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7 Ways to Lose the Trust of Your Families

March 14, 2013
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7 Ways to Lose the Trust of Your Families

Do me a favor Google the term “funeral frauds.”

More than likely, your search results page will be full of negative titles like:


Unfortunately, there are plenty of funeral home frauds that give funeral service a bad name. And it’s really not fair for the rest of us – who put our families even before ourselves sometimes.

Thanks to these funeral frauds, many people look at funeral directors with suspicion, and are convinced that funeral firms are hiding information the general public needs to know.

It’s a huge issue because in the business world and in your community, reputation is everything. If families don’t trust you, they won’t make a purchase – and your employees won’t be happy either.

Which would you rather have: a happy firm with fulfilled employees and loyal families, or a floundering firm where employees spend all day complaining and it’s hard to get new families through the door?

And if that’s the case, avoid these 7 mistakes that keep many funeral homes on the wrong side of the trust barrier:

#1. You don’t build a relationship with families

Ever heard of relationship marketing? Relationship marketing means is showcasing your value to prospective clients through meaningful interactions that lead to lasting relationships. And that’s even more important when your prospective clients are Baby Boomers.

Boomers are focused on getting the service that suits them best. The trouble is that many funeral directors are Boomers too – focused on selling the services that suit THEM best.

No matter how you feel personally, the objective has to be to make your client families happy above all else. That means identifying their needs and providing them what they want from a funeral service.

Think about it – do families want to see photos of your funeral facilities and images of sad people? No, they don’t. What they want is hope that they can heal – and that’s what you can provide when you build a good relationship with them.

#2. You’re a used car salesman

Used car salesmen have a bad rep – really bad – and sometimes funeral professionals can come across the same way. Have you ever tried to persuade client families to upgrade their services with these classic phrases?

  • – “I’m sure you want what’s best for your mother”
  • – “Your mother had excellent taste. When she made arrangements for Aunt Nellie, this is what she chose”
  • – “This is the last thing you can do for your loved one”
  • – “Given your position in the community …”

It’s no wonder that this Readers Digest article warns people against funeral directors who talk like this.

Your value to client families is not about what you can sell to them, but about supporting them at an emotionally trying time. If you’re all about the money and the merchandise, client families won’t trust you– and they won’t think of you the next time they’re in need of your services.

#3. Introducing customers to your most expensive merchandise first

Some funeral directors show prospective client families their most expensive caskets first – and it’s easy to see why they do it. They probably know that, according to industry statistics, people are most likely to buy one of the first three caskets they see.

While there’s no denying that selling an expensive casket boosts the bottom line for your funeral home, in these tough economic times do we really need to prey on those who can’t afford the top-of-the-line items? Would you trust a salesman who only offered you expensive items that were way beyond your budget? Probably not.

So what’s the answer? It’s to be honest. According to the Funeral Rule, funeral directors should offer families a full GPL with all price ranges and alternatives available. And there’s no harm in offering an incentive, too.

While no funeral home can give a “free trial”, you could throw in some low-cost or complimentary services along with what client families purchase. That’s how you build trust and get them to think of you next time, or recommend you to others in the community.

March 7 casket

#4. Making false promises

We’ve all had that mental red flag when someone tells us something that’s too good to be true. For most people, that causes suspicion, alarm and downright distrust. Even if you’re trying to beat the competition – or if it’s with good intentions – never promise what you can’t deliver.

To build long term trust, it’s far better toset realistic expectations. That way, you can surprise families by going above and beyond what you’ve promised instead of overpromising.

#5. Not being social

We all know that the best way to build a long-term relationship with client families is to really connect with them – and social media gives funeral homes a big advantage in doing this. That’s why it’s surprising that many people in the funeral profession aren’t taking advantage of these technologies. Only 47% of funeral homes use social media and a mere 5% have a blog.

Other businesses have proved that being present, available and responsive online builds their business. Social media can also help your funeral home:

  • – Build a humanized brand that helps people know who you are
  • – Start a relationship with client families long before you meet them in person
  • – Have a two way conversation with client families (you shouldn’t do all the talking)
  • – Handle questions and negative comments easily
  • – Educate potential client families about the value you offer

Being active on social media isn’t a waste of time. Research shows that prospects who are engage with companies through social media spend up to 20% more. It’s all about familiarity, confidence and trust – and that leads to better business!

#6. Having an unprofessional web presence

What does your website look like? If it’s full of pop-ups, animations, auto-loading music and the pages are covered with – ugh – Comic Sans, then how is anyone supposed to trust you? Outdated design, gloomy colors and a confusing layout doesn’t help either. There are many, many funeral home websites that match this description and they are not helping you win the trust of client families.

Never underestimate the power of a good first impression. If you turn people off when they visit your site, you may never get the chance to develop a relationship with them. Your website needs to be credible, so hire a professional to give your website a makeover – or do it right the first time – so you won’t send those scammy vibes to potential client families.

March 7 design


#7. Pricing packages that don’t add up

Client families can now buy cheaper caskets at Wal-Mart, and in turn, some funeral homes fight the competition by offering special “deals” on caskets. The only trouble is that they boost the funeral director’s fee to make up for the difference. Don’t be that guy (or gal) – families will end up seeing through it!

A better option is to show your General Price List (GPL) upfront, which is already a law in some states. You could be even take it a step further by putting your GPL on your website; families will appreciate your transparency.

Putting the integrity back into the funeral profession

Avoid these 7 mistakes and you CAN fight the negative perceptions of the funeral profession by showcasing your integrity. And I know you won’t be like these funeral directors who use shady practices that cost them their licenses.

Your families’ trust  is the most important thing you can lose in funeral service. It’s better to just be honest, be able to sleep at night and stay out of those newspaper headlines.


Do you know any funeral professionals who have used any of these scammy tactics? Share your stories in the comments below!


Joe Joachim is the CEO and Founder of funeralOne, the first global solutions firm leading a movement of change for the funeral profession. For the past 11 years, he’s developed game-changing solutions that help funeral professionals increase the value of their service offerings, connect with the families of today, and become more profitable. funeralOne’s solutions include: website design, aftercare, funeral eCommerce, and personalization software. Connect with Joe on Google+.