Many funeral professionals can relate to the sentiment that “you get what you pay for.” The cost of goods, services and experiences has a direct correlation to our expectations. When something has a high price, we expect high quality – exceptional service, convenience, durability or status. Even though we are spending more initially, we believe the value we’ll get over the lifetime of premium products and services will outstrip the initial investment. The same rings true for client families.
All services are not equal, but it can be challenging for funeral professionals to articulate the value of their services in a way that families can understand. That’s why it’s so important for funeral professionals to communicate their services in terms of the value families receive, rather than the cost they pay.
There are few ways you can better communicate the value of your services during an arrangement conference:
- Start with a funeral home tour.
- Provide an arrangement conference agenda.
- Share your stories about meaningful services.
1. Start with a Tour.
One of the most effective ways to showcase your services is to greet every family at the door and take them on a tour of your building. For many funeral providers, their facilities are the showpiece of their offering, providing beautiful and thoughtfully designed spaces to meet a variety of needs. For some families, this may be the first time they’ve been in your (or any) funeral home. Getting them familiar with the space will help pave the way for a better, more comfortable experience for each family.
When you lead families through your building, take time to explain what each room is used for and how other families have found value in them in the past. Some examples of these explanations might include:
- “This is our visitation space. Visitations offer friends and family members an opportunity to view the deceased prior to the funeral, greet the immediate family and provide condolences. Many families choose to decorate this space with their loved one’s photos, collectibles or other meaningful items. I even had one family last year who brought in their dad’s beloved golden retriever and had him sitting on a pillow in that corner over there…”
- “This is our chapel. You can opt to have a service for your mom here or in another venue like a church or community center. If you decide to have your service here, we can provide livestreaming and video recording for any friends or family members who are unable to attend in person. We buried a wonderful woman last month whose husband was in the nursing home and unable to attend the service. We were able to livestream the funeral so he could watch it from his room alongside the other residents and nursing home staff...”
- “This is our reception space. Many families use this room to host a luncheon following their service where they can have food catered in, invite family and friends and share stories and memories of the deceased. One of my favorite services was for a woman who was very active in her church’s bridge club. All the members showed up with potluck casseroles and stayed for hours playing cards, all while laughing and exchanging stories...”
The tour also gives funeral directors an opportunity to learn a little more about the family you’re serving, their loved one and any initial thoughts they have on services for the deceased.
2. Provide an Agenda
Another thing that can help drive conversations around service is to provide an agenda to families when they sit down for an arrangement conference.
This does a few things:
- It helps funeral directors ensure that they are collecting all the information they need to plan a meaningful tribute.
- It gives families peace of mind knowing that you’re going to talk about everything – including price – and that all their questions will be answered.
- It helps keep the arrangement conference moving, providing a better experience for families and funeral home staff.
At Homesteaders, we’ve created customizable arrangement conference agendas to use with families who select burial and cremation. Contact your account executive to learn more.
3. Share Your Stories
Historically, service leaders in the funeral space provided similar first impressions – well-groomed professionals in pressed suits and spotless shoes welcoming friends and family members to visitations, funerals and graveside services. The differentiators were the personalities of those professionals, the quality of the facilities and how quickly they could arrive at the deceased’s home after receiving a call at 2 a.m.
But, in the last decade or so, we’ve seen a shift in the way consumers value funerals. In general, consumers now tend to be less community-centric, less religious, less rooted, less appreciative of tradition and professionalism. This change has had ripple effects that reach far and wide, and the funeral profession – a business that focuses largely on the value of ceremony – has been deeply impacted by these shifting consumer preferences.
Personalized funerals are important for a number of reasons, but the true core of their value is that they breathe new life into the value of the funeral itself and redefine how service leaders can compete in a crowded market. And they do so in a way that meets the needs of consumers who want to do things differently than their parents or grandparents.
The services that truly stand out to funeral professionals do so because they were deeply personal. I have yet to hear a funeral director talk about a service that was memorable because they arranged for a beautiful casket spray, played “Amazing Grace” and served buttered ham buns. Instead, they focus on the time they took the funeral procession through the drive-thru at the deceased’s favorite restaurant, or when they read a favorite children’s book at the funeral of an elementary school librarian. Those things stand out in their memories because they were vivid expressions of a unique life – and a unique loss.
That’s at the core of service leadership in today’s funeral profession. The most successful firms have mastered creativity and responsiveness. In those communities, those “unique” services have become standard, raising the bar for what service looks like for families. That’s truly the most effective way to compete today – find ways to lead in personalization that your competitor cannot replicate.
One of the best ways to compete on service is to share stories during the arrangement conference of the most meaningful and personalized services you have planned for families. Those stories demonstrate the value of your service beyond anything else you can say to a family, while also helping them think of creative ways to honor their own loved one.
These are just a few of the many ways to showcase the value of your services during arrangement conference. What other ways have you found to communicate this to families? Share your experiences in the comments below.