The best thing about today’s new technology is you can do so much more than was thought possible 10, or even 5, years ago. But also, what you can do today is so easy that you don’t need a degree from M.I.T. to use it.

 

You hardly hear anyone digging up that old expression, “he can’t even program a VCR.” I guess when the technology becomes obsolete, so do the expressions. “He can’t even program a DVR” just doesn’t sound right. And besides, who can’t program a DVR? The old family VCR has joined items once thought of as household staples in the technology museum. I think the VCR is on display right alongside the fax machine. Does anyone use a fax machine anymore? Really?

 

Twenty years ago, those households that had home computers used them pretty much as super word processors. A kilobyte hard drive and 3 megabytes of RAM was all we were going to need, right? Now the home computer is the home entertainment center — a sound system, a TV, video player, video recorder, etc.

 

But technology is often boiled down into “bells and whistles” except when it answers the question, “how does this help me?”

 

As funeral directors, every firm’s mission revolves around providing the best possible service to families who are seeking a unique, personalized tribute to a loved one. Is there anything more disappointing to a family than going home after saying goodbye, thinking back at the service and concluding that the funeral could have been for almost anyone — so rote, so generic.

 

Technology has provided tools in the funeral director’s tool belt to allow him or her to rise to the challenge and create a meaningful memorial. And the personalized service should start the minute the family walks through the door of the funeral home.

 

One of the most tangible areas where technology has intersected with personalization is in the area of the memorial products a funeral home can provide a family for a service. Usually the first thing a visitor will do upon entering the funeral home is sign his or her name to the register book, or select a memorial card. If you think about the memorial cards you might have taken from past visitations, should any two be alike? We don’t think so.

 

Sure, there are a lot people who share the same hobbies or occupation. But that’s not making something personal — at best, a funeral home that has some broadly-themed stationery is just putting a family’s loved one into a fairly general subgroup.

 

The way to do personalization properly is to start with a blank piece of paper. Then shared memories are turned into words, and photographs are selected to create an iconic image that is personal, unique and specific. Recently, Frazer Consultants introduced Tribute Stationery, which leaves the generic behind and allows a funeral home to work with a family to commemorate a loved one’s life well lived — all from the same blank piece of paper.

 

The two technological components behind Tribute Stationery include easy-to-use software and a printer that can handle your volume. The inspiration behind this model is print-on-demand capabilities. The benefits are threefold. For one, it reduces the need for a wide variety of pre-printed inventory in your funeral home; two, you are not sweating out a delivery from a third party when a visitation is about to begin; and three, the funeral home will realize significant savings on printing costs. Plus, no one will go home empty-handed because restocking supply is as easy as clicking “print.”

 

As I said earlier, not only is technology more comprehensive, but it is also easy to use. The starting point for our funeral stationery is an easy-to-use software package that offers more than 450 themes to capture a loved one’s interests, hobbies, or occupation. Each theme includes a layout for a register book, memorial folder, prayer card, acknowledgment, bookmark, sign, and DVD packaging to allow funeral directors to provide their families with personalized stationery that matches any interest, hobby, occupation, or religious background.

 

The 450 themes offer quite an inventory, but it doesn’t end there. These themes merely act as a frame to allow a funeral home and a family to take the process a step further and incorporate personal family photos, which create a truly unique expression that reflects a wide range of personal memories of a loved one. Think about the “wow-factor” of a package that allows for endless design possibilities.

 

Think of the bond this can help form between you and your families. You get to engage in personal conversations with a family, talking about their personal memories and sharing family photos. Think of how you can use this information in other aspects of your service.

 

When you talk about personalization, how can only having seven or eight themed stationery packages work? When you think about all the different interests, hobbies, occupations, or religious backgrounds a person can have, you realize it won’t. What we’ve developed is a way for funeral homes to get rid of all of their pre-printed stock. The only thing they have to inventory with us is blank, perforated stock.

 

With these options, families don’t have to be confined to a memorial template to create a personal tribute for a loved one, because our funeral stationery lets every family create their own.

 

The response has been tremendous.

 

“I have never seen a more personal, professional product that generates more public awareness than the Frazer line,” said Marty Mitchell, owner of the Mitchell Family Funeral Home in Marshalltown, Iowa. “We find that the memorial folders are being kept, people who normally don’t notice do notice, and we have the chance to be proactive on this product in the community.”

 

In time, a family member or friend will be going through a scrapbook or prayer book and they will see this memento created with the Tribute Stationery package. And not for a second will they wonder from whose funeral did that card come from. It could be from only one.

 

For more information, please visit the Frazer Consultants website.