5 Steps to Finding Your Funeral Home’s Competitive Advantage

April 4

It’s a tough market out there – no one knows that better than you do. Revenues are falling because people just don’t see the value of a funeral service the way they used to. In this economy, it’s become one more expense to families can’t afford– at least that’s how it seems. A recent funeralOne survey unearthed some interesting facts:

  • 94% of respondents say they work in a medium-to-highly-competitive market

  • 40% of respondents reported their competition being the biggest challenge they face

The question is: what are you going to do about it? How can you make sure that customers see the value you KNOW you provide? The answer: find your competitive advantage.

If this seems like some sort of marketing mumbo-jumbo…it isn’t. A competitive advantage is all about outperforming others in your profession (and letting your community  see that you can).

Wikipedia defines competitive advantage as “the ability gained through attributes and resources to perform at a higher level than others in the same industry or market. “

Famous businessman Jack Welch says: “If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.” In other words, if you want to run a successful and profitable funeral home, it’s your job to figure out why client families should choose you instead of your rival down the street.

Need help finding your competitive advantage? Answer these five questions and you’ll be well on your way!

5 Steps to Finding Your Competitive Advantage

1) Who are Your Client Families?


Let’s face it, no-one knows your client families better than you, but even so, there’s a lot that your families wish you knew about them. To truly understand who your families are, try creating “buyer personas” for them.

Buyer personas are simply fictional representations of your ideal customers. They’re based on real data about your families (where they live, how old they are), as well as their behaviors, goals, and objections (think about the state-of-mind they’re in when they’re looking for your services).

It’s easy to to get started creating personas for your client families. Simply use this free template or start by asking these questions:

  • What’s their name? Age? Location? Job?

  • What are their pain points? Challenges?

  • What motivates them? What are their behaviors?

  • What are their goals?

  • What are their objections?

You already know some of this information, but you probably haven’t put it all together. If you do, and you know your client families inside out, then you immediately have an unfair advantage over competitors.

2)  How Do You Solve Their Problems

Buyer personas in hand, it’s time to dig a little deeper. Remember the last client family that gave you really good feedback? What did they mention most?

That’s a guide to the problem you solved for those people – and if you solve their problems, they don’t need to look any further than your funeral home.

There are three good ways to find out how you help client families:

  • Collect feedback when you follow up with them after the funeral service with a simple customer survey. Encourage client families to identify what they like best about your funeral home or what their ideal interaction would look like. If you are already delivering what they want, this may be your competitive advantage.

  • Train your staff to listen to what potential client families say as they walk around your funeral home. It’s a good way to find out what their concerns are. Then make it easy for staff to pass this feedback to you.

  • Use social media to monitor phrases related to the funeral profession and check out how your competitors’ clients are interacting with them online.


3) What Makes You Unique?

Now that you know who your client families are and what problems you solve for them, it’s time to think about how you do that differently from any other funeral home.

That’s your competitive advantage – and it could be anything from a more personalized service to the fact that you know your area inside out and can tailor to local needs. Or, it could be the ability to offer the kind of “out-of-the-box”service that Baby Boomers want. If you can cope with even the most unusual requests, then you are clearly a few steps ahead of the competition.


4) What are Your Competitors Doing?

funeral home competitive advantage

Speaking of the competition, what are they doing that’s bringing families through the door? Researching your competition can increase your competitive advantage and it’s not just about looking at their website and brochures to see what services they offer.

A good start is monitoring their social media activities – are they running any campaigns or competitions that are helping them to connect more with client families?

Your competitors’ customer reviews, whether positive or negative, can also help you figure out what client families want. Use all this information to identify not only what makes you different from the competition, but better – and you will know your competitive advantage.

5) How Can You Strut Your Stuff?

The final step is to become obsessive about driving home that competitive advantage – and you don’t have to be cheesy to do it.  Highlight your uniqueness on your website, in promotional materials and when talking to client families.

A good example of a company who does this is Apple. Apple “compromises everything in the name of design” thanks to Steve Jobs’ passion, resulting in a huge cadre of Apple fans. Show your passion for the services you offer. It will be contagious and will make families want to choose you in a heartbeat.

Your Competitive Advantage: Tips from the Experts

Here are some tips from some of the most famous businessman in the world on finding and using your competitive advantage:

Find opportunities to be more valuable

“We look for opportunities where we can offer something better, fresher and more valuable and we seize them. We often move areas where the customer received a poor deal and where the competition is complacent. And with our growing e-commerce activities, we also look to deliver old products in new ways.” – Richard Branson

Be remarkable

“The old rule was to create safe, ordinary products or services and combine them with great marketing. But, things have changed. Now, the idea is to “create remarkable products that the right people seek out.”- Seth Godin

Don’t be everything to everyone

“Don’t try to be all things to all people. Concentrate on selling something unique that you know there is a need for, offer competitive pricing and good customer service.” –Lilian Vernon

Avoid saying “me too”

“Sure, I know that your company does lots of different things and serves many customers. But if you want a new definition of advantage, you can’t start with what you also do “… but better.” – Tom Searcy, INC Magazine

Respond to change

“Your greatest and most powerful business survival strategy is going to be the speed at which you handle the speed of change.” – Ajaero Tony Martins

Don’t let your competitive advantage be price

“We brought prices down, down, down so they are now essentially commodities. So if we want to succeed in this business, we have to move in a direction of adding other value to the relationship with our clients. And so where I might have said 15 years ago, ‘We want to be the best discount brokerage,’ today I want to be the best ‘relationship company’ in financial services.” – Charles Schwab

Don’t just focus on your competitors

“Every once in awhile, a company becomes so obsessed with a competitor that it loses focus on its own customers. They start designing and positioning their products more to hurt rivals than thrill users.” – Mike Elgan

What’s YOUR funeral home’s competitive advantage? Share it with us in the comments below!



Joe Joachim is the CEO and Founder of funeralOne, the first global solutions firm leading a movement of change for the funeral profession. For the past 11 years, he’s developed game-changing solutions that help funeral professionals increase the value of their service offerings, connect with the families of today, and become more profitable. funeralOne’s solutions include: website design, aftercare, funeral eCommerce, and personalization software. Connect with Joe on Google+.

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