6 Ways To Thrive (Not Just Survive) In The Future of Funerals

future of funerals

What will the funeral profession look like in 10, or even 20 years?

Well, that’s hard to tell… Think about 20 years ago, before the advent of the web, or Google, or cell phones. Oh, how different customer experience (and life) was then!

Looking at just how much of the landscape of the funeral profession has changed over the last 20 years alone, it’s pretty safe to say that everything you know now about your client families and your business will change in the future.

We were originally going to title this post “survival strategies for the future of funerals,” but let’s be honest… we don’t want you to just survive the future of the funeral profession, we want you to THRIVE!

So how can you ensure a bright, successful future, no matter what changes may hit the funeral profession?

Here are 6 ways to thrive (not just survive) in the future of funerals:

1. Create a vision for the future

Talk to anyone who has turned dreams into reality, and they’ll tell you the first step is a strong vision. The Beatles were onto something when they said, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” It’s not enough to discuss the future of your funeral business as if it were some faraway thing that may or may not happen. The future is coming with a wave of change, and there’s no stopping it. Have you envisioned your destination and created a roadmap to go with it? If not, start now, before it’s too late.

Put it into action: Sit down with your executive team and create a vision statement for your funeral business. It will help you make the future more concrete and pave a path of goals and actions that will help get you where you want to be. Not sure where to start? Use this resource to create a meaningful vision for your funeral business.

2. Put yourself in the driver’s seat

If you were driving a car, you wouldn’t only look through your rearview mirror, would you? No. You’d want to see what’s ahead of you, behind you, in your peripherals, and of course, your blind spots. The same goes for your funeral home… Looking back towards how you have always conducted funerals is it’s own unique version of tunnel vision and can result in a huge wreck.

If you consider yourself the driver of your funeral business, you have to navigate like one. Check all of your mirrors, be well acquainted with the historical ebb and flow your business, keep your eyes ahead into the future, and always be aware of trends and competitors in your peripheral vision.

Put it into action: Set aside a certain amount of time each month, week, or even day to check all your mirrors. Read up on new market trends, take a peek at last year’s sales, and see what your competitors are up to. Check in with your vision statement and see where you truly are.

3. Build slow, steady momentum

If you were really hungry, to the point of starving, you’d eat almost anything and gobble it up in seconds. That sense of desperation would eliminate the need to think about whether or not what you’re shoving in your mouth is good for you. The same goes for your funeral business. Yes, we’re all hungry for success. Maybe even starving. But it’s not a race to the top, it’s about building sustainable momentum.

One thing I’ve found over the years is that funeral businesses react to their market in one of two ways: they jump on EVERY opportunity they see for their growth, or they don’t jump at all. That’s why I like to use the word “momentum” when it comes to thinking about the future of your funeral business. It’s a happy medium between acting too fast, and not acting at all.

Put it into action: When it comes to making big decisions in your funeral business, use your momentum to create a sense of urgency, but take the time needed to get things right.

4. Keep the floodgates for innovation open

A funeral home can’t be innovative if its team isn’t. Creating a stifled environment where suggestions and new ideas aren’t encouraged could be the number one killer to growth and evolution, so keep the floodgates open. Create a space for new ideas and projects to be heard, shared and eventually manifested. You never know how powerful one small idea can be.

Put it into action: Hold monthly meetings that encourage your employees to share new ideas. Turn them into small projects that could potentially “disrupt” your funeral home. They might seem small and insignificant at first, but they could grow into potential building blocks of innovation at your funeral home.  Take Google’s Gmail service for example, which began as a small skunkworks project only used by a small group of employees… and now it’s a major success.

5. Make data-driven decisions

How does your funeral home make big decisions? Are they based off past experiences, gut feelings, or family dynamics? I believe that the way your funeral business makes decisions speaks volumes to the future of your funeral business.

Funeral businesses that are able to set family dynamics and traditions aside, and instead make decisions based on actual data, will be the ones to not only survive, but thrive in the future.

Put it into action: Choose a data point to reference and create habits and ideas around it. For example, you can use your funeral home website data to show you how you attract most of your potential families, and create a plan to tap into that source of potential revenue.

6. Turn your data into a story, and your story into data

Nearly a decade ago, marketing guru Seth Godin declared that “marketing IS storytelling.” And the message still rings true. But, the real resilience of the future will shine bright for you if you merge storytelling with data. Speak to the hearts of your customers with a great story in your marketing channels, but don’t shout your story to everyone. Know where to tell it, how to tell it, and when to tell it.

Put it into action: Put your management team and funeral directors in a room, and lock it. Tell them to come out when they’ve merged their ideas together to form the ideal client family experience, from their first click on your website to when their last supporting visitor leaves your funeral home. Note where you can improve your messaging, design, data tracking, and customer experience. Once you’ve got your ideal client family journey on lock down, your teams and the work they do will fall into the right places.

Are you ready for the future?

These are just a few ideas to get your business rolling in the right direction looking forward into the future. But remember, it’s not about how much money you make or how big your funeral business is in the future that will ensure your survival, but how well you will adapt.

Just like Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory, when it comes to the future, you have two choices: adapt, or die. It’s up to you.

The road ahead is uncertain, but as long as you’re ready to stir your ship freely in the waves of the future, we have a feeling you’ll be well equipped to not just survive, but thrive.

What else do you think is important for surviving the future of the funeral profession? Tell us in the comments below!

Joe Joachim


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  1. Darryl Edgar

    Make the procession more visible.