Trade Associations Products and Services |

Trade Associations offer a variety of services and products for specific Industries such as collaboration between companies, advertising, setting industry standards, publishing magazines and newsletters, lobbying and political influence, education, producing exhibitions, trade fairs and conferences.Here we want to explain how Trade Association services work.· Collaboration between CompaniesThere are many benefits for companies to collaborate through Associations such as:1) Better logistics management2) Improving decision-making process3) Increased innovation and creativity4) Offering better service or product5) Opportunity to improve revenue6) More customer retention7) Improved customer services8) Increased agility9) Less expensive labor10) Lower production cost11) Higher margins12) Smooth running organization· AdvertisingEveryone is aware of advertisement and its role in finding new markets and more customers. Trade Associations, like any other organization, produce advertisements to improve industry image and also shape an opinion about different issues within a specific industry. These ads are generated to form a positive opinion about the products and attract more potential consumers.· EducationMany Associations are offering educational materials and courses to increase knowledge about a specific industry sector among their members as well as the public. However, most of the time, these services are less expensive for members than non-members. These services include personnel training, guideline publication and specialized courses to educate existing or future workforce, as well as professional certification and licensing programs to ensure level of professionalism of workforce.· Lobbying and Political InfluenceAnother major purpose of Trade Associations is to influence public policies in favor of members by contributing funds to political campaigns or lobbying through designated authorities. Most Associations do not have political agenda or political affiliations but political conflicts may affect businesses. In such events, they will contact authorities on behalf of their members and will try to push the outcome in favor of their members.· Publishing Magazines and NewslettersTrade Associations increase knowledge and distribute the latest news and information among their members, as well as the public by publishing newsletters and magazines. In this way companies may improve the decision-making process and consumers will be more familiar with products or services.· Setting StandardsBy setting standards, Trade Associations will ensure that the safety standards are followed and the quality of products or services are maintained, so consumers and customers will receive the highest possible quality in the safest ways.· Producing Exhibitions, Trade Fairs and ConferencesProducing or supporting Trade Events is another service that Trade Associations offer. Exhibitions are sourcing events and many decision makers around the world are choosing their needed raw materials, machinery or services by attending in these types of events. This is also a unique opportunity for suppliers to meet with their potential customers face to face and introduce the advantages of their products and services to them and try to assure them that they are the best choice for them.· Complaints and Problem SolvingTrade Associations also help resolve problems which may arise between their members and consumers. Most of the time if consumers encounter a problem with Association’s members that cannot be resolved by the company, they can directly contact the Trade Association and find a solution to their problem.

History Of American Funeral and Memorial Service |

The funeral service industry in America began to take shape following the Civil War with the emergence of embalming, a technique that allowed for the preservation, transportation, and viewing of soldiers killed on faraway battlefields. By the early 1900s, funeral directors, known then as “undertakers” or “morticians,” were combining this process of preserving a body with the ability to greatly enhance the appearance of the deceased through “restorative arts,” creating a more satisfying viewing experience for friends and relatives.Products such as caskets, called “coffins” in those days, were also being offered by a growing number of undertakers and were usually built by local furniture manufacturers. As America became more urbanized, undertakers moved away from preparing and showing bodies in the family’s home and instead began removing the deceased from the home or hospital and transporting them to specially-designed funeral homes for preparation and showing.Today, there are approximately 22,000 funeral homes in the U.S. with approximately 20% of those owned by national and regional consolidators. Recent trends in funeral service include:• A steady rise in cremation rates causing more funeral homes to build crematories.• The shortening of a standard service from three days (two days of visitation and a third for the funeral service and interment) to two days with one day of visitation. In fact, many families are now opting to have the funeral service and interment directly following the visitation, which allows the entire funeral and interment process to be completed in one day.