Many funeral directors view preneed sales as an extra stream of revenue; however, they should be viewed as an integral part of your overall strategy. Not only do preneed sales offer a way to differentiate your funeral home from competitors, but they also allow you to increase engagement with your local community.
Many people might not be aware that they can plan funeral and burial services in advance or how that can make their lives easier in the event of a loved one’s passing. That’s why preneed sales require a proactive approach.
The key to increasing preneed sales lies in awareness, and there are many proven ways to accomplish this.
1. Focus on Aftercare
While it may seem presumptuous––even insensitive––to reach out to families after they’ve gone through a loss, there are tactful ways you can approach them about preneed planning. Grieving families know first-hand the difficulties of arranging a funeral in the wake of a loved one’s passing, making the days after a memorial service a crucial time in which they’ll be receptive to ideas related to preneed planning. Ideally, you can create a sales funnel around these families–a strategy rooted in email outreach instead of targeted ads.
First, you should consider sending a thank-you email or handwritten card about a week after the completion of your services. In addition to thanking your clients and soliciting feedback on their experience, you could also consider mentioning your offerings related to preneed arrangements. It’s best to simply position it as a reminder rather than taking a full sales approach.
Unlike real estate agents or car salesmen who will constantly load your inbox with emails, funeral businesses need to use more sensitivity. Consider sending an email one month after the first in which you offer resources related to grieving and financial planning, while gently mentioning the potential for preneed arrangements again.
Remember, these services are not likely something your families will want to plan right away. However, by letting them know that the option exists, you’ve planted the seed for a future discussion.
2. Partner with Local Hospice Organizations
Whether it lasts for a few days or a year, being in hospice is a stress-filled and often hazy experience for most families. By providing pre-planning resources to local hospice organizations and facilities, you’ll give families the opportunity to consider funeral arrangements before they’re actually needed. This communication could take several different forms.
- Provide information– Give literature regarding your preneed services to hospice workers that can pass it along to families.
- Hold events– You and your team could conduct workshops or seminars at the hospice facility that convey the importance of planning funeral arrangements.
- Sponsorships– Consider sponsoring different events the facility might hold like holiday dinners or a family fun day.
Above all, your goal should be to establish positive relationships with hospice workers and the families they serve, thereby increasing the chances of referrals to your funeral parlor.
3. Network, Network, Network
Part of your preneed strategy must focus on raising awareness within your community. In order for preneed sales to comprise a meaningful portion of your business, you must network. Consider the following outlets:
- Chamber of commerce– Local chambers of commerce offer a great opportunity to network with key leaders and business owners in your community. This can be a great way to develop relationships with related businesses (floral shops, assisted living communities, etc.) and increase awareness of both your funeral home and its preneed offerings.
- Farmers markets– This may seem a bit weird, but use this as an opportunity to target this specific audience with any of your eco-friendly options. Make it interesting and something they want to learn about. At the very least, it’s a great opportunity to let community members know about your funeral home, putting faces to your brand.
- Sponsored local events– Whether it be a local harvest festival or a 5K run, participating and even fundraising for community events is an effective way to increase the visibility of your funeral home and preneed services in a positive light.
- Volunteering at nursing homes– Nursing homes are often in need of volunteers, especially for special events. Consider sponsoring an event of your own like a pet therapy day, and while you’re there, never hesitate to hand out literature concerning your preeneed services.
- Supporting military, police, and fire personnel– By sponsoring the people who protect your community, you demonstrate the community-oriented nature of your funeral home.
4. Create Live Videos
If viral sensations like Eileen Hollis and Caitlin Doughty are any indication, people are inherently fascinated by the work of death care. Consider creating a YouTube, TikTok, or FaceBook account for your funeral home. In addition to providing a way for people to interact with your business, these outlets give you the chance to create videos with potentially far-reaching effects.
