Bradley & Son Funeral Homes has always believed the difference is in the details, and their 80-year history of service within Morris, Essex and Union Counties, New Jersey, is testament to that belief. Since the beginning, they have focused on providing care and comfort to families during life’s most difficult moments. Today, that belief extends over and above traditional funeral arrangements to expert pre-planning services, online direct cremation and a comprehensive grief support program.
Bradley Funeral Homes began in 1931 when William A. Bradley graduated from the Renouard Training School for Embalmers in New York City. After apprenticing under his cousin, Robert Mason, he was licensed in 1935. In 1943, William purchased the funeral home at 345 Main Street in Chatham, marking the beginning of Bradley & Son Funeral Homes. William’s son, Richard R. Bradley joined his father in the family business in 1961 after graduating from Lehigh University. Richard then completed his Funeral Director training at the American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Service in 1963.
In 1987, Scott W. Bradley followed in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps and joined the family business. Scott graduated from the University of Northern Colorado and received his Mortuary Science degree at the American Academy/McAllister Institute as well. He holds a Master’s degree in Social Work, which enables him to continue the compassionate care of survivors after the funeral service is complete. In addition to running the funeral homes, he also operates a private psychology practice. In 1997, Scott acquired Braviak Funeral Home in Whippany, and in 2003, he acquired Haeberle & Barth in Union, Smith & Smith in Springfield, and Brough Funeral Home in Summit.
With so many years of experience, it’s no surprise that Bradley Funeral Homes have been so successful. Fueled by passion for the industry and the families and communities they serve, Bradley & Son has truly made a name for itself.
While running the funeral homes and his own private practice, Scott has still found time in his busy schedule to start the Center for Life Transition.
“I think I take a different approach than most when it comes to funeral service, which is why it was so important to me that I got a degree in psychology. This is an emotion-based business and I pay really close attention to that. Because of this, when I realized that funeral service didn’t totally fulfill my needs, I started a bereavement support program called The Center for Life Transition,” Scott says humbly.
The Center for Life Transition (CFLT) is a free comprehensive bereavement support membership program sponsored by Bradley Funeral Homes. The Center for Life Transition was established in 1999 with the goal of using innovative and caring treatment to “transform trauma into resilience.” The Center was to be a safe place for people to say everything they have experienced, relieve stress from a dramatically changed life, reduce isolation, and gain an understanding of one’s coping style to help foster positive choices. People who have suffered the death of a loved one, experienced a difficult divorce, been devastated by a job loss, begun fighting cancer, or faced other major life changes have benefited from the unique counseling services offered at CFLT. The comprehensive support membership program is free to join and open to everyone in the community, regardless of whether or not they are clients of Bradley Funeral Homes.
“We offer support groups, individual counseling, home visits, online resources, and a ten-part newsletter that I developed which goes to every single person. It’s a very comprehensive program that we run and it’s completely free. We sign all of our families up as members to the Center for Life Transition as well. The caring does not end when the funeral is over. For most, it is only just beginning as they search for meaning and try to adjust to life without their loved one. CFLT has created a safe and caring place to help people transition through a loss with support and understanding,” he continues.
Scott also created Twilight Done Right, an educational campaign put together by local experts in eldercare, estate law, housing, healthcare/hospice and funeral planning to inform the senior community about how to live smart today and plan for tomorrow.
“Preplanning seminars have always bored me and they have a really narrow range of people who could be interested in attending. Additionally funeral service is kind of scary and it’s hard to talk about so most people just don’t. So I decided to work with other professionals who deal with the same stuff that I do and we put together Twilight Done Right, which helps those in post-retirement make necessary plans. What we created is a 40-page guide where each of the professionals got a few pages to include the information they thought was most important. We also offer an hour and a half long seminar two to four times a month at local venues to discuss the guide and all of this is totally free,” explains Scott.
Bradley Funeral Homes is also offering the trademarked Twilight Done Right campaign to other funeral homes and allowing them to copycat the guide. They will even help funeral homes set it up, walk them through the process of organizing it, show them how to get advertisers to offset the cost, and answer any questions they might have.
Their firm does so much for their community, the families they serve, and for the funeral industry. Their passion and dedication for what they do really sets them apart from their competition. All five New Jersey funeral homes utilize a dedicated “tribute” department to ensure that every family honors their loved ones in the most unique and meaningful way possible, through videos, special surprises and staging at services, customized prayer cards, and more.
“Our mission is to create A Life Well Remembered. The vision behind that is that mourning is a very important part of the emotional process of dealing with a death and the arrangements we make directly affect that,” states Scott.
When Scott and the tribute team sit down with families, they listen and absorb all they can—sometimes without writing anything down. Then as a team, they brainstorm ideas that will liven up the room for visitations, funerals, or memorial services, and they then surprise the family and their guests with personal mementos and a unique setting.
“We had a family come in and the person they lost was an umpire. He did it part time and it was something he absolutely loved doing for local high school baseball games. We found a 1940s-style baseball card that was actually for an umpire and we modeled a mock card for him after it. It had facts and stats about him on it and we passed them out to everyone when they arrived. We had a home plate at the register book that guests got to stand on as they registered, we set the funeral home up like a baseball stadium, and the staff dressed up in baseball uniforms. This is just one example out of thousands that my staff organized, they do an amazing job of warming up the space at a service. We find having all these things out makes people want to stay and talk to the family versus just come to pay respects and leave – it’s a totally different atmosphere than a traditional service,” Scott says proudly.
In addition to going above and beyond for families with really custom funerals, Bradley Funeral Homes also offer a simple cremation service for those looking for something a little more convenient, fast, and easy. With such a wide range of services, the New Jersey funeral homes have something for everyone and any budget.
“We started Simple Cremation Online out of necessity. We were finding that every year 2-3% of our business was getting chipped away by the families who were looking for a low-cost cremation that we could not afford to offer. So after 10 years of that, we realized how much our customer base had shifted and that we lost a lot of market share. So I came up with the idea to have the families do a lot of the work, which saved us time that I could then pass along to them as savings,” explains Scott.
With Simple Cremation Online, families go online and they make some very simple decisions for a low-cost direct cremation. On a secure portal that Bradley created, families can fill out all the paperwork themselves, sign all of their legal documents, and provide a positive identification of the person. Everything is done online and no face-to-face meetings are needed. This has allowed them to profitably gain back their market share. After a few successful years in New Jersey, a national website was developed and is now available for interested funeral homes to license.
“We build them their own webpage and it is completely customized for each funeral home with pricing and the design. We have over 50 funeral homes in 25 different states that are already signed up. We also help each one with marketing, management, and customer service as well,” he continues.
Another reason that Bradley & Son has been so successful is because of the relationships they have developed in the industry over the years. They have a very long history with American Funeral Consultants and it’s a relationship they truly cherish.
“We have a very long relationship with American Funeral Consultants. We’ve always attended the seminars they offer, we use them for business succession planning, and they helped me analyze the funeral homes I purchased. I’ve known and worked with them for 40 years, and they have been such a great asset for our funeral homes. I can’t imagine not having that relationship,” states Scott.
Bradley Funeral Homes’ innovative style and extreme dedication has been key to their success. They go above and beyond for those they serve, and all the hard work does not go unnoticed as they truly stand out in the marketplace.
To learn more about Bradley Funeral Homes, Center for Life Transition, Twilight Done Right, or Simple Cremation Online, please visit www.bradleyfuneralhomes.com or like them on Facebook. FBA