How to Generate More Opportunities from Your Existing Families

You’ve heard it before. “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” When I was just a kid, that saying didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but after years of working with families (and now funeral professionals) l quickly learned the true value of that ‘bird in the hand’.

The bird in your hand represents the families you’re currently serving. They are your most valuable asset –but only if you treat them right.

Create Lifetime (Not One Time) Relationships
I recall one of my first days at funeralOne, when our CEO, Joe Joachim, told me:

“At every moment, everything you do, everything you say, needs to be with the end goal of building a lifetime relationship, not a ‘one time’ relationship.”

The same thing is true for your funeral home. Every touch point you have with a family needs to be looked at closely to make sure it enhances your brand… from the first call to the days, weeks, (and even years) after their service.

If you find that your team regularly “misses the mark” at any point in the cycle, then tweak things in your funeral home marketing strategy until you’ve got it right.

You’ve Got to Take Care of the Birds You’ve Caught
I found an interesting video on customer relationship management on a thought-leading blog called Social Media Examiner.

In the video, they mention a fact that made me stop and think for a minute: 80% of your business can come from 20% of your customers.

What does that mean? It means it’s cheaper to take care of one bird than it is to go out and beat the bushes for other birds.

In fact, it’s been said that it’s 6 to 7 times more costly to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. And in today’s economy, who has lots of money to throw into the bushes, in hopes of catching new birds?

The Best Funeral Home Marketing Plan
Before you spend a dime on a strategy plan of outbound or inbound funeral home marketing, you’ve got to build a family-focused culture.

Your funeral home needs to give such great customer service, your families will want to sing your praises at every opportunity. In other words, when you treat them very, very well, they’ll be more than happy to refer new business to you.

And you can help them do that. How?

• Ask them for feedback on the experience they had with your funeral home. Then follow-up with them. Engage in honest conversation, and don’t make excuses for poor service.
• If their feedback is good, ask them if you can publish an endorsement or testimonial on your funeral home website or Facebook page.

O'Connor Mortuary uses social media as a big part of their funeral home marketing strategy!

An Added Bonus:  Birds of a Feather Flock Together
Many friends of the family and members of the community will flock to support the family you are serving. You have an ideal opportunity to showcase your family-focused approach to future customers that are attending the ceremonies and gatherings.

Quality care will be noticed by these “birds in the bush” and will reserve your spot in their future decision making process. So without investing a dime in advertising you are getting your brand out 100-fold.

With a client family-focused culture, you build trust, and that trust leads to loyalty. Both are the essence of word-of-mouth marketing. Word-of-mouth and evangelism are gifts your client families give you, but you’ve got to earn them.

How do you create positive client family experiences to create a flock of advocates? Leave your comments below!


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, Schoedinger Funeral & Cremation Service, PMP Rooms, Cut Caskets, Meaningful Memories, Funeral of the Future research and several US patents specific to our industry.[RR1] Currently, Lajos is the President of Funeral Operations at funeralOne. He uses 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. funeralOne’s solutions include: website design, aftercare, funeral eCommerce, and personalization software. For more information about funeralOne, visit

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  1. Neil

    Hi Lajos – 

    Amen, I agree 100% with your post! I believe that in order to create advocates for our profession we need to be able to hire the right team members, engage them in the process of becoming life long learners. The engagement process will define your culture, our culture will define our families experience. If we consistently deliver on excellence in our services our advocates will do the rest.
    Thank you for this post!

    Neil O’Connor 

  2. Lajos Szabo

    Thanks for the comment. I have often thought that although the three most important characateristics of a successful funeral operation has been location, location, location, that maybe it is becoming people, people, people!