As the saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” For many years, the funeral profession operated by this logic, focusing on traditional burials and memorials that closely resemble those of the early 1900s.
However, with the onset of the pandemic, we’re seeing an accelerated growth of preexisting death care trends. Cremations have overtaken burials in popularity, and alternative memorial services are also gaining traction.
As a funeral director, it’s important not to get complacent. By staying on top of the current trends––both for burials and your business model––you can ensure the longevity of your funeral home.
1. Check the Employees’ Temperature
At the core of every funeral home is a team of hard-working and compassionate people. With loyalty often based on personal relationships, you’ll want to ensure that your employees are happy at work and that they plan to stick around for the long-term.
The best place to start assessing employee satisfaction is through an internal survey. By providing space for your team to provide honest feedback, you can help determine how you can best improve your work culture and maintain quality talent.
Perhaps, you’ll find that some employees would like a more diverse workplace, or maybe several team members would like clearer paths for growth within your funeral home. Whatever the solution, you’ll have to start by asking.
2. Conduct an External Survey
In addition to seeking feedback from team members, you should also look to the families you serve. Consider including both recent families and those who have been with your business for years. This way, when you ask their opinions, you’ll get a variety of perspectives and find out what’s working and what isn’t.
While there are a variety of ways to administer surveys––in-person, over the phone, or through email––the most effective solution is a customer experience platform. For example, the Performance Tracker from J3Tech Solutions allows you to create and distribute digital surveys. This software compiles data from these surveys and allows you to easily interpret trends and more effectively develop responses. Performance Tracker also allows you to manage your online reputation and receive feedback in order to have better insights into reviews and continue to deliver exceptional customer experience.
While you don’t need to embark on a costly overhaul of your entire funeral home, it’s important to keep things updated. Your decor and facilities should be comfortable and calming for families. So while heavy crimson drapes and ornate brass chandeliers might be nostalgic, you might consider swapping them out for more modern finishes.
The key with remodeling is to make small updates frequently. One year, you might replace your curtains and carpets, and the next, you might replace the furniture in your entryway. While aesthetic preferences are always subject to change, most people currently prefer bright neutral colors and light fabrics.
Another cost-effective upgrade should include living plants and flowers as opposed to fake ones. While flowers will need frequent replacing, many indoor plants like fiddle leaf figs are easy to maintain and will last for years.
4. Add More Ceremonial Options
If your funeral home only focuses on traditional burials, then you’re losing out on a growing client base. To properly plan for the future, you need to focus on alternative options, particularly cremations. Whether you partner with a local crematorium or build cremation facilities of your own, it’s imperative to figure out a way to meet the growing demand for these services.
Apart from cremation, there’s also a growing interest in alternative burial trends. Green burials such as biodegradable coffins and organic embalming fluid are becoming more popular. Even once-fringe technologies like hydro cremation are gaining traction in the market.
5. Involve Your Funeral Home in Community Events
Effective funeral directors look beyond their immediate grounds to make improvements. By creating partnerships within your community, you can help establish your funeral home as a pillar of your neighborhood, as opposed to an aloof presence.
For example, you might consider hosting a cook-off to support a school fundraising effort. You could also partner with a local assisted living community to sponsor a series of speakers or entertainers. The key is to keep your funeral home top of mind for local families. When funeral home team members do good work in the community, local families will recognize the importance of your business.
6. Work with Funeral Home Consultants
Successfully running a funeral home is not a linear process. At any given moment, a funeral home could focus on building their preneed portfolio, refining their aftercare practices, or incorporating cremation into their practice, among others. Because of this, it’s important to develop a plan, one that maximizes your chance of success. This is where consultants can play an important role.
At Johnson Consulting Group, a leading death care consulting firm, their team of consultants can take a holistic view of any funeral business. By examining your facilities, team, and financial records––and tying them to the greater funeral marketplace––they can help you craft a plan of attack that sets your funeral home on the path for success.
As funeral directors, we often become so invested in our work that we can’t see the bigger picture. Sometimes, to break free of these silos, we need some outside perspectives. That’s where Johnson Consulting Group can help.