How To Foster Innovation At Your Funeral Home

One of my favorite feelings in the world is when myself and the funeralOne team get together to toss around our wildest ideas for a new project. When the passion begins to flow, we know we’re truly on to something great. After all, new ideas are usually what spark innovation, passion and collaboration in a workplace, and your funeral home is no exception.

So tell me, when’s the last time your funeral home had a fresh new idea that had the whole team pumped up? Unfortunately, many funeral homes are missing this innovative *spark*. Maybe you’ve had a one-hit-wonder idea, but most times, new and exciting ideas are a rare occurrence.

But that’s not the way it should be.

A successful funeral home knows that innovation isn’t an end destination, but an ongoing journey. One big idea doesn’t make your funeral home innovative. It’s the ability to constantly reinvent, reevaluate and re-up your processes, products and services that makes you innovative.

As I’m sure many of you know that innovating is a lot easier said than done, and the secret sauce of innovation is a hard one to come by. So how can your funeral home foster innovation over a long period of time? Lucky for you, I’ve put together a few tried-and-true methods that are truly a recipe for success:

#1: It all starts with leadership

When you commit to ongoing innovation at your funeral home, you should start with the dynamic of the leadership team at your funeral home. The leaders at your funeral home are the ones responsible for creating an environment that both encourages and rewards innovation. So how can you get everyone on the same page? It all starts with creating a set of guidelines and processes that will help you foster innovation now and in the future.

Try getting your leadership team (or even better, your entire team) together to create a playbook that will act as the framework for innovation. It will cover everything – from identifying new opportunities, to organizing the right team to make it happen, and even testing and executing your final product or solution. Once you have the playbook set in place, it should be incorporated into every aspect of your funeral home’s everyday workflow. That way every employee from the top-down will be on the same page for every new project or idea that you tackle.

#2: Set goals that seem impossible

When I founded funeralOne over a decade ago, all of my mentors and friends in the biz told me that I should only set realistic goals that I know are attainable. But I quickly realized that setting realistic goals led to me to mediocrity. By setting goals that were outside of my comfort zone, I pushed myself and my team to strive for something way beyond our expectations. Even if we only reached 80% of our out-of-this-world goal, it was still better than reaching 100% of our easy-to-achieve goals. Stretching your limits will show you how much you really can achieve. And, if you work hard enough, it will result in a killer product, idea, project… or even a new business.

#3 Set unrealistic deadlines for your goals

I know you’re probably thinking “Wow Joe, first set impossible goals, then impossible deadlines?” But before you disagree with me, hear me out. While setting realistic deadlines will create less stress for you, the passionate, exciting motivation that comes with an unrealistic deadline will help you focus on your path to success. Not following me? Here’s an example – say you are trying to renovate your funeral home and during one of the later stages of planning, you run into a dead end.

When you have an unrealistic deadline, there’s no time to waste on trying to figure out how this error happened. Instead, you must find an immediate and effective solution that will get you past the error as quickly as possible. If you had more time, you might have pushed the problem back to deal with later, but by setting an unrealistic deadline, you forced yourself to innovate under pressure. While it shouldn’t necessarily be a framework for every project you have, this type of thinking is what sparks (and fosters) innovation.

#4: Remember that failure is just part of the process

Since I founded funeralOne, of our core values at has always been “fail fast, evolve faster”. While failing isn’t always fun, I’d like to argue that failing teaches you more than succeeding does. Why? Because the faster you make mistakes, the faster you learn from them. If you leave no room for failure, you leave no room for risk. And if you think about it, innovation is, essentially, the act of taking a risk and succeeding. You can’t get wet if you don’t jump in the water, so take the dive and learn from the journey.

#5: Know when to quit

As we mentioned above, failure is just part of the process when it comes to innovation. But what if one element, idea or project just isn’t working? The key is knowing when to give up. No one likes a quitter, but if something is no longer contributing to the success of your project or business, why hold on to it? This will only lead you to sacrifice things you can’t afford to give up – like quality, energy and resources.

#6: Be open to inspiration in unexpected places

Innovation can only go as far as your imagination lets it. If you confine your imagination to a limited, predictable environment, it will be hard to find inspiration for your next big idea. I encourage you to seek out ideas in the most unexpected places. Whether it’s a new group of people, a different industry, or even a different thought process, this new way of thinking will give you a fresh perspective.

What are some ways that your funeral home fosters innovation? Tell us know in the comments below!

NOTE: A version of this blog was originally published on the Hello Innovation blog – check it out here.

Joe Joachim


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  1. Pete Saari

    This is a really great article. If I had to add a number 7, it would be to “Listen to Your Customers”. They will tell you what they want to buy and how they want to buy. If you find yourself reaching for “the catalog” you’ve lost the opportunity to elevate the conversation. If you are asking the right questions around legacy and remembrance your customers will enlighten you in ways you may not expect. Then be prepared to serve. Thanks for helping innovation grow in the funeral industry!

  2. Tia Kimble

    Speaking of innovation, here is a totally free memorial app that allows all of us to remember together.

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