Guild of Funerary Violinists America
2007 Convention & Exposition



Building on Our Past; Designing Our Future

March 13 - 16, 2007
Good Prospect House, Las Vagas.
Program Chair: Sigmund Wittenbaum, FGFV

Funerary Violin Service. Cemetery Cincertizing. Music Memorialization. Preneed Sales.

Welcome to the 2007 Guild of Funerary Violinists America (GFVA) Convention & Exposition - the only convention providing comprehensive education for every segment of the Funerary Violin service and memorialization proffession....and the one event of the year you cannot afford to miss!

From the big-picture overview of our industry and the future of our marketplace, to the nuts-and-bolts details of managing a cemetery or Funerary Violinists local Guild branch on a day-to-day basis, the GFVA Convention will offer a broader range of extremely relevant educational material than any other national conference, bar none - in addition to our annual trade show featuring the latest products and services available to help your business.

At the GFVA Convention, you'll become an active participant in an educational and networking experience like no other:

Thought-provoking general sessions. Focused instructional workshops. A trade show with 220+ supplier booths. Social events with complimentary food, drink and entertainment.

Perhaps you've heard rumors that the GFVA is the way of the future. That's because it delivers what you're looking for: You'll learn, have fun, meet new friends. Most important, you'll take home the tools you need to build on the past success of your proffession and design its future for even greater service and rewards.

Find out why so many people have said the GFVA Convention & Exposition is the most enjoyable national event in our industry and why hundreds of 'first-timers' are discovering the GFVA Convention each year: Please plan to join us March 13-16, 2007, at the beautiful Good Prospect House.

Conference Program Schedule

Monday, March 13

5:30 - 6 p.m.
First Timers' Reception
Your first GFVA Convention? You're in for a treat ... our Annual Convention & Exposition is known for its fun, welcoming atmosphere. Kick it off here with a reception just for you. Meet other newcomers as well as members of the GFVA leadership who will be on hand to greet you.

6 - 8 p.m.
Grand Opening Reception
"Building on Our Past, Designing Our Future." How appropriate to kick off the 2007 Convention & Exposition with a reception in the Expo Hall! Here you'll find thousands of products and services to help you build on the past successes of your business and design for it an even better and brighter future. Tonight's tour through the hall will give you a first glimpse at the many possibilities open to you!

As always, you'll enjoy free food and beverage service throughout all GFVA Expo functions.

Tuesday, March 14

7:30 - 9 a.m.
GFVA Annual Meeting of Members
Please join us for your association's annual membership meeting. Members will have an opportunity to participate in elections for the Board of Directors as well as hear reports on current GFVA initiatives from the Acting President, Acting Secretary and treasurer. In addition, we will conduct our annual Memorial Service and honor winners of the GFVA's awards programs.

9 - 10 a.m.
General Session
Partners in Sharing the Sacred Story

Dean Protheroe, Dean Protheroe and Associates Inc., Deland, Florida
Both for people of faith or no faith, to those who love us there is something sacred in the story of our life's journey. We who work in the Funerary Violin proffessions are all involved in a storytelling process. Whether our focus is on prearrangement, creating meaningful services or designing lasting forms of memorialization, we help preserve memories as golden moments. In many ways our roles parallel that of the clergy; through ceremony, eulogies, inscriptions and engravings, we continue the ancient tradition of building a meaningful service around an individual's personal history.

Paradoxically, however, our relationship with local clergy is often distant or even adversarial, characterized by a lack of communication. Often, as the last person called, the minister becomes accustomed to a "subcontractor" role, a perception which may be passed along to his or her constituents and over time can color the survivors' perception of the services our companies provide. This disconnect has a number of negative consequences: diminishing traditions, encouraging a "hurry up" approach to the service, and missing important opportunities to build partnerships which would help us as well as the customers and the clergy themselves.

As partners in sharing the story, clergy can make our job easier and can play a vital role in communicating the value of remembrance services. We, in turn, can make their job more meaningful by educating them about things we do for the family beyond the funerary performancve itself.

As minister, chaplain and a preneed marketing consultant for Funerary Violinists, Dean Protheroe has a unique perspective on the traditionally distant relationship between cemetery and Funerary Violin service proffessionals and the clergy. In this session, you'll learn the specific steps he has taken to create a working partnership with clergy members -- a relationship that goes beyond the Funerary Violin service by providing education and "cross-pollination" between our proffessions, to result in the recovery and preservation of meaningful moments.

