The Top 3 Mistakes Families Make When Planning A Funeral

Sometimes when you work in the service industry, you have to bite your tongue when helping customers. Not because the customer is problematic or irritating (although we’ve all certainly had those days), but because “the customer is always right” … even when they’re wrong.

In the funeral profession, we see this happen all the time. Families outwardly dismiss a funeral service or a memorial celebration for a direct cremation instead, simply because they see no value in the other options. And we can try our best to educate them on the other options or explain the worth of having a traditional funeral, but if their mind is made up, that’s it. Game over.

But while families may always be right when it comes to deciding what they want from a funeral service, that doesn’t mean that they’re right about knowing what they need. That’s where funeral directors should come in to share their expertise.

These are the top three mistakes that we see families making when it comes to planning a funeral service. And, in turn, these are the top three areas where funeral professionals need to spend more time educating families and guiding them so they can experience a more valuable, healing funeral experience.

1. Planning A Funeral Only Because It’s A Necessary Tradition

Did you know that 15.2% of the families that you serve believe funerals are a necessary tradition in life, but they don’t understand the value that they provide? That means that they are coming into your funeral home because they feel like it’s expected of them, or because they want to fill a certain expectation. Not because they are hoping for a powerful, memorable healing experience.

Maybe this isn’t as concerning to you as it is to us… after all, as long as families are coming into your funeral home and purchasing your services, who cares why they are doing it, right? Wrong!

When families don’t understand the value or benefit of what they are purchasing, they automatically start looking at the price tag. Think about it… why would families spring for a $10,000 funeral service and burial when they could spend $4,000 on a direct cremation, and it wouldn’t make any difference to them?

This is why selling the value of what you do is so important. Instead of looking at a funeral price sheet and seeing the words “burial” vs. “cremation,” families need to understand the pros and cons of both of these options, and compare the value that they provide — “a permanent resting place I can go to visit” vs. “the chance to scatter my loved one’s ashes in a place that was meaningful to them.” These are the service options that funeral professionals need to sell.

2. Thinking Traditional Burial or Direct Cremation Are The Only Options

Not only do funeral professionals need to be better about selling the depth and value of their services to families, they also need to be better about sharing the breadth and variety of options that they offer. Too many families walk into a funeral home thinking that they only have two options in front of them — a traditional burial service, or grandmother’s ashes in an urn on their fireplace. And too many funeral professionals enable them in this thinking.

Think back to the last time that a family member called your funeral home to get pricing on cremation. Did you probe them to learn more about why they felt this service option would be the best decision for them? Did you offer them the pricing of all of your cremation packages, from an open casket service to an ash scattering ceremony? Or did you simply rattle off your direct cremation prices and write them off as cost-cutters?

Families don’t know what they don’t know… let that sink in for a second.

If your families don’t know that they can combine the healing experience of an open casket visitation with cremation services, they aren’t going to come to you to purchase these options. That’s why you need to get the full scope of your services out there in front of the eyes of your community. Otherwise, you may find that traditional burials and direct cremations are the only services you provide.

To learn more about how you can present your funeral service options and packages in a way that excites families and encourages them to contact you, click here to talk to one of our website success specialists.

3. Not Learning From The Stress and Uncertainty of Planning

Last, but certainly not least, one of the biggest mistakes that we see families make time and time again is recognizing the stress and anxiety that funerals cause due to a lack of preparation and knowledge… and then doing nothing with that information. And funeral professionals are just much to blame for this as the families themselves.

We hear it time and time again when families come to us, desperate for help: “Why didn’t Dad ever mention his funeral wishes?” or “I will never put my children or grandchildren through the stress of this process!” Yet when the funeral service ends and the last guest has left our facilities, we let families walk right out of our door without providing them with the resources, education and knowledge they need to prepare themselves (and their families) for their own end-of-life plans.

This continues the never-ending cycle of, “I’ll get to it one day” or “I’ll worry about it when the time comes.” But by that time, the importance and familiarity of these life decisions have faded and families are far less likely to sit down and think about pre-need.

What funeral professionals should do instead is arm families with the pre-planning resources and knowledge they need before they even walk out the doors of your funeral home. While the memory of planning, guessing, improvising and stressing is still fresh in their minds, remind them that the funeral planning process doesn’t have to be this way… and they can prevent these feelings from arising for their own loved ones if they simply take the time now to lay out their wishes.

Looking for more tried-and-true advice for encouraging families to pre-plan their funeral home? Check out this post → A Cheat Sheet For Exploding Your Pre-Planning Leads.

What do YOU think is the biggest mistake that families make when planning a funeral?! Leave us a comment below and let us know what you think funeral professionals can do to help fix these mistakes.

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments.

  1. Tom prunier

    Bill. Thanks for this very important information.very informative.

    Tom prunier