So far, this has been a year of transformation at my house – literally. Following some unfortunate yet necessary home improvement projects, I’ve become well acquainted with options for various repair services and contractors in the area. And that means I’m also in a position to share my experiences with those businesses with friends and family members who are looking for similar services.
When I share a recommendation, the first thing I mention usually isn’t the high quality of work (although that is an important factor) – it is the people who I worked with to help solve my problems. The companies whose employees were passionate about doing their jobs well – and demonstrated it through their willingness to share their time and knowledge with their clients – were the ones that earned my referrals.
The same is true for any profession – an exceptional team of professionals can make all the difference and help a good company become a great one. Excellent preneed professionals can help leverage the many benefits of preneed for your firm, including creating highly satisfying experiences for your client families. Here are a few tips to help you develop a preneed team that can help your firm achieve its goals.
Seek team members with the right characteristics for the role and your funeral home.
Success in funeral service requires top-quality professionals who go above and beyond to meet the needs of client families and grow the business. In addition to the typical job requirements and responsibilities, consider team members who exhibit the ability to:
- Develop expertise: Families need to be able to rely on preneed professionals to explain their options and help them understand the preplanning process. Professionals should be willing to learn everything they can (and stay up-to-date on trends) so they can share information that will help their client families make satisfying decisions.
- Think creatively: Creativity allows preneed professionals to help families plan highly personalized and meaningful funeral services. This trait can also help a preneed professional find new ways to reach out to members of the community, whether it is through new marketing campaigns, aftercare programs or public relations events. The characteristic can also come into play when evaluating lead sources and identifying areas of opportunity.
- Ask the right questions: Preneed professionals must be perceptive when it comes to discovering the potential needs of their client families. Often, this includes asking questions that will help guide the conversation through a great experience for the clients that can ultimately lead to valuable referrals for your firm.
There are many other potential traits that help preneed professionals achieve success. And, of course, the qualities will vary based on the needs of your firm and the characteristics of your community.
Set clear goals and expectations – for your entire staff.
Work with your team and with preneed partners to develop goals and map out an achievable plan to reach them. Then, hold your staff members personally accountable for their part in reaching the goals.
A successful preneed program really is a team effort, and anyone in your staff can play a role in ensuring clients are satisfied after prearranging with your firm. Ensure everyone at your firm is trained on the process to help families receive prompt, seamless service, no matter how they contact your firm or who they interact with.
Provide ongoing training and education.
It’s important for preneed professionals to be willing to learn in order to provide the best possible service to client families. Encouraging and facilitating high-quality training will help them develop their skills to the best of their abilities. Training for preneed professionals is an ongoing process as the industry continues to change and consumer attitudes and preferences shift. It can also take many forms, from periodic job shadowing with others in the funeral home to formal preneed continuing education credit courses.
Homesteaders offers opportunities for preneed training and continuing education throughout the year – visit our education page to learn more. Plus, find out about other industry events, including opportunities for training at state, regional and national conventions, on our events page.
Demonstrate appreciation for hard work.
Take time to consider opportunities to show your appreciation for your team’s hard work. Sometimes, a simple gesture of gratitude can make all the difference. An occasional “thank you” note, recognition at a staff meeting or a team-building lunch can help ensure team members know they’re appreciated for what they do to help your firm grow.
At Homesteaders, we celebrate an annual Employee Appreciation Week that includes a staff breakfast and events that encourage team-building. We also honor outstanding team members through our Homesteaders Heroes program, which is especially meaningful because the nominations are submitted by peers at the company. Our culture is a key part of our success, and it’s important for us to recognize and celebrate accomplishments.
These are just a few of the many ways you can help develop an exceptional preneed team for your firm. What are your top tips for success? Share your thoughts in the comments below.