5 Ways Your Funeral Home Can Freak Out the Competition


To quote Anne Roddick, the founder of The Body Shop, “Whatever you do, be different – that was the advice my mother gave me, and I can’t think of better advice for an entrepreneur. If you’re different, you will stand out.”

But, just how different is “different enough”? And, when most funeral homes offer much of the same services and products – how do you differentiate yourself in a way that is significant to your target market?


Kristan and Bob McNames, of Grace Funeral & Cremations Services, decided early on that their start-up funeral firm was going to look, feel, and act differently. The décor is decidedly modern, in warm rich coffee tones – with a relaxed, trendy feel. The location is unique too; it’s located on the campus of Heartland Community Church, in Rockford, Illinois.


Here are some other ways The McNames are standing out among the competition:

• Kristan takes part in a bi-weekly WNTA radio show, Stateline Showcase where she and host Doug McDuff talk with callers about anything under the sun relating to funeral service.


• Regularly, Heartland Hospice and Grace staff members present Caring for the Caregiver; an informational session for anyone who is currently, or has been in a caregiver role.


• Kristan and Bob also host mid-day Lunch and Learn sessions, where they share the latest trends in funeral service, answer questions, and tour their location. “We love talking about funeral options and services, in a no pressure environment,” shared Kristan. Afterwards, they all enjoy a catered lunch.


• They also sponsor AARP Driving Safety Program classes. The AARP Driver Safety Program is the nation’s first and largest course for drivers age 50 and older.

Another funeral director doing things her own way is Sharon Mace, of A Special Touch Funeral & Cremation Service. Her intention back in 2004 was clear: “I wanted a welcoming, relaxed place. My office is decorated like my home. Many people breathe a sigh of relief when they walk through the door, simply because they feel so comfortable there.


Sharon often gifts her clients with a “relaxation bag,” containing a candle, tea, cookies and bath products. “I tell them to go home and relax, take a nice bath and just let it go. I get referrals from clients because of those bags.


For both firms, those “early days” were sometimes disheartening. Yet they persevered, confident that their essential differences from their competition would put them ahead of the game. And they have.


Other innovators include:

• Erlewein Mortuary’s wildly popular grief support program, Erlewein Adventures, offers the bereaved entertaining fee-based events, like May’s Ohio River cruise, with lunch, on the Belle of Cincinnati. The program started as a grief support group to help widows and widowers, but has grown over the years to include caregivers and others in need of community, support, and a bit of fun.


• The new Yoga Program for the Grieving developed by Christine Biggins, of Maroun-Biggins Funeral Home. The program revolves around seated yoga, enabling anyone to participate. With Christine’s authenticity, candor, and expertise, I know it will be well-received. You can learn more at www.christinebiggins.com.


Feeling inspired? If so, here are 5 things can you do today to start freaking out the competition:

1. Stare down inertia.

This is the big one. Instead of worrying about your external competition, realize the only competition you face is paralysis and inaction. Get up every day to help people change their world for the better.


2. Give people what they want.

Do you know what that is? If not, follow Kristan and Bob’s lead! Host monthly Lunch and Learn events –where everyone learns – including you. Then act on what you’ve learned.


3. Listen to everyone.

Set Google Alerts for your name, and the name of your firm. Listen to what people are saying on review sites like Yelp.com, and generally pay attention to what’s going on around you. Innovation follows.


4. Don’t use people, help them.

When meeting other small business owners, ask them “How can I help you? What can I do to tell other people about you? What are your goals?” Then do your best on their behalf, and they might return the favor.


5. Remember, your legacy starts now.

It’s about helping your community become a better place to live.


These innovations are by-products of the sincerity of those involved; everyone profiled is leaving a legacy worth their weight in gold.

And, I bet they are really freaking out the competition.


What are some things you do at your funeral firm to set yourself apart from the competition? 

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  1. Anonymous

     Good points! I think being transparent can carry a lot more weight than some might realize!

  2. Kim Stacey

    I absolutely love your approach. Kudos for your willingness to be transparent. 
    “How much?” is the most common question I hear these days. Without a doubt, upfront pricing is essential to satisfying today’s consumers. Thanks, DFS Memorials, for being a “forward-thinking” funeral professional! 

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