Do you want to start a green cemetery business? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a green cemetery business with NO money and no experience plus a sample green cemetery business plan template. The world is going green, most people alive want an eco – friendly world and it is becoming trendy that people are also adopting the green burial option when they die or for their loved ones.
Green burials are done in green cemeteries and a green cemetery is a burial site that does not allow the use of vaults, non-biodegradable caskets or even embalming chemicals. So also, operators of green cemeteries do not make use of herbicides, pesticides or irrigation for the maintenance of the cemetery grounds. As a matter of fact, all the materials that are used at a green cemetery must conform with the goal of going green and preserving the ecosystem.
As an aspiring entrepreneur who is in need of a business that is pretty much green and a business that will always provide services that would never go into extinction, then the green cemetery business is a business you need to consider. If you are in doubt if this kind of business is worth investing in, just try and do a research on existing green cemeteries in and outside the united states and you will be shocked to know the amount of revenue they generate annually.
It is important to know that this kind of business is not for everyone, it is for those who naturally can comfort and care for bereaved people whether money is involved or not. If you don’t have this basic quality, you might not succeed in this business.
So, if you are serious about opening a green cemetery, all you need do is to read this article and you will be well equipped. You can start your green cemetery from a small town in the United States and if you are consistent and creative, it won’t be too long before your brand becomes a nationally recognized brand and your business network spreads across the length and breadth of the United States of America.
18 Steps to Starting a Green Cemetery Business
Table of Content
- 2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- 3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
- 4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
- 5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
- 9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
- 10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
- 11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
- 12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- 13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
- 14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
- 15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
- 16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
- 17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
- 18. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
1. Understand the Industry
The green cemetery business is a niche idea in the cemetery services industry and this industry comprises of businesses that primarily operate sites or constructions reserved solely for the interment of human or animal remains. The industry also includes companies that offer cremation services.
The green cemetery business is not a new concept, as a matter of fact the first green burial in the modern sense took place in the united kingdom in 1993, and by 2012, there were over 250 green cemeteries in operation in the United Kingdom. In the United States, the first green cemetery was opened in 1996 in South Carolina. It is important to state that an appreciable number of green cemeteries in the United States are established as conservation areas in accordance with specific state laws.
If you are a close watcher of the Cemetery Services industry, you will rightly observe that the industry is one of few industries that have successfully dug itself out of the recessionary woes that once plagued companies in the United States.
With increasing disposable income and a growing proportion of US citizens reaching 65 years and older, families have become far more likely to purchase high-value industry merchandise and burial services, thereby increasing the revenue generated in the industry. These factors are expected to continue going forward. Nevertheless, experts project that the number of cremations is going to rise, hence threatening the growth in the cemetery services industry.
The Cemetery Services industry (green cemetery inclusive) is indeed a very large industry and pretty much thriving in developed countries. Statistics has it that in the United States of America alone, there are about 7,112 licensed cemetery services companies scattered all across the United States of America and they are responsible for employing about 33,518 employees.
The industry rakes in a whooping sum of $4bn annually with an annual growth rate projected at 4.1 percent within 2011 and 2016. The establishments with the lion share of the available share in the industry are SCI and StoneMor.
A recent report published by IBISWORLD reveals that the regions with the greatest concentration of cemeteries and crematories in the United States are the Mid-Atlantic, the Southeast and the Great Lakes. The distribution of cemeteries and crematories is related to population trends and age structure.
Additionally, consumer preferences for cremation as opposed to burials, are another important factor that can influence the share of establishments. The report further stated that the Mid-Atlantic has the greatest share of cemeteries in the United States in 2016.
Pennsylvania is the most heavily concentrated state in the country in terms of industry establishments, holding an estimated 10.9 percent of cemeteries and crematories in 2016. New York follows as a close second with 9.6 percent of establishments.
As the population ages, it is obvious that the number of deaths in the United States and all over the world is anticipated to increase and this will in turn create market for the cemetery services industry. Nonetheless, continued competition from discount retailers and the ease of online ordering from casket manufacturers, as well as a rise in low-priced cremations, are expected to curtail prices for funeral home operators.
Some of the factors that will encourage people to start a green cemetery business is the fact that the world is becoming aware of the risk of not preserving our world hence any ‘green – related’ business is highly welcome.
Lastly, if you are contemplating starting your own green cemetery services business in the United States, you should ensure that you carry out a thorough market survey and feasibility studies. If you get some key factors wrong before starting your own green cemetery services business, then you are likely going to struggle to stay afloat.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of those who require the services of green cemeteries cut across families and religious organizations who are friends of the earth; those who love nature and would want to get involved in anything that will help preserve the ecosystem.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
It is important to state that the green cemetery business is a niche idea in the cemetery services industry. It is natural to find green cemeteries advocating for green burial ceremonies.
The Level of Competition in the Industry
It is good to establish that the fact that it is called green cemetery means that the business is very green and would attract little or no competition if you choose to open a green cemetery in your city. As a matter of fact, you might be the only operator of a green cemetery within your community or city. The only challenge that you will have is trying to convince people to make use of a green cemetery as against going the conventional way.
