What Funeral Directors Should Worry About Part II

Funeral Director Last month, I asked thousands of Funeral Professionals what they worried about the most. I received a very low response rate, which is typical for funeral professionals as they usually don’t participate in the destiny of their own industry. I did get a general idea of what they worry about. They seem to worry about the day to day challenges of planning a funeral and disposition. To can see their responses (Click Here).  What did surprise me is that no one worries about the actual funeral ceremony itself. They worried about the scheduling and logistics, such as the officiant and the organist showing up. As far as the funeral being a personable and healing experience to those attending…no one seems to worry about this at all! It seems strange to me that people called funeral directors rarely get involved in the funeral ceremony itself. Long ago funeral directors gave that responsibility to the clergy. The general public, driven by an aging boomer generation, no longer see the value of the traditional clergy <insert name here>, and their two thousand year old funeral rituals. Go figure?

No Value FuneralsThe devaluation of the funeral experience is what funeral professionals should be worried about the most. As a funeral director, our greatest contribution should be creating a healing environment where people can come together for a memorable experience. The experience should promote those in attendance to support one another in their grief. The life of the deceased is the star and the overall theme is how that person’s life affected their world and the world of others. Since we have dropped the ball on this aspect of funerals, we have created a snowball effect of new things to worry about such as: Cremation Societies popping up in each and every town; Funeral and event planners working directly with hotels and catering halls because they can do it better themselves; and the price shoppers oh my!

 

 "The New Enemy"


“The New Enemy”

Funeral Directors have created a new enemy by not paying attention to the needs of the families they serve, and their desire to have a positive funeral experience. The new enemy of the funeral is the word “JUST”! As in just cremate me and scatter my ashes in the garden. Just bury me in a plain pine box and have a party in my memory down at the club house. Hospice did such a great job and we already said our goodbyes so we won’t need a funeral service. We joined a cremation society so no funeral home is going to get my money! Does this sound familiar? The good news is that the general public is more spiritual then ever and really do want to have a memorable event. They just don’t want a funeral like the last three that they attended. So I’m not sitting here flapping my lips about the self inflicted gloom and doom of the funeral industry. Instead I will provide a solution. The solution is to take the control of the funeral away from the Clergy! Don’t worry about offending the clergy since they aren’t helping your business. You can still use clergy as required, but we need to take control of the funeral ceremony and become funeral planners instead of merely being the director of logistics. How funerals are experienced and how they make people feel is everything. Your future depends on it so become a part of it! For me the number one solution to the public’s disenchantment of funerals is the use of Certified Funeral Celebrants. They are trained in creating meaningful and personal celebrations of life that will leave those in attendance (your future clients) saying WOW! That’s the kind of funeral I want! There is no better form of advertising than doing “Good Funerals”.

Jeff Staab

Funeral Director/Author Jeff Staab

 As a funeral director with over twenty years of experience, I can tell you that we already have enough to worry about. As I mentioned in the proceeding blog post (What Funeral Directors Worry About), we tend burn out pretty fast as far as professions go. One solution is for funeral home operators to hire high quality non-licensed personnel to manage the everyday details that the Funeral Directors are typically tasked with. That way the Funeral Directors can focus on the big picture of running the funerals and growing the overall reputation of the funeral home, by turning out high quality funerals that people will remember. Unlike Clergy, Funeral Celebrants are trained to work with funeral homes and support the funeral homes that they work with. Funeral homes that are already regularly using and advertising the use of Celebrants have seen their rate of pre-arranged funerals increase by as much as 20%. This is an unexpected bonus and a healthy direction, instead of seeing the shrinking business that so many funeral homes are now experiencing.

 

Creative Funerals

So what I am saying is hire forward thinking-creative minded Funeral Directors that focus on the funeral experience for the client and their family and friends. Disenchanted, unmotivated, and lazy order taking funeral directors with no creativity Need Not Apply! Having strong communication skills and being “A Good Listener” will help to establish a more sharing and involved consumer that will really get the creative juices flowing.

Getting Creative!

Getting Creative!

