Learn the Value of Letting Staff Stock the Selection Room
Successful business owners are always looking for ways to get employees more invested in their businesses. Sandra Walker, Vice President of Strategic Business at Fairmount Memorial Association and a recent guest on the Deathcare Decoded podcast, has a brilliant tip for funeral directors looking to increase revenue by giving arrangers the autonomy to choose the urn and products offered in the selection room: increase emotional investment by letting staff stock the selection room.
Sandra makes a great argument for allowing funeral directors and arrangers to help decide what services and products your funeral business offers. She points out that, as an executive, she is not the one sitting down with families to make arrangements everyday, her staff is. When funeral directors and funeral home staff are more invested in the products and services they are offering, they are more likely to make sales because they intrinsically see the value in the products and services they are offering to families:
I invited my team to give feedback and be part of the [urn selection] process. And the choices that I had at first weren’t necessarily the choices my team [picked…] Part of my job is to find out what is going to be of value to families, whether it’s a service or a product or just keeping up with the relevancy with what’s happening in our profession, and to ask ‘what are our consumers’ needs and wants as time evolves?’ I’m the one that will bring suggestions, but it’s important for me to recognize that I’m not the one sitting across from families everyday, so it would be foolish of me to bring my staff something and say “ok now you go present and sell this” when they have no interest, or attachment, or emotional buy-in. But, when I ask them what they think [about a service or product] and they feel good about it, do you really think they wouldn’t talk about that [with families]?
Numbers Reflect The Value of Emotional Investment
When Sandra’s team was empowered to choose the designs that they liked best, their emotional investment in the sale increased when offering those products. That investment and excitement comes through to the families and has helped make the selection room at Sandra’s funeral home incredibly successful, even in the days of competitive pricing with big box companies like Amazon and Costco.
Urns are kind of a tricky one because it’s so specific, you’re going to like it or you don’t, it’s a personal preference just like perhaps a casket. But, something really cool that happened was that we were able to incorporate a selection that included all of the arrangers input and, because they had a say, we don’t have an issue with families selecting [and buying] our urns. You know, sometimes people buy urns from amazon or something but we rarely have that happen because through this collaborative process I think we have enough inventory to cover most of our families. In that sense, I think that process was a win for us. I went into it with a specific idea and it really wasn’t anything [like what] I started with in the end.
Sandra also points out that allowing input into what you sell from more people with different tastes and opinions means that you’ll have a diverse selection room with something for everyone. You’ll appeal to more families, on top of having the enthusiasm of your staff.
The Data Is In: Consumers Look for Employee Investment
In an evolving market in which standing apart from your competitors is becoming more difficult, research shows that today’s consumers look for employee investment when making purchases. A recent Connecting Directors article pointed out that millennials are making up an increasing portion of both today’s workforce and consumer base. Evidence shows that younger generations are looking for different things (like minimal design, eco-consciousness, brand reliability, ethical investments etc.) than previous generations. Furthermore, this article from INC explains why getting employees invested in your company aligns with what today’s consumer is looking for:
Shoppers, especially millennials, are increasingly factoring in their emotions to the buying process. Why? Customers’ expectations are higher than ever before–like we already mentioned, they are used to getting the best product, fastest delivery, and most accommodating service. This has translated to customers being influenced by a company’s brand and actions outside its core business. If you don’t know that shoppers demand transparency, you likely live under a rock. Customers are concerned with things like the environmental footprint of a company’s supply chain, how its foreign laborers are treated, or whether or not they assist underserved communities […]
What is less clear–but equally as important–is the effect that your emotional appeal has on your own workplace culture[…] Having a clear story and mission that appeals to both your customers and your employees, will make you stand out. The customers will see that your mission is more than just a statement, and this can be your competitive advantage. If your employees are emotionally invested and your culture integrates your story, then your company is truly transparent. […] If customers don’t see that your company (including your employees) are practicing what you preach, they will move on. With fewer and fewer ways for companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors, you must learn to stand out. And one of the best ways to stand out is to build a brand that taps into customer emotions.
Understanding the shifting values and new emphasis on emotional investment from consumers allows you to design your funeral home’s experience for the future. Knowing how to appeal to the next generation of funeral consumers who will be making arrangements for their loved ones is vital to building a forward-thinking business that knows how to attract customers and thrive for years to come. With millennial consumers in mind, we’ve put together an ebook of funeral services and products that focus on sustainability, quality, and creating emotional investment, to help guide you and your staff appeal to younger generations. Click below to download the Ebook.
Empowering employees to truly care about the products and services they are selling will ultimately help build a strong company culture in your funeral business. That culture becomes something that employees believe in, and are emotionally invested in, beyond just what they are selling. This level of belief and investment is what today’s consumer is looking for, and will help grow and strengthen your funeral business.
Bottom Line: Emotional Investment is Good for Your Business
In addition to inspiring your employees to be more invested in the products your funeral home offers, letting staff have a say in what products and services you offer will strengthen your business in a way that will clearly resonate with consumers. Allowing a wide range of preference and opinion to contribute to your selection room means a more diverse set of offerings. It helps your business and your families to provide products and services to suit a wide range of tastes, beliefs, traditions, and styles, regardless of the disposition method a given family chooses. It’s even better when employees believe in those products and services.
Having staff members give feedback and input about what is available from your funeral home creates an instant emotional buy-in that shows up when sales are being made. Consumers want products that appeal to their style, taste, preferences, and personality, but they also want to see that the person they are buying from believes in the product. Letting employees stock the selection room empowers your staff and helps your families find the services and products that are the best fit for their needs.
Want to learn more about selling funeral products and services to Millennials? Click below to download a free Ebook of funeral products and services that millennials will love.