Shifting preferences for cremations and alternative arrangements make it more important than ever for funeral home and cemetery owners to differentiate themselves from competitors. Solid growth strategies must be in place to ensure success. Here are 7 to consider.


1. Analyze Your Performance

Before you make significant changes to your funeral home, you’ll want to perform a thorough analysis of your current performance. One effective way to accomplish this is through a SWOT analysis of your funeral home. This method involves taking a comprehensive look at the strengths and weaknesses of your business, in addition to any threats and opportunities down the pipeline. 

You might also choose to embark on more granular assessments of specific business components such as a performance analysis which reviews in detail your financial performance, customer service, workflow, and competitive market share. 

While there are numerous ways to evaluate the performance of your business, getting started on one will start providing you with the insight you need to implement measures for improved performance.


2. Review Your Workflow

Any outcome of your funeral home is a direct reflection on the effectiveness of the workflow and processes in place to achieve that result.  From the moment the customer reaches out on the phone, to the meeting in person, to the instructions in the prep room, to coordinating all the service details, and culminating in the delivery and completion of the service…These various handoffs to the “internal” customer/employee is critical.  What does your workflow look like?  Have you surveyed the staff and reviewed areas of communication breakdown for ineffective “handoffs” to the next employee or vendor?  A workflow review is a great team building exercise and will bear improved customer service…Guaranteed!


3. Create a Plan

After closely examining the positioning of your business––and the components that have contributed to this––you’ll want to create a plan. Depending on the size of your business and your goals as its owner, your plan could be measured through a number of lenses.  Perhaps you’re looking to reach a certain valuation for your funeral home, or maybe you want to reach a new yearly goal for preneed sales. Regardless of your specific mission, you’ll want to articulate exactly what you hope to accomplish and develop a set of tactical actions to bring about the fruition of your initiatives.


How is this all accomplished effectively?…Through a strategic plan.  There are right ways and wrong ways to conduct a strategic plan.  The most obvious of wrong ways is for the owner or employee of the business to emcee it.  You should hire an outsider with a clear agenda and prework.  By doing this, you will create a plan as you have never before seen, with a high chance of success for your goals as an owner.


4. Review your marketplace

Apart from recouping the costs that go into providing funeral services, there is no set requirement for the pricing of your services. Because of this, a solid growth strategy should take into consideration the pricing structure of competitors. 

In recent years, the notion of crowdfunding to pay for funeral arrangements shows a trend that demonstrates that a growing number of customers struggle to afford these services. Because of this, you’ll want to make sure your business considers package pricing.  But be careful how your packages are created as they should simplify the process and offer savings but not at the sacrifice of your current average sale. 


5. Focus On Your Team

When a family loses a loved one, they’re usually focused on one thing––comfort. Because of this, your team should be able to sell while displaying empathy and compassion. To address this, it’s obvious that we must encourage our employees to deliver exceptional customer service. This can be measured not only through sales totals but also through client surveys and online reviews–a task made easy by solutions like J3 Tech’s Performance Tracker

By taking into account the feedback of families in conjunction with each arranger’s average sale and receivables collection practices you can be assured that there is compassionate selling you want in your team.  Lastly, we highly encourage you to implement a Customer Service Culture Program.  For more information on this program, reach out today!


6. Consistently Manage Performance

Yearly or quarterly reviews, while important, won’t help you make the immediate changes needed to adapt to trends in real-time. Rather, these traditional forms of review are retroactive approaches that prevent on-the-fly change.

Instead, manage performance on an ongoing basis. One way to achieve this is through regular performance management meetings in which your team discusses current operations and collectively identifies any opportunities for improvement. By meeting more frequently, you can regularly monitor key metrics like customer satisfaction, market share, call volume, and team member performance. 

If recent years have taught us anything, it’s that the death care industry is not immune to shifting economic and religious trends. As such, it’s important to ensure your team has the flexibility and “real time feedback” to adapt to these changes.


7. Lean on Death Care Experts

For funeral directors, simply managing your team and relationships with families can occupy the majority of your time, making it difficult to set aside the effort required to develop and implement strategic improvements. This is why your best bet is to call in the assistance of death care professionals.  We all have the same amount of time in the day and it’s the one thing we nobody can create more of.  However, the new trend is to focus on what you do well at and outsource the rest!  Consider your time value as an owner…I bet if you put an hourly rate to it, it would be quite high!  Are you best utilized doing some of the things you do at that hourly rate?…probably not and we are all guilty of it.  You want to scale? You want to grow?  You want to find more time for yourself?  You must outsource!


At Johnson Consulting Group, our team of consultants has worked in the death care profession for decades, owning and operating a variety of funeral businesses throughout the country. Not only are JCG consultants thoroughly experienced in the day-to-day operations of funeral homes, but they’re also attuned to the greater trends of the industry. 


If implementing growth strategies seems like a difficult task to tackle and you don’t know where to begin, consider reaching out to Johnson Consulting Group. Our team can thoroughly examine the current operations of your business and develop strategies tailored to your needs, ultimately allowing you to improve your customer service, optimize your workflows, and bring about greater financial success.