How to be a Better Funeral Director…Right Now



“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” ~ Maria Robinson

Do you want to know how to be a better funeral director, grow your firm, or better connect with your families?


If you’re like most funeral directors, of course you do. So what’s stopping you?


You could go online and do tedious research on how to be funeral director, read a self-help book, or if you’re feeling really ambitious, you could call up some the most successful funeral directors in the world and get their advice.


But, if you want to become a better funeral director right now, I’ve got some tips that will help you better yourself immediately – no research, cold calling, or reading glasses needed.


1. Never try to be someone you’re not.
Funeral professionals need to know who they are – on a deep level – and meet their families from a place of authenticity. That means creating a personal connection to a bigger purpose and developing your emotional and social intelligence.


2. Embrace change.
Baby Boomers have changed everything. Change with them or die (pun intended). This means embracing the funeral service trends their looking for, like DIY personalization services, (think tribute videos, social memorial websites, and funeral webcasting).


3. Don’t be scared to make a mistake.
No one knows what will work. Accept this! Mistakes are inevitable. Conrad Hilton said, “Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” And he was right.


4. Stop berating yourself for old mistakes.
Dwelling in the past is a way of avoiding the future or what you have to do today. But there’s more to it: your past mistakes have given you a wealth of experience, and can pave your way to a brighter future.  Learn from them, and move on.


5. Be bold.
The first to hit the marketplace with a new idea will have a great advantage over those who simply follow. Take John McQueen, of Anderson-McQueen for example. His firm was first in the US to offer alkaline hydrolysis. Just think of the funeral marketing challenges within that decision! But he still did it, and boy, did he succeed.


6. Don’t just compete against everyone else.
Benchmarking against mediocrity will not ensure your success! Be the best funeral director you can be, and leave the other guys alone. Conformity never leads to innovation.


7. Face your challenges, head on.
It isn’t about the challenges you face (cremation rates, rising costs, price pressures) but how you respond to them. Take a risk, make that bold move – don’t use the former as an excuse not to do the latter.


8. Don’t let others bring you down to their level.
There is safety in numbers but if your entire mountain climbing party is going over the cliff, you can’t save them. Cut the rope and do something different!


9. Stop trying to be everything to everyone.
Trying to be everything to everybody means you’ll end up being nothing to anybody! Genericising your funeral service offering is the first step on the slippery slope to irrelevance.  Take it from Lajos Szabo, President of Funeral Operations here at funeralOne, who says: “Unfortunately, in making something generic, it automatically becomes less valuable to everyone.”


10. Don’t worry so much.
Worry will not strip tomorrow of its burdens, but it will strip today of its joy. In other words, worrying doesn’t do a bit of good.


There you have it: my list of ten things you can do to help you become a more successful funeral director today.

Now it’s your turn. Share your tips on what you’ve done to become a better funeral director! Leave your comments below!

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  1. Kim Stacey

    Caleb Wilde had a grand post on his blog today, noting that last Saturday was National Funeral Directors and Morticians Appreciation Day ( Come to find out through a Google search, that it’s really on March 11th ( Who knew?

    Whatever day it is…June or March…funeral professionals are some of the most undervalued people in the workplace today (in my humble opinion). Next year, I vow to do more to celebrate their contributions to our society -just not sure how.

    And, without a doubt, 99.9% of the funeral directors I know strive to be the best they can be, every single day. And let me say this – when you’re not living up to your personal expectation of being the best, you can easily see it in the eyes of your client families. I love this one sentence from this post: Be the best funeral director you can be, and leave the other guys alone. Indeed!

  2. Mike Belsito

    You cover this a bit in #6, but I’d add “Dare to be Different.”  

    Admittedly, I’m not a funeral director — but I’ve talked with so many who have had the concern of funeral service becoming commoditized. I understand their concern.  But in order to be a commodity, your product or service has to be the same as everybody else’s.  When you offer things that other people do not — or your service is markedly different, you *can’t* be a commodity.

    Just something to think about…

    Great post.  

  3. Krystal

    I 100% agree with you! Great point. I think our profession can avoid becoming a commodity if we all had that attitude! This is where we fall short on the cremation issue… no one is *daring to be different*  by offering a NEW service that allows them to still stay profitable through changing family preferences.

  4. Krystal

    Great insight Kim! I especially love that sentence from the post as well: 
    Be the best funeral director you can be, and leave the other guys alone. 

  5. USObituariesOnline

    Funer directors need to be professionals and do their jobs instead of doing what everyone else wants them to do.

  6. Krystal

    Agreed! I think to move forward as a profession, we need to stop worrying about competing against each other so much, and instead worry about adapting to our families’ changing needs…. together!