Personalized service a staple with Coleman Funeral Home
Kind and familiar faces backed up by years of experience is a comforting thing for families in a time of grief. For Glenn Coleman and Dr. Tom Folkes, the two co-owners of Coleman Funeral Home, personalized service, that caters to all sorts of needs, is a must after a loved one has passed.
While Coleman Funeral Home has been serving the residents of Lafayette County for a decade, the business is moving forward, with a new location and a more up-to-date business approach that is geared toward customer service. That includes moving to a smaller facility located off West Jackson Avenue on 106 Allison Cove and away from the larger, more extensive facility that has been located on Highway 7, just north of town. The former facility has recently been purchased by
The Orchard Church, allowing the partners to expand and then enhance their business model at just the right time.
Coleman, a graduate of Oxford High and Ole Miss, has been involved with the funeral home since the spring of 2004. He came into the business after graduating from mortuary school at Northwest Mississippi Community College with the goal of providing the best quality funeral service he could for families looking to remember and celebrate a loved one.
A larger facility didn’t always provide for that type of service, and with an increase in technology, coupled with different approaches in memorials overall, Coleman felt pairing with Folkes, who has been serving the Oxford community as a medical professional since 1996, was the right move for the future as the business has continued to grow.
“With the whole industry taking a shift from your old, traditional style funerals, especially down here in the South and the big antebellum homes being converted into funeral homes and stuff like that over the years, the funeral service isn’t the social gathering that it used to be. It’s become more of a service-oriented thing as opposed to look at this big, wonderful place we have for you to come and have your funeral service held at,” Coleman said. “We’re trying to work with local churches and other facilities and other venues available for the public. We can certainly handle smaller visitations here at this facility, but ideally we would like to be in a church or if someone even wanted to have a visitation at home, we could do that. Even in our logo, it’s honoring the past and safeguarding the future. Honoring the past is to maybe bring back these old, traditional customs within the funeral industry, but having more of a modern flare to it if you will with the service side of things.”
The partners have been acquainted for several years as Folkes served as the Lafayette County Deputy Medical Examiner. Folkes said he had been waiting for the opportunity to become partners with Coleman, but in a different facility that could serve in a more efficient manner.
“Glenn has a very good reputation in the community. People know him as a good and caring funeral director and Coleman Funeral Home as providing affordable funeral services,” Folkes said. “There is a growing trend in this country to have cremations and memorial services in public facilities such as churches, and there isn’t a need for a big funeral service at that type of facility.”
Folkes, who has been operating a cash-only medical clinic in the Eastgate Shopping Center the past five years, also serves as the funeral home’s chief financial officer.
“We’re not going to have to charge our customers for overhead that is necessary to our operation. Basically, if we can get our overhead down to where we’re not having to pass along those costs to our customers, that makes us better able to offer affordable funerals and keep our costs down,” Folkes said. “That’s why I wanted to be partners with Glenn now. It’s the right time. I’m a doctor in town, but not only am I a doctor, I’ve had several successful businesses, several successful service-oriented businesses. I’m used to providing high quality, yet affordable services. Right now that’s medical care and I have a drug and alcohol treatment facility for working people. I have experience in keeping costs down.”
Some of the services that Coleman and Folkes want to focus on involve the little things, such as helping take care of food, hotel and travel details. Even house cleaning. Even in the South, where meals are accustomed to being provided by members of a church or friends, past traditions haven’t always continued and instead evolved into new situations.
“We want to help offer a variety of things that you often don’t think about until something happens,” Coleman said. “One of the terms you hear in this industry now is personalized memorialization. You make it about the deceased. You give the people a service, the way they want it. When the loved ones come in, they are looking for a funeral director to direct them, but it’s also our job to let the family know what their options are. There is not one set specific way you have to do it. You can memorialize your loved one any way you want to.”
Folkes added that technology will allow for enhanced quality, and help in preparing a service that meets specific needs.
“We’re trying to be technology savvy and use some of those technological tools as part of our business model. For instance, we are upgrading our internet capabilities so that we can plan a funeral with a relative who is talking to us long distance to where we can send them to our website so we can go over the choices in caskets and the choices in packages,” Folkes said. “Often times the mother and the father might be here, but the kids who are making the arrangements are somewhere else, so you have the capability of making the arrangements over the internet. If there aren’t other family members here, they may be only coming here for the day and dependent on us to get them from the airport or to make a meal for the family that has gathered and then get them a night at a hotel to leave the next day. You’re seeing a lot more of that service-oriented stuff. There is a lot of change in the industry, like those that don’t involve a big facility, but do involve personalized service.”