Why Your Families Don’t See Value in Funeral Service (And What To Do About It)

Funeral Service


Why is it so damn hard to communicate the value of funeral service to the families we serve?

Most people in the industry recognize that the end of funeral service as we know it is near if we don’t effectively educate families on the value we deliver.

With that said, here’s a few reasons why I think we’re becoming less relevant and valuable, and what we can do about them:

There is an assumption of value in funeral service.

What? An assumption of value in funeral service? We need to break this down a little more to keep our traditionalists from jumping off the cliff!

The underlying issue is the belief that most consumers (if not all) receive value or benefits from the offering we provide them.  This is simply not valid anymore.

The marketplace of our families has been fragmenting since 1965 and the dominant reason has been families are searching for better value.  Meaning that either they are not receiving enough benefits for what they are paying for, or they are paying too much for the benefits they receive.

Value is in the eye of the beholder.

The key to the previous point is the fact that a benefit for one person is not necessarily a benefit for the next person (think Baby Boomers vs. Silent and GI generations). Delivering the same benefit for the same price will produce a value problem for different kinds of families.

To complicate this a little more is the fact that the amount of benefit isn’t
“all or nothing”, but a continuum that varies subtly.

We don’t fully understand what Boomers value yet.

I have maintained in several other posts that the Baby Boomers do not find the same value as our more traditional families. They’ve been searching for a different offering or a lower price to satisfy their value needs.

So before we communicate value, we first have to find/deliver the benefits that are relevant to our current families’ values. This will start with getting to know the Boomers, what they like about funerals, and what they can do without. That’s when we’ll finally be in line with what they value.

The benefits vs. cost ratio is broken.

Quite simply, there are less people who can afford to pay for a $6,000 to $8,000 funeral service. And instead of trying to create more affordable services that meet their needs, the funeral industry has tended to look for different ways to extract more dollars from these families.  The end impact is a huge disconnect and a mistrust of the industry.

In the end, affordability solves the problem of the dead body. Although the amount of benefits is minimal, the price is too. No one is saying that the emotional needs of the family are being met, but Baby Boomers are finding other ways to accomplish this – whether it is from the creation of their own services to use or counseling services after the fact.

So what do we do?

First and foremost, we must improve the quality of communication with families.

Most people don’t want to talk about death due to their inherent fear of the topic.  Even families dealing with imminent situations will avoid the inevitable topic of death/funeral service because it feels like preparing for the death is giving up on the person who is fighting for their life. Or, many families think planning for death will jinx themselves or their loved ones.

And unfortunately, we as an industry have contributed to this fear by talking in euphemisms as if the topic is too terrible to talk about directly. I believe that this, in large part, is due to the misguided attempt to keep pain away from the families we serve.

By softening the terms and discussion, we erroneously believe we can save them from their sorrow. But what we are really doing is delaying the opportunity to deal with their pain to save ourselves headaches.

Instead of focusing on the loss and death, we need to shift our message towards hope and the positive possibilities that are out there…as a result of healthy grieving.  This shift will allow us to create more communications that more effectively engage families in a constructive way.

Lastly, and most importantly, we must have value to communicate about. Value relevant to our families, not us.

Once we establish that value and shift our messaging, there will be a hope for a better tomorrow.


How do you think funeral service can communicate its value to client families? Share your thoughts in the 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, eCommerce, and personalization software. For more information about funeralOne, visit www.funeralOne.com.




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  1. Dale Clock

    Very good points. I agree that one of the elements is going to have to be the message that we market the public. I will say again that the true value of a funeral is the gathering together of people and the sharing of stories.

    Gathering together and Sharing stories are emotionally positive things. In other words, people “like” the idea of gathering together and sharing stories. That’s what our society does every day at restaurants, church, clubs, school ….. The marketing message to people is going to have to convey the positive message of gathering together and sharing stories AND that we (funeral Service) are the folks that can help them do that when someone dies.

    While all of us know that funerals help people start healing and deal with their grief, I don’t think it’s possible to successfully market that message. Grief and healing are not “positive” things. They convey pain and hurt, things that people don’t like. I’m not saying that dealing with grief and healing are not important (or viewing bodies or having religious ceremonies), I’m saying that the message we need to start with has to be positive. Like this “Gather Together, Share The Stories, Celebrate a Life, Heal the Heart”. A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.

    If we realize that everything we do has to help people gather together and share stories then I think we can bring people back to us and let us help them with their events, instead of just being the people who take care of the dead guy.

    Dale Clock.

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