5 Funeral Homes Doing Personalized Services RightMarch 25th, 2014
It’s no secret, the demand for personalized funerals is exploding. And now that everyone says they are offering personalized services at their funeral home, I think the meaning of “personalization” has becomes muddled.
In my opinion, a personalized service should celebrate or reflect the life in a way that’s meaningful to the loved one and to the family. And no, just because the family selected a customized casket, does not automatically mean it’s a “personalized funeral service.” I believe somewhere down the line, we started mistaking what a personalization really means.
We must bring the meaning back to the idea of personalized funeral services. In order to do this, we’ll need to start offering families exactly what we promise – a unique celebration meaningful to them and their loved one.
To inspire you, here are five funeral homes who offer truly amazing personalized services:
BC Bailey Funeral & Cremation Services
BC Bailey Funeral & Cremation Services does a great job with personalization because they don’t just look at personalization as an add-on to their services, but rather a foundation. “[Personalization] allows my families to share their loved one’s story. And ultimately, I think that’s what people who have experienced a loss want to do. They want to share the story of the most important person in their life with their friends, their extended family and their neighbors,” says Matt Bailey, President of BC Bailey Funeral Home. “I do what I do because every life is worth celebrating,” says Matt.
One of BC Bailey’s most powerful personalization tools are tribute videos. They feel that the time spent reflecting on the life lived through photos is the perfect way to start the healing journey. “When families come into our funeral home and we’re able to put together an amazing, high-quality tribute video of their loved ones’ life, it helps families focus on happy times and the memories,” says Matt.
Bailey Love Mortuary
Bailey Love Mortuary began investing in personalization long before anyone else was. “It’s part of the notion that you have to stay ahead of the curve; if you don’t, you’ll suffer the consequences,” says Brian Love, Monument Specialist at Bailey Love.
Bailey Love offers a complimentary personalization package to every family they serve. It includes a tribute video (with DVD copies available for $15 each), floral arrangements, a webcasted DVD of the service, a tribute candle, a memorial keepsake called a “love rock” and a discounted rate on remembrance cards, thank you cards, bookmarks and memorial folders. “We pretty much break even in this – it’s not a money-maker, but tribute videos bring in client families…and that’s really where the money is.”
Since investing in personalization, more than 78% of Bailey Love’s families now opt for tribute videos. In fact, they’ve become one of the highest demanded services they offer. “During the first call, we ask that families bring in 20-25 photos, and many families who walk in the door unexpectedly already have them in hand. We were the first in the county to offer videos, and people have come to expect them from us.” Bailey Love has been able to stay ahead of the curve and make their mark in the community as the place people can come to reflect on a life in a meaningful way.
Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services
Hiers-Baxley discourages families from planning a “cookie cutter” funeral service.
Hiers-Baxley Funeral Home takes an incredibly unique approach to their funeral services. They have a program they call the “ShareLife Experience” which helps their families showcase their loved one’s life in an engaging way, using all five of your senses. They host these special funeral services in a venue with a wall-to-wall projection screen that provides a memorable backdrop of photos or recreated outdoor settings that showcase the loved one’s life.
They also provide families with ways to personalize their setting with sounds and scents such as the sound of crashing waves with the smell of fresh, salty air. Families also have the option to bring in their own music, or Hiers-Baxley will hire a musician or soloist for the service. Top it all off with a certified Celebrant to guide them through the whole process, and that’s the top-notch experience Hiers-Baxley offers.
“I was really impressed because we closed our eyes and imagined the beach and opened our eyes and there it was. It covered the whole wall. It was beautiful,” said one funeral guest at a service Hiers-Baxley held. “I’ve been to funeral services with pictures and videos, but this was different. It was a lot more detailed and emotional,” he continued.
Schoedinger Funeral Service & Cremation
At Schoedinger Funeral Service & Cremation, families often have very uncommon requests for their loved one’s funeral. They aim to personalize just about every funeral service they offer, and sometimes the ideas they come up with are simply genius. For example, at a golfer’s funeral, Schoedinger set up 9 holes of miniature golf throughout the funeral home, each of them representing a decade of the loved one’s life. One funeral Schoedinger helped plan involved a recorder that played the loved one’s infamously hilarious jokes as people stepped up to her casket. One of the best jokes she had was “does this casket make my butt look big?”
But it’s not all always the big things that count. For Schoedinger, one of the most meaningful times their families spend together are during the creation of a tribute video. They encourage the family to get together as a group and sit down after dinner one night and open the scrap books and open the shoe boxes and pull the pictures of the loved one out.
“Part of that healing process is that the family might be getting together for the first time in years. We get together and we start telling stories… we start to laugh, cry, and that’s when healing occurs,” says Michael Schoedinger, President of Schoedinger Funeral Service and Cremation. In the end, we love the way Schoedinger approaches personalization because they don’t see it as an “extra” or a “money maker”… they see it as a tool that creates amazing healing experiences.
Horan & McConaty Funeral Service
Horan & McConaty’s signature services include a Harley Hearse Farewell Ride.
Sometimes it’s not always about personalization that happens during a service that makes families’ experience memorable, but what happens before and after the service as well. Horan & McConaty Funeral Service deserves an honorable mention on this list for the way they plan for and follow up on their personalized services. Horan & McConaty offers a thorough pre-planning guide to their potential families that encourages them to have the conversations that spark how their loved one wants to be memorialized.
In one instance, when Megan Cavanaugh, a social worker at the Denver Hospice, thought about the loss of her parents, she anticipated it being very painful. She sat down with her mom, dad and the funeral directors at Horan McConaty and answered some questions to find out how her parents wanted to be memorialized. Through talking with her parents and the staff at Horan McConaty, Megan learned that her father wanted an Irish Wake complete with a whiskey toast and for his ashes to be spread in Hawaii.
“We would have never known that was his wish unless we would’ve sat down and had that discussion,” says Megan.
It’s important to mention that personalization doesn’t stop after the service at Horan McConaty. Once the service is over, they take it to the next level with a “In Loving Memory Box”. The “In Loving Memory Box” gives families a place to keep memories, photos, sentiments, jewelry, trinkets and other things that were meaningful to the loved one’s life. It’s great because it becomes a coping tool for the family, as well as a legacy piece that can be passed on for generations.
In the end, we can learn from Horan & McConaty that personalization isn’t always just about the actual service, but what happens during the arrangement process and the grieving process as well. That’s what truly makes an experience at a funeral home meaningful.
Now it’s your turn
If you’re looking for ways to make your funeral services meaningful through personalization, Life Tributes All-In-One Personalization Software is everything you need. You can create memorable tribute videos, printed materials, funeral webcasts and even a tribute book in house, in minutes.