The article below originally appeared in the myHomesteaders newsletter.
We have spent a lot of time discussing shifting consumer preferences recently, and I believe we can all approach these changes with renewed optimism and enthusiasm. Unprecedented opportunities exist to provide innovative services that client families really want and need – and by doing so, we can promote the value of funeral service in our communities.
Reach client families in relevant ways, with relevant offerings.I’m encouraged to see that a growing number of funeral homes are taking advantage of new opportunities to build relationships with client families, but I think that as an industry we can be doing more. Social media websites continue to offer important platforms for communicating with your client families. A September 2014 survey by Pew Research Center revealed that 52% of online adults use multiple social media sites, a significant increase from 42% the previous year. Although Facebook remains the most popular social media site, it’s becoming critical to leverage all available channels in order to effectively communicate your messages and evoke action. These resources also provide a powerful way to educate families about the benefits of prearranging (which is something consumers have demonstrated they want and need).
Make pre-need a priority.There’s a reason so many successful funeral homes have higher than average pre-need to at-need ratios. Your firm’s pre-need program can provide one of the most effective strategies for growing your business and ensuring long-term success. In our business environment, serving a family again in the future is no longer guaranteed. Advance funeral planning can forge lasting relationships and build loyalty with your client families. Firms that diminish the importance of pre-need are leaving themselves vulnerable to losing future business to their competitors that are taking it seriously.
Focus on what makes your firm remarkable.What is your firm doing to become the funeral home that families are most likely to recommend? The most profitable funeral homes are often the ones that compete on the value that differentiates them from others in their market. But first, you have to understand what value really means to your client families by researching their demographics, attitudes and preferences. With that information, you can build upon your strengths and implement marketing strategies that address your community’s needs.
Each funeral home can benefit from the unique possibilities that exist in their community. By being proactive in identifying and leveraging these funeral industry trends, firms can help ensure their success long into the future.
Steve Shaffer is the Chief Operating Officer of Homesteaders Life Company. His prior experience in the funeral profession includes co-founding and serving as President-CEO of Foundation Partners Group, LLC. He has also served as a Funeral Service Foundation Trustee since 2010. Click here to learn more about the leadership team at Homesteaders.