For a funeral director, success comes from how well you know your families. The more you know about your families and the community, the better level of service you can provide them.
But don’t just go with your gut. Take a look at the data — it can help keep your funeral home prepared for future changes, stay competitive, and provide services families want. Here are some areas to explore when it comes to analyzing your town.
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This is an easy place to start. Why does population matter? Well, if your town is shrinking, that’s going to mean your funeral home’s call volume will too.
On the flip side, if the town’s growing, your funeral home will have to make sure it has the resources to meet the growing population. That could include expanding to more locations.
There’s an article published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about this exact situation. The article shows how after an interstate displaced residents in one area of the city, 17 funeral homes either shut down or moved. The article found that population shifts are a huge cause for why funeral homes close.
The age demographics of your community members are another big consideration. Generational differences — more often than not — mean a difference in funeral desires and traditions.
If you live in a rural community with a population of mainly older generations, then the services you provide will most likely be traditional. But if it’s a town filled with younger Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, you might need to start providing more outside-the-box services.
Younger generations are changing the “traditional” funeral. New trends are coming from all directions — green funerals, higher cremation rates, more personalized services. And Millennials are now the largest generational group in America, beating out even Baby Boomers. By keeping an eye on the age demographics in your town, your funeral home can not only provide the services families want but adapt to future changes as well.
Ethnicity & Religion
Just like population and age, it’s important to not only understand your community’s ethnic and religious makeup but to track the changes. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to funerals. And ethnicity and religion both play a role in shaping funeral ceremonies. Look at a few traditions:
- Catholics allow cremation, but the ashes have to be buried or placed in a mausoleum.
- For a Muslim funeral, neither embalming nor cremation is allowed.
- Korean-Americans prefer to hold a funeral three days after a death or longer, depending on the social status of a person.
- For Hmong funerals, the services can last as long as three or four days.
Look at the data nationally — according to the Pew Research Center, by 2055, there will be no single ethnic majority in the United States. The Hispanic population alone is expected to double by 2050, reaching 119 million. Even just from 2015 to 2025 the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that the Hispanic population will grow from 60 million to about 75 million.
How will your community look in 2025? Ethnicity and religion are both key demographic factors to take into account when planning for the long term. Shifts in your community’s makeup mean adapting to new customs.
By performing an analysis of your community, you can better understand the wants and needs of your families. And by better catering to their needs, your funeral home can reach more families. Keep in mind that demographic trends change — try to analyze your community’s growth every few years so you can adapt accordingly.