Frequently Asked Questions

  • Overview and tips of the industry
  • What happens when I attend a course
  • How long is the course
  • Where and when are courses held
  • How much is the course
  • The difference between a coffin & casket
  • What must I bring when I attend a course
  • When must I pay for the course
  • When are we closed during the year
  • What do I get when I order a D.I.Y kit
  • What do I get when I order the manuals only
  • What do I get with the business package
  • Where can I stay when I attend the course
  • How much will it cost to start the business
  • How much does it cost to build a coffin
  • Will I be able to build a dome casket
  • Who will I be selling to
  • Other sources to consider
  • Is there a demand for coffins and caskets
  • How do I pay for my order
  • Guidelines for a distribution network

  • OVERVIEW OF THE INDUSTRY
    Like any other industry you have to supply a good product at the right price. To do this you need to do a market research in your area so you can make sure people will buy your products and not your competitors products. You will not be a millionaire within 3 months, start small and grow with your business. Build up a client base, they will eventually promote your products for free provided you supplied a good product at the right price. There is a huge casket manufacturer in Phoenix who started making caskets in his garage at home. And just another example, Microsoft started in a dilapidated building with their name on a piece of paper displayed on the front door. The demand is there, you must make sure you are the one that is filling that demand. Don't do business with the larger undertakers (Doves, Martins, Avbob), they have their own franchises and factories. Approach the smaller undertakers in your area. Undertakers will also try and persuade you not to sell to the public because of the huge mark-up on coffins and caskets that they will be losing out on (I have done a discreet market survey of this in the Gauteng area). Do business with the smaller undertakers in your area. Arrange with one of them that you will send all your private customers to them who have already purchased a coffin/casket. And lastly, undertakers are already buying their products from someone so you will have to offer them a slightly better price. Do a study of all wood suppliers in your area because this is your largest outlay when making a coffin/casket. Keep your overheads as low as possible (normal business practice).
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    WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I ATTEND A COURSE
    You (the student) will manufacture a number 2 (infant) coffin and raised flatlid casket. You will also make a jig for the coffin, which is used in the construction of coffins (a jig is not necessary for a casket). You will also be shown how to stain chipboard so it resembles hardwood. On completion you will take all the above home with you, plus 7 templates for the different sizes of coffins. A CD containing both the coffin and casket manuals (if you attended the combo course) will be emailed to you. The manuals cover everything you did during the course. You will also receive a certificate. Courses are held every week in Kempton Park. To book a course click here.
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    HOW LONG IS THE COURSE
    The coffin course is approximately 1.5 days and the casket course the same. The combo course (coffins and caskets) is approximately 2.5 days (depending on the student)
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    WHERE AND WHEN ARE COURSES HELD
    Courses are held every week in Kempton Park. We do not have training centers elsewhere in SA.
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    HOW MUCH IS THE COURSE
    For course fees and all other product costs, click here
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    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A COFFIN AND CASKET
    A coffin is the rounded box that is angled down at the head and feet (like a boat). See image here A casket is a square box with a fancy lid. See image here.
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    WHAT MUST I BRING WHEN I ATTEND A COURSE
    Nothing, except some old clothes or an overall.
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    WHEN MUST I PAY FOR THE COURSE
    A deposit of R800.00 is required within 7 days of booking so we can reserve the dates for you. If the deposit is not received within 7 days your booking will be cancelled. The balance of R2,650.00 must be paid 5 days before the course date, or in cash to our tutor on the first day before the course starts. The course will not commence until the full balance has been received. After booking online you will receive an email containing our banking details. You do not have to fax any payment details to us, as we receive an automated sms from the bank. Simply use your name as a reference. The deposit for an individual (coffin or casket) course is R600.00. The balance for this is R1,900.00.
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    WHEN DO WE CLOSE DURING THE YEAR
    From 24 December until after new year. We re-open during the first week of the new year.
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    WHAT DO I GET WHEN I ORDER A DIY KIT
    The do-it-yourself kit comprises of a pre-made number 2 (infant) coffin and casket, which you can use as an example to manufacture your own. You also get the 7 coffin templates, jig and both manuals, plus the list of suppliers and existing manufacturers. We also include a corner block (for coffins) to help you with the degrees of a coffin side panel. To order a kit click here.
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    WHAT DO I GET WHEN I ORDER THE MANUALS ONLY
    We will email the manuals to you. The manuals describe in details how to manufacture coffins and casket. It also includes images, pictures, diagrams, sizes, angles, staining, suppliers (in Gauteng) and a list of existing manufacturers. To order the manuals click here. The seven coffin templates can be ordered separately and must be sent via post office.
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    WHAT DO I GET WITH THE BUSINESS PACKAGE
    Over and above the manuals (as described above) you also get a host of additional items to help you start the business, including the list of suppliers and manufacturers. You do not get the jig and templates (this you get when you attend a course or buy the DIY kit). However, you can order the templates separately. The business package (28.1 MB) is downloaded directly from our website.
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    WHERE CAN I STAY WHEN I ATTEND A COURSE
    JHB International Guest House
    73 Ysterhout Street, Birchleigh, Kempton Park
    Tel 011-9723311 / 0826383608