In essence, you are expected to compete with operators of both private and public cemeteries and also cremation services companies since they all handle the remains of humans.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
Every industry always has brands that perform better or are better regarded by customers and the general public than others. Some of these brands are those that have been in the industry for a long time, while others are best known for how they conduct their businesses and the results they have achieved over the years.
These are some of the leading green cemetery services companies in the United States of America;
- Glen Forest Natural Burial Cemetery – Yellow Springs, Ohio.
- Forest Rest Natural Cemetery, Boones Mill, VA.
- Solacs Eco-Friendly Funeral Services, Austin, Texas.
- Penn Forest Natural Burial Park
- Green Tree Burial Grounds in Mead, Oklahoma.
- Rest Lawn Memorial Park in Junction City, Oregon.
- Greensprings Natural Cemetery
- Natural Burial Company
- Milton Fields Natural Burial Grounds
- Mountain View Cemetery – Vancouver, British Columbia
- Eloise Woods Community Natural Burial Park
- Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery
- Mountain View Green Cemetery – Salmon, Idaho
- Countryside Memorial Park, Inc. – San Antonio, Texas
- Cobourg Union Cemetery – Ontario, Canada
- Windridge Memorial Park and Nature Sanctuary – Cary, Illinois
- Marble Park Cemetery – Milan, Michigan
- White Eagle Memorial Preserve – Goldendale, Washington
- Oak Hill Cemetery – Eugene, Oregon
- Spring Hill Memorial Gardens – Mobile, Alabama
Getting your economic analysis right and adopting best practices in the industry you choose to build a business in are some of the critical steps you have to take before starting your business. This is highly important because no entrepreneur or investor would want to waste scarce capital in a venture that is not profitable.
If you are mapping out your economic analysis, you should carry out thorough market survey and costing of the required amount needed to acquire a burial site, obtain the needed permits and license and also the running cost to successfully run the business.
If you are considering starting a green cemetery services business, then your concern should not be limited to the cost of acquiring a burial site and obtaining the needed permits, but also on branding, promoting cum advocating for green burial and on how to build a robust clientele base. The truth is that if you are able to get people to adopt green burial as against the conventional burial, you are sure going to maximize profits in the business.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
Although there is no hard and fast rule in choosing how you intend starting a business; but you would have to start from the scratch because you can hardly get the franchise of a green cemetery business to buy. It is a business that is open to all and sundry.
Besides starting a green cemetery business from the scratch is less stressful when compared to other small – scale businesses which usually requires detailed groundwork before launching the business.
Please note that most of the big and successful green cemetery operators you can find around started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedication, hard work and determination to achieve business success and of course you can build your own green cemetery brand to become a successful brand.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
If you decide to start your own green cemetery business today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is trying to convince people to adopt green burial as against going the conventional way. So also, the presence of well – established green cemeteries, and other players in the cemetery services industry will pose a threat to the success of your business. The only way to avoid this challenge is to look inward and create your own market.
Some other challenges and threats that you are likely going to face is unfavorable government and price regulations. There is nothing you can do as regards these threats and challenges other than to stay positive that things will work well for you.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
Ordinarily, sole proprietorship should have been the ideal business structure for a small scale green cemetery business especially if you are just starting out with a moderate startup capital and operating in a small neighborhood.
But if your intention is to grow the business and open green cemetery sites in major cities all across the United States of America, then choosing sole proprietorship is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC or even general partnership will cut it for you.
Setting up an LLC protects you from personal liability. If anything goes wrong in the business, it is only the money that you invested into the limited liability company that will be at risk. It is not so for sole proprietorships and general partnerships. Limited liability companies are simpler and more flexible to operate and you don’t need a board of directors, shareholder meetings and other managerial formalities.
Anyway, these are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your green cemetery business; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners and investors’ expectation and of course taxes.
If you take your time to critically study the various legal entities to use for your green cemetery with the ability to operate dozens of green cemeteries all across the United States of America, you will agree that limited liability company is most suitable. You can start this type of business as limited liability company (LLC) and in future convert it to a ‘C’ corporation or an ‘S’ corporation especially when you have the plans of going public.
In addition, upgrading to a ‘C’ corporation or ‘S’ corporation will give you the opportunity to grow your green cemetery so as to compete with major players in the industry; you will be able to generate capital from venture capital firms, you will enjoy separate tax structure, and you can easily transfer ownership of the company.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
When it comes to Choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. If you are considering opening your own green cemetery, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;
- Mother Nature® Green Cemetery Services, Inc.
- Treasure Wreath® Green Cemetery Services, LLC
- Peters® Green Burial Site Services, Inc.
- Andrew Fergusson Memorial® Green Cemetery Services, Inc.
- The Rites® Green Cemetery Services, Inc.
- Friends of Earth® Green Cemetery Services, Inc.
- Eco – Friendly® Green Cemetery Services, Inc.
- The Home® Green Cemetery Services, LLC
- Life After® Green Cemetery Services, Inc.
- Hosanna Kingdom® Green Cemetery Services, Inc.
