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?
The 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!
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”.
- 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.
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.
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!