• A steady increase in people planning and funding their funerals in advance, relieving their loved ones of dealing with those issues at the time of death.• Funeral homes transitioning from performing standard funeral services to operating as more of an events center, which accommodates families’ requests for increased flexibility and personalization in the ceremonies themselves.Caskets/CoffinsThe American casket industry originated in the 1800s, when local undertakers, often employed in the lumber or furniture business, built coffins as part of their businesses. Toward the end of that century, the manufacturing and sales of caskets became a separate industry with companies and their markets remaining relatively small and local.During the middle part of the 20th century, the industry was shifting to a higher proportion of metal caskets as steel was no longer a restricted commodity due to war efforts. By 1980, over two-thirds of the U.S. casket market was metal. The popularity of metal caskets was driven by:• The heightened protective qualities of metal caskets, which was heavily marketed to consumers by manufacturers and funeral directors• A much broader array of styles and colors to choose from• Consumer perceptions of a modern alternative to “wood coffins” with beautiful brushed and painted finishes rivaling the finest automobile finishes.This trend to metal also contributed to the consolidation of casket manufacturers as the capital requirements necessary to produce metal caskets was much higher and out of reach for most of the small wood casket producers. This consolidation saw an industry of over 700 manufacturers in the 1950s reduced to less than 10 major players by the mid-1990s.Today, most funeral homes offer a broad array of caskets including “sealing” or “protective” caskets (featuring a gasket between the top and bottom sections of the unit that protect the interior from outside elements) and non-sealing models. Product choices typically include:• Cloth-covered wood or particle board caskets at the bottom of the price range (non-sealing)• 20-gauge steel (thinnest of the standard gauge steel used in casket manufacturing), non-sealing• 16- and 18-gauge steel, sealing• Stainless steel• “Semi-precious” copper and bronze (both 32- and 48-oz./sq. ft. weight)• Wood ranging from poplar and pine at the low end to cherry, black walnut and mahogany at the high end. Wood caskets may or may not be sealing and while most are still made with solid wood, veneer caskets have also been introduced into the market in recent years. Standard finishes include satin or gloss and sometimes feature a hand-rubbed finish.Today’s caskets come in a variety of solid and shaded colors with several corner designs including square, round, and urn-shaped. Product pricing is also affected by interior materials used, including twill and crepe at the low end with linen and velvet costing more. The finishing of these materials is done with heat- and sewn-shirring, hand- or machine-tailoring, tufting, and special embroidered designs on the cap panel (interior lid). Exterior hardware used by funeral home employees and pallbearers to transport the casket include stationary and articulating handles that are stamped or cast. Recent innovations in casket design include “Memory Drawers” to hold special personal items to be buried with the deceased and removable corner pieces which serve as keepsakes for the family following the service.Cremation UrnsCremation urns are relatively small vessels designed to contain a portion, but usually not all, of the 3-6 pounds of cremated remains (“cremains”) resulting from the cremation of an adult human body. The steady rise in cremation rates in the U.S. over the past several decades has spawned a dramatic increase in the number of cremation product choices available for the transportation and storage of cremains, more commonly referred to as “ashes.” Construction materials available include composites, metal, wood, stone such as marble and granite, fabric, ceramic, plastic, glass, and biodegradable materials for use on water.Design options for cremation urns are now almost limitless with themes that represent consumer preferences including traditional vases, various wildlife, flowers and plants, patriotism, religion, and public service for past and present members of the military and police and fire departments. Another interesting product line that has developed over the last 20 years is cremation jewelry. Locket-style products are designed to contain a very small sample of the deceased’s cremains, while other products feature an actual man-made stone fashioned from a process of intense compression of the deceased’s cremains.Industry TrendsWhile funeral service in America has been slow to change, several impactful trends have emerged in recent years. First and not surprisingly, technology advances have prompted on-line obituaries, supplementing or supplanting those traditionally found in local newspapers. These on-line obituaries are full-blown life tributes to the deceased offering nearly limitless content including text, photos, videos, music, and testimonials from site visitors, and remain available for many