Types of Monument Dealers
There are several types of monument vendors selling
headstones and memorial products to the public. Knowing a little background on the different vendors can help you when deciding on which one to go with. Here is a brief examination of the different monument dealers and what they each can bring to the table for you.
The vast majority of monument companies do one thing and one thing only; they
build and sell headstones and grave markers to the public. Most of them are equipped to customize your memorial by way of sandblasting - a technique used in the monument industry to carve the designs and lettering onto the face of the headstones. Monument companies will typically order the granite already pre-cut to the size and finish specified, then they will do the customized carving in their facility.
Many monument companies have a display area set up to show the type of work they ar capable of producing. Often you will find that monument companies are family run businesses being handed down from one generation to the next. Purchasing from a monument company, you are likely to be dealing with a company who will also do the actual carving and customization of your loved one's memorial. However, pricing can be on the high side especially in smaller markets where competition is minimal.
A cemetery's main field of operation is
selling and maintaining grave spaces. Many cemeteries that
sell headstone products have a staff of "family counselors", a fancy name for salesperson,
who sell headstones as well as burial plots, pre-need burial
insurance and a host of other services & products.
Most cemeteries outsource their monument production work to monument companies and just place a big markup on the final product. How big a markup you may ask? Well cemeteries typlically markup their headstone products 200% - 300% on average. Not all cemeteries - but many of them do, especially the ones owned by publicly owned corporations.
You can expect to pay very high prices for headstones and grave markers if purchasing from a cemetery. It is best to shop around to find a better deal, because most likely - you will.
Funeral directors have the first opportunity
to offer the sale of a headstone to a family. You are dealing
with a source whose primary function is not the manufacturing
or selling of headstone memorials. Funeral directors who engage in the sale of headstones do so to suppliment their main income which is derived from funeral services.
A majority of funeral directors source the production of their headstones and grave markers to monument companies. That being said, many funeral directors cannot actually speak from the standpoint of knowing all the details that go into the production of headstones.
Casket Retail Stores
Casket retail stores are usually run by
ex-funeral directors or entrepreneurs seeking a business
model to invest in. They are relatively new, but have gained in
numbers in many of the medium to large sized cities across the
country. They are a great source for discount caskets
but the experience of the sales people regarding headstone products
can be limited.
You will often find that they have good prices when compared to other sources, but a limited line of products.
Internet Monument Dealers
Many of these dealers come from a background of actually working in the monument industry. In fact some of these dealers have an actual showroom in some part of the country, however, not in every city. Others outsource the production of their headstones to third parties.
A major trade off of internet based monument dealers is the lack of an actual showroom. However, this is made up in the form of low prices they can offer you. Other good points are 24/7 access and you don't have to deal with a pushy salesperson.