How Should Your Funeral Home Embrace Change?


The line it is drawn, the curse it is cast

The slow one now, will later be fast

As the present now , will later be past

The order is rapidly fadin’

And the first one now , will later be last

For the times they are a-changin’.

– Bob Dylan


These Bob Dylan lyrics aren’t just one of the most critically acclaimed songs in history. They’re also a message to you, funeral professional. The times are a’ changin. Your families are looking for something that’s entirely different from what they wanted a decade ago.

Change is here. But the question is, how will you embrace it?

Here are a few ways you can take change by the horns, along with a few examples of how others did as well. Hopefully, you’ll be inspired enough to help make change happen at your funeral home:


#1 – Focus on your value


All too often, funeral professionals make statements that today’s families do not see value in funeral services. The profession as a whole should rediscover the benefits that have meaning for families, and then find a way to deliver those benefits. Ultimately there are two sets of needs: disposing of the body and helping the family through their grief.

Instead of critiquing of traditional methods, discover the benefits you deliver and the value associated with them.  For example, making connections during a time of loss; gatherings are a great benefit for those left behind. Facilitating funeral and memorial services helps families recognize the support their network of family and friends can provide. Gatherings can and should take place no matter what method of disposition is selected.

Remembering the life lost is also a key benefit. Not just the pretty parts, but the reality of that life.  Doing so expands the perspective of those who survived. Help families remember the life their loved one by offering social memorial websites that allow them to share photos, memories and videos.

Social Memorial on Posey Funeral Directors' website helps people share memories and honor life.

Social Memorial on Posey Funeral Directors‘ website helps people share memories and honor life.


#2 – Extend your services


In 2001, Flanner and Buchanan Funeral Center realized that change was here to stay. Consumers were no longer looking for run-of-the-mill funerals, they were now searching for a celebration of life. That’s when they decided to offer their families just that… a celebration. But not just a celebration of life – a celebration of love, too. They built a new facility called the “Community Life Center”  that would host both weddings and funerals.

At first, the Community Life Center wasn’t as successful as they expected. Special events Carla Fletcher says “the place wasn’t being utilized because people had tunnel vision…they thought since it was a funeral home, they (couldn’t) sell it. But I don’t see a funeral home; I see an events center.”

According to a 2010 NFDA survey that polled over 600 funeral homes, 10% of funeral homes offer a community facility in addition to their traditional funeral facilities. Chances are, that number has only grown over the past few years. Would you ever consider expanding your services at your funeral home? If so, it could be the competitive advantage you need in your community. And in a time of change, any advantage is necessary.


#3 – Improve your current services


While it’s great to expand your services to serve more people in your community, you’ve got to make sure you have a strong foundation first. That means taking a look at the current services you’re offering and seeing how your families are interacting with them. Has one of your offerings not been purchased (ie. a certain type of casket) in a while? If so, ask yourself why you’re still trying to sell that one thing to families, and consider replacing it. Really take some time to do a deep dive and try to understand the value of everything you offer… from a family’s perspective. This might involve interviewing families, asking them to write reviews, and conducting surveys. Whatever you do, don’t take a shortcut here. What you offer defines who you are, so make sure it’s valuable.


#4 – Get the right team


The hardest part about working in the funeral profession is the fact that many funeral homes are family-based. That means you’ll have a lower turnover rate, but is that necessarily a good thing? If you don’t think you have the best funeral directors, embalmers, planners, or celebrants in town, why would you keep those people around? Funeral service is a career based on passion, so make sure every employee you have maintains that passion. Avoid conflicts among family members and friends by developing a review system to make sure they’re doing their job correctly… and with a smile.


#5 – Adapt to the online world


So your families are online, looking for you. And hopefully you’re there where they can find you. But, an ordinary funeral home website isn’t all it takes to succeed these days. Take the travel industry, for example. In the “good ole’ days”, we used to rely on a trusted travel agent to plan a trip. But now, all we need to do is go online and we can plan our entire trip within minutes.


How are you helping families plan their funeral services online? Do you offer funeral service ideas and walk families through the steps needed to plan the funeral? If not, it’s time to consider doing so.


#6 – Renovate your facilities


Although a renovation isn’t always a good idea for your funeral home, it can definitely help your business if you’ve got the budget for it. Take Cress Fose Funeral & Cremation Center, for example. They completed a renovation on their funeral home that not only expanded it, but made it more appealing to the families of today. Their new funeral home features six big-screen TV’s that play tribute videos, an amazing sound system, free wi-fi, a kitchen for catering, a great room that accommodate up to 175 people and a three string orchestra, and let’s not forget about the outdoor fireplace and bar.

Cress Fose sees their renovation as a way for them to “stay relevant… and to do that, we need to listen to people’s needs,” said Carey Cress Fose, vice president at Cress.  “We’re part of the change culturally and socially. We want to incorporate it into our lives. We look at this as a positive,” she said. If you can’t modify your funeral home to better serve your families, think about a small renovation or addition to your funeral home. You never know how much renovating could expand your services and your business.


#7 – Listen to your families


Many funeral directors I meet can talk to me all day about how business isn’t the same, but what they really should be talking about is why it isn’t the same. Actually, rather than talking, they should listen… to their families. Your families are the most important part of your business. They are the reason your business is in existence. So why not sit down and listen to what they have to say? This blog is the perfect resource for helping you get testimonials, reviews, and general feedback from your families.


Only one thing is constant – change


It doesn’t matter how you embrace change…But what counts is following your instinct and making sure your funeral home is ready to adapt. Because in the end, the only way you can grow is to change. And maybe not even grow. Maybe change is just what you need to stay afloat. Whatever you do, just embrace it.


Educate today’s changing families on the the value of your services with funeralOne’s f1Connect website platform. Click here or give us a call at 1-800-798-2575 ext 5 to learn more. 

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