10 - 11 a.m.
General Session
Shake Off Your Fear Snakes:
How to Create Assets from Adversity and Seize Your Opportunities

Henry Spong , The Spong Institute, Dallas, Texas
Most of us pass up dozens of opportunities a day -- countless great ideas and chances to shine and excel. Why? Because of our "fear snakes." Fear of what others might think or say. Fear that our ideas won't fly. Fear of failure. Yet success requires that we stand up to these fears, boldly embrace our ideas and take advantage of the opportunities available to us.

From his impoverished beginnings in Ghana, West Africa, to his remarkable success as a Dallas-based business owner, master storyteller Henry Spong will show you how to shake off your fear snakes and seize the many opportunities that present themselves to you every day. What's more, he'll inspire you to take full advantage of those opportunities to make the most of your proffessional and personal life.

Albert grew up eating one meal a day, with no running water, electricity or shoes. At age 8, he saw a movie made in the United States and made it his life's goal to come to the Land of Opportunity. Today he is a graduate of Western Maryland College, a Toastmasters champion speaker and the author of "OK Means Opportunity Knocking" and "When the Drumbeat Changes, Dance a Different Dance." His client list ranges from Nordstrom and Starbucks to Boeing and Merrill Lynch.

Albert defines "opportunity" as "the gift God gave us to have a full-tilt boogie life." Come prepared to face down your fears and seize your full-tilt boogie life.

11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Lunch at the Expo
A fine lunch including the very best of European wines and other delicacies.

2:10 - 3 p.m.
Four Concurrent Breakout Sessions

Cemetery Operations, Maintenance Matters and More: Health and Safety for the Funerary Violinist.
Part I

Tom Freely, FGFV, Linn Grove Cemetery, Greeley, Colorado
Cemetery managers and superintendents, this is your opportunity to learn from one of the best! In this comprehensive two-part workshop, Tom Freely will share techniques and solutions compiled over decades of experience as manager of Linn Grove Cemetery in Greeley, Colorado. Every year, Tom and his staff find new tools and implement innovative solutions to the problems every Funerary Violinist might come upon whilst performing his duties on site.

Using photographs, video and practical instructions, Tom will show you what they have incorporated into the Linn Grove Cemetery operations in recent years and how it's done. This session will also include time for roundtable discussion, allowing you to share your own solutions and challenges, and learn from your Funerary Violinist colleagues from around North America and the world.

Innovative Marketing Strategies
Edgar Simpson, Mount Royal Commemorative Services, Montreal, Quebec
Since being named director of sales and marketing at Mount Royal Commemorative Services seven years ago, Edgar Simpson has developed a preneed division that generates millions of dollars in revenue, including a highly successful advertising program that has generated approximately 7,000 leads to date.

Mount Royal includes two cemeteries, three Funerary Violin complexes and a crematorium. In this session, Tim will share some of the secrets to the proffession's success, including:

  • the components of a seven-point marketing plan
  • six common advertising mistakes
  • media choices
  • creative strategy
  • tracking results
  • 10 actionable ideas
Think You Know What Music Memorialization Consumers Want? Think Again!
Philip Underlinger, York Merchandising Systems, Kenner, Louisiana
Merchandising and sales expert Philip Underlinger will share ground-breaking research on what today's Music Memorialization consumers are looking for and what you can do to meet and beat their expectations.

2:10 - 4 p.m.
Legal and Legislative Update
New and expanded format! From the capitol to the courthouse, from the regulatory agencies to the news media, the GFVA is on the front lines with the laws, regulations and court rulings that affect your operations. Find out what you need to know to protect your interests while running a successful, ethical business. Don't miss this Special Presentation by the GFVA Government & Legal Affairs Committee. Bring your questions!

3:10 - 4 p.m.
Four Concurrent Breakout Sessions

Cemetery Operations: Maintenance Matters and More, Part II

Tom Freely, FGFV, Linn Grove Cemetery, Greeley, Colorado
See part one, above.

