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让棺材灵动起来

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核心提示:让棺材灵动起来when nathan smith was in high school and college in the mid-1980s, he volunteered at a summer camp for chi

让棺材灵动起来

when nathan smith was in high school and college in the mid-1980s, he volunteered at a summer camp for children with muscular dystrophy. it was gratifying work, and the wichita, kansas, native developed deep friendships with campers. but it was also heartbreaking.

上个世纪八十年代中期,内森·史密斯(nathan smith)还在读书的时候,就在患有肌肉营养不良障碍儿童的夏令营做志愿服务。这项工作令他十分满足,此外,他还在堪萨斯州的威奇托结交了很多露营的朋友。但是,这段经历也是十分令人伤感的。

"unfortunately, we also buried a lot of kids," he says. "it was really frustrating for me to see how some families were being handled by the funeral homes and, even more important, the lack of options available to them. these were vibrant 12- and 13-year-old kids being buried in drab, gray caskets."

“不幸的是,我们也失去了很多孩子”,他说,“看到这么多家庭找到殡仪馆举办葬礼,我真的感到很伤心。更加重要的是,他们没有别的选择。这些原本活泼可爱的孩子还只有12、13岁,就被放进了单调的灰色棺材里。”

this was the impetus for smith's 'til we meet again custom casket store, which he opened in wichita's towne west mall in 2009. the company is able to turn around a personalized casket in one or two days, adding family photos, timelines and graphics to the exteriors, or dressing up the interiors with leather, camouflage or leopard print. there have been coffins with poker motifs and odes to the rock band kiss, as well as models designed for firefighters, military vets, bikers, farmers and more. the company offers licensed designs featuring all major league baseball teams and most ncaa division i schools. it can even turn personal items like golf clubs, shotguns or a prized high-heel shoe into urns, or create jewelry and picture frames infused with cremains.

这一段经历促使他后来开设了自己的“他日再相聚”('til we meet again)棺木定制店,2009年在威奇托的城西购物中心正式开业。公司可以在一两天之内制作一个个性化的棺材,外面放上家庭合影照、时间表和图案,也可以在里面装饰皮革、迷彩色或者豹纹。另外还有扑克基调的棺材,或者刻上对“吻”摇滚乐队的颂诗,还有专门为消防队员、退伍军人、自行车骑手、农场主等设计的棺木造型。公司提供各个大联盟棒球队及大部分美国大学体育总会一级学校的许可设计。甚至可以把高尔夫球棒、短枪或者逝者最喜欢的高跟鞋等私人物品改造成棺木,还可以制作里面装有骨灰的珠宝和相框。

macabre as it may seem, custom burial is resonating with baby boomers and younger generations reared on self-expression and turned off by the somber mood of traditional funerals.

尽管听起来有些可怕,定制式葬礼却迎合了婴儿潮出生人群和年轻一代表达自我的渴望,并且弱化了传统葬礼的悲伤气氛。

"we're not only helping an industry that needs change, we're helping break the taboo about caskets," says smith, who opened a second location in 2011 in hutchinson, kansas, and is now franchising 'til we meet again. the company has commitments in florida, texas and arizona, and smith says there is serious interest from all over the country.

“我们不仅在帮助一个需要做出变革的行业,我们还打破了关于棺材的禁忌。”史密斯说道,2011年他在堪萨斯州的哈钦森开了第二家店,目前正在出售特许经营权。公司打算先进入佛罗里达、德克萨斯和亚利桑那的市场,史密斯认为全国各地都有人对这个行业感兴趣。

smith took some 20 years of research and soul-searching to develop his business model. he says his frustration with the funeral industry boiled over in 1993, when he was unable to fulfill a promise to a good friend. that year, aj, one of the first boys he worked with at the muscular dystrophy camp and who had been the best man at smith's wedding, succumbed to the disease.

史密斯用了差不多二十年的时间进行研究和思考,从而开发自己的商业模式。他说自己对殡葬行业的失望在1993年达到了顶点:那一年他的朋友aj不幸去世,而他却未能兑现自己的承诺。aj是他当年在肌肉营养不良障碍儿童的夏令营结识的一个好朋友,也是史密斯婚礼的男傧相,1993年不幸因病去世。

"it's not uncommon for kids with md to attend five funerals of their friends per year. so we had talked about his death quite a bit," smith says. "one thing he said was that he wanted a red casket. it was very important for him."

“患有肌肉营养不良障碍的人每年参加五个病友的葬礼不是什么新鲜事。我们在一起的时候,经常谈到他的身后事”,史密斯说道,“他提到想要一口红色的棺木。这对他十分重要。”

but when he escorted aj's family to the funeral parlor, they were told red caskets didn't exist; the choices were white, gray, black and baby blue--none of which expressed aj's spirit. pressed further, the funeral director said they could special-order dark blue, for which the family begrudgingly paid an extra $1,000.

