The job of a funeral director is often misunderstood. Most people in this profession are driven by passion as much as the desire to pursue a career, some are just born into it. Being a funeral director is one of the most stressful jobs there is. You have to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and you see people going through some of the toughest times of their lives. Even people who are usually easy going become sensitized and hard to please. Details are everything and unlike wedding, you have very little time to pull it all together. It’s really hard to make and keep plans and your own family often suffers from your absence.
The suits and fancy cars can mask alcoholism, depression and divorce are all part of the territory for funeral directors. Most people that go into the funeral biz are out of it in three to five years. Often portrayed as as opportunists and vultures, funeral directors don’t have an easy life. No wonder they prefer to keep to a rigid day-to-day routine and seek the shelter of tradition. Today, as funerals are quickly moving away from tradition, due to internet searches and the Baby Boomers’ desire to create new traditions. Funeral professionals are faced with even more challenges as they are forced to venture out of their protective, traditional bubbles. They need to either find a way to adapt to today’s needs or face extinction. Some are adjusting well but most are not!
Funeral Directors: a Final Friend
Funeral directors sometimes get a bad press. However, the truth is that the vast majority of the more than 23,000 such professionals working in the United States are dedicated, compassionate and committed to facilitating the last wishes of the deceased and making it easier for their families. The best funeral directors are the best listeners and ensure that the funeral and burial rites go smoothly without imposing themselves into the proceedings. There is a fine balance between explaining the many new options while not coming off as a salesman of opportunity. That’s not as easy as it sounds.
What a funeral director does
A funeral director plays a number of roles. He or She is usually the first person that a family meets with when they visit the funeral home to begin planning a funeral. They are event planners that have one chance to get it right. In that function, he or she is both marketing director and customer service representative, not to mention grief counselor. They are also small business owners, who must order and maintain inventory (caskets, vaults, etc.), market their services and manage the bookkeeping. Funeral directors also act as human resource directors for their own staff, handling the hiring and firing, coordinating benefit programs and assigning work schedules. Funeral directors are also involved in transporting the dead (at all hours) preparing the deceased for viewings and burial, an art and science in itself.
The future of funeral homes
The way the American public looks at funerals and burial rites is changing quickly and dramatically. In an experienced based society funeral pros better step up to new challenges or go the way of the neighborhood butcher, baker and travel agent! Independent funeral homes, once fixtures in every town, have now mostly been absorbed by large, national corporations. As an industry, funeral professionals can do a better job, but to do so, they must be willing to come out of their comfort zones.
Just a few of the ways funeral professionals can embrace and adapt to changing views about the end of life include:
1. Your best form of advertising is to do good funerals!
Each funeral / memorial is a custom created event that draws from all involved and weaves it into a special event that allows social healing and an open environment that provides a safe haven for people to share in their support for each other.
On the surface, if using the latest bells and whistles available to us such s video tributes, custom blankets, programs, funeral favors, memorial websites ect. will help support the goal of creating a healing experience, then why not use them to the best of our ability. If a specially trained MC that knows just how to draw on all aspects of a life lived and craft all that information into a well balanced and touching ceremony would help, then you should be hiring the best Certified Life Celebrant you can find. If you cannot find a good Celebrant in your area, you should find a person that you think would be good and pay for their training.
2. Using social media. A funeral home on Facebook? Why not? Increasingly, Americans are making plans for their funerals before they die and are shopping online for a funeral home just as they shop for someone to fix their furnace or landscape their front yard. However, less than half of funeral homes are using social media in their marketing plans.
By using social media platforms, like Facebook, funeral directors can take some of the “scary” out of the funeral profession, put a face on the business and become a more human part of the community. Show them how proud you are of your grand kids, while at the same time establishing themselves as experts in the industry.
3. Content marketing. Content marketing, the art and science of boosting your website’s–and your company’s–visibility by adding regular new, valuable and interesting content to your site is a natural for funeral homes. If someone searches on Google or other search engine for funeral home in (insert your geographic area), you what them to find your business, not the competition. Since most people plan very few funerals in their lifetime, you want to be the first business they encounter online. Content marketing, done well, can help you head the list in search engine results. Write about whats going on in your community and become a source for local news.
While more than 80 percent of funeral homes have a website, many use it primarily for information about funerals currently being planned by the business and/or for message books for friends and family of the deceased. While these functions are both important, funeral homes that don’t use their websites to marketing their services are missing a huge opportunity.
3. Blogging. Whereas more than 65 percent of funeral homes use traditional newspaper advertising, less than 10 percent include blogging in their marketing mix. Adding regular blog posts to your marketing plan has several advantage. First of all, such posts will help your SEO efforts and make you more visible to families looking for someone to help plan their loved one’s funeral. In addition, the cost of blogging is negligible, especially when compared to the cost of print advertising.
The way the American public views and shops for funeral services is changing, and funeral directors need to be changing with it. There will always be a place for a competent, compassionate, efficient funeral director. The trick is getting the word to those who need such services in this increasingly digital marketplace.It’s Not Easy Being The Last One To Let You Down!
Join The Author Jeff Staab On Google Plus
Like Cremation Solutions on Face Book HERE
Connect on LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/jeffstaab