An empty conference room with tables and chairs

 

Written by Jacob Terranova

 

Now that the 2017 NFDA Convention has wrapped up, let’s talk about all the things we learned. As always, this year’s convention was filled with exciting new technology, discussions about emerging trends, and helpful advice for the modern funeral professional.

 

From our time exploring the expo floor to sitting in on the educational workshops, we identified four big themes that could be found all over this year’s convention.

 

Let’s talk about what we learned. (And make sure to check back in the coming week to read our in-depth analysis of each of the following topics!)

 

NFDA Key Theme: Cremation

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but cremation continued to dominate the conversation at the convention this year. By 2035, NFDA predicts the cremation rate will dominate funeral service, with a projected rate of cremation reaching 78.8% of deaths. But in the workshops at the convention, funeral directors shared their own ideas and experiences for how they are embracing this growing trend.

 

Their ideas included:

  • Focusing on creating new experiences based on the full spectrum of care. Meaning your funeral home should connect with families both before and after the funeral. For example, a funeral home can build an aftercare initiative that reaches families in unique ways. One of the workshops we attended mentioned that you can go beyond traditional aftercare, such as holding a holiday remembrance program. You also should be reaching out to families on other holidays, such as birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, etc.
  • Using effective communication techniques in the arrangement conference. Communication is key to showing the value of your services. One example is expressing the value and importance for a family to view a body even if they choose cremation.
  • Finding your value statement and being able to effectively demonstrate it to families. It starts with answering the question, what can your funeral home do that no other funeral home can?

NFDA Key Theme: Communication

Communication was another topic discussed extensively this year. That’s because communication is critical to a funeral home’s success. For example, a funeral director needs effective communication to increase community awareness of a funeral home’s services. Good communication skills also help to create new rituals for families who are nonreligious. And it can help to demonstrate your funeral home’s value in the arrangement conference.

 

But it doesn’t stop there. Good communication skills are an effective part of building successful relationships. Not just with client families, but with community figures such as hospice professionals, your staff, and even your own family members.

 

John Maxwell, the leadership expert and author, touched on this in his keynote address. He said that 85% of business is simply people business. Meaning that most of what a funeral director does requires mastering the soft skills, such as listening, emotional intelligence, nonverbal communication, and open-mindedness.

 

NFDA Key Theme: Technology

Simply walking the floors of this year’s expo hall will give you an idea of the growing importance of technology. Technology is not only important for your funeral home, it’s important for creating new and unique experiences for client families.

 

It’s something several sessions touched on. Technology, such as tribute videos, custom stationery, software integrations, or mobile tech can help significantly impact how your funeral home performs. And it can help improve employee productivity, client family satisfaction, and generate more leads for your funeral home.

 

NFDA Key Theme: Self-Care

Finally, self-care for funeral professions was a big talking point this year. The big takeaway was that in order to continue to provide compassionate care to families, funeral professionals must take care of themselves.

 

Compassion fatigue, burnout, moral distress, and vicarious trauma are all conditions that can take a toll on a funeral director and impact their professional and personal lives. A simple start to practicing self-care is to create a daily affirmation. These affirmations can be about something you’re thankful for or a promise to reward yourself in some small way.

 

What were your important takeaways from this year’s NFDA convention? Share with us in the comments below!

 

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