7 Things Every Funeral Home Should Challenge

funeral home

For the last century (or more), there has been a cloud of dogma hovering over the funeral home. No one bothered to challenge it until recently. And even then, the feedback has been mixed.

In the funeral profession, it’s all about “the way things have always been done”. But what if you stepped outside of the box, and looked at your business (and yourself) in a new light? Maybe you’d find that the way it’s always been done may not be the right way… maybe there could be a BETTER way to run your funeral business.

Just like a painter should step away from his or her painting to get a new perspective, here are 7 aspects of your funeral business that you should challenge in 2016:

1. Challenge the foundation.

Owning a business is just like building a house; if your foundation is unclear or shaky, your business will be too. Challenge your core values, mission statement, and USP (unique selling proposition). Challenge the reason for your very existence. Ask yourself what purpose you’re fulfilling, and if you’re fulfilling it successfully. On top of that, challenge whether or not your customers feel you’re successfully fulfilling it.

2.  Challenge the direction.

Where are you going? What’s your vision statement? How do you plan to get there? If there’s a better way to get there, make it your goal to find it. If your destination is no longer relevant to your business or the industry, change it.

3. Challenge your strategies… all of them.

Is your current marketing strategy actually current or was it created one, five or even ten years ago? If it is outdated, search for some fresh ideas. How do you find new employees? If you haven’t found the exact type of person you’re looking for, re-consider your hiring strategy. What about social media, products and planning? Look at every element of your business with a magnifying glass – maybe even a microscope – and ask yourself whether or not these strategies are successfully moving your business along. If not, it may be time for an alternate plan.

4. Challenge your business model.

Just because you have a business model, that doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you. Break it down, starting with the largest parts, and work your way down to the tiny details. Ask yourself along the way, “will this model allow us to remain competitive, relevant, and adaptable?” If not, it’s time to re-think. The most successful businesses have challenged the typical business model in their industries and by doing so, found a better, easier way to do things… and you can, too.

5. Challenge your customers needs.

When Steve Jobs invented the  touchscreen iPhone, no one went up to him and said “ya know Steve, I’d really like to have a phone without any buttons on it.” Steve created a need for something that didn’t even exist, and guess what? People loved it. In fact, you might be reading this blog from an iPhone right now. Be like Steve Jobs and always think one step ahead, rather than creating products and services to serve what your families need right now. Don’t be afraid to pave your own path. Just like Henry Ford famously said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

6. Challenge the data.

Where do you get the data needed to run your business? What information or data helps you track your funeral home’s progress? Do you even use data to help you make informed decisions? If not, it may be time to consider looking into ways to evaluate your business from a numbers standpoint, rather than shooting darts in the dark. Take a second look at your data resources, and make sure that they are giving you the information you really need. Also, consider the delicate balance between data and experience. Don’t limit yourself by only going off what your data says, or only what you feel in your heart when working with families. Look at both, and make informed decisions.

7. Lastly, challenge yourself.

If you’re a leader, don’t just assume you know best. Be humble. Ask for feedback. Don’t be afraid to not know the answers. Look at your own thought patterns and habits and ask yourself if they’re serving you and your staff. If you’re not a leader, look at yourself through the eyes of your families and your business owner. What would they think you could do better? Move your ego out of the way for some serious constructive criticism, discipline, and accountability. If both parties are doing this, it’s a win-win for everyone.

How else do you challenge your funeral business to keep yourself in check? Tell us in the comments below!

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  1. Walter L. Hatfield

    While these 7 items ask some great questions, there is the perception that funeral service has gravitated to the profit side without regard to quality of service to the family by considering their needs or desires.

    I retired in 2012 after 47 years of service to bereaved families. I am proud of the service I rendered, but the SCI commitment to profit at any cost was foremost in their model of what the company demanded. I felt it was time to retire.

    As an example, SCI hires people off the street to do pre-need after a brief training period, it took me a year before I was allowed to see families, period. Even then I made some mistakes, as have all new Funeral Director’s. Lest I be considered a malcontent, I am not anti pre-need, in fact, I support it wholeheartedly if done by well trained persons without the pressures to sell in order to get a commission to live on, which in itself, is recognized by anyone that has experienced this charade. I can’t blame these pre-need people, they need to make a living. I have a problem with the system.

    The results are there for anyone to evaluate, cremation has increased many times over since this situation has existed. In talking to many people, they all say the same, too expensive to have traditional services. This situation will continue to haunt funeral service in the future due to acceptance by society as the most cost effective.

    I hope the this letter is received in a positive light as intended.

  2. Rilee Chastain

    Thanks for the comment, Walter! We really appreciate your insights, and we want to thank you for your 47 passionate years in the funeral profession!