There’s the old saying that self-reflection is the first step toward self-improvement.
While it’s true for our personal lives, it’s also a truth in business. A little time set aside to reflect on your funeral home can go a long way.
If you’re looking to grow your funeral home, reach more client families, or beat out your competition, here are five simple questions you can ask yourself to help position your funeral home for future success.
1. How are we different?
There’s a funeral home in New Orleans that offers “extreme embalming” services. It’s a practice that gives the deceased a life-like pose and puts them in a setting that reflects their personality or hobbies.
That’s what Miriam Burbank’s family decided to do. At her funeral, Miriam’s embalmed body sat up in a chair with her Busch beer nearby and a disco ball overhead — celebrating her life the way she liked to live.
Extreme embalming definitively sets that New Orleans funeral home apart from the competition. Although your funeral home doesn’t need to go that extreme, it does need to offer something that sets you apart from everyone else in town.
The funeral home market is getting crowded. By not having anything unique to offer families, your funeral home is going to have a tough time staying competitive.
You might be familiar with the phrase “unique selling proposition.” It’s basically just a business term that describes how your funeral home services or products are different from the other guys down the road.
Having a unique selling proposition is extremely important. It’s essentially the answer to the question of “Why should I choose your funeral home?”
When reflecting on how your funeral home is different, here are just a few areas you can focus on:
- How your facility is different than other funeral homes in the area.
- The unique, personalized products and services you offer that a competitor doesn’t.
- Your funeral home’s history of working with the community.
- Your funeral home’s diverse payment options.
- Your funeral home’s green or alternative burial services.
2. What do families want?
It’s a question not just to ask yourself, but to go out and ask your families. Feedback from families you’ve served in the past can help you plan more meaningful services, and insight from families you haven’t served yet can show you how to win their trust. It’s a win-win for everybody.
A simple survey is all it takes. Using their responses, you can build a proactive business plan that helps you identify changing trends or traditions within the community, and that keeps you ahead of your competition.
For tips on building and planning your own client family feedback survey, check out this blog to get started.
3. How can we save time?
Time is money. If you’re looking to cut back on expenses, look at how your funeral home can save time. (And with the new overtime laws set to take place December 1st, it means this is going to be even more important. To learn more, click here.)
So what are some ways to beat the clock? The best advice is to embrace time-saving technology.
Modern office technology that’s integrated into every aspect of your job has proven to cut back on routine paperwork, allows for faster communication with staff, and will help improve overall efficiency with everyday tasks in the funeral home.
For more advice, Small Business Trends has compiled a nice list of 50 time-saving tips you can read here.
4. How can we add value?
This is another good question to ask, especially if your funeral home has faced declining revenue due to more families choosing cremation over traditional burials.
Simply raising prices won’t work anymore. Some families have shown they won’t — and others can’t — pay for the higher costs of a traditional burial.
What can your funeral home do about it? Take a page out of a wedding planner’s playbook. Wedding planners have done a great job cross-selling services (another business term that just means they have found new ways to make money without raising prices of their old services).
How can a funeral director do this? Think of adding a few of these to the service you offer families:
- An e-commerce store right on your website to sell flowers, memorials, and other tribute items. It’s a simple way family and friends can honor a loved one from anywhere in the world.
- Enhanced aftercare services to help families heal.
- Personalized traditional stationery and tribute products.
- Catering or reception services for families to use.
5. What can we be learning?
As JFK once put it, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” And it’s true — the best leaders are the ones that are endless leaners.
So don’t let learning stop in the classroom. Whether it’s for you or your staff, a commitment to continuing education can help your funeral home stay competitive. There are several resources out there: free online courses, seminars, workshops, even networking events like NFDA. It all depends on what you want to learn.
LinkedIn offers great educational courses through its partnership with Lynda, an online education company. These courses include anything from small business marketing to photography classes — and all at reasonable prices.
One final tip: Don’t ask these questions once and leave it at that. Come back to them in a year or two. See how your funeral home has grown, and how it can continue to do so in the future.
I feel like the questions you listed in the article could all be really helpful when seeking out a good funeral home. I especially liked how you suggest asking in what ways a funeral home can help you cut back on expenses. This is definitely something I’d like my loved ones to do for me when I die since I don’t want my funeral to become too big a financial burden to bear.
My wife and I have been looking for a funeral home that we could use for my grandma’s service, and I think that being able to use your tips about saving time would be nice. I’m glad that you talked about being able to use technology in a funeral home to save time and make things more effective. We’ll have to make sure that we choose a funeral home that is going to be utilizing the available technology!
My family is dealing with so much at the moment with my father-in-law dying that I decided it would be best if I got my funeral arrangements done now to help save time. You mentioned how you should ask to save time with paperwork and communication. That is a great point I never thought about how time for a funeral costs money. Thanks for the help.
