Schoedinger Over 100 Years in Funeral Service
In 1829, Philip Schoedinger emigrated to the U.S. from Dörrenbach, Germany. Philip was a craftsman by trade and in 1855 he opened a casket-making department. In 1865, Philip established the Schoedinger & Brown on West State Street in Columbus.
Philip’s sons, George J. and J. Albert soon joined the family business. Shortly thereafter, the funeral home began to see such innovations as the addition of the first automobile hearse and a new chapel at 229 East State Street, which was the first chapel built expressly for the purpose of funeral service and one of the earliest in America of such magnitude. Today the bell tower at this location stands as a city landmark. Other firsts, such as becoming one of the first companies to offer an air-conditioned building and the first to offer guaranteed advance funeral arrangements, soon followed.
In time, George J.’s sons, Fred and George R., also chose to join the family funeral home, known at that time as Schoedinger & Co. In 1933, George R.’s three sons, George Jr., Robert and John, all entered the family business.
As the funeral home grew, so did the Schoedinger family’s desire to offer more services and greater convenience to the families of Central Ohio. In 1950, the Schoedingers opened their Hilltop Chapel on West Broad Street and 1961 saw the addition of the Northwest Chapel in Upper Arlington. Linden, Grove City and Reynoldsburg all followed. Even over the last 20 years, the Schoedinger family funeral homes have continued to evolve.
Today, Jay and David Schoedinger both fifth generation family members and Randy, Kevin and Michael Schoedinger, who are sixth generation family members, remain active in the business. In addition to the family members, the talented staff comprises of Tom Theller – Senior Vice President, Cressa Rieser – Senior Vice President, Jim Gillespie – Senior Vice President and Barry Griffith – Senior Vice President and Nelson Kopp – Senior Vice President. They have taken this multi generation family business to the next level with their compassionate care, attention to every detail and community outreach. ‘We have very talented people in key roles, which has aided in our expansion and growth,” said Randy Schoedinger.
Schoedinger Funeral and Cremation Service was comprised of 11 locations in central Ohio. Three years ago they purchased three Sheridan funeral homes A year ago, they went into a co-ownership with Rick Hoskinson with the name of that location as Hoskinson/Schoedinger Funeral Home. They now have 15 funeral homes and chapels to fully serve the needs of their local and outlying communities.
“Schoedinger is seen as the ‘Cadillac’ of the profession in our community. It has been well documented by the follow-up surveys we conduct with the families we serve and after our hospice tours we do here on site,” said Tom Theller.
However, our changing times have often presented the challenge of the “price conscious consumer.” Tom Theller indicates that this challenge has been the most talked about topic over the past 4-5 years. Says Tom, “The folks who do not even come to the door, but call for pricing, even after a death has occurred with no loyalty necessarily involved. They are just concerned about price, so our biggest challenge and priority is to speak with them about the value we provide.” “Randy Schoedinger goes on to comment, “That call didn’t happen very often 10 years ago. Funeral homes were pretty consistent in terms of pricing and we had a loyal following based on over 100 years of service. The market changed when funeral homes started advertising their prices which got into the consumer’s mind that, wow , there is different pricing. We were very blessed when Kevin came into the business. He focused solely on the price shopper.” “Kevin’s main job was to handle these calls and now what we believe and know is that when people speak directly to a Schoedinger it holds a lot of weight,” said Randy. “Mike, Kevin or I handle all price shopper’s calls, 7 days a week from 7am to 7pm. We connect with these folks and explain the value and what makes us different and we have been able to successfully work with 50% of these families.”
Their biggest development to date is their Mourningstar arrangement process developed by several of their in house associates. It is an unique process that asks questions such as, “What was their favorite food, What did they like to do for fun, and what will you miss the most?, instead of the standard arrangement questions. With the Morning Star process, Schoedinger creates a really healing experience by digging deep into the life of the individual. “We create unique healing experiences for the entire family and community that is touched by death recognizing that every life deserves to be remembered, shared and honored. The reason we are successful is because of the people that work here and developed this program,” said Randy.
Schoedinger provides traditional arrangement rooms in all of their homes. However, they have recently installed kiosk software in one of their chapels. It has made casket selection easy and comfortable for families to use. We still have, however a dedicated section for their cremation merchandise because it still is a challenge for families to visualize the size of the urns and jewelry pieces. Our sales have increased using the kiosk software,” said Cressa Rieser.
Another addition to their excellent service is the online technology provided by Funeral One. “We were on the cutting edge when we started with them and it still allows us to stay on the cutting edge. This online presence provides families to post video and condolences. We are very proud of our website,” said Randy. “It also helps us continue to grow our business in rural locales,” said Tom. They have also added The Sympathy Store to their offerings for the families and it has also been a source of additional revenue.
A year and a half ago, Schoedinger converted to the Johnson Consulting accounting platform which has enabled them to receive better details faster than in the past. “It allows us to understand what’s happening and to make decisions quickly and more efficiently. It has become a very important part of our business,” said Randy.
Connecting these two technology companies, SRS Computing’s management software creates the ultimate one write system. The recent migration to SRS Computing allows Schoedinger to capitalize on data fluidity between JCG, SRS and Funeral One.
Schoedinger has also put in place four teams to cover their entire Central Ohio Market that they serve: Suburban Markets that encompasses three chapels , one of which that has the kiosk software, Columbus Market, which serves the traditional market, Satellite Market, which serves the outlying rural areas and the Care and Resource Center, which is located in their downtown area. They have this team approach because as Randy said, “I’m a big believer in that we can’t be a one size fits all here in Columbus, Ohio. What works on one side of Columbus, doesn’t work on the other side. Some of our chapels serve 60% cremation, while others serve 30%.”
Schoedinger Funeral and Cremation Service is certainly meeting the needs of their central Ohio area with their long standing commitment to excellence in funeral service coupled with their embracement of technology to create meaningful, healing experiences to help family and friends support each other through the journey of grief. Their longstanding commitment to quality funeral service is evident in each passing day!