5 Funeral Homes Who Brilliantly Differentiated Themselves From Their Competition

funral homes
In today’s times, differentiating your funeral home from the crowd is essential to your success. The funeral homes who are dominating their competition have an understanding of their brand and audience that is tested, multi-dimensional, and proven.

Those funeral homes know that in order to succeed, your funeral home must understand these five things:

2. Know your target audience
3. Understand your goals (mission, vision)
5. Knowing your competition inside and out

Even more than that, those successful  funeral homes know you can’t always play it safe. They’ll never do something because “that’s how they’ve always done it.” So how can you start making a name for your funeral home in your community? Learn from these five funeral homes who know a thing or two about competitive advantage:

#1: Anderson McQueen Funeral Home

Why they’re different:

– While most other funeral homes were fighting against cremation, Anderson McQueen decided to pave the way to making it profitable.
– They’ve established themselves as the funeral home that’s “just like home.” Anderson McQueen’s families don’t just leave after the funeral service – they stick around to talk about memories of their loved one, drink coffee and just hang out.

How they’re doing it:

– Anderson McQueen opened an on-premise crematory called the Cremation Tribute Center. The crematory is complete with a Witness Room that allows families to take control of the cremation process of their loved one. The Witness Room is even equipped with remote controls so families can start the cremation equipment themselves.
– They opened a cafe that serves baked goods and Starbucks coffee that encourages families to kick back and stick around for awhile. Plus, they even have a Children’s Center so parents can remain worry free.
Anderson McQueen’s Cremation Tribute Center features a Witness Room that allows families to take part in the cremation process.

Anderson McQueen’s Cremation Tribute Center features a Witness Room that allows families to take part in the cremation process.

#2: Distinctive Life Cremations & Funerals

Why they’re different:

– Distinctive Life realized that more and more families were seeking funeral services away from the funeral home and is now helping his families do just that.
– They’ve become the go-to for personalized funerals that truly represent the passion and uniqueness of every life lived.
– Distinctive Life is actively dispelling the negative thoughts on funeral homes. They’re on a mission to make end-of-life planning much more comfortable and much less intimidating.

How they’re doing it:

– The founder of Distinctive Life, Jeff Friedman,  founded Texas’ first store-front retail funeral home called “celebration of life boutiques” with the motto “You need a funeral director, not a funeral home.” – With seven locations now open, it’s safe to say Jeff’s efforts are gaining traction.
– In order to dispel the negative thoughts on funeral homes, Distinctive Life took a different approach than most funeral homes when it comes to designing their interior. The environment they’ve created is beautiful, open and naturally lit, with window-to-ceiling windows.
– Jeff also designed his celebration of life boutique to be a resource of inspiration for families. With digital screens and tons of photography on the walls, he hopes to convey all the different ways families can say their farewells to their loved ones.

Founder of Distinctive Life Funeral & Cremations Jeff Friedman poses at one of his celebration of life boutiques.

Founder of Distinctive Life Funeral & Cremations Jeff Friedman poses at one of his celebration of life boutiques.

#3: Fairhaven Memorial

Why they’re different:

– Fairhaven Memorial is changing the way the world thinks about funeral homes. They’ve become more than a funeral home their community can count on, but a place for people to come together no matter what the occasion.
– They’re also paving the way for the funeral profession in the online world, attracting people of all ages in their community through social media and blogging.

How they’re doing it:

– By hosting frequent community events like Movies In The Park, concerts, garden tours, and even fire safety training programs, Fairhaven has become a place where people can come together to celebrate all aspects of life.
– With over 6,000 Facebook likes and an impressive grief blog, Fairhaven is also one of the most active funeral homes on social media. Instead of posting the usual obituaries and doom-and-gloom blog posts, their online presence is uplifting and engaging.

Founder of Distinctive Life Funeral & Cremations Jeff Friedman poses at one of his celebration of life boutiques.

#4: Last Things

Why they’re different:

– Last Things is helping consumers take more control of their death planning process, including what happens to their body after they pass away (a huge issue of that has created a wave of distrust towards the funeral service profession).
– They’re making the funeral arrangement process more transparent and easier than ever for the consumers of today.
– They’re also spreading awareness of new and different ways to care for and celebrate a loved one, including green burials and other options that are less harmful for the environment.

