Cremation. It’s the new traditional funeral.
If you attended the 2016 NFDA International Convention & Expo, you know what we’re talking about. Cremation was a central theme for many speakers.
Right now, NFDA statistics show cremation rates were at 48.5% in 2015 — the first time the rate was higher than traditional burials. That’s four to five cremations for every 10 traditional burial services. In just 14 years, the cremation rate will be more than 60%.
If your funeral home hasn’t adapted to this new reality, it must, and fast. Because as cremation grows, our traditions change.
Why do families opt for cremation? It’s not just cost, though that can be a factor for some. If you keep thinking it’s only about money, then you could be missing opportunities to maximize earning potential in the funeral home. Besides cost, the Cremation Association of North America (CANA) lists these factors as for why people choose cremation:
- It’s an environmentally-friendly option.
- People are more secular and less religious than before.
- Higher education is a factor.
- As more people end up leaving their hometown to seek new opportunities, they lose the connection which would encourage their burial there.
- Some want more flexibility and creativity in memorial options.
That last one plays a big part. People want personal services — and cremations allow greater opportunities to do so. It seems each day there’s some new thing to do with a loved one’s ashes — from turning them into a vinyl record to putting them in an hourglass.
Cremation is the New Tradition
The good news is that it’s a win-win for families and funeral homes. By offering unique memorial events, families will leave feeling satisfied. And your funeral home can justify the added cost of unique services, increasing your bottom line for cremation services.
Cremation — unlike burials — can give you greater flexibility when planning the memorial event. You have more options for venues or the type of service. The more you begin thinking like an event planner, the more opportunities you’ll have for truly memorable services.
Here’s how to start thinking like an event planner to craft a memorable experience every time:
- Add Value. Why would anyone pay more for the same service they could get down the street? Find ways to offer families something truly different. Highlight key areas where you can stand out from a competitor. Invest in things such as exceptional aftercare and grief support, personalization offerings, modern technology memorials, or unique venue options.
- Listen and Learn. Learning to listen for the little things can help you identify ways to personalize the event later. Observe the family and the atmosphere. Learn how to ask the right questions that will open them up and get stories flowing. Learn to be an active listener. Studies have found that the average listener will only remember 25% of what was said in a conversation, which means we spend very little time actively listening. Here’s a great resource for learning to interview families and how to actively listen.
- Plan of Action. After you’ve collected personal details about the deceased, it’s time to weave them into a narrative for the ceremony. Try and focus on a central theme for the memorial service, with stories and details gathered from the family. Did grandma love to cook? Have the memorial service be a buffet of all her famous recipes. Maybe mom was an artist? Create an art gallery-style service where family and friends can reminiscence and appreciate her work.