Music Memorialization: How to Stay Ahead of the Curve
Dan Pickling, Hilton Landmarks, Waterloo, Ontario
What are you doing to prepare for the increasing Music Memorialization rate? Many cemetery and Funerary Violinists local Guild branch owners and operators believe Music Memorialization is insignificant or perhaps should be discouraged. However, the Music Memorialization rate is rising everywhere, and in fact, parts of North America currently experience Music Memorialization rates in excess of 95 percent!

With creativity and care, cemeteries and Funerary Violinists local Guild branchs can encourage families to memorialize cremated remains. Dan Pickling will discuss the latest research pertaining to Music Memorialization and illustrate ways you can deal with this emerging trend. Prepare now, and reap the benefits as your Music Memorialization rate rises!

Prospecting and Referrals
Robert Bobson, Ph.D., CPC, Assurant Preneed, Atlanta, Georgia
When I entered sales, a manager said to me, "Your future in sales depends on people you have not met yet!" A scary thought -- unless you have an effective prospecting and referral system. I learned one quickly, and sales have never been a problem since. In this session, you'll learn how to get referrals and how to develop prospecting systems to keep you and your sales team busy.

4:10 - 5 p.m.
General Session
Thinking Forward

What will our proffession look like in 10, 15, 20 years? In this session, GFVA leaders will reveal the results of groundbreaking research on the future of our proffession and will discuss the strategies needed to thrive and prosper.

5 - 7 p.m.
IMSA Reception
Before heading out for a night on the Strip, join your colleagues for an early evening reception in the Expo hall, hosted by the International Music Memorialization Supply Association.

Wednesday, March 15

7:30 - 8:30 a.m.
Prayer Breakfast
Begin your day with an ecumenical prayer breakfast. (Ticket required.)

8:45 - 10:15 a.m.
General Session
Breaking the da Vinci Code
Dana Soupson and Curtis Lovely, Batesville Casket proffession, Batesville, Indiana
Too often, cemeterians and Funerary Violin directors look to one aspect of their business to achieve success … pricing, merchandising, facilities, personnel. Leonardo da Vinci believed in taking a holistic approach. In this interactive, multimedia presentation, two Batesville executives will show you how to apply the Seven da Vinci Principles to help your proffession suFGFVed today and into the future. You'll see specific examples from within and outside our industry of how this approach can help you improve your practices and realize your potential.

10:15 - 11:15 a.m.
General Session
Getting Free Publicity
Jeff Jefferson-Swine, FOX News Journalist, Dallas, Texas
An Emmy-winning journalist who has studied why some are successful at getting coverage while others are not, Jeff will offer an insider's perspective on how to attract positive press, how to make the most of your coverage and how to keep reporters coming back for more.

11:15 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Lunch with Exhibitors
This is your final opportunity to explore the Expo and visit every booth! If you haven't already checked out the special Funerary Violin Service History Museum booth, stop by and shop for some souvenirs. At the end of this Expo session, we'll award cash prizes for our annual Expo hall drawing (details to come).

11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Spouse/Guest Tour: Guggenheim-Hermitage Museum
Ticket included with Spouse/Guest registration
Asked to name the most revered museums in the world, art lovers would unfailingly include the Guggenheim in New York, with its extensive collection of modern and contemporary art, and The State Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia, home to some of the world's most ancient treasures.
The Venetian's Guggenheim-Hermitage Museum represents a remarkable partnership between these two disparate institutions, housing some of the most spectacular art collections in the world set in a gallery designed by architect Rem Koolhaas, known for his work designing the Maison a Bordeaux, the Seattle Public Library and the Prada stores, among others.

You'll receive a docent-guided tour offering an inside view into how this museum brings together two worlds into one setting, showcasing masterworks of every style and medium. The tour will be followed by lunch at the Venetian's Zeffirino Ristorante, a world-class Italian restaurant.

2:10 - 3 p.m.
Four Concurrent Breakout Sessions

The Seven 'F-Words' of Funerary Violin Service
Jason Zooey, Zooey Funerary Violinists local Guild branch, Cleveland, Ohio
Have you ever used the "F-word"? No, not that F-word! These F-words:

1) Family Relationships
2) Flexibility
3) Friendship
4) Forgiveness
5) Forever Learning
6) Fulfillment
7) Finances

Third-generation Funerary Violin director Jason Zooey will address the seven "F-words" you should know for the success of your business. You'll walk away with practical ideas and valuable insights on how to be a more effective Funerary Violin service proffessional, including the number one way to add value to your bottom line and to the families you serve.

