Frazer Blog

Traits a modern funeral director needs to succeed

by | Nov 9, 2016 | Funeral Profession

A man smiling next to a whiteboard

The funeral home has changed a lot over the years, and that means yesterday’s funeral home can’t cut it in today’s world.

What does a funeral home need to succeed in the ever-changing funeral business? For starters, it takes a modern funeral director with these leadership traits:


For a long time, not much changed in the funeral home. Funerals, for the most part, continued to follow family traditions. As funeral homes were passed down to the next generation, they followed the same path. Not much was needed in terms of a “future strategy” or “vision for the future.”

But that’s all changed. To be successful today, a modern funeral director needs to have a plan and a vision to lead their funeral home into the future.

At the NFDA’s 2016 Leadership Conference, MGM’s Michael Dominguez told attendees, “We have a lot of leaders who always look to what was. Leaders need to be restless for change, patient for progress and unsatisfied with the status quo. All that means is that leaders today like change.”

Having a vision for the future isn’t just a smart business strategy, it’s necessary. Businesses that don’t have a plan are likely to not have much of a future at all. And setting up a future strategy isn’t hard — check out this blog post to help get you started.

Open to Change

A great leader knows that inspiration and ideas can come from all over. Modern funeral directors need to keep an open mind about everything. That means staying open to new ideas, new trends, and new family traditions.

Keeping an open mind allows leaders to stay flexible and adapt as necessary to changes. The same old thinking will just yield the same old results, and with the rate of change and new technology entering the funeral home, being able to quickly adapt is becoming a crucial trait needed by today’s leaders.


Today’s great leaders are great innovators. They don’t like to wait around for changing trends, they set the trends and often make their own change. Today’s leaders aren’t afraid to walk off the beaten path. They take risks and reap rewards.

The benefits of being an early innovator include:

  • Free publicity and press for innovative ideas, services, and tech.
  • A hand in developing and implementing new technology.
  • Becoming the thought leader in the community.
  • More time to learn and market services and technology.

And if all of that doesn’t sell you on the idea of innovation, innovators also have been found to get twice the growth and revenue of businesses that are slow to innovate.


Another important trait is the ability to teach others. For a funeral director, it’s not only about educating and inspiring the staff around you, but educating the families in your community.

Many families are planning a funeral for the first time. There are a lot of misconceptions about the different types of funeral services and their purposes. A modern funeral director is an effective educator in the community. Using seminars, workshops, and even social media, great leaders help drive the conversation and educate families about their options.


As families demand more personalized services, a funeral director needs to be creative. The best leaders are the ones who don’t think generically — they don’t opt for the first solution or the easiest possibility. They think outside the box and create value for families by offering unique memorial experiences.

With cremation and personalization becoming the new industry standard, being creative is a must for successful leaders.


Of course, all of the above traits are only as effective as your ability to communicate them. Being able to clearly communicate your future vision or your ideas for innovation are critical to being a successful modern funeral director.

It also means being able to communicate effectively with families. A modern funeral director knows how to communicate the value of a memorial service, but they also listen to families, incorporating their feedback into their future funeral home strategy.


Some traits never change. Passion is something all funeral directors need — whether we’re talking about a funeral director today or one from 100 years ago. Having a genuine love for the work that you do in the community will help lead you on a path toward success for years to come.

To learn more about the tools a modern funeral director needs to succeed, download our free eBook today!


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