9 Habits Every Funeral Professional Needs To Ditch Right Now

What makes a successful funeral director? 

A foundation of good habits. Especially these 9 habits of highly successful funeral directors.

But what do we do with these bad habits we still slip on sometimes? I think it’s important to address them, not just individually, but as an profession as a whole.

That’s why we asked our social media audience, “What is ONE habit the funeral profession would be better off kicking?”, and here’s what they said:

Bad habit #1: Making Assumptions

The antidote: Ever heard the saying “To assume makes an “ASS” out of “U” and “ME”? It’s true. Let’s put all our assumptions aside, and stay curious instead. If you feel a block around explaining service options to families, ask more questions, and don’t forget to listen for their answers.


Bad habit #2: Irrelevance

The antidote: @ColdHandsHosts is onto something. What’s worse than assuming families don’t see value in funeral services? Creating irrelevant funeral services. Adaptability is everything when it comes to maintaining success in any business, not just a funeral home. 


Bad habit #3: The “I can do it all” attitude

The antidote: MyASD is an answering service for the funeral profession, and I’m sure they wouldn’t mind me speaking on the volumes of funeral directors with this bad habit. We know that you CAN do it all. But accepting and receiving support from well-trained and reliable professionals can help you not only alleviate overwhelm in the future, but help you accept the fact that you DESERVE support now.


Bad habit #4: Lack of transparency

Not charging for services appropriately…

The antidote: Gone are the days of hiding details about your business and services. The funeral consumer of today doesn’t want to search up and down for the details that give them insight into whether or not they want to choose your funeral home. Being transparent, both online and offline, is that way to go these days.


Bad habit #5: Thinking that you know it all

“For many years, the funeral profession largely stayed the same. Funerals were an unquestionable tradition that families didn’t think twice about, and they looked to funeral directors to create a service that was appropriate and checked all of the boxes. 

And with this kind of mindset, it was easy to lead the market hosting the same services and offering the same products that you had for years. But fortunately (or unfortunately, for those who don’t want to put in the effort required), you can no longer get by knowing and doing the same thing that you have for years and years.”

The antidote: In a past blog of ours, a guest blogger who preferred to remain anonymous spoke of this issue. The antidote is similar to the previous point, which is to stay curious, and remain a student for life, no matter how long you’ve been doing this.


Bad habit #6: Emotional manipulation

“The use of manipulative language is something that can be obvious or very subtle.” says GatheredHere.com. Some examples they offer of these subtle ways we can emotionally manipulate families include:

“You could go with the cheap option, but I’m sure you want the best for him…”

“…it’s what he would want”

“You probably don’t want a particle board coffin, most people choose this one which is much better quality”

They continue by saying “All of this language is designed to make you feel guilty about even thinking about choosing a cheaper option or choosing not to include a non-essential service.”

The antidote: The way to watch out for the subtle ways we can potentially manipulate client families is to drop the agenda, and simply make our goal to serve them the best way we can. That way, we’re not worried about selling a certain amount. It sounds scary to let go of sales agendas, but we dare you to try.


Bad habit #7: Lack of boundaries

“It’s hard to exercise self-care while constantly on call. Without separation between your personal and professional lives, both your health and the quality of service you deliver to client families will suffer.”


The antidote: The simple answer? Boundaries. Saying no, even when you want to say yes. It’s a tough love approach at first, but with time, it feels less harsh to protect your own radiance and well being. 


Bad habit #8: Hiding behind your mistakes

“As a parent, I realize my mistakes.  I learn from them. I correct them if I can.  And I tell my kids when I’m wrong. I don’t act like a know-it-all around my kids.  I don’t give them the impression I’m a saint.”

— Caleb Wilde


The antidote: Taking responsibility of and learning from your mistakes can be one of the most powerful practices not just in your funeral business, but also in your life. But remember to use plenty of self forgiveness, self acceptance, and self compassion along the way. Know that you can MAKE mistakes, but you are NOT your mistakes. 


Bad habit #9: Settling for mediocrity

“We’ve formed initial relationships with more companies than I care to remember.  It took five years and a random Google search to find a company that is a great match for our funeral home. And when we did, I was so happy that I didn’t have to settle for mediocrity anymore.”

Grace Funeral & Cremation Services

The antidote: Settling for mediocrity is one of the easiest things to do when you’re too busy to stop, take a moment, and do things right. Impulsivity is often what we reach for in times like this, but the antidote here is a mix of all the above antidotes… but mostly creating boundaries around time, accepting your mistakes, and receiving support when you truly need it. In a time in the funeral profession when everything can and will change, it’s worth aiming for the highest option for you and your client families.


How to kick your bad habits

It might feel easy for us to sit behind our screens and call out bad habits about each other. But that’s not the approach here. If we support each other in this process, as a collective, there is a way to kick these bad habits, and embrace these 9 awesome ones, instead. If you’re wanting some more support on habits, check out the book “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. It offers a goldmine of information on habits and embracing powerful ones!


What bad habits do you wish to ditch at your funeral home? Tell us in the comments below!.

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  1. Tony Rowland

    In UK we treat burial and cremation the same our clients choose good coffins for both horse hearse and limousines to collect from home address the. Go to church then crematorium or cemetery

  2. Krystal Penrose

    Hi Tony, thanks for sharing! The UK seems a bit ahead of the US in the funeral profession at the moment…