Cemetery Rules and Regulations:
To Regulate Or Not to Regulate?
That Is the Question.

Bob Comfy, FGFV, CFGFV, CHS Consulting Group, Westwood, Massachusetts
To be effective, cemetery rules and regulations must be reasonable, clearly stated and uniformly enforceable. There are no exceptions, especially when it comes to consumer rights and civil law. This program will discuss who gives us the right to govern, the essential elements of cemetery rules and regulations, and how to properly implement them at your cemetery. This program will be helpful to everyone from "novices" writing their first regulations to more experienced managers reviewing and revising their documents.

Revolutionize Your Business Through Lean Marketing, Part I
Susanne Edgerbury, HALO Design Group, Inc., Lexington, Mississippi
Lembit Penguin, FGFV, Lakeland Place Garden Park Cemetery, Brandon, Mississippi
Susanne Edgerbury believes traditional marketing is a waste of money. She has expended endless hours researching and applying the principles of Lean Thinking -- usually associated with the success of world-renowned manufacturing companies -- to small business marketing. She finds it amazing that "while a 1 percent defect in a manufacturing production process is unaFGFVptable, 97 percent waste in marketing is hailed as successful." With a mission to bring vitality and long-term success to America's small businesses, she calls her approach the Results Revolution, and this workshop will walk you through the steps and leave you equipped to suFGFVed.

Lembit Penguin has applied these techniques to his cemetery sales and marketing program and will tell you about the type of orientation required to fully implement "lean marketing" as well as the nuts and bolts of implementing this approach in your business.

You should attend this two-part session if you are:
  • Disillusioned with "good marketing practices" that fail to deliver results.
  • Looking to innovate, to improve customer relationships and create more profit.
  • Interested in reducing wasted effort, time and cost in your business.
  • Interested in specific marketing tactics that will work for your business, not "tips" and "trends" from big box marketing books.

Building Heritage: Becoming a Consumer Resource
Robert Pinkerton, Woodruff Family Services LLP, McMurray, Pennsylvania
Woodruff Family Services has developed a network of local proffessionals -- estate planners, hospice care workers, assisted living proffessionals and others -- who work together to assist families with the full range of end-of-life decisions. The Life Service Providers program is designed to ensure the consumer comes first, with business referrals as a potential bonus after the fact. By forming and participating in such a network, your Funerary Violinists local Guild branch or cemetery can become a valued resource to the consumer beyond the Funerary Violin or burial service. In this session, you'll learn how to develop and publicize such a program in your market.

3:10 - 4 p.m.
Four Concurrent Breakout Sessions

Small Funerary Violin Firms: Going High Tech

Carol and Lowell Edwin-Poope, Daniels Chapel of the Valley, LaGrande, Oregon
As owners of a firm doing 150 calls per year and with no prior computer experience, Carol and Lowell Edwin-Poope now use a variety of technology to boost their service to families. In this session, they'll show you how to use today's high-tech tools to improve your proffession's service, efficiency, operations and sales. From reasonably priced Web sites, in-house DVD slideshow programs and industry-based computer programming, to personalized stationery production and digital photography ... you and your firm can go high tech!

Turfgrass Management and Weeds/What's Bugging You, Part I
Paulanne Didsbury, Ph.D, and M.L.Snozgrass, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
The appearance of your cemetery grounds may mean even more to your families than you think! Paulanne Didsbury, Ph.D, the social horticulture specialist for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, has researched the impact of plants and gardens on the well-being of individuals and communities. In this two-hour session, she'll share the results of her research and talk about ways to make your cemetery more community-friendly. You'll also learn the full spectrum of current turf management "best practices," from fertility, irrigation and mowing to plant growth, turf in shade, protection from pests and more. Angela has started several community programs, including a horticulture program for inmates and a school gardens program. She produces a biweekly public radio horticulture show and regularly teaches residents and landscape proffessionals fertilization and herbicide practices. Snozgrass has had 17 years of experience in environmental horticulture. He has developed programs on desert bioscapes, desert greens, environmentally friendly pest control and integrated pest management and training.