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
In the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policy covers that are required by the industry you want to operate from. So, it is important to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your green cemetery business.
Here are some of the basic insurance covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own green cemetery business in the United States of America;
- General insurance
- Health insurance
- Liability insurance
- Workers Compensation
- Overhead expense disability insurance
- Business owner’s policy group insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
If you are considering starting your own green cemetery, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successful run the business without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
When it comes to operating a green cemetery services business, you do not need to have any formal training or special certification before you can be allowed to start the business. All you need is informal training that will expose you to the in and out of the business.
On the other hand, if you come across any form of certification that can aid you to conduct your green cemetery services business, then by all means try and pursue such certification.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
The essence of having the necessary documentation in place before launching a business in the United States of America cannot be overemphasized. It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentations. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hand of the law catches up with you.
These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own green cemetery services business in the United States of America;
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business License/Dead Body Handler’s License
- Tax Payer’s ID/Tax Identification Number
- Business Plan
- Employee Handbook
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Insurance Policy
- Company Bylaws
- Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
If you want to start any business, you should be ready to save up or go the way of raising your startup capital. It is often said that startup capital is one of the reasons why people back-out of starting their business.
So, when it comes to financing your green cemetery business, one of the major factors you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business.
Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your green cemetery services business;
- Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
- Raising money from investors and business partners
- Selling shares to interested investors
- Applying for Loan from your Bank
- Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from donor organizations and angel investors
- Sourcing for soft loans from your family members and your friends
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
When it comes to choosing a location for your green cemetery services company, the rule of thumb is that you should be guided by the demand for such services and the demographic composition of the location. Of course, if you are able to open your green cemetery in the right location for such business, you won’t struggle to make headway with the business.
It cannot be overemphasized that the location you chose to start your green cemetery is key to the success of the business, hence entrepreneurs are willing to rent or lease a facility in a visible location; a location where the demography consists of people who will readily accept green burial as against the conventional burial.
Most importantly, before choosing a location for your green cemetery, ensure that you first conduct a thorough feasibility studies and market survey. The possibility of you coming across similar business that just closed shop in the location you want to open yours can’t be ruled out.
These are some of the key factors that you should consider before choosing a location for your green cemetery business;
- The demography of the location as it relates to old people and death rate
- The demand for green burials in the location
- Accessibility and road network of the location
- The number of green cemeteries and other players in the cemetery services industry in the location
- The local laws and regulations in the community
- Traffic, parking and security
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
On the average, there are no special technology or equipment needed to run this type of business but you will definitely need wagons and dead body carriers, computers, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture amongst others and all these can be gotten as fairly used.
As regards leasing or outright purchase of an office, the choice is dependent on your financial standing, but the truth is that to be on the safe side, it is advisable to start off with a short term rent/lease while test running the business in the location. If things work out as planned, then you go on a long – term lease or outright purchase of the property but if not, then move on and source for other ideal location/facility for such business.
When it comes to hiring employees for a standard green cemetery, you should make plans to hire a competent Manager (you can occupy this role), Sales and Marketing Officer, Undertakers, Accounting Clerk, Security Guards and Cleaners. On the average, you will need a minimum of 5 to 10 key staff members to run a medium scale but standard green cemetery business.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
Normally, running a business requires that you should be proactive when it comes to marketing your goods or services. If you choose to launch a green cemetery, then you must go all out to employ strategies that will help you attract customers or else you will likely struggle with the business because there are well – known brands determining the market direction for the green cemetery line of business.
These are some of the marketing ideas and strategies that you can adopt for your green cemetery;
- Introduce your green cemetery by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to mortuary operators, funeral homes and hospitals within and outside the city where you have your green burial site
- Advertise on the internet on blogs and forums, and also on social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to get your message across
- Create a basic website for your business so as to give your business an online presence
- Directly market your green cemetery
- Join local green cemetery operator associations for industry trends and tips
- Advertise our business in community based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
- List your business on yellow pages ads (local directories)
- Encourage the use of Word of mouth marketing (referrals)
17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
One strategy that will help you offer burials in your green cemetery at the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum and channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name. Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, it will also help you get the right pricing for your products.
You can also try as much as possible to work with independent contractors and marketers; it will help you save cost for paying sales and marketing executives.
18. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
If you are in business and you are not deliberate about boosting you brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portray your business to be. One of the secrets of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend fortunes to boost their brand and to continue to communicate their corporate identity the way they want people to see them.
If your intention of starting a green cemetery business is to grow the business beyond the city where you are going to be operating from to become a national brand, then you must be ready to spend money on promotion and advertisement of your brand.
No matter the industry you belong to, the truth is that the market is dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and boosting cum promotion to continue to appeal to your target market. Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand awareness and create corporate identity for your green cemetery business;
- Place adverts on both print (newspapers and magazines) and electronic media platforms
- Sponsor relevant community based events
- Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your products
- Install your billboards in strategic locations all around your city or state
- Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
- List your green cemetery in local directories/yellow pages
- Advertise your green cemetery in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site
- Position your Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the location where your green cemetery is located
- Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles and wagons are well branded with your company logo