Is Owning A Cemetery Profitable 2024?

Starting A cemetery might seem like a weird business idea, but if you want to be unique in the business you are doing, then starting a cemetery business is your go-to option. However, the question here is: Is owning a cemetery profitable 2024?

Is Owning A Cemetery Profitable

Let’s find out by reading this article as we’ve compiled all the information regarding how can you actually start a cemetery business and what are all the costs associated with a cemetery.


How To Start A Cemetery?

With proper planning, hard work, strategies, and execution, you can start a cemetery that will give you financial success.

To start a cemetery, follow the following steps:

1. Name Your Cemetry Business

The very step in starting your cemetery business is to name it. This is a very crucial decision as the name of your cemetery business is what people will remember for a long time. Here are a few tips to name your company that is memorable and meaningful:

  • Simplicity is the key: Keep the name simple, easy to spell, and easy to pronounce for people.
  • Marketing: Come up with a name that reflects your brand and ideology or focuses on the cemetery.
  • Availability Of The Name: Once you come up with a name, check it in the trademark database and your state’s lists of registered business names to see if it’s available or not.

2. Develop A Business Plan

The next step in starting a cemetery business is to develop a business plan. This means that you’ll have a full roadmap guiding your every step to the destination.

The process of creating a business plan also ensures that you understand your market, all the factors affecting it, and the business strategy.

Your business plan must include the following:

  • Company Overview: This section of the business plan tells the readers about the company’s history and what type of cemetery business are you operating. For instance, are you a municipal cemetery, churchyard, or rural cemetery?
  • Executive Summary: This section dictates your overall business plan so that the readers can quickly understand the key elements of your cemetery business.
  • Customer Analysis: you need to document who is your ideal customer base and what are their demographics.
  • Competitor Analysis: it is very important to analyze all your competitors in the market and document how will you differentiate your brand from the rest.
  • Marketing Plan: You need to address the 4 Ps of marketing i.e., Price, Promotion, Place, and Products.
  • Management Team: This section consists of the background information of all the management team of your business.

3. Make A Legal Structure

The next step is to choose a legal structure for your cemetery and register it and the business name with the Secretary of State in the state where you will be operating your business.

These are the 4 common legal structures:

  • Sole Proprietor: A sole proprietorship is a business entity in which the business and the owner are the same legal person. So, the owner of the cemetery business is responsible for all the debts and obligations of the business.
  • Partnership: It is a legal agreement between two or more people to run the business together.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC): In an LLC, the owners are not responsible for the debts and liability of the business. This structure provides a limited liability to the owners.
  • C Corporation: In a C Corporation, the business and the owner of the business are two separate entities, and the owner is not liable for the debts of the business.

4. Secure Funds For Your Start-Up And A Location

While developing the business plan, you might have already estimated that you will be required to raise funds for the business.

The main source of funding for a cemetery is personal savings or taking loans from friends and family. After you have figured out the source of funds, the next is to look for a location for the cemetery business.

The place of your cemetery business should be accessible to the public and should have enough space to accommodate the graves.

5. Register The Cemetery With the Internal Revenue System

The next important step is to register the cemetery with the Internal Revenue System. In turn, they will issue an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

This EIN will help you to open a bank account in the name of the company and hire employees.

Note: If you are a sole proprietor without employees, then you don’t need the EIN rather you can use the social security number as your taxpayer identification number.

6. Get A Business Credit Card And License

To get a business credit card, you can either apply through your bank or apply through a credit card company. Getting a business credit card for your cemetery can help you separate your personal finance and business expenses.

Furthermore, you’ll also require a few licenses and permits to start a cemetery. You’ll need a business license, a cemetery license, and a permit to bury human remains.

7. Get A Business Insurance

There are different types of insurance that you need to avail for your cemetery business. Some policies are as follows:

  • General Liability Insurance: covers the injuries and accidents that happen to your property and damages caused by employees or products.
  • Commercial Compensation insurance: This protects your property from damages such as fire and theft.
  • Business Interruption Insurance: This insurance plan covers the lost income and expenses if your business is shut down due to covered events.