My best friend is dealing with a death in her family and needs some help with the funeral services. I like that you mentioned the funeral home should be trying to add value to the service. This is a great sentiment that every home should try and do for their clients.
Death is an inevitable part of our lives and it won’t hurt to draft your plans for when it comes. The sad thing is, I know my mom is near her passing, and as much as it pains me to even think about it, I know that arrangements must be done. When choosing a funeral home, I think it is a clever idea to ask the establishment on how their services are different than the rest. Not only will this show you which one could provide more for your money, you can also choose which ones have a better set of packages/services offered.
I’ve been looking for a good funeral home, and I think that being able to get some tips would be good. I’m glad you talked about being able to add value to a funeral home, and I think that one way to do that could be through remodeling. I’m going to have to look for a good funeral home, and see what I can find! Thanks!
Thanks for the tip to ask funeral homes what services they offer for enhanced aftercare to help families heal. My great-grandmother recently passed away, and my family is starting the process of preparing for the funeral. I think that aftercare services from a funeral home would be incredibly helpful for my family in dealing with the loss we experienced.
A friend of mine had a death in his family recently, and I thought it would be a good idea to lighten the load and help him find a funeral home. I love that you say to give them a simple survey and look at their responses. It would be nice to have all of your questions answered, and see what special offers they have.
It’s great to know how to find a funeral home. We are hoping to find one in our new neighborhood, so this is great. I would love to find one who is willing to do what you said and go out to ask families what they want. That would be great.
Thank you for all the questions to ask a funeral home. My family has to find a funeral home for our loved one, but we don’t know how to find the best one. I like the idea of asking them how their facility is different from other funeral homes. It would be nice to know if there are any differences.
I like that this pointed out that you may want an office with modern technology, as they can not only call you to make arrangements, but also email and chat. My grandmother is getting older and we think she may pass away soon. I’ll share this article with my dad. Do you have any other tips he should keep in mind regarding funeral homes?
I really liked it when you suggested that funeral homes should ask for the opinions of the families that they have worked with in the past to know what they can do to improve the quality of their service. I would appreciate it if the funeral home that I am considering did something like that. Anyway, I am planning to preplan my funeral soon. Hopefully, I get in touch with a good funeral service provider. Thanks!
I thought it was great that you mentioned involving the family in the process. During different memorials or burials, I have often thought about what I want, but is it something that my family would be comfortable with? This is just something that I think about and hopefully my parents will allow us to have some input when they start planning for theirs.
I like that you mentioned not stopping learning in the classroom. Making sure that you are picking from a place that will continue to educate their staff is useful. My friend helping a loved one would love knowing this about funeral homes.
Thanks for this advice for a funeral home. I’m glad that you mentioned that the funeral home should consider how to have faster communication with the staff. This seems very beneficial especially if it can make the entire funeral process go much faster.
It’s important to keep in mind that there are several options available for those who want to have funerary rites, and it also depends on the religion of the deceased in question. One of the questions that should be asked is how to be able to add value to the service, which means looking for services that are important to the funeral rites themselves like flowers, memorial services, and aftercare services to name a few. If I had the chance to work in the funerary business I would make sure to be as accommodating as possible.
My uncle was diagnosed with a terminal disease and he wants to plan his funeral right away. It was explained here that it will save him time to consult funeral service and add value. Furthermore, it’s recommended to hire professionals when in need of quality funeral services.
Thanks for these tips on how to find a good funeral home. It would make sense to find someone who is qualified and experienced as well. My husband and I are looking for a funeral home, so we’ll have to check their experience first.
I liked that you mentioned the funeral home market is getting crowded. I have been looking at several funeral homes for services for my dad and finding the right one has been a bit troublesome. I would love to get his services at a funeral home near me that has good prices and can be a gentle environment to say goodbye.
Thanks for explaining that good funeral homes will want to save time for their clients, so they’ll realize the importance of using modern technology in their office. My husband and I want to pre-plan our funeral service arrangements to give us peace of mind and reduce stress for our family when we pass. I’m glad I read your article because talking to potential funeral homes about the technology they use is something I wouldn’t have thought to do before!
I particularly liked the questions that you presented about how the facility that you choose could be different from any in the area. My sister recently went into labor and gave birth to a stillborn girl, so we are looking to help her choose the best funeral home so send off their little baby girl. Thank you for this article, and I will make sure that we find a home that can help us feel at peace.
My dad is thinking about planning his funeral so that the family doesn’t have to worry about it. It could be really nice for him to be able to work with a professional. I’ll be sure to tell him that he should ask how their facility is different from other facilities.
These are some great questions to ask when looking for a funeral home service, especially when you said to compare multiple funeral homes. It seems that making these questions would be a good way to ease the stress your family would face after your passing. My wife and I are beginning to plan our estates so maybe we should include funeral home expenses when we set up our life insurance policy.