Verlin Stoll has always been entrepreneurial. After mortuary school, he opened Twin Cities Trade Service, a trade embalming business where Verlin did nothing but embalm for other funeral homes. Verlin sold Twin Cities Trade Service and, in April 2011, opened Crescent Tide to fulfill his dream of owning his own funeral home.
Verlin realized that his key market advantage could be price. Most funeral homes have been around for several generations and have built businesses based on their longstanding reputations. But age can also make a funeral home business resistant to change and many of the older funeral homes have multiple locations with full amenities, which create high fixed costs, an approach that emphasizes expensive traditional burials costing thousands of dollars.
At Crescent Tide, Verlin offers “the new generation of service,” responding to the changing funeral market and recognizing that funeral consumers want high quality funerals but at much lower prices than what traditional funeral homes offer.
Verlin is determined to offer high-quality funerals at the lowest prices by stripping down his fixed costs. Consider the basic services fee that funeral homes charge their clients in addition to the itemized charges for each specific funeral good or service. The basic services fee at area funeral homes varies from roughly $2,000 to $3,000 with the average around $2,500. Crescent Tide’s basic services fee is only $250, which is a 90 percent discount.
In order to offer the lowest prices in town, Verlin built his funeral home as inexpensively as possible. Crescent Tide does not have a hearse, an on-site chapel or a lavish display room for expensive caskets. When a client wants a hearse or some other amenity, Verlin simply contracts with the lowest-cost outside provider. By not building extraneous amenities, Verlin has been able to pass on tremendous savings to his customers.