Like public schools and police departments, funeral homes provide an essential service to their communities. Regardless of our walk of life, we all experience the passing of loved ones, and in these times, we call upon the assistance of death care professionals to help us collectively grieve and honor the departed. A local funeral home is an integral part of any town.

In the same way that local facilities partner with community institutions, it behooves a funeral business to do the same. By fostering relationships with other leaders and businesses in your community, you will not only increase the exposure of your funeral home, but you’ll also further establish your funeral home as an institution, as opposed to simply another local business. 

That said, as a funeral business, getting your name out is a bit more complicated than littering the town with flyers. The key is to consider your families–the people you serve–and how you might best reach them. Consider these funeral home strategies to connect to your community. 

Mortuary Schools

In any industry, it’s important to seek out rising professionals. The same applies to the funeral profession, and one of the best places to do this is through nearby mortuary schools. Even if the relationships you build don’t lead to people joining your business, networking within the profession is never a bad idea, as it helps to build relationships with the next generation of your profession.

One way to build relationships with a mortuary school is through internships or other hands-on experiential learning environments. By allowing people to gain real-life experience with the day-to-day processes of a funeral home, you can help equip aspiring morticians, in turn, creating future team members and further the reach of your brand.

Local Hospitals

While some people take advantage of prearranged funeral services, a majority of people only begin to plan a memorial service leading up to their loved one’s passing. In the case of an unexpected or sudden death, people likely have no plan in place and are left to simultaneously grieve their loved one and go through the process of planning a funeral. 

When a person passes away in a hospital, nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals provide support and guidance. Part of this could ideally include a referral to your funeral home, allowing for a seamless transition from passing to a memorial service. 

Many hospitals have bereavement coordinators, people who help next of kin navigate the arrangements that must be made after the passing of a loved one. In addition to helping people navigate the documents and legal issues related to a death, these coordinators can suggest funeral homes. While many families already have a specific place in mind, it never hurts to have a relationship with these types of workers, as they can refer families to your business. 

Partnerships with local hospitals can take many different forms. A few great ways to team up include:  

  • Collaborate on hosting an event like a blood drive. This is a great way to not only help the community but also get your name out
  • Organize regular volunteering in which you play games or read books with some of the patients 
  • Host a class or seminar in which you teach patients and families about topics related to aging, including funeral services 

Local Hospice Centers

Similar to hospitals, hospice centers also reach the same people that you help with your funeral services. When they work together, hospice organizations and funeral homes can help families in the grieving process. Once again, you could consider collaborating on events and programming that educate the public. 

Since hospice care professionals cater to those approaching death, your work with a hospice center can focus more on these concerns. Consider hosting a seminar that helps unpack the complicated parts of the grieving process or a class that educates people on all things related to the issues that arise in the wake of a loved one’s passing, such as estate planning and funeral arrangements. 

Local Retirement Centers 

Between assisted living, nursing homes, independent living, and memory care facilities, every community has many different housing and recreational environments for the elderly. In most cases, these outlets are eager to find entertainment and educational events for their residents, and that’s where your funeral home can offer a helping hand. 

Depending on the type of environment, you can get pretty creative with these types of events. While an educational experience related to the funeral profession is the obvious choice, some additional tried and true options could be:

  • Hosting a bingo night
  • Hiring someone to lead a painting course
  • Inviting local authors or public speakers to give a talk or reading
  • Offering a behind the scenes look at your funeral practice
  • Hosting a happy hour
  • Sponsoring a fundraiser or raffle for a local animal shelter

When it comes to retirement community events, you can let your imagination run wild with just about any event that provides information or entertainment for residents. 

Even when an event doesn’t directly pertain to the funeral business, you’ll still be increasing your brand awareness. In the same way that PTAs, Lions Clubs, and other local organizations regularly sponsor community events, your funeral home can further integrate itself into the community by doing so.

Local Florists

A staple of almost any funeral service is flowers, and unlike cremation or cemeteries, you can’t easily incorporate a floral shop into your funeral home. That’s why it’s key to partner with a great florist in your community. As anyone who has ever planned a funeral or wedding can tell you, flowers for an event can be expensive, so striking some kind of deal with a local florist can benefit you, the florist, and the families you work for.

Moreover, when a florist puts the name of your business on their website, your funeral home’s authority will increase. Especially in smaller communities, where word of mouth carries more weight, a trusted business partnering with your service speaks volumes to the quality of your funeral home.

Churches and Religious Institutions

No matter the size of a community, there will be at least one house of worship, if not dozens. By reaching out to clergy members and other key religious leaders, you can begin to build a bond with some of the most trusted and esteemed members of a community. 

In terms of events, consider partnering with a church to host an annual day of remembrance around the holidays. One popular way to do this is through a tree lighting ceremony. You can invite community members to place ornaments on a tree in honor of their loved ones and light the tree in a formal manner.

Additionally, having a working relationship with a church helps facilitate the process of getting ministers to attend your funeral services. 

How to Set Up Partnerships

When developing partnerships with community members and organizations, it’s important to create lasting experiences for families and continue to build relationships in the greater community. 

Remember that your funeral business as a brand can be thought of as a person, and you need to ask yourself: What makes a person trustworthy? What makes a person an upstanding member of the community? Apart from the services you provide to clients, the impact your business has on the community at large will ultimately create the public’s perception of your brand.

The key to creating successful partnerships is to go beyond mutually beneficial financial relationships. You have to have everything in between covered, including customer service & guest relations, community leadership, advanced planning, and advertising. 

While paid referrals from floral and hospice professionals can be helpful, they do little to impact the greater standing of your business. When set up properly, community partnerships can help take your funeral home from just another business to a trusted pillar of the community. To help kickstart this process, you might want to consider seeking the help of funeral business professionals who’ve helped many businesses excel in their communities.

Strategic Partnerships with Johnson Consulting Group

With a seasoned team of experts, Johnson Consulting Group brings a collective experience that has owned, operated, and managed hundreds of funeral and cemetery businesses throughout the years. No two funeral businesses look exactly alike, and that’s why their consulting services can be tailored to any set of needs–from funeral home accounting to marketing to brokerage services. 

By conducting extensive research on your funeral home and the businesses in your area, JCG consultants can help you set tangible business goals and provide you with the strategies to build long-lasting partnerships in your community.