In the midst of uncertainty surrounding a crisis, proactive business management becomes essential in minimizing the negative impacts on your business and weathering the storm. For funeral home and cemetery management, COVID-19 has created an environment of uncertainty. The best methods for addressing the uncertainties of the future involve creating a plan for the present and focusing on the fundamentals. But what are the fundamentals? And what are the components of a good Crisis Management Plan? Here are four elements of Johnson Consulting Group’s Crisis Management Plan for funeral homes and cemeteries.

Communication

Successful funeral home and cemetery management has always included effective communication. During a crisis, it’s important to increase communication amongst the entire company. This means within the management team and then delivered to the rest of the organization. Schedule daily times to review new information and issues. Take time to inform, educate, and train on topics pertaining to COVID-19. Consider designating one team member to be your COVID-19 information specialist.

Customer Interaction and Service Delivery

In funeral service, caring for families is at the core of what we do. Now, however, COVID-19 has changed the means by which we do this; but it hasn’t changed the core fundamentals themselves. Be creative in serving families and celebrating lives. Look for ways to do things differently with technology for private or small gatherings. It’s also important to establish your business’ protocol for how you handle arrangements, private services and delayed services. Ensure that all staff understand these procedures. Identify support resources for the families you serve and take time to network with colleagues and professional organizations. Finally, understand your limitations in sheltering loved ones, and explore options for temporarily expanding your sheltering capacity.

Staff Safety, Care, Concern and Welfare

Times of crisis reveal character, and this is true for both individuals and businesses alike. Now, more than ever, your staff needs to know that you care about their health, welfare and the work they do. Take all precautions to ensure staff safety by adjusting staffing levels and individual schedules. Understand your essential workforce – the team of critical employees are vital to operate your business. Remember, although the goal is to be efficient, cutting resources to cut costs and labor in the short term are not sustainable to business success in the long term. Support your COVID-19 information specialist to stay current on guidance from governmental organizations such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Cash Flow Management

With a change to case mix comes a change to revenue and cash flow. In order to properly adjust to these changes, take time to make some initial projections based on the previous weeks’ trends. You should do this to understand exactly how much revenue shortfall you can expect in the next 90 days or longer. Additionally, you should be maximizing the revenue that is possible, and carefully consider expense reduction initiatives. Consider utilizing inventory without replacement in the short run and reach out to your lenders and request payment deferrals. A great way to do this is to contact ask a JCG Business Consultant about SBA lender information to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loan, or an Express Loan if necessary. Lastly, ensure that you utilize your monthly financial statements as a tool to manage your cash flow accurately and effectively over the next several months.

Many of the components of a good crisis management plan are, in fact, parts of operating a successful funeral home or cemetery business outside of a crisis. The difference, however, is that the margin of error has become razor thin during this COVID-19 crisis. In a sense, the fundamentals are no longer optional. They are the keys to weathering this storm and emerging stronger and more united on the other side. As there will be “the other side” of this crisis, now is the time to position your business for that next chapter so that the more families understand the value of ceremony, your employees know you care about them, and your community knows the exceptional role you played during this COVID-19 crisis. To schedule a free crisis consultation with a JCG Business Consultant, click here.

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