At the 2016 NFDA International Convention & Expo in Philadelphia, there were a lot of great ideas and innovative concepts to be found.
For those who couldn’t attend this year, or others just looking for a brief roundup of the big ideas discussed, here’s what we’ve taken away from this year’s trade show.
The Future of Funerals
If 2016’s convention could be summed up simply, it’s that funerals are evolving at a faster rate than ever. The convention’s focus was aimed at exploring the ways funerals have evolved and what they will look like in the future — in 2017 and well beyond.
The two biggest ideas — the ones found in almost all the workshops we attended and throughout the expo floor — were cremation and personalization. Both are shaping funeral traditions, and we learned that it’s better to embrace them than to try to ride out the storm.
But just how can a funeral home embrace these big changes? Let’s talk about what we learned in a keynote speech by international author and speaker Bob Burg.
Burg’s Five Laws
Burg’s message was simple. By shifting our focus from getting to giving, your funeral home will be financially successful and personally fulfilling. Burg summed up his theory in five laws. (To read more about these laws, check out Burg’s book The Go-Giver.)
The Law of Value
According to Burg, the law of value is that “Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.”
So, what’s that’s mean? How can you make a profit if you’re giving away more than you take as a payment? Burg explained that value and payment are two different things.
Burg’s anecdote went like this: Let’s say a tax accountant charges a set price of around $500. Through the accountant’s expertise, he can end up saving us $2,000 — but that’s not all. While $2,000 is a tangible amount, the accountant also saves us time and stress from doing our own returns, and peace of mind knowing it was done right.
So, although the account charges for a profit, the customer leaves feeling satisfied with the transaction. The value of the transaction is way more than the original $500 payment.
As funeral directors, it means finding ways to add more value to the services for families that create revenue for you while leaving your families feeling satisfied from their experience. This becomes even more important now as funeral homes face declining revenue from rising cremation rates.
The Law of Compensation
“Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.”
This means the better the service, the higher number of client families you will serve, leading to higher revenue. It’s about creating word-of-mouth marketing, or as Burg calls it, “personal walking ambassadors.” Those that leave feeling satisfied will vouch for your funeral home in the future.
The Law of Influence
“Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.”
For a funeral home, this means investing in community involvement through social clubs, charity events, hospice, or local churches. It’s something most funeral homes do very well. And it will always pay off in the long run, because people tend to do business with people they like, people they trust, or even just a person they know.
Instead of thinking about what you can get from a family, Burg asked us to think about, “What can I give them?” This line of thinking will drive your influence in the community.
The Law of Authenticity
According to Burg, “the most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.” It’s some of the best advice for both our personal and professional lives and those that follow it tend to achieve more in both aspects of their life.
It’s an easy rule to follow — especially because funeral directors have such personal relationships with their client families.
But don’t just stop at yourself — make every staff member a personal ambassador in your community, spreading goodwill and giving back to families. This will drive your word-of-mouth marketing, which is the most powerful and trusted promotion a business can have.
The Law of Receptivity
Burg’s final law states that “the key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.” That means you should learn to accept the compensation that comes with providing value. We’re normally taught that it’s “better to give than to receive.” But giving and receiving go hand-in-hand.
By avoiding receiving, you disrupt your ability to give. To put into the terms of your funeral home, to provide more value to the families you serve, you must learn to embrace the compensation you receive.
Burg stressed that despite how the media typically portrays a business owner, making a profit isn’t a bad thing. And in fact, profit will help increase the value you can provide families in the future.
Value Is More Than Price
The four laws all tie back into the first, which is that value is more than just price. As Burg puts it, “Money is an echo of value. It’s the thunder to value’s lightning.” For families, value lies in the personalized service, compassion, care, planning, and structure that a funeral director brings during a time of loss. It’s not just the price of a casket or cost of an urn.
And how can funeral homes in today’s changing market drive high-quality value for families? We’ll talk more about that in part two of our roundup and how personalization is the most important trend in the funeral profession today.
Read part two here!
What are some of the big takeaways you learned at NFDA this year? Share your stories with us in the comments below!