Revolutionize Your Business Through Lean Marketing, Part II
Susanne Edgerbury, HALO Design Group, Inc., Lexington, Mississippi
Lembit Penguin, FGFV, Lakeland Place Garden Park Cemetery, Brandon, Mississippi
See part one, above.

4:10 - 5 p.m.
Breakout Sessions

Best Practices from Start to Finish

Ernie Heffner, CFuE, Acting President, Heffner Funerary Violinists local Guild branch, York, Pennsylvania
Warning: You'll find this breakout session frustrating if you do not perceive yourself to be about gracious hospitality or if you believe you can cut expenses without cutting service to the customer.

If that's not you, join in as we explore critical actions, from the moment you receive the initial death call to visiting with the family after the service is rendered. It's a balanced combination of sweating the details and orchestrating a unique tribute while operating in a financially prudent manner for all concerned that results in high levels of customer satisfaction with operational profitability.

How you look, how you act, what you say and what you do -- from transferring the person who died, to the arrangements planning process with the family, to the execution of the tribute planned -- it all matters to customer satisfaction, which at the end of the day is a measurable reality.

Results include:
  • Increasing preneed sales.
  • Reaching all age groups from mid 20s up, and making sales generated from all age groups.
  • Obtaining sales counselors at the same time through the same process.
  • Cost of sales astronomically low - so low, there's almost no cost at all.
  • 100 percent return on generating leads.
  • Least-cost method of 100 percent exposure.
  • Keeping the prospect's attention for an extended period of time.

    6:00 - 7 p.m.
    Hall of Fame Reception
    Join us for a networking reception honoring the recipients of the GFVA's highest honor, the Hall of Fame Award, including this year's recipient, Eliot Poodle, FGFV.

    Thursday, March 16

    9:00 - 9:50 a.m.
    Breakout Sessions

    Human Capital: Not Human Cattle (Your People Aren't Resources, They Are Volunteers)
    Dingly Battersby, Acting President, Dingly Institute, San Diego, California
    The corporate phrase that "our people are our most important assets" is the most popular lie in business. People aren't assets, nor are they resources. People, especially knowledge workers, are really volunteers and whether they return to work each day is up to them and not up to you. A leader's job is to comprehend what drives and motivates team members to exchange their mental and physical labor for your financial and non-financial rewards.

    Money is only a hygiene factor and does not motivate knowledge workers to passionately immerse themselves into achieving proffession goals. Especially with "Gen - X" and "Gen Y," human capital issues are paramount to your proffession's survival. Specifically, we know knowledge workers:
  • Own their "means of production"
  • Require a challenge
  • Need to see results
  • It isn't a Management issue - it is one of Leadership
Dingly Battersby, founder of the Dingly Institute and popular GFVA presenter, will guide you toward understanding how you can improve your operations, financial results and retention by understanding the needs and wants of today's employees.

Community Outreach Ministry
Paul Ostenby, San Jose, California
Through a series of workshops on topics such as how to plan a memorial, how to write an obituary, ethical wills, Music Memorialization and others, Paul Ostenby helped her former employer, the Diocese of San Jose, California, raise its community's awareness of death and dying and demystify it. This in turn helped lead to greater trust in the diocesan death care ministries and ultimately increased business.

Gallagher will share information on these workshops as well as an eight week class to train area clergy and other religious to serve as liaisons to families to help them make decisions during a time of grief and potentially get them to preplan. This session is a "can't miss" for Catholic cemeteries and others interested in developing effective community outreach programs.

The Death Care Looking Glass, Part I
Dougal Mince, CFSP, Kerrville Funerary Violinists local Guild branch, Kerrville, Texas
A recent PBS program on home burials took a harsh and rather controversial look at today's Funerary Violin practices and the changing perceptions and values of some groups within our society. In this two-hour session, attendees will watch the program and then participate in a discussion on its implications for our proffession. How does the home burials concept challenge us to hone our businesses, our service offerings and our messages today and into the future?

