Choosing a college is challenging. There are multiple factors that need to be considered – cost, location, size, offered majors, reputation, etc. When I was a senior in high school, I began applying to different colleges throughout the Midwest. I looked at state colleges and private universities. I went on numerous campus tours and talked to former and current students. When it was time to make a decision, I was torn between two state universities. Neither was too far from home nor would they put me in debt for the majority of my adult life.
I was ready to send my acceptance to one of the schools when my dad told me that I received another acceptance letter in the mail. I had applied to this particular private university as a fail-safe, but never really considered it as an option. My dad encouraged me to at least tour the campus to see what the school was like. I reluctantly packed an overnight bag and my dad and I drove down for a tour.
Before we even left the university’s parking lot, I turned to my dad and said “I’m going to here in the fall.” Prior to the tour, I was certain I wanted to go elsewhere for my college experience. However, after looking around just a little bit more, I found a place that I thought could help me succeed.
College is never cheap, and the school I chose is certainly not the most cost-effective choice. It is almost double what I would have paid to attend of the state schools like. But the experience was what hooked me: the tour guide that answered all of my questions, the friendly smiles from students as I walked around campus. This university was the only place where I felt I already belonged, where I could push myself to be the best version possible and expand my horizons when it came to a professional career.
Much like choosing a college, choosing a funeral provider can be difficult. Yes, price is a major component families consider when choosing a funeral home, but they are also looking for the experience.
Consumer articles encourage families to compare options from several funeral homes before making a decision. So, how do you make comparison shopping an advantage for your funeral home?
Showcase your strengths.
Take a look around your funeral home and notice something unique, something you do better than anyone else. Knowing what your competitors offer can help you see how you compare. Do you offer the best casket selection? Do you have an on-site crematory? Let your clients know what your specialties are and how you can make their loved one’s funeral memorable.
A good way to find out where your strengths lie is to take a look at feedback from client families who have used your services in the past. Follow-up surveys can be a great resource to pinpoint what you can improve on and what your firm is doing well. To get the best results, think about questions that could benefit your firm. Only you know what information would be useful to your particular funeral home, but here are some questions to consider:
- What was the most memorable thing about your experience with our funeral home?
- If you could change anything about your experience, what would it be?
- How well did our staff answer all of your questions?
- If you could change anything about our facilities, what would it be?
- How likely are you to recommend our services to your friends and family members?
Often, you can use this feedback to promote your business. Ask client families for permission to use their testimonials on brochures, pamphlets or your website. Having families’ real thoughts and reactions to your services can help you stand out when a family is looking for a funeral home.
Focus on the experience.
Comparison shopping doesn’t always mean just focusing on the price. Families could also be shopping around for the right person to handle the service of their loved one. Funeral planning can be made easier with a friendly and caring team helping you along the way. What do your funeral home staff members do to ensure families feel comfortable working with your firm from the start? How can they better communicate that your firm handles arrangements professionally and is able to accommodate unique requests?
Going back to my college example, if I hadn’t had a good experience when touring my college’s campus, I would not have chosen to attend school there. It was the people, the atmosphere and the overall experience that made me choose the school over any other college. It will be the same for families who are choosing a funeral home. They want and expect a good experience.
Consider how every interaction with a family could be an opportunity to differentiate your firm. If you exceed their expectations, they will likely become valuable customers and may even turn into brand advocates.
Foster your referrals.
If you want to stand out when families are comparison shopping, think about your past client families. Those who were happy with your service can be your most effective form of advertising. Word-of-mouth referrals from friends and family carry tremendous weight, especially in difficult times when stress and grief can cloud judgement. Homesteaders’ Pre-need Motivators survey found that more than 70% of consumers only consider one funeral home when making their funeral arrangements. Those referrals can go a long way toward ensuring your funeral home is at the top of the list when families begin looking for a funeral provider.
Being active in your community can also help build referrals. By doing so, you build brand recognition among families. If they know your name and brand and witness how you impact their community, they will be more likely to trust you with their loved ones for their end-of-life care.
When it comes to high-involvement purchases, like funerals, families are going to want to compare experiences, funeral homes and funeral directors. By keeping your strengths, the experience and the families involved in mind, you can make comparison shopping an asset to your funeral home.