The Top 10 Things We’re Thankful for in the Funeral Industry
Article from Matt Frazer, Frazer Consultants
Thanksgiving is fast approaching, but before we all slip into our “Turkey and Pumpkin Pie” comas, there are a few people and organizations that we at Frazer Consultants want to recognize. To all of those listed below, thank you for everything you’ve given to our industry this year and for your commitment to improving all the different facets of the deathcare experience.
We are thankful for…
Funeral homes that go the extra mile for their families
“Funeral personalization” is a phrase that tends to elicit groans from some funeral directors, who view extra requests from the family as burdens on their time that won’t be properly compensated. That’s why we’re thankful to see plenty of funeral homes embracing personalization as a way to distinguish themselves and provide meaningful memories to the families they serve.
For example, we’re loving this “superhero” personalized service put on by Hillis, Combs & Nestor Funeral Home in Zanesville, OH:
Many thanks go out to Hillis, Combs & Nestor and to all the other businesses that turn funeral services into true celebrations of the lives being commemorated.
Innovation within our industry
We loved catching a glimpse of the infamous “mushroom suit” on the Colbert Report – and we’re thankful that this type of innovation within our industry is catching the eye of mainstream media sources. We can’t wait to see what people will come up with for next year’s convention!
The opportunity social media affords for business-to-consumer connections
Never before have businesses been able to reach out and communicate directly with their target customers in the non-threatening, non-”pitchy” way in the way that social media websites like Facebook and Twitter make possible. We’re thrilled to see so many funeral homes taking advantage of these opportunities, and we’re looking forward to helping even more get on board in the future!
Amazing work being done on grief education
Did you catch the 2013 NFDA Convention keynote address by Dr. Thomas G. Long and Thomas Lynch on the power of a meaningful funeral (if not, you can watch it here)? Or any of the great research coming out of Dr. Alan Wolfelt’s Center for Loss and Life Transition?
There are plenty of scientists and educators out there today who are changing the way that we think about grief and the grieving process. We’re incredibly thankful for the work they do and the way that they’re shaping popular conversations on the subjects of death and dying.
Funeral homes that do the right thing under tough circumstances
In an era of declining revenues, it’d be easy to understand funeral homes wanting to do everything they can to pinch pennies. That’s why it makes us so happy to see plenty of examples – day after day – of businesses that go above and beyond to do the right thing for their customers.
As an example, we’d like to give a shout out to Bullock Funeral Home in Sumpter, SC, which offered free funeral services to active-duty military members during the October 2013 government shutdown. According to owner Harvin Bullock:
“I would consider it a great honor to be able to provide a bit of comfort and a sense of relief to the families of any fallen soldiers during this unfortunate time,” he said. “No one that gives his or her life for this country should be denied a dignified funeral service. I feel it is the least I can do for the great men and women that serve this country.”
Warms your heart, doesn’t it?
Associations that provide us with great events and important programming
We had a blast at the NFDA Convention this year – and not just because we ate our weight in delicious Texas barbeque! We’re incredibly thankful for the outstanding education sessions, the well-organized expo and the opportunity to connect with some of the industry’s best and brightest (not to mention the always-cheerful on-site assistance of the NFDA’s Andy Werner and Karen Wicker).
But it’s not just the NFDA that we’re thankful for. Our field is lucky to have dedicated regional organizations that serve their members tirelessly, and we want to take a second to thank you to all of you involved in these groups for the great work that you do!
Funeral homes that get involved in their communities
A recent article in The Director magazine written by David Navarrete – senior vice president of Funeral Home Gifts Inc – described how Navarrete’s company was able to use “Community Health Fair” programs to improve relationships with area consumers. The group’s first event featured 46 different healthcare vendors, more than 400 attendees, free health screenings, door prizes and more.
The result? Not only did Navarrete succeed in turning his business into the community’s go-to health resource and advocate – it increased preneed business by 15% and at-need business by 13% in a single year.
Community outreach that provides a tangible benefit to area residents while also increasing overall profits? That’s the type of win-win that we’re very thankful to see!
New technology that helps us serve our funeral home customers
If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you already know that we’re gearing up for the January 2014 rollout of Tribute e-Guest – our new stylus-based digital register book system.
But what you might not know is how lucky we are to be able to release this type of product at all! Only recently have new pieces of technology been released that allow us to turn our vision of a digital register book that mimics the feel of pen on paper into a reality.
From the specific Samsung tablet we use that only detects the action of the stylus on the screen (preventing hands resting on the tablet from interfering with the data captured) to the “kiosk mode” that was part of a recent Windows 8 release (and that helps us keep guests from accidentally navigating out of the Tribute e-Guest program), we’re hugely thankful for the way new technology allows us to serve our customers in exciting, innovative ways.
Industry bloggers who are changing the conversation about death
Blogger Caleb Wilde of “Confessions of a Funeral Director” was recently featured on NBC News. “Order of the Good Death” founder Caitlin Doughty regularly shows up on Gawker Media affiliate, Jezebel. Ryan Thogmartin recently earned the title “Bro of the Deathcare Industry” for his daily updates on “Connecting Directors.”
And while this increased visibility sometimes invites public criticism (see Wilde’s tongue-in-cheek response, “Ten Things to Hate about Me”), we’re glad to see the subjects of death and our response to it being discussed more openly in these forums. For this reason, our thanks go out to Caleb, Caitlin, Ryan and all the other bloggers out there who help to drive these important discussions.
The opportunity to help funeral homes increase their revenue
Times are tight for everyone, which is why we’re honored to be able to help funeral homes generate new revenue streams by earning commissions off their floral orders through our Tribute Store website plugin. Already, we’ve had several customers earn $1,000+ checks, making a tremendous impact in their monthly cash flow.
We’re thankful for the impact these funeral homes have on their communities, and we’re glad for our ability to help financially recognize their efforts through this program.
So to all of you involved in the funeral industry in any capacity, thank you for the work that you do. We appreciate your efforts and want to wish you all the best throughout the upcoming holiday season!