A Better Way to Set Goals

You are probably setting the wrong goals. In my opinion, these are examples of unhelpful goals:

  • To increase annual call volume to 200 calls
  • To increase the average amount spent per call by $300
  • To improve your customer Net Promoter Score

I am not suggesting that these are bad goals because some of them involve revenue, and you certainly deserve to be paid. In fact, I would be thrilled if you increased your call volume or your families’ satisfaction, but that’s not what this article is about.

I am suggesting these are bad goals because you don’t have direct control over them.

Don’t Set Goals You Have No Control Over

Let’s assume you make a goal of increasing your annual call volume by 10%. You present the goal to your staff and link their bonuses to that goal. But wait, here are several circumstances beyond your control that could drastically affect your ability to reach that goal:

  • Someone starts a new funeral home a block away from your main location.
  • Your competitor slashes their prices and launches an expensive advertising campaign.
  • The biggest employer in your county goes bankrupt, and your town instantly loses 5% of its population.

Any of these situations could destroy your chances of reaching your goal, and you likely couldn’t do anything to change the results.

Don’t Set Goals That Disregard Actual Progress

In addition to having no control over the outcome, these goals also make it easy to disregard actual progress. What if you make progress, but don’t fully reach your goal?

In the example above, staff bonuses are linked to reaching the goal. However, this type of goal doesn’t acknowledge the progress that falls short of increasing the annual call volume by 10%.

What if you increased your call volume by 7%? This is a nice uptick in the number of families served, but it doesn’t quite meet your 10% goal. Should you feel frustrated and upset? Are you really going to not give out any bonuses to your staff even though they made significant progress toward the goal? And, what if you gained 7% even though your competitor slashed their prices and started advertising on every billboard and church bulletin in the county? Shouldn’t you view the 7% increase as a big win?

SET GOALS THAT YOU HAVE CONTROL OVER

So, how do you set the right goals? You do so by setting goals linked to actions that you have complete control over. These include goals that you can achieve regardless of your competitors’ actions or your town’s changing demographics. Examples of these types of goals include:

  • Placing a follow-up call within one week of a service to check on the family
  • Providing every family served with basic aftercare resources within two weeks
  • Reaching out to each preneed lead within four days of receiving the lead
  • Giving a brief tour of your facility to every family before or after the arrangement conference
  • Conducting a lunch-and-learn seminar every three months
  • Writing six articles for your blog, social media accounts or local newspapers
  • Hosting monthly Facebook Live Q&A sessions

These are all goals that may lead to higher revenue, higher call volume and increased preneed sales. Are they guaranteed to increase your revenue or call volume? No. But these are all goals that are completely within your control and relate to serving more families. Simply setting a goal to “Serve 200 families” does not guarantee that you will achieve it. You must make your goals SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-specific.


Funeral service, especially these days, is stressful. I encourage you to avoid putting additional stress on yourself and your colleagues by setting goals over which you have no control. Take some time to examine the specific actions you can take to increase revenue and serve more families by setting goals that are fully within your control.

Join the Finding Resilience email community at homesteaderslife.com/resilience.

Subscribe to the Homesteaders BlogGet the latest funeral service tips and insights delivered to your inbox.