A strong aftercare program is a necessary aspect of funeral service, with program benefits that can far outweigh the cost. Aftercare is an extension of the support you provide to families, which helps build loyalty to your firm. Continuing end-of-life care with funeral aftercare services can create more satisfied customers who could become brand advocates and recommend your firm to others. Plus, aftercare can open the door to future prearrangements from family members. If you are ready to start providing this excellent value-added service to your client families, take a look at these simple aftercare ideas.
1. Make Follow-up Phone Calls
A simple phone call can make a huge difference in someone’s day. Setting reminders to call client families at specific intervals, like two or four weeks after a service, can be a simple way to start a funeral aftercare service. If you are unsure what to say, try writing a short script that touches on all of your main points before you begin. The goal of your phone call should be to build your relationship with the family member and remind them that you are still a resource in their time of need.
2. Send Cards
Mailing sympathy or ‘thinking of you’ cards on holidays and important anniversaries is another great aftercare idea. If your firm keeps a database of your client families, set reminders to send cards for holidays that can be difficult after a death, like birthdays and wedding anniversaries. With this approach, you can be as detailed or as simple as you like. A handwritten note to say you’re thinking about a family can be a welcome gesture and keep your firm top of mind.
3. Provide Finding Hope Booklets
The Finding Hope booklet series provides grief information for specific situations, like the loss of a husband or wife, parent or even a beloved pet. The booklets are tailored specifically to women, men and children. Writing a quick note in the cover of a booklet and presenting it to a client family can work similarly to sending a card while also providing them with professional information from grief expert Dr. Jason Troyer. Homesteaders offers these booklets at a reduced cost to our customers through the Marketing Order System.
4. Try Video Messages
Instead of sending a generic email, consider filming a short personal video message with your smartphone and sending it to a client family. Video is becoming the most popular means of communication, so utilizing it not only shows that your firm cares about its families, but that you are also technologically savvy. Similar to a phone call, you can create a short script highlighting a message you would like to send. Unlike a phone call, you can easily practice and edit the video message until you get it just right.
5. Host Support Groups
Consider opening your location to host local grief support groups, or creating one of your own. Connect with a local grief counselor and work with them to set up regular support group sessions for people in your community. This service could truly help someone who needs it. Plus, offering this service in your funeral home will position you as a thought leader in grief support and will keep your name top of mind for past client families.
6. Create Community and Holiday Events
Much like support groups, community and holiday events are meant to bring people together to share their experiences. Gunderson Funeral Home in Fort Dodge, IA, hosts a yearly holiday event called “A Time for Angels.” The event is open to the public and features speakers from different faiths who give short addresses about grief and spirituality. At the end of the event, each attendee receives an angel ornament in honor of the loved one they lost.
Phil Gunderson, funeral director and owner of Gunderson Funeral Home, said, “We recognize that grief has no timeline, therefore the event is open to anyone and everyone in the community who has experienced the loss of a loved one. Many times, it takes a year or more for people to feel comfortable attending, so we welcome them at any time.” Local events like this can show goodwill toward your community and also create a preference for your firm, even from those who may not have used your services in the past.
7. Give Holiday Gifts
One of my favorite examples of holiday gift aftercare comes from outside funeral service. The ALS Association is a nonprofit that is close to my heart. Their mission is to find a cure for Lou Gehrig’s Disease, as it currently has a 100% fatality rate. The Iowa Chapter of The ALS Association has its own version of holiday aftercare for the families and widows of those who have lost their battle with ALS. Each holiday season, the staff sends personalized forget-me-not ornaments to those who lost someone within the past year. The gift is just a small reminder that the organization cares about the family members and the memory of the person who had ALS. Funeral homes can easily mimic this gift-giving opportunity for their own client families.
8. Sign Up for Families in Transition®
Homesteaders’ exclusive Families in Transition® newsletter program provides valuable aftercare content for at-need and preneed families. The beautifully designed newsletters offer a gentle aftercare approach. The newsletters are customized with our eligible funeral home customers’ information and mailed quarterly on their behalf for one year to selected family members. This great program can help firms stay in touch with client families and better serve their end-of-life needs. To find out if your firm qualifies for Families in Transition,® contact your account executive.