NFDA 2016 Preview!

Besides my beloved home state of Maryland, Philadelphia is the next closest place that I can call home. I spent four years in the suburbs of the “City of Brotherly Love” attending Villanova University. And yes, there couldn’t be a better year for NFDA to be in Philly – the year my alma mater wins the NCAA National Championship Tournament. Okay, I’ll stop gloating.

I came to ‘Nova expecting simply another East Coast city that was much like DC or New York, but what I found over four years this city is in its own class. Everyone from blue collar sports fans to suburban socialites to unprecedented amounts of college students (there are over 50 universities within 20 miles of Philadelphia), form a uniquely large melting pot that still seemingly has a small town feeling.

If you are flying in from a far-away place, and if I’m still considered a part-Philadelphian, I welcome you. And for those of you who are still contemplating a day trip depending on how many funerals come in that week… I encourage you to do whatever you can do to be there! After spending time reviewing the convention literature and seminar topics I am more excited than ever to be attending NFDA.

So after doing my homework, here’s where you will find me and the events that I am most looking forward to:


  • Booth set up – Volunteers are welcome to help set up booth #2631… thought I would least give it a try (wink, wink).

  • Welcome Party – I love this event every year because it’s the one place you can see the majority of everyone in our industry – NFDA funeral home members, suppliers, speakers, etc. all co-intermingling and simply having a relaxing social evening.

Monday – I will just start by saying, look for “Pink” … you’ll see what I mean.

  • “Guaranteeing Profit in the World of Cremation” by Dan Isard – I describe myself as a semi-early riser, and I will have no problem getting up for this seminar by Dan. Dan is an engaging speaker, speaking on a topic that I hear at approximately 99.9% of funeral homes I visit…. With cremation rising, how can I continue a path of profitability. In this 2 hour CEU presentation, Dan is looking to explain how to guarantee a profit and control overhead in a world where cremation is on the rise. Get out of your 1980’s business model… you silly funeral home, you.

  • “The Go-Giver Way: Influence, Success and Profit” by Bob Burg – I have never read Bob’s book myself, but with 1,004 customer reviews on Amazon resulting in a 5 star average – how can this not be good?!? “Focused on putting others’ interests first and continually adding value to their lives – ultimately leads to unexpected returns” – something this entire industry can always refocus back to.

  • Exhibits – I will be hanging out, of course, in the booth #2631 – home of Thacker Caskets for the next three days. Would love for you to stop by. I’ll be the only one in white at the booth on Monday!


  • “Survey Says! Inside the Numbers” by Ed DeFort, Lacy Robinson, and David Nixon – what a combination of experts! Are the preferences of families in your localized market ahead or behind the nation in their wants and desires with regards to a funeral? Sit back and hold on tight while these three highly respected industry experts dissect the Consumer Preference’s Survey. Don’t come this one unless you are really prepared at the end to 1) ask yourself, how am I preparing my business for the change in what families really want? and 2) then, make that change.

  • MORE EXHIBITS! – Today is the day to look for red. I do say that I love walking around the exhibits myself simply looking at all that goes into a funeral. Seeing that convention hall full of vendors really gives a person not only perspective, but appreciation for everything that goes into making a funeral happen in just a couple of days!


  • “Our Past is not a Prologue to Our Future” by Doug Gober – What a novel idea… cremation, changing demographics, and changing preferences of families don’t have to shut down your business? Doug will analyze how merchandising, content, facilities, and competition all impact current and potential customers. There are factors that affect your business that are in your control, and then there are those that are not in your control – take it how it comes and become successful.

  • AND MORE EXHIBITS!! – I love this day. As the last minute buyers come back to… well buy; the exhibit halls slow just a bit and it allows me to take our team out in small groups to really learn and educate them on various products and services in the market. I do my best to educate our Sales Consultants to be the best they can be in the industry. This means not just being knowledgeable on our products or our competitor’s products… but being knowledgeable/have networked with others in the industry that provide other services. I like for our Sales Consultants to build their own network of people in the industry so they now become a valuable resource to your business!

  • Booth Breakdown – still no takers?

Okay, enough work. Now go have fun. NFDA several preplanned events all look great! However, if you are looking for some added fun, here are some things that top my list!

  • Eastern State Penitentiary: Being as its Halloween season and you might be in for a good scare… check out this haunted house that’s set in an abandoned prison. I went once, and never went back! (Mwahhaah!)

  • Carlino’s Italian Market (Ardmore location): looking to get out of the city, but not go too far for a great Italian market? Look no further. This Italian market was actually at the end of the street of the off-campus house I lived at my senior year. It’s small, and there is no place to sit and eat if you are looking to grab lunch, but it’s out of this world. Everything from cured meats, focaccia bread pizza, frozen homemade pastas, sauces and soups, and a huge case of prepared foods… you WILL need a cooler. Go to the

  • Boathouse Row: Okay, so fun fact. I did row crew for Villanova’s Division I team for a year. While my crew experience didn’t last too long, I LOVED being out on the water and LOVED boat house row. If you are looking for a walk or run, or just simply a place to catch a scenic view… go to Boathouse Row on Kelly Drive. Situated along the Schuylkill River you will see boathouses for all the local boat clubs and colleges (except Villanova) situated right on the water. Crew teams launch their boats for practice in the same place many historic regattas have been held.

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