“Cemeteries hold the DNA of generations, the stories of our ancestors, and the human race. These hallowed grounds are to be cherished as the ‘treasure trove’ of our human journey since the beginning of time,” begins Anne Field, Director and Co-founder, Axiom Business Systems. As part of the legacy and history that cemeteries offer to their communities, they need to manage voluminous archives of paper maps, hand written documents and index cards, which can be centuries old and, in some instances, rapidly deteriorating. As ‘custodians’ of information that relates to the heritage and family lineage of their client families, today’s cemeteries, sometimes referred to as ‘Cities of the Dead”, are focusing on serving the needs of the living, and their vibrant communities. As such, the modern cemetery client is expecting to have ‘finger-tip’ access to pertinent information, which is leading to a rapidly emerging consumer expectation that cemeteries be up to date with trends in technology and culture.
In an attempt to introduce 21st century systems Axiom, an Australian owned company, based in Omaha, Nebraska is revolutionizing the technology options available to cemeteries. Axiom brings simplicity, clarity and insightful information to assist the cemetery management and their staff to serve their client families more effectively.
Part of the challenge facing the majority of cemeteries is that they often have multiple “silos” of information and many disparate systems spread throughout the organization, with limited connection or interactivity of critical business data. Unlike other businesses, the information stored in a cemetery needs to be kept forever. Due to the age of the records and the variations in standards of data collection, a common issue is duplicate or erroneous system entries, leading to a serious lack of data integrity. In order to solve this challenge, the Axiom cemetery solution unifies and consolidates these disparate systems and brings them into a single integrated data base. In doing so, there is now a modern, commercial Point of Sale business model available to those innovative cemeteries ready to take this quantum leap in their business management practices.
The Axiom Cemetery Management System (Axiom CMS) brings a one-stop comprehensive business solution to the market. The seamless integration and breadth of cemetery management tools offered in Axiom CMS is seen as an industry first. With every aspect of the Axiom system tightly integrated, all the business entities operate cohesively, culminating in maximum efficiency in daily operations. This positions Axiom CMS as the unified system of choice for the modern cemetery.
Linking Funeral Order Reservations and Financial Systems
From humble beginnings, Axiom has gone from strength to strength over the last three decades. Its flagship product is now a state of the art cemetery management system that provides web based access, customer relationship management (CRM), sales interactions, cemetery records, finance, public inquiry systems and GIS mapping to its cemetery clients across North America and Australia. Modern dashboard reporting on financial and key performance metrics also enhances Axiom’s reputation in providing robust business management tools in this industry sector. A single, comprehensive system aids in protecting the cemetery from entering wrong information, helping them mitigate inherent risks like selling a grave twice or not delivering the correct information to the client family.
After years of installing and supporting customizable accounting solutions, in 1998 a large cemetery in Australia commissioned Axiom to design a highly integrated solution — linking funeral order reservations, financial systems, with a computerized digital map and information kiosks. After the successful implementation of this system Axiom took a major step in 2003 into North America, engaging a client in San Francisco. Today, the company provides its software to cemeteries in many states including California, New York, Illinois, Georgia and Ohio, amongst others.
As to how Axiom came to work in this unique market, Anne Field has these comments. “I have always had a passion for learning more about our family heritage and history, and the legends, stories and memories that are part of that legacy, given that both my husband’s and my family are of Irish descent. However, it seems that our journey to become involved in this particular profession was almost an unconscious one at the outset, but as our immersion in this area grew, it felt very right…. ‘a coming home’ in a sense, to a place that felt like we always belonged”.
A Multi-Lingual, Global Cemetery Solution for Business Sustainability
Leveraging Sage’s commitment to multi-lingual systems, Axiom provides a diverse industry solution in the operator’s language of choice.
One of Axiom’s objectives is to equip and empower the staff who serve the bereaved families with the best possible information to make their job easier and the family comfortable and confident in their communications and the decisions they are making at their time of greatest need. With the Axiom solution, every family interaction can be accurately and effectively recorded and managed. “In the mobile society in which we live, sometimes graves purchased years ago can be used many years after the last transaction was recorded” Anne states. “Axiom has seamlessly integrated its cemetery management system with Sage CRM and Sage 300, to facilitate effective management of all of the cemetery’s resources.”
