What sort of image do you and your establishment and staff project? What are those first impressions you convey?; As the executive director of the Washington Cemetery & Funeral Association I receive a variety of calls from public and press. Today’s was from a man who, while he did not want to make waves, wanted to let us know that he felt one of our members had provided a less than professional experience, not to mention somewhat disconcerting experience, to him and his family.; He had discovered a relative who’d died in 1925 was buried in a Seattle cemetery. He went to find the grave. There was no parking around the office so he parked alongside the road. The owner/manager smoked cigarettes throughout their encounter (!!) in the office, which he described as more or less industrial-looking, not so comforting or comfortable. He inquired about the location of the grave and was given directions. He could not locate the grave. Returning to the office, he was told there probably wasn’t a gravestone but there should be a very small concrete temporary marker. Couldn’t find that, either. Returned to the office again, asked if he could probe around the area for the temporary marker, was told “no”. Bottom line: if he wanted to find his uncle’s grave he’d have to buy a marker (this was implied, not directly told to him). He inquired where he could buy a marker and was told he could only buy one from the cemetery, not from an outside provider. This is not legal, but he didn’t know this.; Net result: he bought a marker from the cemetery and was satisfied with how it turned out, but felt somewhat unsettled by the whole encounter. Again, he did not want to make waves, but was curious if his experience was normal, or not. Felt like someone should know about it. Called me.; I asked a few questions and thanked him for calling me. I told him I would share his experience with my newsletter readers. In my work as editor of our association’s newsletter, I often share stories and articles reinforcing for our members the importance and delicacy of the work they do. I found this man’s story to be a real opportunity for me to remind people about the importance of first impressions, of customer service, and of the legalities of what they can and cannot do.; All of which is to say: be acutely aware of the image you and your staff present to your families!! Be cognizant of every detail. Have your staff critique each other and for godsakes send out surveys to your at-need customers – and pay close attention to what they have to say.; In these days of frugal shoppers it’s more important than ever to provide as close-to-perfect service as you can.; [And now for a commercial message: attend every ICCFA event you can – you’ll learn all the nuts and bolts you need to be the most classy act in town!] [ditto: attend every WCFA event for the same results]