2016: A New Year, A New Business Model For Your Funeral Home?

business model

When you create a business model for your organization, you spend a great deal of time looking at your customers, your value, your products, your strategies, etc.

But what happens when your customers – and their needs – are changing? You might first think to put a BandAid on it, and offer up some products or services you think they’ll like. But is that built to last? Eventually, the adhesive from your bandage is going to wear off and you’re going to be left with a festering sore of an irrelevant business model in a changing market.

What’s the solution? It’s not changing your business model every time a new trend hits the market, so that’s the good news. The bad news is that you will have to spend a great deal of time rethinking a business model that can stand the test of time. This will require a deep dive that will last you for the long hall, because a BandAid just won’t cut it.

Even if you’re not the owner of a funeral home, it’s helpful to look at your funeral home’s business blueprint to help you improve the way you interact with families, and show your higher-ups that you’ve taken the initiative to adapt to the needs of today’s families (which is something most people are still turning a blind eye to).

Not sure if your business model is cutting it anymore? Here are 8 questions to ask yourself to determine if a fresh business model is in the cards for you in 2016:

1. Are your profits rising?

This sounds obvious, but if you haven’t experienced a rise in profits in the last year, or even in the last quarter, it’s time to make a change. You’d be crazy not to.

2. What problem does your product or service solve? Is it important enough?

At the base level, you’re helping families take the next steps after losing a loved one. But is this problem important enough? Because every funeral home is answering the same problem, maybe you looked at an alternative way to solve it, or…

3. Is there a better way to solve the problem?

There may be one way that the funeral profession has been solving families’ problems for centuries, but that doesn’t always mean it’s the right way. Explore different ways to help them solve their problems, and decide if one particularly clicks for you. In the end, it’s all about solving the problem better than anyone else. This will help you decide what makes your funeral home unique, which leads us to our next point…

4. What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)? Is it still relevant?

Beyond the basic level of problem solving, what is it about your funeral business that makes you different from everyone else in town? Why would families choose you instead of others? Please, for the sake of the funeral profession, don’t let that be price. Sure, low cost providers are great, but if you can help it, try to avoid making this your USP.  Imagine if everyone’s USP was low prices – the profession would find itself in an downhill battle that no one wins. If you need help finding your USP, check out this exercise for some enticing questions.

5. If you have multiple business units, are they working together effectively?

If you’ve got more than one business unit, is one dragging another down, or are they working together effectively to meet a common goal? Instead of looking at your business as a whole, look at these individual units and make sure they’re not just dead weight.

6. What are the needs of your current customers?Are they in line with what you’re offering them?

This one will take some time – you’ll have to develop buyer personas for your families, or detailed description of your ideal customer. This will help you understand how your customers are changing, as well as the role you play in their lives.  Here’s a great template to help you get started.

7. What is the current pulse of the market?

This involves taking a close look at your competitors, suppliers, customers and any partners you have. What new technologies are hitting the market? Trends? Availability of products? These will all determine your position in your industry, and require constant data evaluation and research. Unfortunately, the data is very limited in our profession, so we recommend taking the initiative and using your own tools to create data. Google Consumer Surveys, Survey Monkey, Facebook Insights, and Google Analytics are a good place to start,

8. How do your internal assets compare to the market?

After looking at the current market, including your customers, take inventory of your own internal assets. These will include your products, services, employees, buildings, financial organization, strategies, etc. Collectively, do they put your funeral home in a competitive position in your market, or are there elements you could re-think or innovate?

Is it time to hit *refresh* on your business model?

If you answered all of the above questions with complete honesty, and you found the answers to be less than extraordinary, maybe it’s time for change. Change isn’t fun. It’s like selling your pickup truck for an electric tiny car – it seems mysterious and intimidating, but it’s probably better for everyone. Think simplicity, less products, more customer service. And always, always be adaptable.

Here’s to an awesome 2016!
Do you know of any businesses who have changed their business model and experienced great success? Tell us about ‘em in the comments below!

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