Is it Time for Your Funeral Home to Evolve?April 26th, 2012
Unless you’re doing absolutely everything right (and really, who is?!), then think “solution evolution.” I first heard this phrase from Lajos Szabo, experienced Chief Strategy Officer, and President of Funeral Operations here at funeralOne. I feel it really suits what we’re looking for: ways to effectively change the way we do things, in order to put an end to those nagging feelings that everybody is making more money and serving more families than us, and generally having an easier time of it.
For funeral homes, large and small, feeling their way through what many are calling the worst recession since the 1930s, it’s easiest to stay focused on doing the same old things, in the same old ways.
Sad to say, what we’re going through now is different from other recessions in its scope and depth, and the worst thing you can do is more of the same. The truth is, staying true to your current business model may let you survive, but you’re not going to thrive, and you sure as heck won’t find ways to grow.
What’s the alternative? You’ve got to change your game. But how? Just four words.
Get Comfortable with Chaos
Because it’s not going away any time soon; there’s only going to be ‘more of the same’ because of on-going globalization and technological innovation.
It seems we just can’t count on enjoying any uninterrupted periods of tranquil prosperity any time soon. That may feel disheartening, but it’s honest. But fortunately, there are things you can do:
• Talk to your families about what they need today. This will help you find new competitive advantages.
• Get your employees talking about how your families’ mind-sets have changed today and what they’re looking for in a funeral service.
• Reexamine your business model for services, products, processes and promotions that are no longer effective.
• Constantly look for ways to add value to your funeral firm through your products or services.
• Stop marketing your product or service. You need to actually communicate with families now more than ever.
• Don’t get complacent. If your margins are still good, that’s wonderful. But you can bet rapid industry transformations rise to the surface in tough times. So be ready.
• Stay creative. Be willing to try new things and create new markets. We see a lot of traditional funeral homes creating secondary brands, supplying families with direct cremation or pet services. Creativity in action.
• Continually reassess your community’s values. Brainstorm with staff members about how your families’ values and needs have changed in the recent past. Most likely, their answers could generate new product and service ideas aimed at these emerging value-conscious consumers.
• Recognize that a good service or product always sells, in good times and bad. Just because times get tough, it doesn’t mean people aren’t willing to pay for quality services if they see the value in them.
• Look at things differently. If your call volume is down, and your feeling like your back is up against the wall, it forces you to try new things. Now’s the time to “shake things up,” make a few changes in your General Price List, and maybe even reexamine your entire business model for weaknesses in light of the current economy.
It comes down to realizing, on a very deep level, that the economy has changed, and will continue to be unpredictable. So, think “solution evolution,” and be extraordinarily willing to adapt. We all know what happened to the dinosaurs, and it wasn’t pretty, now was it?