A Business Plan Development Proposal


Prepared by
Investors Real Estate Development

This document discusses the potential opportunities that exist for Investors Real Estate Development (dba The Final Curtain) and its affiliates. It is not a business plan. The creation of a world-wide memorial theme park mall and timeshare organization of the magnitude we propose will require extensive coordination among numerous legal, real estate, insurance, investment and management agencies and experts. The first year will be devoted to a start-up/organizational phase, during which time the corporation's charter, legal structure(s), operating policies and affiliates will be determined. In addition, we will explore the opportunities afforded us through consolidation of existing funeral homes and cemeteries, as well as identifying potential new sites. Working groups of cemetery professionals, technical specialists, real estate experts, business consultants and artists will research, review, and refine the issues and ideas presented here. A business plan will then be drafted based on the findings and conclusions that arise from this initial organizing stage.

Statements in this document that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements or opinions, and should not be construed as commitments or obligations of the company. They represent best efforts on the part of the company to describe what it hopes to achieve, or believes can be achieved, in the future.

Copyright © 1998

Present Situation

In September 1998, Investors Real Estate Development was formed to develop The Final Curtain, a new approach to the funeral and cemetery business. During the initial Start-Up/Organizational Phase Investors Real Estate Development intends to:

  1. Develop and refine the concept;
  2. Identify the land and physical plant requirements;
  3. Explore and determine the most appropriate financing instruments;
  4. Establish the necessary business and legal entities required to complete the project.

Statistically speaking, death is a growth business. In 1998 nearly 54 million people died worldwide. Over two million of these deaths occurred within the United States alone. And, as the "Baby Boom" generation enters its twilight years, these numbers are expected to grow dramatically: forecasts indicate a 60% growth in the death rate over the next 20 years.

We believe this represents a significant opportunity.

Industry Background

Over the last 25 years, the funeral and cemetery business has undergone tremendous change. Huge conglomerates known within the industry as "consolidators" (most notably Service Corporation International and The Loewens Group) have emerged, buying up small "Mom and Pop" funeral homes and consolidating their assets and operations in order to achieve greater financial efficiencies.

These efficiencies have not improved the image the funeral and cemetery business has with the general public, however. Between 1992 and 1998, funeral prices rose at a rate that was three times higher than the cost of living index; and, while the range of choices available to consumers for what goes in the ground (caskets and urns) has expanded, the choices available to consumers for what goes on top of the ground-the memorial left behind as a remembrance and celebration of a loved one's life-has actually shrunk.

In order to achieve the necessary financial efficiencies that make a conventional consolidated operation work, the leading joint funeral/cemetery conglomerates have virtually eliminated the tombstone market, focusing instead on flat grave markers and community mausoleums. Both of these approaches result in significantly reduced landscaping and groundskeeping costs; they also, however, result in a cemetery viewscape that is less than satisfying to the average consumer. We believe this viewscape is an essential, though all-too-often overlooked, part of the post-funeral memorializing process.

While most consumers might not be able to articulate clearly their discomfort with this aesthetic decline, we believe the recent heightened interest in the funeral business - the re-publication of Jessica Mitford's seminal work, The American Way of Death Revisted; the sudden emergence of Thomas Lynch, an undertaker and poet from a small midwestern town, as a popular cultural "hero"; cover stories in U.S. News and World Report ("Don't Die Before You Read This") and the New York Times Magazine ("Socko Finish: As baby-boomers age and go, they want final exits that say 'me'") represents an expression of a need that is going unfulfilled by the current funeral and cemetery business, a need we believe we can address.


The Final Curtain will be a world-wide memorial theme park mall and timeshare operation for artists and creative people. There will be multiple locations, both in the U.S. and abroad, in or near cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, Paris, London, Rome, Berlin, Tokyo and Sydney.

The role of the cemetery and the viewscape provided through innovative, creative, artistic memorials to those who have gone before us has given way during the last 25 years of industry consolidation to a focus on high-cost funerals paired with low-maintenance, utilitarian interment. We intend to change this model. Our focus will be on creative funeral concepts paired with innovative, exciting and aesthetically pleasing memorials.

Historically, artists have always been on the vanguard of new ways of thinking and behaving. Because The Final Curtain represents such a fundamentally new way of thinking about the death-care market, we believe that limiting our customer base to artists, at least in the initial roll-out stages, will result in a higher quality product that will set new standards for the death care industry.

Who better to establish this breakthrough approach to death-care than the creative community itself? In association with The Final Curtain, artists, writers and designers will have the opportunity to design truly innovative, creative and thought provoking monuments to themselves and others, and know that their work will be available to the public at large in perpetuity.

Contrary to popular opinion, artists as a professional group-especially baby boomer artists-tend to be relatively wealthy; the myth of the starving artist struggling in a basement garret is just that: a myth.

This high level of disposable income combined with a deeply felt need to continue creatively expressing oneself-even after death-will, we believe, make The Final Curtain an attractive funeral option for the creative community.