The funeral home that partners with Celebrants will be growing their brand and will be positively shared by the word of mouth within the community. By the way, word of mouth is now social media and if you aren’t online being involved in the online conversations, then attending all of those Chamber & Rotary meetings is a complete waste of your time and money. If you don’t have the time or the staff at your funeral home to maintain an online social media presence, then you can hire professionals to maintain and grow your funeral homes social network. I would recommend entrusting the team over at Disrupt Media to manage your funeral homes online social reputation and presence.

So how can we do better funerals? That is what Funeral Directors should be worried about! With that in mind, I would love to hear more ideas on how can we create a more memorable and personable funeral experience. Open the flood gates that are holding back your ideas and share!

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5 Responses to What Funeral Directors Should Worry About Part II

  1. Great article Jeff!
    So often I get the sense that Funeral homes seem to miss the reality that the Officiant is the most visible representative of their funeral home. They are the focus of attention of all the attendees during the funeral service. Officiants really leave the impression of a good experience (or not) with every guest that comes through the door.
    Funeral homes that understand the power of a well run Celebrant ceremony, tend to think that having “one” Celebrant is good. Fact is, this is like having one Christian minister on your roster to serve the range of all Christian ceremonies. Celebrants bring a wide range of education, skills and experiences to their work. An excellent Celebrant will handle a wide range of circumstances. Having a variety of Celebrants available and knowing their areas of specialization can help you align the best officiant with your client. You can raise the power of the ceremony experience for your clients and their guests, even higher. A memorable ceremony at your location can bring future clients to your door in their time of need.

  2. Pam Vetter says:

    This is terrific advice, Jeff. You’ve done a wonderful job on your research as well. However, you’re a rare funeral director and I imagine this is going to fall on many deaf ears. They’ve been doing this their way for so long, honoring wishes in a personal funeral ceremony is not at the top of the list. The funeral ceremony has been a bothersome add-on to many in the funeral industry. When the approach from your funeral leader is “JUST move them in and move them out” of the ceremony in 45 minutes so we can get to the next one, it becomes a factory. The fact is that the funeral homes that use Celebrants to tend to the funeral service in a hands-on approach in funeral planning with the family rarely have complaints. But that’s not important. They are afraid to entrust the funeral to anyone… as a result, the funeral ceremony suffers as details are ignored, music cues are missed, and family wishes are not met. I commend your work. I hope your message is able to reach one person in the industry. Best wishes!

  3. I agree with everything you have said Jeff and your comments are correct Pam. How do you celebrate a person’s life in the 30 allocated minutes for the funeral service.? How can a Professional Celebrant dedicate the necessary time o prepare and deliver a ceremony for $200-$300 ? When I started as a Funeral Celebrant I was paid $200.00 by the Funeral Director. I don’t know how much of the bereaved were told would be allocated to the Celebrant. I would drive to the families home wherever that may have been, spend at least 2 hours with them discussing the deceased in a patient and understanding manner, offering grief counselling to the best of my ability, referring them to professionals if necessary, providing a large selection of poetry , readings, bible verses, and music to help them create something that was a true reflection of the person who had died. Then I would return home write a ceremony which centered around the information I had received. ( aprox 5-6 hours there.). There would be several phone calls and emails from the family to assist them in the final draft of their Eulogies. Then the actual delivery of the service. All in all I would spend at least 15-20 hours on the simplest of services. I am not at all money hungry, and I will always do my best irrespective of the fee I receive, but there does have to be some equity in the industry.

    I was told by one Funeral Director that I did not have to visit the family or write a special service, “just ” get the details over the phone and slot that into one of your other services. How insulting is that to me, to all celebrants, to the families and most of all to the deceased? Needless to say I did not work for that company.

    I did once attend a the funeral of a family member whose service was like that and I was appalled. What upset me more, was that the people there thought that it was OK because it was “JUST” like all the others that they had been to.

    I ask the question who needs to be re-educated? The customers/consumer , The Officiant/Celebrants or the Funeral Industry.

  4. Hazel Adams says:

    It is interesting to see how funeral directors work with the situations of hospice and other things. It is interesting to see how things are being overcome. I would like to learn more about funeral directors are working with cremation.

  5. That was a very interesting insight into the mentality of Funeral Directors. I am someone who has a tech background and will be looking to shake thing up by offering a more decentralised service where Funerals can be more customised and better value. I think there’ll be more and more people like me. I don’t have a background in the industry which I think is a good and bad thing.

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