As a funeral director, there are many ways you can boost your bottom line––cutting operating costs, increasing average sales, and embracing alternative services––however, the most valuable way to increase revenue is by retaining customers. One study finds that a 5% increase in client retention can boost profits by 125%.
In the funeral profession, retention boils down to earning the loyalty of your families. After all your local families constitute a finite pool of business, making it essential to cultivate relationships that ensure continued business.
Here’s how to ensure consistent customer retention.
1. Focus on the Family Experience
In most industries, we hear talk of the customer experience; however, the world of death care necessitates a different concept: the family experience. While it’s likely that only one person will handle the planning and arrangement of funeral services, the process will inevitably involve their entire extended family.
As such, you’ll want to make sure that every family touchpoint leaves a positive impression. Some areas to consider:
- The initial call: Your staff should handle this communication with compassion and professionalism. With our surveying of over two hundred thousand families in the last few years the number one lowest score is the initial point of contact.
- The arrangement process: While planning services with a family, take the time to learn about who you are honoring. This way, you can personalize the memorial in a way that helps the family grieve in a meaningful way.
- The ceremony: Naturally, the actual services will need to go off without a hitch, but you should also consider how each family member interacts with your staff. Handshakes, hugs, and consoling smiles can go a long way to ensuring everyone has a positive experience.
- After care: Most importantly, be sure to reach out to family members after the service is completed. Consider writing handwritten thank you notes that offer condolences and provide contact information for grief resources.
The goal is to deliver more than what was promised and exceed each family’s expectations. In this way, you can ensure generational loyalty from your families. After all customer service = perception of services delivered – expectation.
2. Make Feedback a Priority
In order to determine if your business is exceeding expectations, it’s essential to solicit as much family feedback as possible. As part of your after care efforts, consider sending a paper survey or sending a digital link.
For example, the Performance Tracker X from J3Tech allows funeral homes to create, distribute, and monitor results from family satisfaction surveys. By closely examining this data, you can figure out which parts of your business shine and which stand to improve.
Additionally, it would be valuable to incorporate an incentive compensation plan (ICP) to ensure that your employee are aligned with your performance goals.
3. Foster Relationships
Another way to retain families is to maintain relationships––both with families and members of the greater community. Much like teachers, police, and firemen, funeral home workers perform an essential duty in the community. As such, your team members––particularly those in leadership positions––should do their best to participate in community events and support local businesses.
For example, if a family runs a local restaurant, you could occasionally host team dinners there. Alternatively, if a client works for the local animal shelter, you could consider donating supplies or time to help them.
Additionally, it should be your task to make more formal connections with local business and community leaders. These types of strategic partnerships can prove mutually beneficial in a number of ways.
For example, partnering with a florist can ensure you get optimal rates on floral arrangements. Another option comes through partnerships with senior care communities. By sponsoring a speaker at an assisted living facility or nursing home, you can further demonstrate a commitment to your community.
4. Use Social Media
If your funeral home doesn’t currently have a social media presence, then it’s time to create one. A well-maintained Facebook or Instagram account can be a great way to keep in touch with existing families and provide information to new ones. They can also provide another way for families to leave feedback.
Beyond listing your hours and location, you might also consider creating original content for your page. Remember, while the world of death care might seem mundane to an experienced director, the average person is fascinated by funeral practices. Naturally, you don’t want to be too morbid, but you can certainly post behind-the-scenes photos of your facilities or even create videos where employees talk about their roles.
When executed properly, social media does wonders for your funeral home’s image. It allows people to connect with your business on a more human level–it makes your funeral home approachable.
5. Build Loyalty
Beyond providing exceptional service, you need to help shepherd families through the process of grief and keep in touch throughout the years.
However, while conceptually simple, planning and implementing this type of family experience strategy can prove difficult, particularly for funeral directors with busy schedules. In these cases, it’s best to call in the experts.
The consulting team at Johnson Consulting Group has decades of experience owning, directing, and advising death care businesses. By taking a holistic examination of your operations and how they impact your families, they can create a strategic plan designed to maximize retention.
In addition to taxes, death is one of life’s only certainties. When members of your community pass away, a positive relationship with their families can help sustain your funeral home. With the help of JCG, you can begin building community bonds that will last for generations.INCREASE FAMILY LOYALTY