my first experience in many years where a director did not attempt to ‘keep’ the casket sale for himself, but rather was interested in being of assistance to the family over his own personal gain. Rader’s actions showed the highest respect for a family as well as a funeral colleague. This is how it should be. Kyle, Chris Norris and Rader Funeral Home should wear the badge of Selected Independent Funeral Homes proudly—they live it!”
It’s All in the Details: Taking Care of Family Members at Each Location
Todd Lumbard, Speers Funeral and Cremation Services, Regina, SK
“We received a call from a high-profile family in our community to notify us that their loved one was very close to death in Phoenix. It was extremely important to them to know that, at the time of his passing, they would be well cared for. We contacted Selected member Whitney & Murphy Funeral Home for assistance. Shawn Murphy was great! He gave our funeral director his mobile phone number and made it clear that we could call him at any time day or night. This was a huge comfort to our client family--knowing that we had a trusted agent in the area. When the death occurred, Shawn was contacted directly, and he looked after things flawlessly. He was able to reassure the family members in Phoenix and take care of all the transfer details, so we could plan a tribute in Regina.
Knowing we have like-minded professionals in “far away” places that will care for our families as we would is a great benefit of being a member of Selected.”