We already know that a robust pre-need program is a valuable part of any funeral business. Not only does is help ensure the long-term security of your firm, but it also provides a service that families really want and need.
But pre-need can also have a valuable impact on your at-need business – beyond just growing market share. Below, we’ve included four ways your pre-need program can help improve your at-need services.
Pre-need increases brand awareness in your community.
Homesteaders’ policy owner research consistently shows that the vast majority of consumers do not shop around for funeral services. Our latest survey – completed in 2017 – found that 73% of pre-need policy owners considered only one funeral home when finalizing their arrangements. An active pre-need program can help ensure your firm – not your competitor down the street – is the first and only choice families consider when making end-of-life plans.
That has ripple effects for your at-need business. Even when families choose not to prearrange, they are still likely to be familiar with your services if they’ve encountered messages about advance planning from you, your staff and others in the community. The more familiar they are with your business, the more likely you’ll be their first choice for funeral services.
Pre-need fosters more educated consumers.
A common concern among consumers and funeral professionals alike is the difficulty of making important decisions immediately following the loss of a loved one. When emotions run high, it can be challenging for funeral professionals to communicate the breadth of their services, and it can be difficult for consumers to understand what they want and need. Making funeral arrangements in advance, when the emotional burden is much lighter, allows time to educate families on all the options available to them and offers them space to make informed decisions without the stress of recent loss.
This can also help your at-need business. Consumers who have recently experienced a loss often share their experience with concerned friends and family members. If a consumer sees you as a trusted, knowledgeable advisor who helped them make educated decisions, they are more likely to pass that along to others who need your services. And, the more your adept your staff becomes at educating consumers in a pre-need setting, the more comfortable they will be at doing so in an at-need arrangement conference.
Pre-need increases word-of-mouth referrals.
Homesteaders’ 2017 policy owner survey found that 56% of respondents first heard about pre-need from someone they know. That means that the majority of people who choose to prearrange hear about it from a friend, family member or trusted advisor who has personal experience with the process. Only 18% of respondents reported first hearing about prearranging from a funeral professional.
This makes sense when you look at the likelihood that someone who prearranges their funeral will recommend it to others. According to our latest survey, 96% percent of pre-need policy owners would consider recommending prearranging to someone else, and 42% already had within the first two months following prearrangement.
This has implications for your at-need business as well. If consumers are satisfied with their experiences at your firm, they are more likely to recommend your services – in any situation – to their friends and family members. For funeral professionals, an active pre-need program is an effective way to earn your client families’ referrals and grow your market share. Individuals who are interested in making funeral plans are likely to turn to trusted friends and family for information, and those who have prearranged with your firm are likely to recommend your services.
Pre-need emphasizes creative memorialization.
One of the best things a funeral professional can hear from a family after the conclusion of services is that they wouldn’t have done things any differently – that the service they planned to honor their loved one was a perfect tribute.
That’s a high bar for funeral professionals, especially in light of the increasing demand for creative, personal memorialization. As is the case with education, talking about creative memorial options is simpler in a pre-need setting when there’s more time to consider and make plans. It’s also easier to make those decisions when the person you’re honoring is at the table to talk about how they want to be remembered. Families don’t have to do any guess work in an at-need setting – they already know how their loved one wants to personalize their service because they planned it themselves in advance.
It’s also important to remember that end-of-life decisions tend to become ritualized among family members. Many of the decisions today’s consumers make about their own funerals are based on what they’ve seen modeled by others in their family. Cremation, in particular, has provided fodder for family tradition with 19% of respondents to Homesteaders’ latest policy owner survey reporting that they selected that method for disposition because someone else in their family had been cremated. The more individuals you provide with creative, personal services, the more likely others in their family will see the value in celebration and ceremony.
These are just some of the many benefits an active pre-need program can have on your at-need business. In the comments below, feel free to share some of the other things you’ve noticed in your own firms.