5 Tips for Talking to Families About Pre-need Funeral Planning


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A family has set up an appointment to learn more about pre-need funeral planning… now what? The most effective pre-need professionals are able to explain the benefits and address concerns about preplanning in a way that’s relevant to each family’s situation.

When meeting with a family, you’ll need to ensure they’re empowered with the confidence and information required to take the next steps. This starts with establishing your funeral home as a trusted resource and continues through the process of completing the prearrangement paperwork. Here are five tips to help you successfully talk to families about pre-need funeral planning.

1. Establish trust.

Although planning a funeral in advance can bring comfort and even joy, it may also be an emotional experience. The process requires a relationship of trust between the family and the pre-need professional. Ensure that families feel confident in your funeral home by sharing your firm’s history and service to the community. Also, be sure to explain your personal role in helping with advance funeral plans: that you will help guide them through the steps, present all their options and answer their questions along the way.

2. Learn about the family’s needs.

Ask the family to share why they’re interested in making advance funeral plans. Homesteaders’ 2015 survey of policy owners revealed that the most common reason that the respondents decided to prearrange was that a friend/family member had recently died. If a family tells you they’re interested in prearranging because of a loved one’s recent death, ask them why this experience prompted them to take action. This can open up a discussion about the benefits of prearranging, and may even provide an opportunity to begin discussing specific funeral preferences.

3. Be perceptive.

You need to establish trust with clients at the beginning of the conversation, but it’s also important to ensure they’re at ease throughout the appointment. When meeting with a couple or with multiple family members, be sure that each person is included (and engaged) in the conversation. If a person seems uncomfortable at any point, acknowledge that funeral planning isn’t something that people like to think about. However, planning in advance is an opportunity to make decisions now so family members won’t have to make them later under emotionally difficult circumstances and time constraints.

4. Use relevant examples to share benefits.

Learn more about the family’s previous experiences with funerals, and how these have impacted their perceptions in positive or negative ways. For example, a person may share that he or she had a stressful experience planning a funeral because family members couldn’t agree on the arrangements. This example presents an opportunity to explain how advance funeral planning can help avoid conflict between family members, so they can focus on supporting one another. During the arrangement conference, a person could also tell you about a unique, uplifting memorial service he or she recently attended. Establish that advance funeral planning will make it easy to incorporate personalized elements.

5. Explain how you can accommodate their wishes.

Families need to know that your firm can meet a variety of needs, but they also don’t want to feel overwhelmed by choices. When it’s time to begin making prearrangements, start with broad preferences (such as disposition and general ideas about the service), and then move to more specific selections. By doing so, you’ll help the family determine what they really want without the frustration of sorting through irrelevant products and services. Recognize that each person’s wishes are valid, and share that your funeral home is equipped to help them ensure those wishes are carried out.

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