Ignoring Industry Trends May be Hazardous to Your Wealth

July 27, 2010
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imageWe are now in one of the best and most exciting times to be in the business of death. And we are on the doorstep of one of the greatest windfalls ever, the death of the baby boom generation.

The first of the baby boomers are entering their mid-60s, and the death rate in the U.S. is expected to rise from 8.1 people per thousand in 2006, to 9.3 in the year 2020, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The current economic slump does not diminish the longer-term prospects pinned to the projected rise of the U.S. death rate as those born between 1946 and 1964 begin to pass away. The Baby Boomer generation includes 78 million Americans, and represents 29.4% of the total U.S. population, according to the U. S. Census Bureau. So why is the traditional funeral industry so far from healthy? The Federated Funeral Directors of America, an accounting firm for independently owned funeral homes, found that in the past 20 years, its clients? profit margins have been cut nearly in half.

Yet the $11 billion funeral industry, dominated by family owned & operated funeral homes, commanding 89% of the death care market, has been slow to make the necessary adjustments in order to meet consumer demand and the growing popularity of non-traditional services. Not at all surprising that it has almost become a cliche that ?the funeral industry is the last industry to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century.?

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As funeral professionals we must reinvent ourselves and the role that we play in the funeral arrangement process. Transforming our public persona from the stereotypical undertaker/mortician is the first and most important step in creating and building this new image. It?s all about becoming current and relevant by embracing the evolution. Begin thinking more in terms of event planning and technology. Boomers are not going to be happy with ?cookie cutter? funerals. They are demanding customized funeral arrangements, with personalized touches. As baby boomers grow older and find themselves having to plan funerals for loved ones and themselves, they are making funeral choices based on values that are different than previous generations. Boomers have never followed tradition, and planning their funerals is no exception. Baby Boomers see funerals as a valuable part of the grieving process and are seeking ways to make them meaningful. More and more families are planning funeral services that are as unique as the person who died. In order to meet the demands of the consumer, personalization has resulted in an explosion of unique services and products that reflect the hobbies, passions and interests of someone who has died. Through personalization, Remembrance Services and Life Tributes can be more meaningful. Your firm should be offering ideas on how families can personalize their loved one?s funeral and remain open to family suggestions and creativity.

Here are some of the products and services your funeral home should already be offering. Those of you that have not yet embraced these innovations, well?you are already behind the curve.

? PHOTO COLLAGES that capture precious moments in an individual?s lifetime.

? TRIBUTE VIDEOS of family photographs that can be blended with unique graphics and music. These could be a key element of the ceremony and a lasting family keepsake.

? PERSONALIZED PRINTING in the form of memorial bookmarks, prayer cards, folders and service programs including a favorite poem or photo are fitting keepsakes that will be treasured by those attending the service or ceremony.

? MEMORIAL WEBSITES are rapidly replacing newspaper obituaries. They connect family and friends with photos and videos honoring their loved one and serve as a permanent memorial.

? LIVE FUNERAL WEBCASTING allowing anyone across the globe to attend their loved one?s remembrance service. It is viewed live on the internet and can be archived for future viewing or downloaded as a DVD.

Those quick to adopt new innovations and opportunities will see a marked increase in revenue, profit margins and market share. For those that continue to kick & scream and resist the evolution, well, all I can say is? ?ignoring industry trends may be hazardous to your wealth.?

About Author:

I guess you can say that Mark has been around the block a few of times when it comes to his 34 year career in the death care industry. It started back in 1976 when he first cut his teeth working as an apprentice FD for one of SCI?s largest funeral home groups at the time, Riverside Mem. Chapels in Miami, Fl. Today, he is the CEO/President of Valmark Memorial Group, a niche marketing and brand affiliation powerhouse specializing in adding value and growing market share for family owned funeral homes throughout the United States. Veterans & Family Memorial Care, www.VeteransFuneralHomes.com is one of ValMark?s most succesful companies boasting over 850 family owned funeral home providers in 48 states. VFMC?s signature public relations programs and strategic partnerships are creating opportunities for their providers by driving visitors through their front doors for reasons other than a funeral.

Source: My Life In Death

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