5 Years Into The Future Of Funeral Service


Five years into the future? I’m lucky if I can predict what I am doing next week!! That being said, enjoy these prognostications! My first one is that many of you will wonder if I had to look up that 5 syllable word!

In no particular order, here is what I’m predicting the funeral profession will look like in 5 years:

Cremation Rate: The national cremation rate will hit 57%. No surprise there but I don’t see this trend changing until the industry starts addressing some of the underlying issues brought on by the shift in demographics and pricing strategies. And this requires change, something we have not been very good at. But we’ll dig into this in more detail in a later blog post.

Online Funeral Arrangements: 25% of all funeral arrangements will occur online and many funeral professionals will discover that this scary proposition delivers more education and value more easily than when dealing with an actual human at the funeral home. There is a belief out there that quality funeral service requires human contact. This will be challenged and new learning will occur.

New Business Model: A new business model will emerge that turns the conventional wisdom of funeral service on its head. It will attack the four major costs of the industry—people, facilities, advertising and cost of goods—and dispel the common thinking that these things “are what they are”, and there is nothing we can do about them.

Publicly Owned Companies: There will be two less publicly owned companies. Time will push people into a corner and grow we must!

New Major Player: There will be a brand new major player in the industry, possibly not related to the funeral profession, that will approach the challenges of funeral service from a different perspective. I know, I know this has been predicted or feared for some time but I believe their less conventional way of doing things will appeal to the critical mass of Baby Boomer decision makers, creating larger and more attractive opportunities.

Cost Sensitivity: 70% of the industry will head down the cost sensitive path. I am not sure if we will hit rock bottom but there will still be a large opportunity for firms who believe in supporting the emotional needs of those touched by death.

Pre-Need: Pre-Need will go through a major shift. The current business model is struggling and as a result appears to be working at odds with the funeral industry. This friction will come to a head, smart business minds within the funeral profession will focus on it and new powerful solutions will emerge.

Victors of the Future: To the victors go the spoils. The victors of the future will be champions of change and not afraid of risks. In fact, their battle cry will be something along the lines of “Fail faster!!”

For the most part we don’t know what we don’t know, particularly about the future! And I am sure I have demonstrated that point effectively. But take a look around. The challenges we see all around us are the seeds of future opportunities. Risk, Learn, Grow! And in five years we’ll see how we did!

Want more insight on a certain prediction? Leave a comment to let us know!

funeral-service-predictions-lajos-szaboAbout the Author: Lajos Szabo, a licensed funeral director in Ohio and Architect by training, has been involved in funeral service since 1988. His portfolio of work includes, PMP Rooms, Cut Caskets, Meaningful Memories, Funeral of the Future research and several US patents specific to our industry. Recently, Mr. Szabo partnered with the Schoedinger organization to create a virtual funeral home business model named Funeral Choices. Subsequently, he served as Chief Strategy Officer for Schoedinger Funeral and Cremation Service, a 2,500 call 14 rooftop firm in Central Ohio. There, he was responsible for realigning this 150 year old firm to more effectively respond to the changing funeral service consumer. His role included refining company infrastructures, implementing information systems, resource allocation, MourningStar arrangement implementation, website development, social media integration and initiatives impacting the creation of healing experiences for those touched by death. Currently, Mr. Szabo has joined funeralOne as President of Funeral Operations where he will use his industry perspective to provide organizational leadership and develop several key projects in pursuit of his personal mission; changing funeral service to more effectively meet the needs of people touched by death.

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  1. 5 Years Into The Future Of Funeral Service : ConnectingDirectors.com | Premier Progressive Funeral Industry Publication | Stay Current. Stay Informed. Stay Elite.

    […] Source […]

  2. Roger Fleming

    What a blog……really nice

  3. Roger Fleming

    What a blog……really nice

  4. Anonymous

    I agree Roger! Stay tuned for more…Lajos is going to follow up with more posts and dig deeper into some of these issues!

