As we wrap up the year, you're probably considering what you'd like to achieve in the year to come. Effective goals can help you plan ahead for the future, get better results, improve the service you provide to client families and help unite your staff around a common cause. But like many planning activities, goal-setting can often get lost amidst the day-to-day demands of operating a successful funeral home.
There are tools available to help make goal-planning a little easier and to ensure your firm will be able to achieve those goals. One strategy for developing a goal is to use the S.M.A.R.T. acronym. Although the words that form the acronym vary across different sources, the purpose of the exercise is the same: ensuring you’re able to achieve what you set out to do. Addressing each of the elements in this goal-setting tool will help you set effective, attainable goals for your funeral home business.
Is your goal’s scope clearly defined? Each goal should be detailed enough that everyone on your staff understands what they are working to achieve. Long-term objectives tend to be looser in their definitions, but each of your goals for the coming year needs to be clear-cut.
How will you know whether your firm is progressing toward goal achievement? Set a concrete benchmark – usually this involves a specific number or percentage – so you’ll be able to track your progress toward the goal. Keep staff members informed of progress and ensure their efforts are recognized.
Is your goal realistic – and do members of your funeral home staff agree? The best way to ensure buy-in from your entire team is to consult with them when setting goals. They’ll be able to help you uncover potential challenges that may arise when working toward a goal – or tell you if you can realistically aim even higher. The staff members will also be able to help identify what additional resources will be required or how your current resources may be used more efficiently to meet your goals.
Note: An alternate “A” for this acronym is “action-oriented,” which ties in well with “achievable.” A goal should require work on the part of each staff member, and the expectations for each person’s role in achievement of the goal should be made clear.
Does your goal match your firm’s culture and the vision you’ve set for your business? You work hard to differentiate your funeral home from others in your market, so it’s important to consider whether a new goal will help or hinder those efforts. Will your short-term goals put you on track to meet your long-term objectives while maintaining (or even better, exceeding) the high standards you’ve set for the services you provide?
What is your firm’s timeline for achieving the goal? It’s important to ensure that your entire goal is achievable, and that includes the deadline you set for completion. This is another area in which it’s important to solicit feedback from members of your team. They will also be able to help you set a reasonable timeline for achieving the goal. Where will you be at the “halfway” mark of your goal achievement period? Knowing this and being able to identify other important milestones will help keep your team motivated.
Another important element to consider in goal achievement is flexibility. It can be tempting to think that the goal-setting process is done once you’ve addressed each of the elements above, but it’s impossible to account for every possible scenario your funeral home business may encounter.
Periodically review the goals and ask for additional feedback from your staff members. By staying actively involved with the goals you’ve set, you’ll help your firm achieve what you set out to do – for the betterment of your business and the families you serve.