Dedicating Time to Your Digital Business
How much time do you spend improving the technology side your business? Technology in funeral service is oftentimes put on the back burner. Whether you are a high volume operation with a large staff or a one man show, the business of funeral service can be incredibly demanding. Managing the daily grind of the physical side of funeral service (i.e. taking care of the family and the deceased throughout the funeral process) can leave you tired and worn out with limited time for family and friends. And doing this week in and week out often means that other parts of the business tend to stand idle while you catch your breath. What if once we caught our breath, we spent 1 day a month (total) maintaining the digital components of our business? What if a key staff member were allowed to spend a total of 20 minutes a day looking for ways to improve your digital identity or to map out your performance measure of technology? Much like your impeccably manicured lawn, the digital image of your business requires special care. ‘Take the time’ is the motto of this story.
I often ask funeral directors if they have a Facebook page. A common response is becoming, “We have one, but we do a poor job managing it.” Here’s where that key staff member mentioned above can create tremendous value by finding ways to leverage digital communications to further your presence in the community, promote your brand, and engage in conversations. 900+ million people on Facebook, and guess who is joining in droves? Yep, Boomers. The Booms are realizing that the Internet is way more than email and photos of their grandkids. It’s a place where they can connect with former classmates, stay informed on church activities, purchase products, and……stay connected with YOU! Dedicating even a small amount of time to the maintenance of your Facebook presence might surprise you in terms of business impact and community response.
Let’s look at some evidence. The Boomers are now the fastest growing internet demographic in the United States. These folks are helping elderly parents pre-arrange services, making at-need arrangements on behalf of an only surviving parent, and in general playing a major role in all facets of the funeral planning and purchasing process. They are the people that we need to attract and impress. You know you are going to meet and exceed the physical expectations of any family you serve. That’s why you receive hugs, handshakes, kisses, and thank you cards every day. Shouldn’t we strive to meet and exceed their digital expectations with the same vigor and dedication? Leaders in funeral service seem to think so. Funeral service as a whole is hard working, dedicated, and committed to their communities and businesses. Doesn’t it make sense to allocate the same dedication and commitment to meeting the family’s known (or even possibly unknown) digital expectations? Quality time understanding the tech needs of people in the arrangement room is crucial. We only have one shot.
I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not sure that even the younger generations are expecting to be showered with technology during the funeral process. However, meeting and exceeding those unknown needs/wants are the types of things they are likely to remember. Something as little as installing Wi-Fi in your facility can be done in half a day. Wi-Fi is a nice added touch at a bargain and the family senses they are being provided an additional service. Look at Panera, Starbucks, and airports; all Wi-Fi accessible and people love it. What about re-dedicating that old closet down the hall into a small business center for the child/grandchild who is in town for the service but still needs to maintain some connection to his/her work? Think of how many people might find use from this simple improvement. Finding time to think about these types of projects can be tough, but we must dedicate a portion of our day/month/year to improve.
Are we doing our absolute best to manage technology demands? I would say that we could be doing better. We are certainly doing better than five years ago, but I think we should be doing our absolute best. This is an opportunity we don’t want to have sail past us. You have been managing the physical expectations of families for generations. You have this portion of your business down; you’re a pro. Keep wowing families daily, and find the time to invest in ways to impress them with digital services in addition to your physical services and location. Start small, and branch out based on your comfort level. The time spent thinking about the technology in your business will only make you a better funeral director, and your business will be stronger.