How To Be The Most Unpopular Funeral Director On The Block

Most people have it all wrong when it comes to what they think of funeral directors.

Trust me, after 16 years in the funeral profession, we’ve pretty much heard it all… from the mundane (funeral directors are dark, gloomy, creepy) to the outrageous (they’re vampires that sleep in coffins and only come out at night). But most of these opinions are simply not true. (We’ll leave it you to figure out which ones.)

The truth is, most people simply don’t know the funeral professionals in their community well enough to have a true picture of who they are and what they do. And like with any aspect of the unknown, people make assumptions and create unpopular opinions when they don’t know the truth.

If you want the families in your community to stop avoiding you at the grocery store or leaving garlic cloves at your doorstep, it’s time to expose yourself for the caring, professional funeral expert that you are, and stop living up to the dark, gloomy stereotype that families love to hate.

To help you get started, here are 3 things that will make even the best-intentioned funeral professionals unpopular in the eyes of the families in their community.

(Long story short… you probably want to start avoiding the following bad habits at all cost.)

1. Thinking that you know everything there is to know about funerals.

For many years, the funeral profession largely stayed the same. Funerals were an unquestionable tradition that families didn’t think twice about, and they looked to funeral directors to create a service that was appropriate and checked all of the boxes. And with this kind of mindset, it was easy to lead the market hosting the same services and offering the same products that you had for years.

But fortunately (or unfortunately, for those who don’t want to put in the effort required), you can no longer get by knowing and doing the same thing that you have for years and years. Families are going online, looking up new and better ways to honor and celebrate their loved ones at the end of life, and they expect their funeral directors to know all about the new products and services that they are reading about.

So if your funeral home wants to stay relevant in today’s market, it’s time to crack open the books (or the blogs) and keep learning new, better ways to serve the families in your community… or your competitor down the road will instead.

2. Being unwilling to adapt to changing trends and families

It’s one thing to read about the new trends and changes that are capturing your funeral home audience, and something completely different to embrace them. And that’s the gap where most funeral professionals fail.

Don’t be afraid of the unknown when it comes to things like funeral personalization, out of the box products, celebratory services or bringing the funeral outside the funeral home. While it may be intimidating or even scary to try out new services that you never have before, often times these risks are the ones that pay off big and capture your community in a way that your traditional, cookie-cutter competitor down the street never will.

So take the jump… start experimenting on a small scale with funeral personalization ideas, celebratory community events, and unique products and services.

3. Telling families, “that’s not my job”

When it comes to funeral profession pet peeves, there is nothing that gets under our skin more when it comes to serving families than the statement, “that’s not my job.” And unfortunately, we hear it all the time… especially when talking about topics outside of the “typical” job requirements of a funeral director, such as aftercare or grief support.

But the truth of the matter is, there is no typical job requirement for the role of a funeral professional. Your only requirement is to do whatever it takes to help families through their time of need, be there to support them when they need it, and do whatever possible to help them along the path of healing. And if that sounds like too much work or effort to you, you’re probably in the wrong profession.

Instead of telling families “that’s not my job,” listen to what they are really asking you and do whatever you can to make their situation easier… even if that means connecting them with someone else who can help them, when you don’t provide the service that they are asking for. After all, if you want families to continue to coming back to you for years and years to come, you need to build a relationship and a connection that lasts long after the service has ended.

What funeral faux paus have YOU seen that make funeral directors the most unpopular professionals in town?! And what are YOU doing to avoid them? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!

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  1. Grace Edgar

    Great story having just exhibited at the National funeral show. We launched the the Plume and had a great response and we hope that this is the way forward that Funeral directors will be forward thinking and consider standing out from the crowd.

  2. Wayne F.X. Brasco Sr.

    I think your article is spot on, we have been in a transition period from formerly listening to guide, to a new place of listening to assist families find the appropriate “Life Celebration” not Funeral !

    Most funeral directors are frightened of cracking the shell of tradition and stepping out of the box…