他陪着aj的家人去殡仪馆时,却被告知根本就没有红色的棺材;只有白色、灰色、黑色和婴儿蓝可供选择,这些颜色都无法准确表达aj的精神世界。被问的紧了,殡仪馆的负责人又改口说可以特别定制深蓝色的棺木,为此aj的家人多花了1000美元。

however, when smith showed up for the funeral, his friend was laid out in a baby-blue model. the dark blue, the funeral director said, had been discontinued; asked about the extra $1,000, he said the casket had already been purchased, and walked away.

但是,当史密斯出席葬礼时,却发现他的朋友躺在淡蓝色的棺材里。根据殡仪馆主任的说法,深蓝色棺木的定制因故中断了。当问到多收的1000美元怎么办的时候,这位主任说这笔钱用来买棺材了,然后就走开了。

"if the family hadn't been there," smith says, "that funeral director would have lost some teeth."

“要不是家属都在现场”,史密斯说,“我非得打掉他几颗牙不可。”

smith, who traveled for work, began visiting funeral homes and casket stores in every city he visited. over time, he determined two things: funeral directors were salespeople who often misled grieving people into spending more than necessary, and casket retailers were often in hard-to-find or inconvenient locations. "with caskets, people have to know you're there before they need you," he says.

当时,史密斯的工作需要经常出差,每到一个城市,他都要去当地的殡仪馆和棺材店看看。随着时间推移,他得出了两个结论:殡仪馆的负责人实际上就是推销人员,他们常常误导悲伤的家人多花冤枉钱;而棺材零售店都开在那些犄角旮旯的地方,要么很难找,要么交通不便。“他们起码要开在大家都能看到的地方,这样人们需要时才会找得到”,他说。

when smith finally had the financing and courage to open his first store, he put it in a popular mall--a decision that, after four months of watching customers walk by and turn up their noses, began to feel like a bad choice. that's when he grabbed a small video camera, took a stroll through the store pretending to be a curious customer and put the result on youtube, under the title "death comes to the mall." the clip spawned dozens of calls from local media and television producers and was even mentioned on the tonight show with jay leno. traffic at 'til we meet again doubled, sales took off and smith has never looked back.

史密斯最终筹集到了资金,并鼓起勇气开了第一家店;他把店址选在一个客流量很大的购物商场。开业前四个月里,斯密斯看到无数人从门前快速走过时脸上流露出厌恶的神色,这让他怀疑选址是不是有些失策。后来,他手持一个小型摄像机,装作一名好奇的顾客在店里慢慢地边走边拍,然后把视频放到youtube上,起名“死神降临商场”。这段视频短片吸引了当地媒体和电视台制片人打来几十个电话,甚至上了杰伊·莱诺(jay leno)主持的《今晚秀》节目。“他日再相聚”('til we meet again)一时名声大噪,客流量增加了一倍,销售开始飙升,史密斯的担心至此一扫而空。

typically a family comes in, talks about their loved one's passions and hobbies and creates a design with the staff. a couple of hours later, the store e-mails a rendering of the casket to the family for approval. the caskets are fabricated in wichita and shipped to the funeral home. because there is no inventory to warehouse, smith estimates that his franchises will cost less than $100,000 to open.

通常都是一家人进来,谈起他们挚爱亲人的心愿和爱好,然后和员工一起设计。几个小时后,商店就把棺材的透视图样通过电邮发给家属,征求他们的意见。家属同意后,棺材在威奇托做好,运到殡仪馆。因为不需要仓库,也无所谓库存,史密斯估计一家特许经营店的开业成本不到100000美元。

but be warned: salesmen need not apply. "no salespeople are allowed in our stores or system," smith says.

但是他也警告:不需要推销。“我们的商店和特许经营系统不允许聘请推销人员。”史密斯说。

"if someone comes to us and says they're a salesman, we don't look at them seriously. i will literally lose a possible purchase by telling people the truth. i'd rather they walk out with nothing than convince them to buy something they don't need."

“要是有人给我们说他是推销员,我们通常都不拿好眼看他。如果推销员说出我们是卖什么的,很可能会引起厌恶,今后有需求也不会找我们。宁肯让顾客空手而出,我也不会主动劝人们买这种他们本来不需要的产品。”

indeed, smith has a dual goal: to build a great franchise system and to reform the funeral industry, so that kids like aj can have something as simple as a red casket. "funeral directors absolutely despise us," smith says. "but we're not really their competitor. we're an extension, offering the family what they really want. isn't that what it should be about?"

实际上,史密斯有着双重目标:打造成功的特许经营系统,同时改革殡葬行业;这样,类似aj那样的孩子就可以轻松实现要一口红色棺材的遗愿。“殡葬主管绝对不会喜欢我们”,史密斯说,“但实际上我们和他们不构成竞争。我们只是一种延伸服务,为家属提供他们真正想要的东西。事情本来就应该这么做,对吧?”

非常感谢您在百忙中阅读这篇文章,如果能得到您对本文的意见,这将对提供投资开店的质量将有着极其重要的意义。我们希望越来越多的投资者参与到我们的网站中来,这样我们的网站才能体现他们的想法和需求,展示他们的成功投资开店案例。您的意见将参加我们的读者意见年度评选活动。e-mail:kaidian@cyzone.cn

 
 
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