What a great pleasure it was for CareGiverStory to speak with Leah Yomtovian Roush of eFuneral today. I asked the question, how did your company get started working in the funeral business? – Please read interview below in it’s entirety.
Mike Belsito (Co-Founder): Whenever I tell people what it is that I do, I’m usually met with a smirk and a bit of disbelief.
It’s true. We’re launching eFuneral (first, in Ohio) as an online portal that helps connect undecided funeral planners with funeral directors — while providing those families with actionable information to make more informed funeral arrangement decisions.
Soon after I explain that, the natural next question is…”Why??”
Most times, I tell people about the story of my cousin, who unexpectedly passed away about a year ago:
My family didn’t really know where to start in terms of planning his funeral service. It’s not that we didn’t know where there were funeral homes. There were about 10-12 within two miles of where he lived — and we were familiar with several of them. We were more interested in understanding why we were to choose one over the other. Our budget was a big concern — but just as important was our desire to have a respectful service for someone who we cared about.
Being the digital native in the family, I was asked if the Internet might be able to help us make a decision and choose a funeral home. I assumed that there had to be good information online that would be helpful to us in comparing the many funeral homes in the area. I quickly learned this wasn’t the case. Sure, there were online funeral home directories — and Google — and both were good at giving me a list of funeral homes. But opening up a phone book (remember those things?) could have given me the same information. We weren’t interested in finding a simple list of funeral homes along with funeral home contact information. We were interested in understanding which funeral home would work best with our budget, and which would offer the best service quality.
Because we had to make a quick decision, we just sort of picked one. The funeral home we selected was one that we were familiar with, but we really had no idea if the costs we were incurring were fair or what quality of care we could expect from the funeral director and funeral home staff. In the end, the service they performed was an admirable one. But I was still bothered (after the funeral service) that I was not able to make an informed funeral planning decision. How was it that for as important as a life decision as planning a funeral is — and for the money we spent (likely around $10K) — we just sort of picked one?
I started talking about this experience with my (now) partner, Bryan — and we both agreed that this was a huge problem that funeral planners currently have to deal with. We weren’t sure what the solution was quite yet — but knew that we had to do everything we could to solve this problem.
This passion only grew after we started to have conversations with funeral directors and learned that for as much money that was spent on marketing and advertising (close to a billion dollars a year), there really weren’t any great ways for them to track whether their spend was actually bringing new families in their doors. Generally, these funeral directors were very proud of the relationships they held with families (and rightfully so) — but when it came to attracting new families, most funeral directors we spoke with were uncertain whether their efforts were resulting in new business. This is when it clicked. If we could provide a service that actually helps undecided funeral planners by providing actionable information that they can use to not only find and compare funeral homes, but make an informed decision – and if we can actually help funeral directors market their funeral homes more effectively — we could be onto something.
And that is why we decided to quit our full-time jobs in June 2011, pour (very) long nights, weekends, sweat, tears, and everything else we could find into building eFuneral.
We hope you will find eFuneral’s services valuable — our mission is to simplify the funeral planning process and help those arranging funeral services quickly compare their local funeral homes.
Mike Belsito is an Internet entrepreneur from Cleveland, Ohio with a background in product innovation, ideation, and startup business development. Mike is the Co-Founder of eFuneral, a Cleveland-based online platform that helps connect funeral planners with the funeral homes that can best serve them. He also serves as an entrepreneur-in-residence for the City of Lakewood, Ohio — a 50,000+ residential community located in Northeast Ohio.
eFuneral is proud to be based in Cleveland, Ohio. The technology company was launched by Mike Belsito and Bryan Chaikin in 2011.
Thank you Mike for the interview.
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Why Wait? The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Preparing Emotionally, Financially and Legally for a Parent’s Death is a handbook that can spare caregivers and their families the stress of conflict at a time of grieving and loss. It provides an opportunity for them to mend fences and renew the connection and communication they once enjoyed with each other. Visit CareGiverStory.com A Free reGiver
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