years. While not yet commonplace, even webcasts of the actual funeral service are beginning to occur.Religion is taking less of a role in modern funerals as services become more informal and speaking roles historically reserved for ministers, priests, and rabbis are being handled by family members or friends and, in some cases, professional “celebrants” who serve as the MC for the entire ceremony. After-service meals traditionally prepared and served at the family’s house of worship, are moving from church basement to restaurants, social clubs, hotels, or commercial event facilities. Religious hymns are being replaced by music that more reflects the taste of the deceased and his or her circle of friends.The most impactful trend in funeral service today is undoubtedly personalization. This movement towards customized memorial services has evolved over the past 15 years from families asking funeral directors to accommodate the display of artifacts of the deceased’s life such as golf clubs, memorabilia, or home videos of the family at play. Cork boards of photographs of the deceased throughout his or her life have become commonplace as families look for ways to create an environment that promotes a celebration honoring the life of their love one.Now the infamous Baby Boomer Generation will push this personalization to new levels. Born between 1945 and 1964, boomers have always played by their own rules and have changed everything they’ve touched, from music to politics, to reflect their fierce independence. With the oldest boomers now in their late 60s, the members of this generation of 78 million are now dealing with their own mortality and are well under way in changing how they prefer to be memorialized when they die. Rock and roll music replaces religious hymns. Streaming videos document and memorialize a life well-lived. The procession “hearse” might just be a side car attached to a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Recent surveys suggest 70% of boomers do not want to be buried in the ground, so cremation rates will continue to rise steadily from single digits just a generation ago to over 50% of all deaths nationwide by 2018. This will enable evermore creative ways to memorialize loved ones by scattering remains in unique ways including “destination memorials” such as memorial cruises, mountain-top ceremonies, etc. Options are even currently available to shoot cremains into space or use them to rebuild coral reefs under the ocean.Finally, this growth of personalization in memorial services will result in a significant expansion of memorial products and their distribution. Caskets and urns are now readily available online through merchandising giants like Wal-Mart and Costco, the latter of which even has casket displays in selected U.S. stores. Biodegradable wreaths are available to facilitate scatterings on water. Other environmental options include biodegradable coffins and shrouds used for “green burials” in special eco-cemeteries where they will decay naturally without the use of metal caskets, concrete burial vaults, and preservative chemicals like formaldehyde.Bottom line: After many decades of status quo, the American “way of death” is changing dramatically. Consumers, particularly baby boomers, are taking control of how they want to go out and all options are on the table!

Should Telephone Sales and Service Be Outsourced? 5 Reasons to Outsource and 5 Reasons to Avoid It |

It’s no secret that Corporate America is looking to cut costs, and outsourcing has become an important part of achieving that goal. Sales forces, particularly telemarketers, have been a prime target of outsourcing in recent years, as more and more sales jobs have moved out of the company and even out of the country.While many companies have seen great financial results from telesales and customer service outsourcing, the decision isn’t necessarily right for every business. For some companies, lower cost doesn’t necessarily lead to better value.If your company is considering outsourcing either function, weigh the five major advantages against the five major disadvantages, and decide whether it makes sense for your business.Five Reasons to OutsourceHere are the most common reasons companies outsource their sales operations.1. Focus on Core BusinessAs businesses look to trim costs, they’re finding that they see more benefit when they focus on the things that generate value – not revenue, value. What’s the difference? Revenue refers to the bottom line, dollars and cents. Value, on the other hand, is the intangible that a company brings to the industry. Some companies deliver value through innovation, others through service, and still others through consistency or reliability. In some cases, the sales force delivers the business value, but when that isn’t the case, it makes more sense to let someone else manage it.2. More Skilled Sales RepsIt takes time, effort, and yes, money, to train a sales force. If you’ve determined that your sales team isn’t a crucial part of your business value, why invest resources in training? There are companies out there that focus exclusively on the sales process, and they know what to look for in their salespeople and how to train them to sell different products and