Aftercare is a critically important part of any successful funeral home business. A thoughtful aftercare program can equip you to care for your community in new and different ways, build your brand and help you remain top of mind when families need a funeral provider.
There are many, many ways to approach your aftercare – from follow-up phone calls, visits and cards to community events for families who grieve during the holidays. But creative approaches – like the ones listed below – can complement your existing aftercare while helping you stand out from other providers in your area.
Organize a Rummage Sale
A dear family friend lost her mother late last year. Since the two of them lived several states apart, it wasn’t until the spring that our friend was able to return to clean out her mother’s house and put it up for sale. She spent two weeks there, sorting through 90 years of photo albums, christening gowns, holiday decorations and homemade art projects – an entire life, packed into a tiny, 1,000-square-foot home. As our friend filled box after box that she had no hope of fitting into her rented trailer, she repeatedly asked, “What am I going to do with all this stuff?”
Many of your client families have experienced the same problem. Their loved ones may have died weeks or months ago, but they live on in the items they’ve left behind: houses, garages, trailers and sheds full of clothes, household items and collectibles that no longer have an owner – or a home.
You could help families figure out what to do with their loved one’s belongings by organizing a semi-annual community rummage sale. You could collect items year-round at your funeral home, or partner with a storage facility in town. Then, ask for volunteers (perhaps a widow or two who is looking for a new project) to help sort the items a couple of times a year and staff a town rummage sale. You could even partner with a local non-profit to collect the proceeds and organize and distribute any leftover items to those who are most in need.
Host a Quarterly Aftercare Fair
One of Homesteaders’ most popular resources is an aftercare checklist, a simple document listing a few dozen tasks that must be completed in the days, weeks and months after a loved one has died. While funeral providers are available to help in the days immediately after a loss, they often do not have resources to help close out an estate, sell a house or file for Social Security benefits. But there are likely others in your community who are experts in those fields.
Consider hosting a quarterly aftercare fair so the families you’ve served can connect with others in your community who could help these tasks. There are many subject matter experts you could invite – here’s a short list to get you started:
- Monument Makers
- Lawyers, Accountants and Estate Managers
- Representatives from Veterans Affairs
- Cleaning & Lawn Care Providers
- Animal Shelter Volunteers & Pet Fostering Groups
- … And More
You could invite a local catering company to provide refreshments and offer referral bonuses for any vendors who recommend your funeral home to their clients.
Organize a Regular Walking Group
The loss of a loved one is consistently listed among the most significant stressors most adults will ever experience – right up there with the loss of a job, divorce and chronic illness. This is no surprise to those who care for grieving families every day. There are many, many things that must be done after a loved one has died – and they all must be done during what is often a time of emotional and psychological distress. When unaddressed, the stress associated with these tasks can significantly impact overall health, leading to weight gain (or loss), insomnia, high blood pressure, diabetes and even heart disease. One of the best ways to manage stress is get regular exercise.
Consider inviting the families you’ve served recently to be part of an early-morning walking group. Invite them to park at your funeral home and spend an hour walking around the neighborhood. The exercise and fresh air will be beneficial for their physical health, and the social engagement will help ease their mental load.
What other creative ideas have you tried with your funeral home aftercare? Share your experience and expertise in the comments below!