First-of-its-kind Death Care Genogram offers a groundbreaking view of the industry.

Amidst a watershed year for the industry, funeral home owners now have access to groundbreaking research showing never-before-seen insight into the greatest risks and challenges facing the death care business.

Death care technology company Passare and marketing consultancy MW+C have released the preliminary findings of their Death Care Genogram project, a unique research project that overlays cutting-edge qualitative diagnostic research with comprehensive quantitative financial data. The result is an invaluable map of trends, risk factors, and overall health of businesses related to end-of-life products and services.

Among the initial findings were a number of valuable insights about the state of the industry in 2020:

  • Immediate COVID Impact was surprisingly minimal: Perhaps most surprisingly, initial data shows that COVID -19 may not have had the immediate negative impact on the industry that many had originally feared. 70% of firms studied reported an increase in total revenue from Q1 to Q2 this year.
  • Region matters…a lot: A funeral home’s location, more than almost any other variable, seems to play the biggest role in its overall health and revenue. Funeral homes located in the Midwest generally report much lower revenue growth and much poorer overall company health than their colleagues in the Northeast and South. Nearly half of Midwestern firms studied reported a decrease in revenue—more than twice as many as in other regions. Midwestern firms were also much more likely to describe themselves as operating within a saturated or commoditized market (where competition is most intense and innovation most lacking), as opposed to a healthy, mature market with plenty of opportunity for growth.
  • Revenue is strongly linked to self-perception: Interestingly, the self-reported health of the company correlates strongly with total revenue. This may indicate that short-term success has a masking effect on more insidious underlying factors. Or, it may indicate that healthier firms simply make more money.
  • Cases don’t equal success: Early analysis shows little correlation between case count and overall health or revenue of funeral homes. Some firms saw significant declines in case count while revenue grew, and other firms with case growth saw revenue decline. This finding calls into question the usefulness of case volume, which has long been used by funeral homes as a metric of month-to-month success.

“The Genogram’s results have already yielded so much insight and challenged traditional industry assumptions,” said Josh McQueen, Vice President at Passare. “We exist to serve the funeral homes who, in turn, serve grieving families. This data gives us more tools and better clarity as to how we can do so.”

Eric Layer, partner at MW+C, agreed. “Funeral service is a well-established and very traditional business,” said Layer. “That yields a lot of benefits—truth, stability, service—but it’s important, every now and then, to pick your head up and look around to make sure that those old assumptions have held true. The Genogram is a way of doing that—and it’s already showing that perhaps we take more for granted than we can afford to.”

MW+C and Passare plan to reach out to those firms who participated in the study to confirm their findings and further develop insights. In the meantime, Passare’s and MW+C’s analytics teams are currently combing through millions of data entries to paint an insightful portrait of the industry – including data that rocks longstanding industry assumptions.

The title of the study comes from a medical term for a diagram of family and medical history, showing hereditary patterns, risk factors, and predispositions to disease. McKee Wallwork + Co. applies the concept to business by plotting a complete “family tree” picture of an entire category and then identifying comparison points, trends, and inconsistencies by analyzing specific businesses relative to their cohort.

The full report will be released this November.


McKee Wallwork + Co. is a marketing advisory firm that generates new momentum for stalled, stuck and stale organizations and industries across North America. MW+C has worked with dozens of death care brands in award-winning and disruptive work since 2008, including the now-famous “YODO” campaign, the documentary The Empty Chair, and the inception of “Scatter Day.” MW+C Partner Eric Layer is the author of The Right Way of Death: Restoring the American Funeral Business to Its True Calling. In addition to twice winning “Southwest Small Agency of the Year” from Advertising Age, MW+C also won its national “B2B Campaign of the Year” award. Advertising Age has also repeatedly recognized MW+C as one of the nation’s Best Places to Work in marketing.


One of the greatest challenges in the funeral profession today is communication with today’s tech savvy families and access to accurate and timely information when and where you need it. To meet this need, Passare offers the funeral profession’s only funeral home collaboration software. Through Passare, funeral directors can connect and communicate with families and access case information anytime, anywhere, using any internet-connected device. Offering unlimited users, unlimited devices, unlimited updates, and 24/7 customer support, Passare is helping funeral staff to save time, streamline processes, and spend more quality time with the families they serve and with their own families at home. To learn more about Passare and request a free demo, please visit