8. Buy Or Lease The Right Cemetery Equipments

You’ll also need various types of equipment to carry out the operations of the cemetery. You’ll need a casket-lowering device, cremation stands, a casket carriage, a turf trailer, a shovel, a rack, and a hoe. Along with these items, you’ll also need a leaf blower and a lawn mower.

9. Develop Cemetery Marketing Material

The next step is to attract and retain customers to your cemetery. The key marketing materials you’ll need to create are as follows:

  • Logo
  • Website
  • Social Media Accounts

These things will help you attract customers to your business and make a brand reputation.

10. Set Up The Softwares And Open The Business

To start your cemetery business, you’ll also need to purchase some software like a customer relationship management (CRM) system, which will help you keep track of your customers, and the grave booking system to book the graves.

You might also require a mapping system to track the graves and financial accounting software to manage your finances.


Why owning A Cemetery Is A Good Option?

Owning a cemetery comes with many benefits, such as being unique in your business. However, there are several other benefits that you can get by owning a cemetery:

1. Limited Supply And Increased Demand

The cemeteries have a limited supply of burial plots, unlike the commercial and residential plots. As the commercial and residential plots are increasing, the space for cemeteries is becoming scarce, which gives rise to the increased demand.

And no matter where the world goes, everyone will need a final resting place for their loved ones.

2. Recession Proof

The funeral industry is recession-proof, which means that the industry is unaffected by the economic conditions.

So, regardless of the economic condition, according to the nature of the law, people will continue to pass away and will require a resting place. This makes owning a cemetery a stable and secure investment.

3. Tax Deductions

According to the jurisdiction, cemetery owners may be eligible for property tax exemptions and abatements.

Cemetery maintenance expenses can also be tax deductible, further benefitting the cemetery owner.


How Much Does It Cost To Start A Cemetery Business?

The startup cost of a cemetery ranges between $80,000 to $250,000 or even more. This cost includes insurance, land down payment, land preparation, and excavating equipment.

Moreover, you’ll need around one acre of land to hold 1250 burial plots. Here is the breakdown of all the costs required to start the cemetery business:

Start-Up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting the business name and corporation$150-$200$175
Business license and permits$100-$300$200
Insurance$100-$300$200
Business cards and brochures$200-$300$250
Website setups$1000-$3000$2,000
Land down payment$40,000-$120,000$80,000
Land preparation$30,000-$100,000$65,000
Excavating Equipements$8,000-$20,000$14,000
Total$79,550-$244,100$161,825


How Does A Cemetry Make Money?

This is a genuine question that might have crossed your mind because a good portion of clients of a cemetery portion are dead, so how do they make money?

Here are some ways a cemetery makes money:

1. Gravestone Installments

The very first income source for cemetery businesses is by installing gravestones and headstones.

A gravestone can either be simple or more elaborate. But no matter the size or level of detail, a headstone should be placed securely and is expected to be of good quality so as to last longer.

So, cemeteries can monetize the necessity by specializing in the placement of a headstone perfectly.

2. Funeral Home Services

Some cemeteries also generate revenue by maximizing the services they offer, such as tying up with a funeral home.

A funeral home offers services like funeral planning, hosting, and preparing the body. So, pairing with a funeral home can appeal to the families and provide both the services of a cemetery and a funeral home.

3. Extra Maintenance

A cemetery can also generate income by offering additional maintenance services to the customers. For example, customers can pay additional fees to the cemeteries for planting beautiful flowers around the gravestones of their loved ones.

Additionally, they can also pay a small amount to have the staff polish the headstones of their loved ones. However, these costs are additional as anyone can do these tasks by themselves.

4. Opening And Closing Services

Opening and closing services is the main service offered by any cemetery. It included digging the grave and then filling it up.

However, some cemeteries might charge extra fees for digging the grave and filling it and pay their professional staff to do the task.

Opening and closing services can also include the service of opening and closing mausoleums or columbariums.


Is Owning A Cemetery Profitable 2024?

Owning a cemetery might seem like an unconventional idea, but after the COVID-19 pandemic, this business is gaining popularity.

Owning a cemetery is like a real estate investment, which is also a lucrative business, but this business of cemetery makes your business model unique.

In a crowded place like San Francisco, a cemetery charges $12,000 for a single plot, and the actual cost is about $1,000 on average.

