“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” – A.A. Milne, The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh
I wanted to begin with this Winnie-the-Pooh quote as the theme of this writing. However, I will tie this quote back into everything at the end.
In our recently published 2020 Foresight Funeral & Cemetery Consumer Behavior Study, it reveals several key ways in which the pandemic has changed funeral and cemetery services in the minds and attitudes of the consumer in the United States—with most of these changes now universally recognized as permanent for a profession that simply has not changed significantly over the last century. Some key consumer behavioral changes are directly related to pricing transparency online and include the following:
A handful of states like California already require funeral and cemetery businesses to post pricing online, and the continuing trend is that many, if not the majority, of states will likely continue and follow suit. So, what does this all mean to YOU?
So I can already hear the thoughts that are (and probably have been) ruminating in your minds—but posting service and merchandise prices will just lead to a pricing war and competition that ultimately leads to a race to the bottom! Can it? It can. Will it? Well, that actually almost entirely depends on YOU. You see, posting your prices online is actually just the end-result to being transparent. The end-result to transparency of what, you ask? Transparency via pricing online is simply the end-result of: WHO you are and the identity brand of your business, WHAT it is that you do that distinguishes you from your competition, and WHY you became a funeral director/owner/operator.
Please allow me to illustrate.
Who are you? I am John Doe, proud owner and operator of Main Street Funeral Home in Smallville, Texas. I was born here as third generation in this town, and my own family and I have lived here for the past 26 years and are deeply rooted within the local community. My excellent staff and I at Main Street Funeral Home provide the most high-quality funeral and cremation services to all families that bless us with their trust during the most trying times.
What is it that we do? At Main Street Funeral Home, we pride ourselves in providing high value, personal service in care of your loved one and as importantly, in care of you and your family in times of grief. Quite simply, we absolutely must be at our best when you may be at your worst.
Why do we do what we do? I believe that it is my calling, my convocation to serve families grieving the loss of their loved ones by providing peace of mind and a personal memorial experience which honors your loved ones in such a manner that it reminds families and all their attending guests how lucky they are to have something that makes saying good-bye so hard.
The examples above are absolutely worth being transparent about online. You all have your personal stories, histories, and beliefs that are unique to you—use them to personalize your website. As funeral directors, we offer personalization in both services and merchandise to the families we serve every day and so, why would we not personalize our own business’ website to reflect the who, what, and why that is unique about us? You take great pride in your business and your facilities. Well, your website IS your business and facility in the virtual world of cyberspace.
Distinguishing yourself from your competition by being informative, educational, and transparent about who you are, what it is that you do, and why you do what you do online provides the raison d’etre for your pricing transparency. If you believe in what you do and have pride of accomplishment in the high value of service you contribute to your community, then you should not be afraid to charge for it because your passion, your calling, and your convocation realized in high value, personal services are not commodities.
Lastly, I will leave you with another quote, this time from Walt Disney:
“Goodbye may seem forever. Farewell is like the end, but in my heart is the memory and there you will always be.”
If you believe in and can transparently convey this goal of how you consistently serve your families onto your website for all others to see, then you need not fear the transparency of posting your pricing online. If you cannot convey (or have not yet conveyed) your identity and value on your website, then posting pricing online is not only the end-result but also becomes and fulfills the who, what, and why in the consumers’ minds that the website that they are visiting is a commodity business.