services. In other words, when you take part in inside sales outsourcing, you are not looking for the sales reps; you are looking for Telesales and Customer Service specialists.3. Greater EfficienciesCompanies are looking to be more efficient, and outsourcing can be a great way to do that. Instead of building or purchasing additional office space, with desks and chairs and computers and phone lines; placing ads to search for qualified salespeople and train them and provide their salary and benefits; and taking time and effort away from their core business to concentrate on peripheral activities, a company can move the entire process to another specialist that may be able to perform the same tasks better and at lower costs.4. Lower CostsOutsourced workers typically earn less than internal staff, there tend to be fewer costs associated with recruiting and training, and companies don’t have to devote office space, or manage payroll and benefit packages for the salespeople. When you move your sales and service teams offsite, you also move many of the costs associated with employing them.5. Access to New MarketsEven though the world seems to be getting smaller, a lot of companies still aren’t operating globally. If yours is one of them, you might be missing a great opportunity to expand your reach. An outsourced sales force can close that gap. If your business wants to expand into another market, whether it’s across the country or across the globe, you might reach your goal through inside sales outsourcing. This sales force will be more familiar with the market and will already know how to approach potential customers.Five Reasons NOT to OutsourceThere is no doubt that telesales and customer service outsourcing delivers a lot of benefits. But each of those benefits has another side that needs to be considered. Companies can be all too familiar with this downside if they outsource when it isn’t appropriate to do so.Here are the most common pitfalls to outsourcing.1. Less control over the processYou might move costs offsite when you outsource, but you also move your ability to control the process. It’s hard to keep track of everyday operations when they occur off-premise, and since you don’t have a hand in hiring and training the sales staff, it’s more difficult to maintain quality control. However, these challenges can be mitigated by making sure you stay in constant contact with the sales organization. You should ask for periodic reports and be specific and clear about what you expect from their sales reps.2. A greater chance of diminished qualityThis lack of control implies a lack of quality control. When you’re not there to oversee the sales process, there’s a chance that something might go wrong. A sales rep might not be entirely familiar with your products or services, or he might not use the right talking points to make the sale. Perhaps certain procedures are overlooked, like submitting the right paperwork or promoting the right incentives. Again, this is why constant communication is crucial; the more you stay in touch with your sales organization, the less chance of a mistake.3. Lack of company or industry knowledgeWhen you hire internal salespeople, chances are you look for expertise within your industry or knowledge of your markets. When you outsource your sales team, that expertise and knowledge isn’t quite so certain. In many cases, outside sales reps are chosen for their selling skills, not their industry knowledge. Plus, they may be working on several accounts and therefore have intermediate knowledge at best of any one field. If industry expertise is crucial to your sales operations, outsourcing might not be the best alternative.4. Higher security risksThe safest information is sitting in your company and, even then, it remains vulnerable. For some companies, data security is crucial, whether they’re protecting intellectual property or customer data. If your company handles sensitive information, then you should think twice before allowing any outside organization – including a staff you’ve never met and may or may not have been vetted – to gain access to your data. A security breach, even a minor or accidental one, comes with a heavy price, financial and otherwise.5. Public perceptionWhen most people think of outsourcing, they think of call centers moving to some overseas operation. Of course, many sales functions are still outsourced to organizations operating in the US, but the word “outsourcing” still creates a lot of anxiety. If you’re considering outsourcing your sales or service teams, keep in mind that if it can create a backlash among customers in your market or the public in general. Be prepared for it, and be sure that your decision will actually improve the customer experience.Outsourcing Telephone Sales or Customer Service isn’t always an easy decision. For some, it makes fiscal and operational sense, while for others it can dilute the brand and the customer experience. To build it in-house, your company needs to be committed to compensating appropriately, hiring the talent (including management), and supporting the work. Ultimately, the decision comes down to whether outsourcing will create better value for your company and a better experience for your customers.