Last October 15 and 16, nearly 40 representatives from 10 Canadian funeral cooperatives gathered in Tracadie-Sheila for the annual meeting organized by the Federation and the Coopérative funéraire La Colombe, which operates in this Acadian region of New Brunswick.
For a fifth consecutive year, the directors and administrators took part in these two days of training and discussion to learn more about the funeral industry, administration and communications. It was also a good opportunity to network and take advantage of the experience of our peers.
A busy programme awaited the participants. First they were able to hear Annie Normandin, the woman responsible for setting up the Canadian network of funeral cooperatives, explain the initiatives that have been taken over the last 12 months to generate enthusiasm for the cooperative model in the funeral industry.
Next, France Denis, communications advisor at the Federation, presented the results of a provincial survey of 800 people conducted in spring 2010. The aim of the survey was to find out what the population thinks about funeral cooperatives. More than one participant found the results surprising.
The next workshop, led by Jean-Yves Lessard, was on financial ratios. At this workshop, which is an annual event, participants are invited to use their financial statements to calculate the principal financial ratios and compare themselves with other cooperatives. This allows them to get a better understanding of the financial situation of their cooperative, and can suggest possible ways of improving it, if necessary.
Annie Normandin also presented the major trends in the funeral industry, as well as some new products and services which have emerged in recent years. Some are so unusual that they raised a few eyebrows.
Alain Leclerc presented a workshop on the Net Promoter Score, an easy-to-calculate indicator for measuring the word-of-mouth performance that our members and clients circulate about the cooperative. Our clients can be divided into promoters and detractors: the former recommend our company to relatives, and the latter mainly do harm to our company.
Finally, Bernard Houle, president of the Coopérative funéraire de la Rive-Sud, came to talk about the difficult journey that his cooperative had to make over the first 25 years of its existence. For the last five years, this cooperative has experienced outstanding growth thanks to its involvement in the community and also to a cultural shift.
In addition to these workshops, the Cooperative La Colombe opened its doors to participants interested in visiting another funeral home, seeing how things are done elsewhere, meeting with the staff, and learning more about the history of the company. We want to extend our warmest thanks to the board of directors, to general manager Gérard Brideau, and to all of the cooperative's staff for their welcome and fortheir invaluable support in organizing this meeting.
Next year, the Hillsboro Funeral Co-op in Stratford, near Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, will be the host for this annual meeting.