What Innovative Funeral Homes are Doing to Stay Ahead

Thinking ahead to “what’s next” can be particularly tough when day-to-day-tasks are demanding and the short-term future seems uncertain. But innovative funeral home owners and managers aren’t just thinking about the technology, services and products their client families want now. They’re looking ahead to how those current needs could influence consumers’ perceptions and the types of experiences their communities may expect from them in the future.

Here are a few of the ways forward-thinking firms can continue to connect with and provide the best possible experience for clients and, as a result, help set their businesses on a path for long-term success.

Using data to drive decisions

Marketing efforts can be more precisely targeted than ever before. Is your funeral home reaching every family you could be communicating with? And are the families you’re reaching out to really the ones who can benefit the most from your expertise and services?

Innovative funeral home leaders know that developing a strong understanding of the market — and the opportunities that exist — is a crucial first step. Sophisticated market research can help funeral homes determine their positioning in the community and serve as a foundation for making important decisions that can maximize marketing budgets.

Being a business people want to work with – and for

Innovative funeral service leaders know that creating an outstanding workplace isn’t just important for attracting and retaining the top talent – it also inspires their teams to be the best possible representatives of their firms every day.

Removing barriers for client families

Consumers are looking for options that allow them to obtain their own information and make purchases in fast, convenient ways. According to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey, the majority of Americans (81%) said they rely a lot on their own research when they make a major decision. Often, that research begins with an online search. When consumers in your community research options related to funeral planning, what kind of information and experience do they receive?

Innovative firms are embracing shifts in how consumers prefer to gather information and conduct business. They’re making it easier for their communities to learn about their options and implementing online planning tools that allow families to make decisions and put plans in place. Choosing the right tool — one that combines the seamless process consumers expect from online transactions with the impeccable service your firm is known for — is critical for maintaining high levels of satisfaction and earning positive reviews.

SOLVE Problems in Better Ways

Many of the most creative ideas — including the inspiration for inventions we use every day — started as problems that needed to be solved. Instead of simply adapting existing ideas, great thinkers examined the core of their problems to develop new solutions that would completely change how people complete tasks or participate in experiences — for the better.

When it comes to innovation at your firm, the “problem” may be a gap in a service area that people really want and need. Even if solutions exist to address this gap, they may not be the right choices for your community. Consider how the people you serve prefer to communicate with one another and memorialize their loved ones when formulating new ideas for services at your firm. Then you can address ways to improve how you help families:

  • Learn about and discuss the memorialization options that are available through your funeral home.
  • Incorporate meaningful recordings, social media messages and memorabilia into a memorial service.
  • Thank and stay in touch with people who attend a funeral service for their loved one.
  • Capture stories from visitors who come to honor the memory of a loved one.
  • Compile and preserve the photos, documents and other mementos they gather for a visitation.
  • Accommodate people who are unable to be present at a funeral service (due to circumstances such as distance or health limitations) so they can still be part of the event.
  • Create new traditions that help them remember a loved one long after the funeral services.
  • Record and update their own preferences for how they want to be remembered.

These scenarios offer the opportunity to think creatively and intuitively about the community you serve. Each of these has no one-size-fits-all answer, and the solutions could be surprisingly simple or uniquely complex.


The families who turn to your funeral home at the time of need are seeking experiences that help them remember their loved one and connect with others who knew them. They trust you to provide all of the available options. But are the options you present to them really the best you can imagine or simply the ones that are easiest and most accessible? If the answer to the question is the latter, how can you give yourself and families the ability to implement more creative solutions?

This is yet another reason why advance funeral planning is such an important way to ensure families have exceptional experiences with your firm. By planning in advance for how they want to be remembered, clients can work with you to develop memorialization options that have never been seen before — if for no other reason than both parties have the best possible conditions (more time and less stress) to think about them.


Even the most successful innovators have to consider the ever-changing needs of their communities in order to remain relevant. You may have been the first to offer a service such as pet memorialization in your area, but that doesn’t mean families in your community will automatically turn to you if other choices become available. Build upon your top-quality service with unique options to ensure that families are likely to recommend your services in spite of the growing number of alternatives.

Because you work with families every day, you’re highly attuned to their preferences and desires when it comes to memorialization options. But after a service, they may have had some time to reflect on what they wish they could have done differently. Gathering feedback after the service is important — it can help you uncover new opportunities that you (and even the family) hadn’t considered during preparation for the funeral.

Take all negative feedback — even if it’s not necessarily deserved — as a chance to innovate. If a client leaves a bad review of your firm because he or she failed to understand a policy you had already explained, how might you be more transparent in the future to prevent this type of miscommunication from happening again? Would it be possible to add a different option for families who don’t like how a certain detail of the service was handled?

Focusing on the entire experience

The path for a business’s overall success requires long-term strategic thinking rather than focusing on immediate goals. Likewise, bringing value to each family doesn’t end when the service is complete.

Funeral professionals’ expertise often allows them to anticipate their clients’ needs and be prepared to meet (and often exceed) them. Innovative funeral homes are making this outstanding service part of their process, finding ways to proactively offer support at times when their families need it most.

There would be no innovation without people who are willing to observe what is happening around them, identify things that could be changed and work toward making those changes happen. When firms work toward solutions to fill gaps in the services that are offered to client families, more and more people are able to experience the value of funeral service in new ways.

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