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NFDA Convention Offers Unparalleled Education Sessions Tackling Key Customer Service and Business Issues

May 18, 2016

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NFDA Convention Offers Unparalleled Education Sessions Tackling Key Customer Service and Business Issues

The education funeral professionals need to build profitable and thriving businesses that compassionately serve the bereaved can only be found at the 2016 National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) International Convention & Expo. Engaging workshops will address technical skills, business management, the value of ceremony, cremation, marketing and community outreach. Respected experts will lead idea-packed education sessions during the 2016 Convention, which will take place October 23-26 in Philadelphia, Penn.

Following are a few of the 40 education sessions scheduled for the 2016 NFDA Convention:

Sunday, October 23

  • An increasing percentage of Americans are unaffiliated with a religious organization, leaving funeral directors to fulfill the role of ritual facilitator. In Filling the Void: Why Funeral Directors Must Become Ritual Specialists, Jason Troyer, Ph.D., of Mt. Hope Grief Services in Maryville, Tenn., and Lynn Gibson, D.Phil., CFSP, of Smith Funeral & Cremation Service in Maryville, Tenn., will describe strategies for effectively guiding families through funeral rituals to provide a more meaningful, comforting service.
  • During a hands-on session, learn how to effectively use Twitter to market your funeral home in Twitterific: Making Twitter Work for You presented by James Spellos, CMP, of Meeting U in Bayside, N.Y.
  • Full funeral services are making a comeback through green burial, especially for affluent baby boomers with eco-sensitive aesthetics. Discover how to restore profits lost to direct cremation during How Green Burials Help Families Rediscover Meaning in Funeral Service presented by Ed Bixby of Steelmantown Green Burial Preserve in Steelmantown, N.J.

Monday, October 24

  • Families are heavily influenced by the recommendations of those they trust to provide medical care to loved ones at the end of life. Learn what your firm must do to become preferable and recommendable by those caring for patients at the bedside during The Continuum of Care: Is Your Funeral Home Inside the Circle of Trust? presented by Justin Baxley and Kitty Alexander of Foundation Partners Group in Orlando, Fla.
  • Discover embalming tips you won’t find in textbooks from Matt Smith of in Oxford. Mich., during Embalming Tips You Never Learned in School. Smith will cover arterial selection and incision location, mouth closure techniques, embalming guidelines for emaciated individuals, infant embalming, airbrush tips, and more.

Tuesday, October 25

  • During Survey Says! Inside the Numbers, Ed Defort and Lacy Robinson of NFDA and David Nixon of Nixon Consulting in Chatham, Ill., will dive into NFDA’s latest consumer research and translate the data into practical steps funeral professionals can take to reconnect with today’s consumers.
  • With 40 percent of NFDA members planning to retire within the next five years, succession planning is more important than ever. Whether attendees plan to transfer their business to a relative, sell it to an employee, or sell it to an outsider, during the session Are You in the 40 Percent? Planning for Succession, Jay J. Freireich from the law firm of Branch Eichler in Roseland, N.J., will share strategies that can pave the way for a smooth ownership transition.
  • Increasing cremation rates combined with decreased religious affiliation create an “imperfect storm” of lower-cost cremations and fewer funeral services. During How Speaking Frankly to Families Saved My Business, discover how Joseph Earthman of Joseph J. Earthman Generations in Houston, Texas, is thriving in this challenging environment by speaking frankly to families about the benefits of holding a funeral service with the body present.

Wednesday, October 21

  • During Our Past Is Not a Prologue to Our Future, Douglas Gober of Gober Strategic Capital in Kenner, La., will take stock of the current state of funeral service – rising cremation rates, changing demographics, shifting consumer preferences – and discuss how funeral directors can be proactive in planning for the future.
  • Join NFDA’s Lacy Robinson for Connecting With the World’s Most Powerful Consumer and take on a new perspective. Discover communication techniques to achieve mutually beneficial relationships with women consumers and get ideas for transforming a critical space in the funeral home where credibility is on the line.

NFDA will offer four preconvention seminars on Saturday and Sunday, October 22 and 23 (additional registration fees apply):

  • NFDA Arranger Training presented by Lacy Robinson of NFDA. Make the most of the arrangement conference using a creative, five-step process you’ll discover here. This high-energy, interactive program provides the tools to convey the value of the funeral to families and partner with them to design memorable life tribute events.
  • NFDA Certified Preplanning Consultant (CPC) Seminar and Exam presented by Colleen Murphy Klein of NFDA. Promote exceptional funeral preplanning and preneed standards by earning the internationally recognized CPC designation. Ethics, preplanning principles, FTC compliance, funding options, communication skills, marketing principles, consultative sales and the value of the funeral are covered.
  • NFDA Certified Crematory Operator (CCO) Seminar presented by Mike Nicodemus of NFDA. Whether attendees currently operate a crematory, are thinking of opening one or use a third-party crematory, the NFDA CCO Program sets the standard for excellence, compliance and integrity in cremation services and provides information to address potential cremation liability issues. It is the only cremation certification program specifically created to protect funeral directors and the families they serve.
  • Embalming and Reconstructive Surgery Techniques for Trauma Cases presented by Vernie Fountain of Fountain National Academy in Springfield, Mo. This information-packed seminar will cover many tips and specific techniques for use by embalmers when preparing various types of challenging cases – from the non-traumatized to the most severely traumatized cases. Master embalmer Fountain will examine head and eye trauma, burn cases, autopsy cases, gunshot wounds, soft tissue repair and more.

The complete workshop and preconvention seminar schedule is on the NFDA Convention website, (click on the “Agenda” tab).

Attendees must apply in advance for the preconvention CPC Seminar. There are additional fees for all preconvention seminars. All other education sessions are included with convention registration and do not require advance registration.

Preconvention seminars and workshops have been approved for CE by APFSP and licensing boards in most states and provinces; consult the NFDA Convention website,, for more information about approved CE hours.

The NFDA International Convention & Expo is the world’s largest gathering of funeral directors. This must-attend event will enable attendees to revolutionize their approach to funeral service through unparalleled opportunities for learning, networking, and discovering new products and services. The latest information, including details on how to register for the Convention and reserve hotel rooms, can be found by visiting or calling 800-228-6332. Attendees can save up to $100 on the registration fee when they register on or before September 16.

NFDA thanks its 2016 International Convention & Expo sponsors:

  • Platinum: FCA US LLC, Federated Insurance, NGL Insurance Group
  • Gold: Bass-Mollett Publishers, Batesville, Frazer Consultants, Matthews Aurora Funeral Solutions, Physicians Mutual
  • Silver: ASD – Answering Service for Directors, Carriage Services, Homesteaders Life Company, Implant Recycling, Live Oak Bank, Madelyn Company, Nomis Publications Inc., FuneralOne
  • Bronze: ClearPoint Federal Bank & Trust, Doric Products Inc., Forethought Life Insurance Company, Hunter Warfield, Kelco Supply Company, Link Manufacturing, LoveUrns LLC, Sich Casket Company, Wilbert

NFDA is the world’s leading and largest funeral service association, serving 19,700 individual members who represent more than 10,000 funeral homes in the United States and 39 countries around the world. NFDA is the trusted leader, beacon for ethics and the strongest advocate for the profession. NFDA is the association of choice because it offers funeral professionals comprehensive educational resources, tools to manage successful businesses, guidance to become pillars in their communities and the expertise to foster future generations of funeral professionals. NFDA is headquartered in Brookfield, Wis., and has an office in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit