4 Skills That Will Make You A Better Funeral Professional In 2017

Last month, we got the chance to catch up with some of the most innovative funeral professionals in the industry and chat about the many ways in which they are altering families’ views about what it means to have a funeral. For some professionals, the focus was on presenting fresh, new service options that centered around providing value, while others put an emphasis on tackling the subject of death from a completely unique perspective.

But one thing that was eye-opening about each and every conversation that we had was that each one hinted at the same conclusion… it’s no longer enough to simply be a director, an embalmer, a celebrant, or a sales professional. Today’s families want some combination of all of the above.

Just take a look of the trend of where our profession is headed: people are swapping funeral homes for event halls, and traditional visitations for celebration services. Today’s generation (and the huge generations that are to follow) are rejecting the standard burial format, but the standard burial formula is what most funeral directors do best.

So if your funeral home wants to thrive in 2017 (and beyond), it’s no longer enough to bring the basic skills of funeral planning to your families. You need to employ a staff that features a well-rounded assortment of skills that your families are expecting from today’s funeral professionals.

To give your funeral home a leg up, here are just a few skills that your staff should add to their toolkit in 2017 to make your funeral home invaluable to families in the New Year and beyond…

1. Event Planning

A funeral is one of the biggest life events that you could ever plan. It’s the last and final farewell that many families will give their loved one, and it’s the perfect opportunity to highlight all of the most important qualities and moments of a person’s life. So an event this big deserves more than a fill-in-the-blank funeral service or a basic end-of-life signoff. It warrants a service that is as unique, personalized and creative as the life that you are celebrating.

This is where the skills of an event planner can come in handy. Sure, your funeral director may be able to help coordinate the scheduling and budgeting, but do they have the creative, out-of-the-box chops that it takes to arrange unique decor, hire outside entertainment, choose the perfect caterer, find an offsite venue for post-funeral celebration, and order unique favors that will ensure that everyone remembers their loved one’s farewell festivities? Because that’s where this industry is headed in the not-so-distant future!

2. Video Making

With each new digital camera that comes out, or new mobile photography app that is released, the days of physical funeral photo boards and posters become more and more obsolete. In fact, soon enough all of our photo and video memories will live online and it will be essential that your funeral home has a way to collect and share these images in a digital way at the services you host.

One way to get ahead of the digital curve is to designate one of your funeral staff members to head up all memorial videos and digital imagery. And with programs like Life Tributes where you can design and create Hollywood-style memorial videos in 10 minutes or less, it’s never been easier to bring digital life movies to your funeral home screens. (You can even design matching DVD covers and sleeves for your families and their friends, so that they can bring the healing power of photos and videos home with them after the service.)

To get your free 30-day trial of our Life Tributes memorial software, click here!

3. Customer Experience

In the funeral profession, word-of-mouth referrals and positive customer testimonials are more important than ever. Why? Because 26.3% of people select a funeral home based on their previous experience there, and 23.1% base their decision based on the funeral home’s reputation. So it’s vital that not only is your funeral home staff delivering an unforgettable funeral experience, but it’s a moving, healing event that your families won’t help but talk about with their own friends and families.

To ensure that your funeral home is delivering the most powerful funeral experience possible, make sure that each member of your staff knows exactly what it takes to deliver top-notch customer service… every single time. (Here’s a great read to help you get started: 7 Fail-Proof Ways to Turn One-Time Families Into Lifetime Customers)

4. Funeral Education

Last, but not least, one of the single most important things that your funeral home staff can do for the families in your community is to educate them on the value of a funeral service. Too often we assume that the people walking through our doors understand the pros and cons of burial vs. cremation, or have an idea about why an open casket is so important… but the truth is, most don’t. Most people coming to a funeral director for help — especially those planning a funeral for the first time — think their options are concrete. There is no room for customization, personalization or designing a service that provides unique value to them. So it’s up to us, the funeral professionals, to educate them otherwise.

This year, make it a point to put education at the forefront at what you (and your staff) do. Because when families better understand the value behind your products and services, they’ll not only be much more likely to choose service options beyond the basic package, but they’ll also better value and appreciate your role as a funeral professional… because they will finally understand the importance of what it is you do.

One great place to start educating your families on the value of funerals is right on your funeral home website. This will ensure that families understand their options and are educated on your services before they even walk through your doors!

To learn more about how to turn your website into an educational tool that will bring you success in 2017, click here to talk to one of our website success specialists.

What skill do YOU think that every funeral professional should learn in 2017?! Be sure to let us know in the comments below!

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  1. Todd Haley

    We have been in business since 1864 so we have been struggling with the new reality of this generation. We have begun some of the points you make such as designating of of our directors to be the “video guru”. Once he has a good handle I have made it clear that everyone will need to learn. At least be conversant so they discuss it with the families. Times certainly have changed.

  2. Louise

    One area I feel funeral home staff should be educated in is first aid/CPR. Being prepared at a time when something/anything can happen. Over the years i’ve had or been to a few services where someone has passed out due to diabetic nature, overwhelmed, choked on a hard candy, seizure etc. I just feel that a prepared staff is so beneficial.

  3. Rilee Chastain

    Excellent idea, Louise! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Brett McGhee

    It’s always a challenge keeping up with new trends in media and the internet. We strive to stay on top of these issues by giving quality pictures and videos of all our services to clients. [Link Removed]