Whether we admit it or not, many of us would like to have a say in how we are remembered. When asked about the importance of different factors in the decision to prearrange, 83% of prearrangers said it was “extremely important” to be able to choose the arrangements they wanted. (Details about these survey responses and many other insights can be found in our free Preneed Motivators report.)
With that in mind, the role of a preneed professional becomes crucial in ensuring clients’ prearrangements truly reflect their lives. Clients can benefit from your expertise in turning their life stories into plans for meaningful memorialization. These plans can bring peace of mind to them now and tremendous comfort to the family in the future when preneed arrangements become an at-need funeral. Here are a few important things to consider as you help clients tell their stories through advance funeral planning.
Funeral planning is an inherently personal experience – for many people, it can initially be challenging to reflect on one’s own life and make plans to tell that life’s story through funeral service choices. Working with a funeral professional who has built up trust will ultimately lead to a more satisfying experience for the clients and help you earn referrals.
Strive to demonstrate these characteristics when building relationships:
- Responsive: Clients want to know you are listening to their needs and responding with options that reflect their preferences.
- Knowledgeable: Clients want to know you are an expert in the options you are presenting and can also be creative in adapting those options.
- Transparent: Clients want to work with someone who is committed to educating them about their choices so they can make informed decisions.
Ask great questions.
No one wants to imagine they will be memorialized with a generic, one-size-fits-all service. Even clients who choose what may be considered “traditional” service options can incorporate personalized elements that better tell their stories.
As is the case with writing a creative obituary, the key to getting to the heart of the story is to ask your clients great questions about their lives. There has been a push in recent years to encourage people to tell their stories, and these resources can be helpful references when working with your client families:
- Have the Talk of a LifeTime® conversation cards can provide inspiration for some of the meaningful moments and characteristics your clients may want to consider when planning a funeral in advance.
- StoryCorps is an organization that helps preserve and share stories, and its website offers inspiration for great questions to ask to help prompt discussions.
I hear many stories about incredible funeral services, but a few times a year I see something that really resonates with me – ideas that capture the story of the person the service is intended to honor in a truly meaningful way.
These ideas aren’t necessarily elaborate – sometimes small details can make a tremendous impact on reflecting a life well lived. Consider service elements that you have helped coordinate or that you have heard about. Save those ideas and present them as inspiration if they are relevant to the client’s needs and achievable for your firm and for the client.
Provide planning options.
Be sensitive to the fact that clients may prefer to work through their funeral plans in different ways. While some clients may already have preferences in mind for nearly every aspect of the arrangements, others may need some assistance with understanding and selecting options.
Homesteaders offers a variety of planning materials that can be useful for client families in every stage of considering funeral plans and putting arrangements in place. Contact your account executive for details about these and other resources for your preneed program.
How do you ensure your clients’ stories are told in meaningful ways through their advance funeral plans? Share your thoughts in the comments below.