There are also other costs such as transportation, which costs about $750, and cremation for $1,100 and the cost of an average headstone is $1,750. However, these prices might vary according to different countries and states.

In some cases, the cemetery owner might take advantage of the grieving family. They can charge up to hundreds of dollars to seal a casket and put a $10 ring on it.

This makes it quite difficult to ascertain the profit margin of a cemetery business. However, the average salary for higher-ups in a cemetery is about $76,000.

To get an estimate, the actual average cost of a plot is $1000, and for instance, you sell 100 plots in a year or two, so that will bring you $100,000 in annual revenue. Assuming a 40% profit margin, you’ll get a profit of $40,000.

Moreover, as your cemetery business grows, you’ll sell around 300 plots a year. So, it will make a revenue of $300,000, and calculated according to the profit margin; you’ll have an impressive profit of $120,000.


How Do Cemeteries Manage When They Are Full?

How Do Cemeteries Manage When They Are Full

The most challenging part of opening a cemetery business is the challenge to operate when you are full meaning you have no space left for a new client.

However, cemeteries can still monetize some of the services, such as gravesite and headstone maintenance. But there are some other methods too that help the cemetery to stay open even when they are full.

1. Perpetual Care Trust

This is the main way a cemetery can still operate even when they have no space for another client. Perpetual Care Trust is a fund where funeral operators deposit 10% of their gravesite sales into this fund.

However, each state has its own rules and regulations when it comes to cemetery operations. But most legislations require the cemetery owners to deposit a percentage of either their profits or sales into the perpetual care trust.

2. Expansion

Expanding your property is another way a cemetery can operate, even when all their grave plots are taken. However, it isn’t always possible, but you can always look for a plot in the neighborhood to create more land for gravesites.

So, expanding the land, prolonging their prime operating years, and continuing the primary services of grave opening and closing.

3. Exhumations And Reinterment

Exhumantions and reinterment typically mean digging up the dead body of the already buried person and burying it somewhere else in the graveyard.

So, despite the fact that a cemetery is a final resting place, sometimes exhumations happen. And whether it is for law enforcement or other reasons but, a cemetery is paid for exhumations and reinterment.

4. Municipal Management

If in case, the business behind the cemetery shuts down due to being full, the local government can take over and carry forward the maintenance.

And since there is no usable land, the municipal government doesn’t have to worry about selling the extra gravesites.

5. Volunteerism

The local community can also take the responsibility of lawn-mowing, headstone cleaning, and other maintenance tasks if the cemetery business owner is no longer in the capacity to continue the business.


Tips To Increase The Revenue Of A Cemetery Business

Tips To Increase The Revenue Of A Cemetery Business

Other than selling the gravesites, there are many methods that the cemetery can adopt to increase revenue.

Firstly, the cemetery can include cremation urns or pet burials and offer customizable memorial packages catering to different preferences and budgets.

A cemetery can also provide digital services like virtual graves and allow individuals to pay their respects online. This can be especially appealing to those living far away and will also make the business model unique.

Lastly, as e-commerce is at its peak, a cemetery business can also generate unexpected revenue through the digital market.

Cemeteries can allow customers to buy or exchange valuable time, such as antique jewelry or unique collectibles, further diversifying their income source.


Conclusion

Owning a cemetery might sound like an unconventional business; however, it comes with many benefits mentioned above, and one of the most important ones is you’ll have a unique business model.

There’s no doubt that investing in real estate and being a landlord is profitable, but you must also think about how crowded that business is, and it becomes extremely difficult to differentiate your business.

However, this is not the case with owning a cemetery as, firstly, many entrepreneurs might think that it is an odd business, which ultimately makes it less crowded. But then the next question that definitely crosses anyone’s mind is: Is owning a cemetery profitable 2024?


FAQs

What are the ongoing expenses of cemetery business?

A cemetery business owner has to bear the cost of staff, maintain the land, and organize the activities of a burial site. Not only this, but a cemetery owner also has to maintain the license and research new products and advertisements.

Does cemetery allows to book plot for 100 years?

Yes, some cemeteries offer the services to rent out the plot for 100 years, and then the plot is recycled and reused.

What is the industry size of cemetery business?

According to the reports, in 2022, the U.S. cemetery industry was worth $4.4 billion in 2022.

Leave a Comment