How they’re doing it:

– To make the process of planning your own funeral easier, Last Things hosts group and individual workshops.
– Last Things frequently hosts lectures around the U.S. that educate consumers of all ages on all of their options, including home funerals, green burials, and other alternative options. The lectures are also a tool to encourage families to research all of their end-of-life options before leaving the decision making up to anyone else.
– They also provide a comprehensive page on their website containing books, guides and pamphlets that educate families on all of the resources available to them for little or no charge. They even have a “Dreaded Paperwork” page on their site that gives families everything they need to take control of the funeral planning process if they choose.
Last Things presents a one-day home funeral workshop for people of all ages.

Last Things presents a one-day home funeral workshop for people of all ages.

#5: Hiers-Baxley Funeral Home

Why they’re different:

– Hiers-Baxley is completely revolutionizing the idea of a traditional funeral service. Instead of simply observing a service, Hiers-Baxley offers a way for funeral guests to take part in the service in an interactive way.
– They’re also known for making personalizing a funeral an easy process for families so that every single family can celebrate their loved one in a unique way.

How they’re doing it:

– Their one-of-a-kind program, “ShareLife Experience” which helps families showcase their loved one’s life in an interactive way, using all five of the funeral guests’ senses. Each service is held in a venue that features a wall-to-wall projection screen and the option for outdoor settings. Families can also choose from an array of sound effects, music (they’ll even hire a musician of the families’ choice) and scents to reenact what mattered most to the loved one.
– Hiers-Baxley also offers a certified Celebrant for families to guide them through the whole process of personalizing their loved one’s funeral. This helps make every funeral service Hiers-Baxley offers that much more unique.

This video explains the five sense approach to Hiers-Baxley ShareLife Experience.

How can you differentiate your funeral home?

Now that you see how other funeral homes have set themselves apart from their competition, it’s your turn. Use the five understandings we mentioned above to figure out what defines your brand, your audience, your goals, your USP and your competition… then make a plan of attack.

It will take time and effort, but I will tell you this: don’t ever be afraid to fail. The secret to breakthrough success is having the courage to try new things and learn from mistakes. It’s all about failing fast, but evolving faster.

How is your funeral home setting yourself apart from your competition? Tell us in the comments below!

Joe Joachim


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  1. Kirk

    Good article

  2. April R. Simanoff, Life Tribute Specialist/ Certified Funeral Celebrant

    My personal philosophy, as a Life Tribute Specialist, is that each of us is blessed to possess an inner spirit. As a Certified Funeral Celebrant, I seek to pay the ultimate final tribute to a life lived, offering some measure of spiritual comfort to the families I serve. The Celebrant-led funeral or memorial service is the more spiritual alternative to the traditionally clergy-officiated service, and it is not unusual to gear the service around the sometimes untimely circumstances of the death, and channel the rituals into the unique spirit of the departed. Offering mourners a more personalized experience, I specifically highlight the values of the families I serve; without any pre-conceived religious beliefs.

    Celebrant-officiated services are tributes to the deceased, in the style that grieving families define. As your Celebrant, it is my calling to be only a vessel for your vision. All too many people have really regretted opting for a clergy member, after sitting through their dearly beloved’s service–where a very obvious presentation of a “cookie cutter” service was made even more impersonal. In these situations, not only was the focus of the content less on the deceased than on the organized religion, but whatever was included was vague and obviously without genuine representation of the life who actually lived and loved. This realization comes after sitting through an In-Sight Institute Celebrant service. My services will include religious ritual and reference, when the family members request that I do so. Celebrant-officiated services highlight the unique personality of the deceased. I do not specifically seek to wash my services of any religious representation, but many of my client families prefer not to project the ritual values of organized religion; they will want me only to highlight God in a more universal appeal.

    I start with a blank template and the tribute naturally evolves into a vivid and moving image; a story that brings the spirit of your beloved back-to-life.

    I firmly believe it is how we live that defines each of us, and a service and eulogy should reflect the aura and active contributions, humble or grand, each person has shared while he or she walked the Earth. Every life is precious and everyone is worth remembering beyond the “cookie cutter” funeral or memorial service.

  3. Ashley Johnson

    I liked that you said that one thing to consider when looking for a funeral home is one that will give you the freedom to be more involved with the planning. I would imagine that being able to help plan the services would help in the grieving process. I would be sure to find a funeral home that would allow me to become involved in the process of planning the funeral in order to feel connected to my loved one.

  4. Krystal Penrose

    Hey Ashley, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. We have found this to be very helpful in the healing process, and really love hearing about all the beautiful stories behind that vulnerable time!