Robin Heppell has identified a real need for funeral homes in North America to have access to business consultants that have relevant knowledge of today’s business operations, given that many of the challenges faced today were not present in generations past. By combining his expertise in technology and pre-need, his formal business knowledge and his deep-rooted legacy in the funeral profession, Heppell feels that he can help funeral homes be more competitive, more profitable, and provide the best possible service for the families they serve.
Heppell is a fourth generation funeral director who got his start in the family business with his grandfather, William Egan of Egan Funeral Home in Bolton, ON. Washing cars, gardening, and making middle-of-the-night transfers – as with many generational funeral directors – were the tasks that Robin cut his teeth on. Being born and raised in Victoria, BC though, Heppell returned to the west coast after the summers in Ontario and started his career with David McCall, at McCall Bros. Funeral Directors.
After a decade of funeral directing and embalming, Heppell took on the new challenge of Preneed in 1996. By not giving in to the Insurance Council of B.C.’s antiquated rules, he obtained his life insurance license, formed Heppell Funeral Planning Ltd. and was on his entrepreneurial way. During this mind shift between at-need and pre-need, Heppell taught himself the ins and outs of sales and marketing while keeping abreast of all of the latest technologies. In 1998, he was rewarded for his pre-need efforts when he ranked first in North America for overall sales for NSM’s Pre-need Program, despite being burdened with a 75+% cremation rate.
He continued to balance his pre-need duties with the demands of keeping McCall’s up-to-date technologically. In the mid-nineties, Heppell created a call management database with a form and report generator, which due to its robustness, McCall’s still relies on today. When the time came for McCall’s to be fully-wired, Heppell was the project manager for the implementation of the 15 unit network. With his knowledge continually expanding on the tech side, he joined forces with Todd Abrams, the president of FX-Directors Solutions, of Dallas, TX; and he represented them throughout Canada until 2006. It was at this time that the transformation from Planning to Solutions occurred as Heppell saw a greater need and opportunity beyond preneed. He realized that he also needed to further round out his knowledge so he obtained his Bachelor of Commerce degree from Royal Roads University, with a focus on Entrepreneurial Management.
The current situation in the funeral profession is tougher than it has ever been and Heppell realizes that the next five to ten years will be the same or even tougher. Nonetheless, he sees a bright future ahead – not just by relying on the impending “Death Boom” – but believes that those who are willing to address the situation now will reap the benefits both now and in the future.