Funerals continue to change as consumers are getting more creative in how they honor loved ones. When you personalize a service, it helps families find comfort in happy memories of their loved one’s unique characteristics and stories. Those special touches will help you earn your clients’ satisfaction, referrals and positive reviews. People who attend the services will also take note of the extra care you took to make the experience meaningful.
Explaining options for personalization is an important way for you to put your expertise to work for your client families. As we shared in a previous blog post about communicating the value of your funeral home's services, personalized funeral offerings can “breathe new life into the value of the funeral itself and redefine how service leaders can compete in a crowded market.”
It's possible to incorporate custom details into a funeral service plan without adding significant additional expenses. I spoke with Homesteaders Life Company account executive Jamie Dravecky, who brings extensive experience from her previous roles in the funeral service profession, about some low-cost ways to help your funeral home client families plan personal and memorable services.
Incorporate personal stories.
There is no rule for how a funeral service must be conducted, so use that freedom to get deeply personal in honoring the deceased. Listen to the family and you will pick up inexpensive ways you can personalize a funeral.
Each detail has the potential to become a part of the funeral service that family members and friends remember for years to come. If they were a Jimmy Buffet fan, for example, then put on a mini concert in the form of a playlist. Were they a gardener? Provide decorative stones people can take home to place in their gardens. Were they an avid cook? Then hand out recipe cards of their favorite dish.
Dravecky referenced one family whose loved one had a large collection of baseball hats. The family brought the collection in for the service, and each attendee got to take home a hat from the collection. This was a free, but deeply personal way to connect.
“It doesn’t just impact the family but also the visitors coming in the doors,” Dravecky said. “The funeral isn’t just for the deceased, it’s for the families.”
Offer digital memorial options.
During the pandemic, funeral homes adapted their offerings when in-person services were not possible. Many expanded their digital services in the form of livestreams or more interactive online memorials. These options continue to bring value for families who use digital channels to connect with each other and remember their loved ones.
Online platforms can also be a source of ideas to share with clients who are looking for budget-friendly ways to include their extended communities in the services. Consider making a private Facebook group to memorialize the loved one. Share memories there ahead of time, and then stream the services through the group.
My own mother passed away this February. Her last profile picture was a list of banned books. This was very representative of who she was, so we made a Facebook graphic that people could share in her honor. We also made the list of books into a bookmark that guests could bring home. This gave us a way to honor her beyond just the services – we now drop those bookmarks in free libraries and continue to share the Facebook graphic.
Fill a box with memories.
If a theme or connection to the loved one doesn’t initially stand out, then just give the family an empty storage tote to take home. Ask them to fill it with memories, and then place them around the space to spark conversations around happy memories.
These are just a few of the many ways you can build relationships with client families through thoughtful, attentive services. Personalized services become even more meaningful if you mention them during your follow-up contacts with families, who will appreciate that you remembered stories they shared about their loved one.
What are some of the most memorable customized details you have seen incorporated into funeral services? Share your experiences in the comments below.