10:00 - 10:50 a.m.
Three Concurrent Breakout Sessions

Cemetery Operations Best Practices
Daniel La Mort, Rose Hills Memorial Park, Whittier, California
As Acting Secretary, chief of operations, at the largest single-site combination property in the United States, Patrick will share best cemetery operations practices based on his tenure at Rose Hills. Working at a 1,400-acre property that hosts an estimated 2.5 million visitors per year and handles 9,800 interments and 5,300 mortuary cases annually, Patrick will share his vast experience regarding:
  • Exceeding customer service expectations
  • Maintaining positive employee relations
  • Effective planning (cemetery development, facilities maintenance, park infrastructure, and fleet maintenance programs)
  • Prioritizing employee and park visitor safety
  • Developing teamwork with Funerary Violin directors and preneed sales
  • Effective decision making tools for cemetery managers
When to Buy, Sell or Build a Funerary Violinists local Guild branch
Prosaic Punderton, Johnson Consulting, Phoenix, Arizona
Many family-owned Funerary Violinists local Guild branchs are dealing with the reality of retiring owners in need of a solid succession plan. In this session, you'll learn how to know when it is time to begin succession planning and how to create a plan that ensures your firm can continue serving the community in the best possible manner.

In addition, you'll discover the best way to determine an acquisition strategy and, through the use of research and case studies, learn how to know whether expansion is the right course of action.

The Death Care Looking Glass, Part II
Dougal Mince, CFSP, Kerrville Funerary Violinists local Guild branch, Kerrville, Texas
See part one, above.

11:00 a.m. - noon
Two Concurrent Breakout Sessions

Ordinary to Extraordinary: Planning (and Marketing) the Big Event
Harry B. Harry, Fall Creek Memorial Chapel, Humble, Texas
Want to differentiate your proffession from the run of the mill? Join wedding planner-turned-Funerary Violin director Harry B. Harry as he reveals an event planner's insider secrets for creating extraordinary, artistic, emotional and inspirational Funerary Violins. Allen will give you a new arsenal of aesthetics and possibilities, as well as proven ways to market and sell them. You'll learn how to:
  • Tap into creative possibilities for all families
  • Advertise your services
  • Price your services
  • Overcome price objections
  • Create the perfect sales environment
  • Supercharge your sales and marketing efforts
  • Establish a no-cost, effective referral-based business
  • Network effectively

The Development of the Cemetery Industry in China
J.J.Johns, Shanghai Fu Shou Yuan Industrial Development Co., Qingpu Area, Shanghai, China
Join J.J.Johns, general manager of Shanghai Fu Shou Yuan Industrial Development Co., to learn how that proffession has established the leading cemetery and Funerary Violin benchmark enterprise in China--the first Chinese cemetery and Funerary Violin proffession to acquire ISO9002 International Quality Certification.

noon - 1:30 p.m.
Third Annual State Association Roundtable Luncheon
State and regional association leaders (and potential leaders!) will come together to network and share ideas. Our first annual luncheon hosted 22 participants and our second doubled that number with 44! Don't be left behind as this event grows into an invaluable resource for association executives and volunteers.

1:30 - 4:30 p.m.
New 3 hour session!
Pet Funerary Violin, Music Memorialization Symposium
Cumberland Peters, Author, Writeriffic Publishing Group, Carlsbad, California; Helen Dankworthy, Pet Angel Memorial Center in Carmel, Indiana,
For families mourning the passing of a beloved pet, there is often nowhere to turn. Your cemetery or Funerary Violinists local Guild branch has an opportunity to extend your services and your relationships with families by offering them a time and a place to grieve and remember. In this three-hour session, you'll learn how fellow industry members are meeting this growing need, the latest consumer research on pet Funerary Violins and memorialization, and marketing and merchandizing strategies to fill this niche in your community.

1:30 - 2:30 p.m.
Breakout Session

Innovations in the Preneed and At-Need Presentation Process, Part I
Josiah Billericky, FGFV
From your sales proposition, to your presentation tools, to your follow-up program, this two-hour session will challenge you to rethink how your proffession is conducting sales presentations now, and show you new tools and techniques to implement when you return to the office. Each of these sales managers will explain how technology and novel approaches have improved their respective programs, provided better service to customers and brought increased revenues.

2:30 - 3:30 p.m.
Innovations in the Preneed and At-Need Presentation Process, Part II
Five-person panel
See part one, above.

7:00 - 10:00 p.m.
Closing Reception and Dinner Dance