Recollecting from her years of personal experience, Anne explains that people in grief are often distressed and vulnerable, and have a need to be both respected and nurtured as they make very difficult commercial and emotional decisions. The professionals engaged in serving a grieving family need to ensure that the funeral process is as stress free for the family as possible. Many firms run without the structure and accountability of a CRM system, and sales leads that have been generated through the organization’s marketing budget are manually maintained in a paper system. This has many inherent risks, not the least of which is lost information about client interactions during the sales process.
In selecting Axiom CMS, the client cemetery has the assurance of choosing a solution backed by Sage, a multinational organization with thousands of business partners, who is also committed to a significant annual expenditure of Research and Development funds to keep its technology at the forefront of the market.
Having Axiom “stand on the shoulders of giants like Sage” comes as a significant relief to most cemetery stakeholders as business continuity and sustainability is one of the major drivers in their strategic plan.
Linking Life Story and Legacy
Historical cemeteries in particular have many notable people interred within their properties, and thereby offer an interesting endeavor for researchers and historians. With an ever increasing community interest in genealogy, Axiom introduced a state-of-the-art mapping product, with the capability to link images and other relevant information to a particular site. Axiom’s digital map can be accessed through an information kiosk at a cemetery, or remotely via the internet on any device that can operate a web browser. In doing so, cemetery patrons can have real time access to the precise grave location, including the relevant links to the life story and legacy of the deceased.
Having spent the last 15 years in this profession Anne has become aware of a growing emphasis being placed on the desire to create a personal and lasting legacy of ones’ life. “One of the personal beliefs that I have is in the extraordinary opportunity that we each have to leave a legacy, to live out our true purpose, to leave an imprint of our life’s work and values, and to create a meaningful story of that journey. There is a rapidly growing trend that many people (especially the Baby Boomer generation) are now planning their own “Celebration of Life” to ensure that whatever ritual they choose to mark that transition, will be a true and authentic reflection of their life’s story and legacy. So being involved in cemetery software seems to be a very practical and pragmatic way to be of service to help others achieve those goals and ideals that I too hold very dear”.
Truly a Meeting of the Hearts and Mind
Since its inception in 1983 Axiom has developed a culture based on shared values and ethics with its team and clients. Deeply inspired by the popular author Simon Sinek and his work on corporate leadership, Anne and John (President and co-founder) have striven to integrate much of Sinek’s wisdom into Axiom’s business model.
Having carefully established and defined Axiom’s core values, its purpose and ‘why’ of being in business, Anne proactively encourages and inspires her team to seek out colleagues and client partners who, to use a Sinek truism, ‘believe what we believe’.
“There is truly a meeting of the hearts and minds when we connect with others for whom the mission of our company authentically resonates with their own corporate mission. With this as the cornerstone of the partnership, we begin with a solid foundation that is galvanized by a common vision and set of objectives. In doing so, there is a deep understanding of the change and innovation that can be brought to an organization with the implementation of fully integrated technology. It’s exciting, it’s empowering, it’s transformational, and great things can be brought to bear in the process!” says Anne.
“Axiom has seamlessly integrated its cemetery management system with Sage CRM and Sage 300, to facilitate effective management of all of the cemetery’s”
The Path Ahead
Having launched its new cemetery management system early in 2015, Axiom is now expanding the system functionality to include electronic signatures on contracts and a more mobile solution allowing its cemeteries to provide services to their client families in the family home, in the grounds of the cemetery or anywhere that the technology can enhance the discussion about the client family’s requirements.
Having Axiom 'stand on the shoulders of giants like Sage' comes as a significant relief to most cemetery stakeholders as business continuity and sustainability is one of the major drivers in their strategic plan
Axiom is also developing an expanded range of product offerings by adding a number of on-line services that allow for self- service bookings and sales systems. Furthermore, a new range of system management services that address grounds management and horticultural management will be welcomed a welcome addition by most cemeteries wishing to streamline the large number of cemetery resources under their governance and supervision.
Axiom continues to grow in the North American market, in addition to sowing the seeds for expansion into the United Kingdom and Europe. The company will also continue to consolidate its market position in the South East Pacific region of Australia and New Zealand. By utilizing the multi lingual capabilities and other ground–breaking aspects of the Sage solution, this catapults Axiom’s cemetery solution into a truly global market.