For businesses of any size, a strategic plan serves as your backbone. Most often contained in a document, a strategic plan articulates your business’s goals, its means of achieving them, and any key performance indicators. When implemented properly, a strategic plan provides cohesion and direction to your team.
As a successful funeral home director, it might be tempting to coast along, assuming that past years’ successes are sure to continue; however, failing to create and implement a strategic plan leaves you vulnerable to straying off course.
As John Lennon once sang, “How can I go forward when I don’t know which way I’m facing?” A strategic plan will not only let you know where to turn your attention but also how to continually refine your practice moving forward.
A Strategic Plan in the Funeral Profession
To put it more concretely, a strategic plan involves the owners and senior management teams at your company. Together, you will assess current performance, analyze the market, set goals, plan your actions, and identify how to achieve said actions.
Before you begin crafting your strategic plan for your funeral home, you’ll want to ask yourself:
- How is the business performing?
- How do we continue to improve our services?
- What changes are currently shaping the industry?
- Is employee morale positive?
- Are we as profitable as we could be?
Naturally, not every question will offer a fruitful direction to pursue; however, it’s important to consider each of these areas. As you mull on these questions, you’ll want to pull in numbers when appropriate. While it’s easy to feel as though your business is performing optimally, actual revenue totals provide you with tangible support (or refutation).
Another important source to examine is customer reviews, both from internal feedback and public reviews posted online. While you’ll likely find one or more glibly negative reviews on Google, it’s important to search for the grains of truth in here. While it’s tempting to fixate on the areas of weakness, it’s important to pay mind to the strengths identified in reviews, as these can become pillars of your business.
Remember, you won’t be doing this planning alone. Create a list of each area of your business and identify the key stakeholders in these areas. You’ll want to make sure these stakeholders are present at your planning meeting, as they’ll provide you with a better on-the-ground understanding of the different facets of your business.
Steps of Strategic Planning
Since the process of strategic planning should never be rushed, set aside an entire day to meet with your team.
Once you’ve assembled your team, consider the following steps:
- Create an Objective: To start off, brainstorm a list of objectives with your team. This will give you an overview of your business’s potential. It will also signal what your teammates would like to see from your company.
- Company Review: Take a look at your current year. How is your business doing? What are the key successes and failures of the year, and what contributed to these outcomes?
- Conduct a SWOT Analysis: Take stock of your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Strengths and weaknesses are pretty straightforward, so pay close attention to the opportunities (ex: a rise of interest in virtual ceremonies) and threats (ex: a new funeral parlor opening in town).
- Set Goals: Based on all of your observations and team input, you’ll want to set tangible goals to achieve, both in the immediate and long-term future.
- Give Ownership to the Team: Figure out which actionable tasks and duties can be assigned to individuals on your team. In future meetings, they’ll be reporting back to you on these duties.
Tips from the Experts
If you’re at a loss as to how to improve your business, then you might want to consider consulting with outside experts. Johnson Consulting Group has been in the profession for decades and has worked with funeral homes throughout the U.S.
Here are our additional tips when it comes to strategic planning:
- Meet Offsite: By meeting outside of the workplace and providing meals, you’ll create a more relaxed atmosphere, one in which your team will feel more comfortable expressing their honest thoughts on the company’s performance.
- Encourage Written SWOT Analysis: It’s imperative that the input from your team is honest. To ensure this, you should instruct your team to write down a SWOT analysis and bring it to the meeting. This way, you could anonymously read people’s thoughts, ensuring each person’s findings are heard.
- Clearly Define Ultimate Goals: If everyone at the company knows what the long-term goals are, then they can better steer your company in this direction.
- Schedule Regular Check-Ins: As with any aspect of life, not everything goes according to plan. By scheduling check-in meetings, both as a group and individually with team leaders, you can keep track of any unexpected changes or setbacks and adapt accordingly.
- Measure Everything: A worthwhile goal is nothing without a way to measure it. Be sure that you establish metrics of success for each goal (ex: positive reviews, number of conversions, dollar amounts, etc.) and that you’re tracking accordingly.
Why You Need a Plan
If your funeral business doesn’t have clearly stated goals, then it’s impossible to determine how well you’re doing. Creating a strategic plan is about preventing your business from stalling out, spurring continuous growth and evolution, providing a higher degree of service to your families.
If all of this seems difficult then consider consulting the experts at Johnson Consulting Group. Through our years of experience with helping funeral businesses, we can help you identify any existing pain points and provide the appropriate guidance for the ongoing success of your funeral home.