After nearly two decades in the funeral profession, I am confident a strong, active pre-need program is an essential ingredient in ensuring the long-term success and security of your funeral home. Pre-need not only safeguards your firm’s future, but also provides a valuable service to your client families.
If you are looking to establish or expand your firm’s advance funeral planning program, but aren’t sure how to begin, I recommend starting with these five rules for success.
1. Provide exceptional value and service.
When I first joined the funeral profession, I worked as a pre-need counselor alongside a funeral home owner who empowered me to go out and talk with the families in my community. He used to say that I would talk to 10 times as many people as he would on any given day, so my message was important. I found that families responded well when I could tell them what other people liked about working with our firm. Ultimately, my success was tied to how successful my funeral home was at meeting the needs of families. At the end of the day, I was an important link in getting information to as many audiences as I could find. The funeral home made it easy by providing exceptional service offerings that brought value to families.
In light of that, I would encourage firms who are considering a more active advance funeral planning program to start by ensuring your at-need services are meeting the needs of your client families. Then, you can work to model your prearranging services in the same way. Your pre-need program should be a mirror of your other quality services. Take time to assess your current products and service offerings, and make note of any areas that might need to be updated or improved before shifting your focus toward enhancing your advance funeral planning business.
2. Develop a strong aftercare program.
As funeral professionals, you know that word-of-mouth referrals can have enormous influence on a family’s end-of-life plans. Return business and referrals can greatly impact both your at-need and pre-need business. Not only is it important to make sure you are offering exceptional service to each and every family, but it’s also essential to continue to build relationships with the families you’ve served in the past so your firm remains top-of-mind when they need the services of a funeral professional in the future. One of the best ways to do this is to develop a strong aftercare program.
3. Stay up-to-date on industry trends.
In every industry, consumers want to work with professionals who are experts in their field. As a funeral professional, it’s important to stay up-to-date on industry trends so you can demonstrate your expertise to client families and ensure your firm is knowledgeable about new product offerings and services. Involvement in professional associations, subscriptions to industry publications and commitment to continuing education are all great ways to make sure you and your firm are seen as thought leaders in your community.
4. Know your market.
The best way to ensure your firm is meeting the needs of members of your community is to learn as much as you can about them. You will have a much higher rate of success when you know exactly what your client families are looking for in a funeral service provider. Invest some resources in market research to learn what your client families want and need, and allow that knowledge to influence the products you offer. Knowing what approach your market is likely to respond to will also help you narrow your focus to those efforts that are most likely to yield positive results.
5. Stay active in your community.
People like to do business with professionals they know and trust, and this is especially true in funeral service because you are working closely with families during a highly emotional and stressful time. Your client families want to feel comfortable when they walk into your funeral home, so it’s important to make sure you and your staff are both visible and approachable. Finding ways to stay active in your community through civic organizations, charitable groups or local churches reinforces your desire to provide great service to the whole community.
These five rules for success should go a long way toward establishing a healthy, robust advance funeral planning program. To gain more insights to help you grow your business, I encourage you to pursue opportunities for training and continuing education to achieve success.