It’s that time of year again – the time when, among the rush of the holiday season, we are all thinking about what next year will bring. For many funeral professionals, this also means making plans for achieving new goals in the months to come.
As we look forward, it’s important to take stock of some of the tools and resources we’ve gained over the last year. Here’s a look back at some of the lessons from this year that can help guide your plans for 2018.
Your expertise matters to your clients families.
Funeral professionals have an ever-growing array of options to help families make arrangements that truly meet their needs. While these choices offer tremendous opportunities for funeral professionals to demonstrate their creativity, they also create an even greater need for highly developed funeral planning skills.
Families often rely on funeral professionals’ expertise to help them match their preferences to the available options. Because consumers are likely to have limited experience with funeral planning, your skills are highly valued as they navigate the decisions that must be made throughout the arrangement process.
Ongoing training opportunities can help funeral professionals hone their abilities in this ever-changing environment. For example, the NFDA Arranger Training program can help you learn an effective process for collaborating with families to design meaningful tributes.
A robust pre-need program can have a powerful impact.
Time and time again, funeral professionals discover that a strong pre-need program can have far-reaching benefits for their entire businesses. Our 2017 policy owner study affirms that nearly all respondents were completely satisfied with their decision to prearrange. Providing families with this service that is likely to result in high satisfaction can give you a strong advantage in your market.
The respondents to the survey also had a high likelihood of recommending prearranging to others. Most of them (96%) responded that they would at least consider recommending it to someone else – and 42% of them already had within two months of completing their own arrangements. Those word-of-mouth referrals are among the most valuable forms of marketing for your business.
Learn more about the positive impact of pre-need on your funeral business by downloading our free white paper. Your Homesteaders account executive can provide even more resources to help you achieve success your pre-need program.
It’s critical to understand the needs of families who choose cremation.
There are many factors that can influence a family’s decision to choose cremation. According to our 2017 policy owner survey, the majority of respondents who chose cremation did so for reasons other than cost. Those reasons included:
- Others in my family have been cremated
- Environmentally friendly
- Family lives far away
Each of these factors have the potential to open up a discussion about the memorialization features that the family wants. For example, cremation may be a new tradition in a family, or they may be looking for options that allow family members to gather at a later time. Asking additional questions about the family’s needs and preferences can help you present options that allow them to make more satisfying decisions.
Technology is essential for connecting with consumers.
Today’s consumers expect companies and service providers to interact with them in meaningful ways, which should include maintaining a robust digital presence. Firms that actively manage their websites and social media pages have an advantage over their competitors who do not engage with their communities through these channels.
What are some of the ways you can leverage technology in your marketing in the coming months?
- Evaluate your website content to ensure it establishes your firm as an expert on funeral services in the community.
- Leverage SEO tools to ensure people in your community can find your website when they’re looking for information about the services you provide.
- Optimize your Facebook presence and implement a plan for reaching your goals through content that boosts engagement.
All of those tasks are ongoing projects, but if your firm has recently completed those, you can also look into other ways to connect with your community. For example, platforms such as Instagram are growing and offer compelling storytelling opportunities that could help you promote your brand.
Aftercare programs help maintain connections with client families.
Funeral professionals provide wide-ranging support for the families they serve, and this often extends long after the actual services have ended. Grief is different for everyone, and many firms offer additional resources and support for those in their communities who could benefit from compassionate care.
The aftercare support your firm offers can be tailored to meet the needs of your community, and even offered in partnership with other organizations and experts in your area. In the coming months, it’s worth reviewing your firm’s aftercare programs to determine if they are effectively serving families and maintaining connections with brand advocates. Offering grief support materials or implementing simple aftercare programs or memorial events can help build awareness and preference for your firm while providing a valuable service to your community.
What professional lessons have you learned this year that can help you achieve success in 2018? Share your thoughts in the comments below.