The Final Curtain represents a departure from the traditional approach to death-care, especially in the United States. Competition, however, can be expected to come from traditional death-care providers world-wide.

The recent trend in consolidation has resulted in one clear winner: Service Corporation International. This year alone, SCI will provide funerals, burial services, and aftercare to nearly 600,000 individuals and their families world-wide, resulting in more than $2.5 billion dollars in revenues. Loewens, the second largest funeral and cemetery consolidator, serviced nearly 220,000 families.

Despite industry trends towards consolidation, however, 85% of the market remains in the hands of small, "Mom & Pop" funeral homes. Given this huge gap, and the exponential growth anticipated in the marketplace over the next twenty years, we believe ample opportunity exists for a moderately sized (less than $1 billion in revenues) alternative death-care company like The Final Curtain to meet a need in the market that is not currently being adequately addressed by the competition.

Because of the unique nature of our approach, we believe significant ancillary revenue streams will be achievable through retailing, restaurant, travel, tourism, insurance, and investment operations functioning in tandem with, or as part of, the funeral and cemetery businesses. We believe that The Final Curtain will stand head and shoulders above its competition in three major areas:

  1. The creation of a theme park-like environment that will attract visitors beyond just the friends and families of the deceased;
  2. A time-share operation that will allow our customers to be interred part of the year in one location, the remainder of the year in another;
  3. An investment and insurance operation that will allow for an artist's pre-death needs to be met through the sales of futures in that artist's 'final' work.

In order to maximize these competitive advantages, Investors Real Estate Development intends to lease back from its not-for-profit cemetery operations (through a separate for-profit corporation) any land surrounding the cemeteries that is not part of, or subject to, the rules and regulations of the cemetery trust. These properties will then be developed as hotels, restaurants, and shops thematically related to The Final Curtain operations.

Each Final Curtain operation will also promote a timeshare franchise operation (to be separately established by Investors Real Estate Development). This timeshare operation will function on a separate P&L from The Final Curtain and will be the sole agent for all handling, shipping, and sales activities related to 'shares' in Final Curtain Urn Exhibition Space. Even customers who chose not to participate in the timeshare program will purchase their Exhibition Space through this agency (through a year round, in perpetuity purchase agreement). Customers will have the option of designating a beneficiary or class of beneficiaries who may modify the timeshare agreement for an additional fee. (This allows descendants of the deceased who move to still have their loved ones near them).

Pre-need sales will be a major source of revenue for The Final Curtain, as they are for any funeral and cemetery operation. Like our competitors, we will sell, at today's dollars, plots and monuments to be built at a later date. Unlike our competitors, however, we will also offer an investment pool that will allow prominent artists who wish to build elaborate or expensive monuments the opportunity to sell shares in that ultimate, final work to their patrons or supporters pre-need. These patrons, in turn, can donate the shares back to the cemetery trust after the death of the artist at market valuation. While no guarantee of increased market value can be made by Investors Real Estate Development Trust, in many cases the tax advantages provided to the patron for his or her donation should substantially exceed the original cost of the investment.


In order to capitalize on the opportunities afford by this approach, it will be necessary to build and establish The Final Curtain as an internationally known and trusted brand directly with consumers. Any businesses started or acquired by The Final Curtain (should the company decide to pursue an acquisition strategy as part of its overall plans) will be restructured and re-branded to fit The Final Curtain brand image and model.

The timeshare operation will have sole responsibility for all sales activities related to Urn Exhibition Space at each Final Curtain location. Support services, including discounted or free pre-need travel and hotel accommodations for those considering purchasing Exhibition Space at one or more of The Final Curtain locations, will be treated as a marketing expense against a separate P&L by the timeshare operation.

All marketing and branding expenses not directly related to timeshare sales will be the responsibility of the not-for-profit cemetery trust, where allowed by law.

Franchise and lease-back operations may be considered for the hotel, restaurant, and merchandising operations.


Investors Real Estate Development does not have management experience within the cemetery or funeral business. The experience of Investors Real Estate Development is in new venture development and marketing, real estate, and art patronage. Investors Real Estate Development believes a significant opportunity exists for it to bring these areas of expertise to the funeral and cemetery business, but recognizes that a major portion of the initial start-up/organizational phase will be dedicated to acquiring knowledge and management expertise from the existing death-care industry.


Investors Real Estate Development anticipates start-up/organizational phase funding needs of less than $1 million dollars, all of which will be absorbed directly by Investors Real Estate Development. Should the company decide to proceed with its acquisition and development plans (Phase II), we anticipate that the first stage will require approximately $100 million dollars and take 3 to 5 years to complete.

Although the final structure of the investment required can not accurately be determined until completion of the start-up/organizational phase, it is likely that this money will be acquired through a variety of financial instruments, including debentures, loans, repurchase agreements, shares in the company or companies established, licensing fees, and pre-need sales.