On “The View” last week, there was discussion about a mortuary in Michigan that came up with a new idea. It’s a drive through! It had various windows through which the deceased could be viewed by mourners who wouldn’t have to leave their cars. Something like the take out window at a fast food restaurant.
New idea? I don’t think so! Back in the eighties, a friend sent me an article about a funeral home in California using this concept. He suggested it could be an “add-on” for an idea some of my colleagues had dreamt up.
It all started when my friend, Doug, announced an idea for a Rent-A-Coffin business. His reasoning was sound. Coffins, cost hundreds (even thousands) of dollars, are used for only a short time, then buried away. What a waste of money!
Frankly I wasn’t into the whole Rent-a-Coffin thing — it was too morose for my taste. I mentioned it to another associate, Bill, who shook his head and smiled, before rushing off to a meeting. However, a couple of days later, he walked into my office, sat down and said, “I was thinking about that ‘Rent-A-Coffin’ idea you had.”
“Wait a minute Bill, that was Doug’s idea”
“Doesn’t make any difference who came up with it, I think I have a much bigger business opportunity, and you just might be interested.”
“Ah Bill, I’m not interested in going into a new business right now; and even if I were, I don’t think it would have anything to do with death or caskets.”
“Before you dismiss this, Sharon, hear me out.”
I sighed and nodded affirmatively, wondering what would come next.
Bill continued. “Think about this. Sooner or later, we all die, so there’s no end to this opportunity. Funeral expenses, can be astronomical, and relatives get sucked in because they don’t want to have a wake or service that looks cheap.”
He rose, “Picture this, a mortuary, next door to a crematorium. The family can pick from Doug’s ‘Rent-A-Casket’ models…anything from metal to hand carved wood. The interior will use only the finest quality material. The rentals are reasonable and the family does not have to pay thousands for the casket.”
He sat on the edge of my desk and continued. “Now as you know, I’m Irish and know how to throw one hell of a wake. Even with food and liquor, I’m sure I could bring it in for somewhere between $10 to $20 a head. That’s an excellent price!”
“Following the wake, there will be what ever type of ceremony is desired and following that, the body will be taken to the crematorium, and removed from the casket before cremation. How does that sound.”
The only word I could come up with was “crazy,” but Bill was on a roll.
“Sharon, we could franchise this. It could be one of the biggest startups ever. Oh, and I almost forgot, we’ll call it, ‘Wake and Bake.'”
I started choking. “Bill, you are sick!”
Undeterred, he left my office. “That’s OK Shar’ … just think about it.”
WAKE AND BAKE — no way.
I relayed the story to a friend who let me know about the drive through place in California. He subsequently sent an ad for a Chicago company that makes headstones — while you wait! The Michigan mortuary is way behind the times.
I’d love to see the faces of the “Shark Tank” crew, if Bill were to pitch this proposal. Wonder if there would be any takers?