When making videos of any sort, try to give behind-the-scenes looks at both your business and aspects of the funeral profession that most people are unfamiliar with. Always remember the following:
- Focus on interesting topics– While a funeral business has many facets, we’d argue that no one wants to hear about the ins and outs of your accountant’s daily tasks. Instead consider offering hands-on tours or glimpses of cremation facilities, guides to planning arrangements, or spotlights on innovative funeral services.
- Make it high-quality– Just like your website should reflect the professionalism of your business, so should your videos. Be sure to use a high-definition camera, and even consider hiring a freelance editor.
- Make it actionable– Regardless of the type of videos you create, your ultimate goal should be to raise awareness of your business and create compelling calls to action. Be sure to clearly display your funeral home’s contact information, and try to end with reminders of the services provided by your funeral parlor.
5. Improve SEO
SEO (search engine optimization) refers to the variety of tactics you can use to make sure your business’s website appears in relevant searches. An SEO strategy can ensure that when a community member runs a search for funeral home near me, your business appears at the top of the search results.
While SEO is a complex field, one for which large companies employ teams of experts, there are some proven strategies that your team can likely tackle on their own.
Optimizing site speed
Not only will a slow website dissuade readers from using it, but it will also negatively impact your page’s rankings on search engines. Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to check your site’s speed. It also provides helpful tips on how to improve it.
Have you ever noticed how most professional websites contain a blog? This is because creating original, useful, informative articles is a proven way to increase your website’s authority and rankings. By answering common queries of clients, you can boost your chances of appearing in searches.
When brainstorming topics, consider what information would help the families you serve (perhaps a guide to pre-arranged funeral services) as well as what unique expert information your team can provide. It’s also important to make sure you’re consistently creating this blog content. One study found that sites that create new content on a regular basis have 434% more indexed pages than websites that don’t.
Particularly when it comes to planning blogs, try to use titles that correspond to queries from your families. If families have questions like, How to prearrange a funeral or How much does cremation cost, then these would make great titles and topics for blog posts.
With that said, to make the most out of these articles, you should consider targeting specific keywords that will improve your chances of ranking. This all depends on your domain authority and the difficulty of the keyword you’re using.
Content strategies like this are extremely beneficial but often get complex. That’s why you should consider getting outside help from companies, like Johnson Consulting Group. They specialize in marketing specifically for funeral homes and can help guide you to page one of Google search results.
For businesses, positive Google reviews will help increase your rank in searches. In addition to mentioning preneed services in your follow-up email to families, you could also provide a link to write a Google review.
6. Use Testimonials
When it comes to demonstrating the quality of your funeral services, few tactics are more powerful than the testimonials of satisfied families. In fact, 72% of consumers say testimonials increase their trust in a business while testimonials on sales pages increase conversions by 34%. In the funeral business, however, it can be tricky to solicit these sorts of statements.
One effective way of obtaining testimonials is through a series of follow-up emails. In lieu of requesting a Google review, you could simply ask if this person would mind being quoted particularly when it comes to preneed services. This shows real-life examples of how your offerings helped potential clients and highlights the overall benefits of prearrangements.
7. Train Your Sales Team
To effectively make preneed services a major revenue component, your team will need to be well versed in what appeals to families, how to pitch to them, and what your funeral business can offer.
In the same way you treat at-need services, you must develop and implement strategies for marketing your preneed services. One effective way to do this is to conduct regular training to share new ideas and brainstorm other ways to accomplish this goal. You may even shift your focus to increasing the total funerals planned, regardless of when they will occur.
Another option to consider is hiring or designating a dedicated Preneed Sale Director. This person can focus solely on outreach and conversions of preneed sales. Because of this, they’ll be able to focus on a different type of client––those planning ahead––thereby diversifying your revenue streams.
A mix of at-need and preneed sales is essential to any successful funeral business; however, many funeral directors struggle to implement effective preneed strategies. This is why you should consider bringing in the expert consultants at Johnson Consulting Group.
With years of funeral, sales, and marketing experience, they’ll be able to assess your business’s current preneed strategies and how they could best be augmented to increase the value of your endeavors.INCREASE OVERALL REVENUE