  5. Matt

    Change in funeral service is inevitable.  What I, as a forward thinking funeral director find totally shocking is that 90% of the funeral homes out there (at least in this part of the country) can’t see it OR refuse to see it.  I tell all the families I serve that the days of the $10,000 – $15,000 funeral are quickly coming to an end.  The funeral homes out there that rely on those funerals will be out of business in 10 years, maybe less.
    Being online and VISIBLE ONLINE is also critical to success.  About ½ of our customers find us online and we anticipate that will grow.  Our firm has spent thousands on our website, SEO, and other online resources.  It is safe to say that in ten years (or less) funeral homes will be able to scrap any yellow page advertising they do and devote more to online.  Again, those that don’t will be having a clearance sale on caskets and urns at their funeral home.
    The modern funeral consumer is all about simpler options, more choices, and yes LOW PRICE.  So many funeral homes refuse to give in touting that this is just a “phase”.  They believe that the recession has done this to the industry and that it will turn around with the economy.  I used to believe that but no more.  Even IF the U.S. economy makes a 100% comeback, funeral service will not.  While the death rate will climb the next 30 years, the profit margin per funeral/cremation service will not.
    The survivors in funeral service a decade from now will offer both low cost services and also cater to those that want the red carpet rolled out for them (which will be few and far between).  Price is not everything and yes, a consumer does “get what they pay for”.  So with that being said the survivors will find a way to provide low cost options, with caring services.  That is precisely what we have done.  Our funeral home has been open less than 2 years.  Last year we served 70 families in our area.  It should be noted we are in an area saturated with funeral homes all selling the same thing…. In addition, we also compete with a major cremation society just one mile from our front door.  So again, while price is important, so is service.

  6. Lajos Szabo

    Matt, Thanks for your thoughts. Your family should be commended for their forward thinking efforts and not waiting for this “phase” to pass by or be rememdied by the elusive increase in the death rate. In addition to challenging the way we deliver funeral service I think that the people who thrive in the future will also challenge what funeral service itself is. Our families are already doing this on a daily basis! And we as an industry need to stop viewing this as an aberration but as foreshadowing for the future!

  7. Is it Time for Your Funeral Home to Evolve? | Funeral Blog. The official blog for the funeral & cemetery professions.

    […] right (and really, who is?!), then think “solution evolution.” I first heard this phrase from Lajos Szabo, experienced Chief Strategy Officer, and President of Funeral Operations here at funeralOne. I feel […]

  8. The Real Reason the Cremation Rate is Rising | Funeral Blog. The official blog for the funeral & cemetery professions.

    […] I predicted that in 5 years from now, the national cremation rate will hit 57%. Today, I’m going to explain to you where that prediction came […]

  9. 9 Valuable Lessons Funeral Service Learned in 2012 | Funeral Blog. The official blog for the funeral & cemetery professions.

    […] Lajos Szabo’s blog, 5 Years Into the Future of Funeral Service, we learned that not only is change here to stay, but it’s forcing us to rethink everything […]

  10. BruceSheree Wadd

    I very much resonate with the sentiments of the article. Major discussions here in Australia re trends. NSDA [no service no attendance] causing all sorts of angst, but it is merely saying to the industry – we want to do things our way.

    The smart and progressive operators are not getting caught by the guilt of tradition but realising the permanency of the change, the increasing astuteness of their customer and modifying their thinking and services to suit.

    The next few years are going to be most interesting to be involved….

  11. Tyson

    Hess is also important that when the part-time funeral inspector in New Jersey late Monday night, sweet prince.
    Fair eld taxi found three small boats and broke them free of their death.
    And then there is no core plot out of working there, Larry
    Ray and Lester French of Shady Point, OK.

  12. Harry

    Here is my web blog website (Harry)

  13. Bruce Wadd

    I just love the thinking, the willingness and courage to predict and know at the end of the day the future of the funeral industry is held within those willing to fail quickly to success. Working on it in Brisbane, Australia.

  14. jesse t esquivel

    I have been selling pre-need for almost 28 year,s worked for sci retired,what do you suggest for improving preneed I’m working for an independent funeral home in Corpus Christi tx. i write a little over 500,000 a year mostly cremations and i have notice a strong transition in that direction please let me know what ideas you might have thank you

  15. Alice Carroll

    It’s interesting to know that cremation rates are starting to affect the industry of funeral services. I think it would be best for me to look for a preplan someday so that I can ensure that I wouldn’t have to bother my loved ones when it comes to planning a funeral for me. That would also be a good way to make sure that I wouldn’t be cremated just as I would intend.

  16. Krystal Penrose

    Hi Alice, yes to be honest this is the #1 stressor for families, to be facing a loss and not having the capacity to make big decisions without knowing what their loved one’s wishes were. Preplanning or getting your wishes down in writing is a gift for everyone in your family no matter how old you are.

  17. Tommy MG

    I hear a lot of that the industry and how we do business is changing.

    I am curious on what people are thing of what a future “ future home”. ( next ten years ) looks like. More specifically the size of the building and what it contains – you need a lot of parking . Will these big buildings be something of the past

  18. Krystal Penrose

    Good question Tommy! Would love to hear from others on what they think!