Market Research

May 25, 2017

From passé to progressive: Rethinking personalization

My objective for this article is to challenge readers to consider refreshing stale practices developed over the last few years. In addition, I challenge you to take a new view of what has become “passé” (for my fellow preppy rednecks, that means the same old thing) in many funeral home and cemetery operations. Offering keepsakes and personalization has become a staple in our business, but in some cases, the way we’re going about it is making us lazy and failing the families we serve. I wonder whether keepsakes and personalized products have the same value to the families you serve as they do to you. From a historical perspective, keepsakes to remember the dead have been around a long time. Just for reference, the Webster’s Dictionary definition of keepsake: “(noun) something given or kept as a memento.” It is interesting […]
May 7, 2017

The Right Fit

The Right Fit Placing personnel where they will flourish and training them for success.   By Jeff Harbeson   The funeral profession is facing a crisis, and it’s not cremation, it’s not foreign caskets, it’s not even online funeral providers, it’s ­people! Right now, there are more funeral directors leaving the business, either by retirement or simply quitting, than are entering. In my lifetime, I have been bombed, shot at and cut, so if readers get their starched boxers in a twist, so be it – I ain’t scared. The truth is that we (in the profession) are our own biggest enemy. That’s right – the king is butt-naked. In this country, each state has individual requirements to enter this profession. The regulations range from zero licensing to dual licensure with a four-year bachelor of science degree. I’ve been around […]
March 17, 2017

Social Media is Changing, Are You?

The world of funeral service requires financial conservatism in its approach to business. This world, inhabited by multigenerational audiences of providers and customers, also requires authenticity and is in dire need of concise and clear communication. Finally, in the funeral world in which we exist, relationships come first. If you agree that these viewpoints are on target, can we embrace, with our technology environment, the consequences of socially evolving? Although I am not a legend in the profession, I have memories of funeral services from my childhood on my father’s side of the family. For the small South Carolina town, where 11 generations of my relatives rest in a church cemetery, a funeral was indeed a social event. A front porch light left on at the local funeral home was a signal to the community that a body “was in […]
March 17, 2017

Choosing A Preneed Insurer

Consider the many variables that come into play when making this decision for your firm. Dear Dan, I have a new funeral home and am ready to decide between two preneed insurers. Each has its own marketing company that will do the local selling for me. One gave me a good pitch that focuses on the strength of its financial assets. The other told me that all insurers are the same but that they have a better marketing plan. So, if it were you, which would you choose – strong financials or the ability to put more business on the books? Signed, Preneed Dependent in Portland Dear PDP, You have narrowed down your search to two very candid and easily differentiated third-party marketing (TPM) companies. If one is going to focus on more sales, that will help you build your […]
March 15, 2017

Sell What Families Are Buying

How do you decide what merchandise to stock for cremation? Clue: Don’t rely solely on your casket sales rep. Dear Dan, My casket company salesperson has been a trusted adviser of mine for 30 years. He helps me with everything from merchandising to pricing, even hiring. He keeps me informed on industry news more than most of the industry periodicals. However, with my profits declining for the past three decades, I’m wondering if maybe I need another perspective. My cremation rate is increasing, and my rep recently introduced me to a new line of “cremation caskets.” He says families like them for cremation services and buy them more often than rental caskets. According to my rep, families don’t want the reusable outer shell with the replacement liner. My intuition is that the rental casket is much cheaper and therefore will […]
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