When a family turns to your funeral home, they’re placing a tremendous amount of trust in you, expecting that you’ll provide compassionate care for their loved one, carry out their wishes and handle all of the details during an emotionally vulnerable time. The process is much easier (for you and for them) when you have already established a relationship of trust between your firm and the members of your community.
This relationship isn’t just important when you’re serving families – it also helps build a preference for your funeral home among members of your community. When families are aware of and experience the benefits you offer, they’ll be more inclined to choose your firm over your competitors. Here are three questions to help you determine your funeral home's value to your community:
1. What issues and values matter to your community (and how does your firm fit in)?
To get a comprehensive answer to this question, consider conducting a market research study. Having a solid background in data can help you identify the value your funeral home business brings to your community. You may also be able to determine and leverage service gaps – things your community wants but doesn’t have available to them right now.
Market research can show important demographic information and trends. For example, is your firm located in an area with an aging population? Is your community home to many members of the “sandwich generation” (people who support both their own children and their aging parents)? Understanding these demographics will help you determine what funeral services your community needs from you – and help you earn a prominent place as a trusted provider.
Research also gives you the opportunity to learn more about community members’ attitudes and preferences. In addition to helping you provide meaningful funeral service offerings, this information can help you identify which philanthropic activities will have the greatest impact.
2. If your funeral home closed tomorrow, what impact would your community experience?
This is a complicated question with many elements to consider, but it is worth some thought. First, consider which competitors would provide your client families with funeral services. Would those families be satisfied with your competitors’ services? If the answer is “yes,” what would prevent a family from using your competitors’ services today? If the answer is “no,” what can you do to leverage your firm’s strengths?
Another factor to consider: Funeral homes are often an important part of their communities’ heritage. How has your funeral home helped shape the development of your area, both as a business and as a supporter of local causes and charities?
3. Is your community aware of your funeral home’s important role?
When it comes to establishing customer loyalty, funeral home businesses are at a disadvantage compared to other businesses. Funeral planning is rarely top-of-mind for consumers and death is not a topic most people wish to think about. That’s why public relations activities are so important for ensuring that families are aware of your firm’s service offerings.
For example, community events (such as the anniversary of your town’s founding) are an opportunity to host an open house to celebrate the milestone and highlight your firm’s significance. Also, seek meaningful ways to contribute to your community through charitable initiatives, using the information you’ve gained through research to identify the best ways to make a difference.
Chances are your funeral home is more important to your community than you might think – but it’s also more important than your client families realize. Take action to ensure families are aware of the role you have played – and will continue to play – in the development and well-being of your community.