    Or visit the links below for more accommodation options in Kempton Park:
    here or here
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    HOW MUCH WILL IT COST TO START THE BUSINESS
    It depends what quality/size tools and machinery you purchase. Your biggest outlay will be the electric woodworking machine (like a table saw) and a compressor. If you purchase a cheaper table saw from a place like Makro or Game for about R3,500.00 and a smaller compressor for about R1,500.00, plus the other tools for about R2,000.00, then you can start with about R7,000.00. On the other hand, you get industrial saws that cost between R8,000.00 and R50,000.00. Our suggestion is, start small, get your customer base established and then grow with your business. Keep overheads as low as possible. Also look around for good used equipment.
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    HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO BUILD A COFFIN
    This is impossible to answer. Prices differ from area to area and it also depends on many other factors i.e. what wood do you intend using (chipboard, supawood, pine, foil, hardwood etc etc), plus the cost of the handles and trimmings (these also vary from R60.00 to R1,600.00). Your biggest outlay will be the cost of the wood, so you have to source a supplier close to you that will give you the best price. Most wood suppliers work on the basis that "the larger the quantity you purchase the lower the price" i.e. they give you discount if you purchase large quantities. When making your first coffin and casket, work out the exact cost price of the product, then add your markup (usually between 30-60% on coffins and up to 100% on caskets). When competing with other manufacturers in your area find out (discreetly) what their prices are. Speaking to undertakers about pricing can be misleading, as some of them add up to a 1000% profit to their products.
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    WILL I BE ABLE TO BUILD A DOME CASKET
    To build your own casket with a rounded (dome) lid is not easy. You either have to be a very skilled and experienced carpenter to shape the rounded lid, or you have to purchase an expensive saw that can cut wood into the desired shape. At the outset it is recommended that you simply buy dome caskets from an existing manufacturer, add on your own markup and sell it to your customer (you get a list of manufacturers with the manuals). Once your business is established you can explore the possibilities of manufacturing dome caskets. We will supply you with a dome manufacturer that you can use for your own customers (buy the domes, add on your profit and sell to your customers).
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    WHO WILL I BE SELLING TO
    You will be selling to both the public and to undertakers. While undertakers will pay you as little as possible for your products, the advantage is that they usually order substantial quantities at a time, whereas you will receive a single orders from a family. The advantage of public is that word spreads quickly, especially if you have supplied a few families with a good, nice looking and inexpensive coffin or casket. In short, you will have two pricelists, one for undertakers and one for the public. You may have to negotiate a price with interested (smaller) undertakers in your area. Don't try and do business with the larger undertakers, as they are usually part of a huge franchise with their own factories. These undertakers are expensive and the public is looking for cheaper and alternative products.
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    OTHER SOURCES TO CONSIDER
    Over and above the manufacturing side you could also sell tombstones, supply flowers, transport bodies, supply meat, food and tents at funerals. The ultimate would be to have a manufacturing side plus your own undertaking business. While you don't have to register the manufacturing side, you will have to register as an undertaker and adhere to a list of requirements followed by an inspection, before the license will be granted.
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    IS THERE A DEMAND FOR COFFINS AND CASKETS
    There is a huge demand, not only in South Africa but also the surrounding countries (Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique). All you need to do is supply a good product at the right price, combined with some basic marketing (internet, agents on commission basis, flyers, newspaper). Eventually you wont have to do any marketing, other than your own website. Having your own website is a cheap and effective marketing tool. .
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    HOW DO I PAY FOR MY ORDER
    Once you place the online order from our website you will receive an automated email that explains everything. If you use an online email host such as gmail, please make sure that our automated email did not go straight to your spam folder.
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    GUIDELINES FOR A DISTRIBUTION NETWORK
    It is important that you do a market research in your area to find out if there are anyone else selling coffins and caskets. Once you know who is already there (if any) you can work out a pricelist for your own products. You will be selling directly to the general public, as the manufacturers are already selling to the undertakers. You will have to pay the manufacturers cash for their products, so when you sell to the public it is advisable to also work on a cash basis instead of allowing them credit (it's up to you). You can sell your coffins with a markup of between 30% - 60% and caskets up to 100%, also depending on any competitors that exists in your area. If you sell to the public they will need an undertaker to do the whole funeral for them, so approach one of the smaller undertakers in your area and come to an agreement with them that you will be sending all your clients to them for the burial, make it clear to the undertaker that your customers will be buying their coffin or casket directly from you. The larger (franchise) undertakers will not be interested so don't even try and approach them with the above proposal. It is always advisable to start small and then grow with your business. Once word gets around that you are providing good products at a good price, your client basis will increase. You can perhaps also hand out fliers in the area showing your products and the prices (there is an example in the business package). When you approach the manufacturers explain to them that you will be selling to the general public.
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