With three locations in Detroit, Michigan, Clora Funeral Homes have truly made a name for themselves. Lead by Major Clora, the Detroit based firm has made it their mission is to honor life in every aspect of what they do. Whether it is helping a family work through arrangements for the loss of a loved one, assisting them in pre-planning funeral needs, or providing a beautiful setting to celebrate the life of a loved one, Clora Funeral Homes work hard to provide a meaningful memorial of lives well lived to the families they serve.
When he was just 18 years old, Major began working in a funeral home to earn extra money for college. At the time he was pursuing a degree in physical therapy, so getting a job he could do on the weekends and evenings when he didn’t have class was the perfect fit. At first Major’s responsibilities were small and included handling the maintenance around the funeral home, but just being around the profession he quickly fell in love with it and changed his major at Wayne State University to Mortuary Science.
After graduating from school, Major left the funeral home where he first realized his love for the industry in the hopes of purchasing a local funeral home in the area. Even though that initial opportunity didn’t work out due to some structural issues, this was a blessing in disguise. After Major decided to pass on this initial chance to buy an already established funeral home, he instead began to look for property to start his own.
“I looked at 15 or so different buildings and properties before I found one of my current locations on East 7 Mile. It was a church and as I walked around the building and I knew right away that didn’t like it. I was with my pastor and the more we looked at it, the more I continued not to like it, he told me he saw the potential but I ultimately passed it up,” explains Major.
“Six months later, after looking at 20 or more additional properties, I noticed that the church property had dropped quite a bit in price. I then found out that the church was originally a funeral home that had been converted into a church and I decided to strike up a deal since I knew the church was very motivated to sell at this point. We closed on that property in March 2008 and opened our doors later that year in October,” he explains.
In the first 2 months, Major and his staff serviced 36 families, 150 families in the first full year, and the growth only continued from there. Clora Funeral Homes now serve over 700 families a year in the Detroit area.
After that initial growth, Major knew he was going to need another property. This time he began his search in South West Detroit. One of the first properties he found was an abandon bank building that had been left untouched in Detroit for over 12 years.
“I remember sitting across the street from it and looking at it and I could so easily envision its potential. I knew I could make it into something great so I contacted my relator right away. The initial asking price was $150,000 but right as we went to make the offer, the bank went out of business so the property and all of the bank’s assets went to the FDIC. At this point my realtor and I thought that the deal was dead, so I continued my search elsewhere,” recalls Major.
Just a few months later, Major got a call from his realtor that he was able to contact someone in regards to the bank property and they told Major to make an offer. Any offer. So he did. He made an offer of $30,000, they countered at $40,000, and just like that the property he thought he lost was his for $37,000 and they officially opened their doors in October 2012.
“After that I knew I still needed a mark on the western side of Detroit so when a local funeral home on that side went out of business, I approached them to make an offer,” adds Major.
In June 2017, Clora Funeral Homes officially had three points on the map in Detroit. After some extensive remodeling on the newest property, the doors were open for business on October 15, 2017.
When families choose Clora Funeral Homes, the first thing they notice is the staff. In the funeral industry, having a great group of people you know and trust supporting you is a key factor to success. The Detroit firm treats each family that walks in the door as if they were their own.
“That’s not just a cliche here, it’s a way of life,” stresses Major.
Each location is clean and modern. They are bright, welcoming, and smell fresh. There are scriptures located around each facility to offer some words of encouragement and to help put the families at peace as well as some inspirational artwork.
“It is our goal to lift people up when they are here and without our amazing staff and overall atmosphere that wouldn’t be possible. We make it our goal to raise them up even in their darkest hour, it’s who we are,” he continues.
The modern Detroit firm is paperless, offers free Wi-Fi for guests and can be found on social media platforms. They are always on the lookout for new technology and new ways to make their firm more efficient and make the process easier for families. After the recent NFDA Convention this year, they now also integrate the Everydays app into their day to day operations. The app creates an announcement from the family to their contacts that they can send out or share on Facebook. It gets the information on arrangements out quickly and efficiently.
“Staying up to date on current technology with the business is very important to us because it helps us create and release information more efficiently than ever before. This is the same reason our new website is through FuneralOne. We can share all arrangements on social media and people can buy flowers right off the site. Our arrangement rooms are all interactive. Families are able to see the arrangements right on a screen or kiosk and make casket selections and personalizations. This allows them to see all their options as well as customizable features we offer,” explains Major.
Simple additions like this to the business that make life easier for the families and the staff are well worth it in today’s day and age.
In addition to having a passionate team, a modern facility, and up to date technology, Major accredits much of their success and ability to grow as a firm to Express Funeral Funding.
“I started working with Express Funeral Funding in 2013 and they have been the backbone to keeping our cash flow where it needs to be and keeping the division of insurance processing tight within my firm. They handle our volume of business so well and it’s so personalized that we have truly become close friends. We understand each other. I have dealt with other funding companies before but EFF just gets it. They are serious about what they do, they are energetic, they understand the different personalities of funeral directors, and they treat everyone right – even the families. If they do have to do a conference call with the families, they know the tone to keep on the phone and they know exactly how to talk to them. I would highly recommend them to any funeral director in the country,” says Major.
At Clora Funeral Homes, their customer service is top-notch and consistent across all locations and all members of the staff.
“Consistency is what built our business to what it is today. When I go to a restaurant I want my steak to be the same every time. That’s what keeps me coming back. But not only do I want it to be the same, I want it to be better than the time before. The same goes with this industry. Sure you can serve a family once, but the test of time comes when you can continue to serve a family generation after generation and continue to impress them and improve time and time again. Our ability as a firm to be consistent and push to be better with each and every service and aftercare process is why we have grown to what we are today,” he says.
If a funeral home is struggling or looking for ways to improve, Major suggests taking a step back to really look at your business.
“Look at it from a bird’s eye perspective. Reach out to other funeral directors within the nation and ask them to take a look at your business. I have quite a few mentors throughout the country and during the year I normally go to those cities and I sit for 3 or 4 days in their funeral homes and observe. I’m in the funeral industry, but seeing how things work from another angle gives me a fresh view of what I should be implementing in my own business and new ideas. Be brave enough and have the courage to reach out and tell someone you need help. Learn to know what will work for you and what won’t. Don’t be afraid to change – embrace it. Not all businesses are the same and not all communities are the same, know your families and understand who you are serving,” urges Major.
At Clora, they understand the importance of developing trust with the families they serve, as well as their community. The Detroit firm believes in educating families so that informed decisions can be made during times of vulnerability and emotional stress. Lead by Major, their experienced team prides itself on helping families find traditional as well as unique ways to memorialize their loved ones, discovering meaning and comfort in the process. They believe in high standards when it comes to their service and they will provide nothing less to each and every family that walks through their doors. Driven by passion and love for their community it’s no surprise that the firm has been so successful. Clora Funeral Homes have truly created a name for themselves, a name that will continue to serve their Detroit communities for generations to come. FBA