Why Families Prearrange: What Funeral Professionals Need to Know

Not all families have an opportunity to prepare for or understand their loved one’s end-of-life wishes. In situations where death occurs unexpectedly, the process of planning a meaningful service or celebration of life without their loved one’s input can take an emotional and financial toll on the family members they left behind. That is why it is important to ensure families know that making advance funeral plans can help relieve that burden for their loved ones. Learn why you should discuss the importance of making advance funeral plans with families and discover preneed trends and resources to help you have productive conversations.

Why You Should Discuss Advance Funeral Plans with Families

Planning a funeral service or a celebration of life requires many important decisions. Families need to take as many as 125 actions following their loved one’s death. These tasks can range from securing vital information and notifying loved ones and business organizations to selecting funeral service options and paying bills.

According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), the median cost of a funeral service with a viewing and burial in 2021 was $7,848, up 6.6% from 2016. And the median cost of a funeral with cremation was approximately $6,971, up 11.3% from 2016. Like all goods and services, prices in the funeral profession continue to increase. Preplanning can help families select their loved one’s preferences and lock in today’s prices. This process can eliminate some of the emotional and financial burdens so families can instead focus on celebrating their loved one’s life when the time comes.


What You Should Know About People Who Prearrange

To have productive conversations with families about making advance funeral plans, it’s essential to frequently gather and review demographic and behavioral data of consumers. This approach enables you to gain a high-level perspective on the overall market and discover ways to improve your services and methods of communicating with your community.

Homesteaders conducts a biennial survey of policy owners to learn more about their characteristics, preferences and experiences regarding prearranging. The data and insights from this study help funeral professionals understand what motivates people to prearrange and better serve their client and prospective families. Here are a few insights you should know about people who prearrange:

Most Use the Internet

Most preneed policy owners surveyed use the internet for entertainment and to complete a variety of tasks. As more people become comfortable with purchasing goods and services online, your firm needs to be ready to meet the changing expectations of today’s consumers.

What this means for you: Giving families an option to make their funeral arrangements online with platforms like eFuneral can help streamline the prearrangement process for them and your firm.

Many Who Prearrange Are Widowed Individuals

Phase of life and family makeup are important factors in the preneed decision-making process. Preneed policy owners are significantly more likely to be widowed than the general population. In fact, 25% of respondents were widowed individuals, compared with only 6% of the general population.

What this means for you: Adding aftercare services or expanding your current program offerings can help your firm provide more assistance and extend relationships with client families following their loved one’s service.

To find more insights surrounding what you should know about people who prearrange and solutions to help your firm connect with more families, download our latest Preneed Motivators report.


What Happens When People Consider Prearranging

Consumer decision-making continues to evolve, which means having a better understanding of what influences a consumer’s decision to prearrange can help your firm develop more effective preneed strategies and programs. Here are four factors that influence people’s consideration of prearranging:

Most Policy Owners Learned About Prearranging from Someone Who Had Already Prearranged

Nearly half of the respondents to our latest policy owner survey (47%) first found out about prearranging because they knew someone who already made advance funeral plans.

What this means for you: Earning word-of-mouth referrals continues to be incredibly valuable for your firm. One of the best ways to share your story is to have your brand advocates tell their friends and family members about the outstanding experience you provided for them.

Losing a Loved One Is the Top Reason to Plan Now

When a loved one dies, it’s natural for people to start thinking about their own death and how they would like to be remembered. They might even subconsciously evaluate their loved one’s service and consider which elements they would – or wouldn’t – want for their own service. For people who are actively involved in planning their loved one’s funeral – especially if it’s their first experience with the process – the decisions can feel overwhelming. This experience can also spark a desire to prearrange because it gives them an opportunity to remove this burden for their own families and helps ensure their final wishes are fulfilled.

What this means for you: An aftercare program is a great way to continue supporting families during their time of grief, all while keeping your funeral home top of mind. And unlike other preneed lead generation efforts, you have no competition with aftercare – you already have established a relationship and level of trust with the family, which allows you to position your funeral home as a valuable resource.

It Can Take a While to Make Advance Funeral Plans

More than a quarter of our survey respondents (29%) said that more than two years passed between when they first thought about prearranging and when they completed the paperwork.

What this means for you: Know that advance funeral planning isn’t likely to be top of mind for potential clients, even after learning that it is available. Continue to share the benefits of prearranging and closely monitor the effectiveness of your funeral home marketing messages.

Most Policy Owners Considered Only One Funeral Home When Making Prearrangements

More than 70% of preneed policy owners only considered one funeral home for their advance funeral plans.

What this means for you: Your firm should strive to be the go-to resource for advance funeral planning in your community. Today’s consumers want to be informed, and by providing information about the benefits and choices that prearranging provides, you’ll be more likely to be the firm they call when they’re ready to put those plans in place. 

Download the latest edition of Preneed Motivators to discover more details about what influences consumers’ consideration of prearranging and solutions to help your firm stay top-of-mind.


What People Experience During and After Prearranging

Your client families’ experience with your firm influences their level of satisfaction with their decision to prearrange. Providing incredible experiences for your existing client families can lead to positive word-of-mouth referrals or online reviews for your firm, which can, in turn, increase potential preneed clients’ level of confidence in your business and their decision to prearrange.

Preneed Satisfaction Is Very High

Our recent survey results showed that every policy owner indicated satisfaction with their decision to prearrange their funeral. In fact, nearly all policy owners (98%) selected one of the top two categories: “completely satisfied” and “very satisfied.”

What this means for you: Building up your online reputation with reviews from satisfied families gives your funeral home credibility when people see many positive online reviews.

Policy Owners Are Very Likely to Recommend Prearranging to Someone Else

Nearly all policy owners would at least consider recommending prearranging, and more than 40 percent of them had already recommended it within a few weeks of making their own arrangements.

What this means for you: This data further reinforces that preneed is a service that is highly likely to generate those valuable word-of-mouth referrals. Make it easy for clients to share their experiences with others who could benefit from advance funeral planning.


How to Keep Up with Preneed Trends

Here are a few resources to help you keep up with preneed trends and learn skills to have productive conversations and effectively serve client families.

Successful Sales Essentials Webinar Series

Homesteaders’ Successful Sales Essentials is a free webinar series for preneed professionals, designed to help you leverage opportunities and overcome challenges so you can better serve client families. Topics include sales process for the preneed consumer, tips on handling consumer objections, funeral planning techniques, interpreting body language and more. Check out our upcoming webinar schedule and view on-demand training.

Successful Sales Strategies

Successful Sales Strategies is an in-person course designed to help preneed professionals enhance their sales process. Participants will work with expert instructors to discover and implement new tools and best practices. Learn more about the program and find upcoming sessions.

Preneed Motivators

For more than a decade, our Preneed Motivators report has provided exclusive insights about the motivations and experiences of people who make advance funeral plans. The newly released sixth edition, which you can download now for free, continues to offer information to help you better understand the preferences of the people who are most likely to prearrange and fund funerals. This data is an excellent starting point to help you effectively communicate with people in your community about the benefits of this valuable service.

Giving loved ones the gift of advance funeral planning can ease the emotional and financial stress they experience during the most difficult days of their lives. And even though it’s tough to consider, those who prearrange can gain peace of mind knowing that they are still taking care of their families, even after they’re gone.

New 6th Edition Preneed Motivators: Get the report to learn the real reasons why consumers make advance funeral plans.

The information in this blog post is based on the results of a 2021 Homesteaders policy owner survey. Download the report for additional survey details.

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