A team of people meets


Written by Jacob Terranova


There’s the old saying that self-reflection is the first step toward self-improvement.


While it’s true for our personal lives, it’s also a truth in business. A little time set aside to reflect on your funeral home can go a long way.


If you’re looking to grow your funeral home, reach more client families, or beat out your competition, here are five simple questions you can ask yourself to help position your funeral home for future success.


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1. How are we different?

There’s a funeral home in New Orleans that offers “extreme embalming” services. It’s a practice that gives the deceased a life-like pose and puts them in a setting that reflects their personality or hobbies.


That’s what Miriam Burbank’s family decided to do. At her funeral, Miriam’s embalmed body sat up in a chair with her Busch beer nearby and a disco ball overhead — celebrating her life the way she liked to live.


Extreme embalming definitively sets that New Orleans funeral home apart from the competition. Although your funeral home doesn’t need to go that extreme, it does need to offer something that sets you apart from everyone else in town.


The funeral home market is getting crowded. By not having anything unique to offer families, your funeral home is going to have a tough time staying competitive.


You might be familiar with the phrase “unique selling proposition.” It’s basically just a business term that describes how your funeral home services or products are different from the other guys down the road.


Having a unique selling proposition is extremely important. It’s essentially the answer to the question of “Why should I choose your funeral home?”


When reflecting on how your funeral home is different, here are just a few areas you can focus on:

  • How your facility is different than other funeral homes in the area.
  • The unique, personalized products and services you offer that a competitor doesn’t.
  • Your funeral home’s history of working with the community.
  • Your funeral home’s diverse payment options.
  • Your funeral home’s green or alternative burial services.

2. What do families want?

It’s a question not just to ask yourself, but to go out and ask your families. Feedback from families you’ve served in the past can help you plan more meaningful services, and insight from families you haven’t served yet can show you how to win their trust. It’s a win-win for everybody.


A simple survey is all it takes. Using their responses, you can build a proactive business plan that helps you identify changing trends or traditions within the community, and that keeps you ahead of your competition.


For tips on building and planning your own client family feedback survey, check out this blog to get started.


3. How can we save time?

Time is money. If you’re looking to cut back on expenses, look at how your funeral home can save time. (And with the new overtime laws set to take place December 1st, it means this is going to be even more important. To learn more, click here.)


So what are some ways to beat the clock? The best advice is to embrace time-saving technology.


Modern office technology that’s integrated into every aspect of your job has proven to cut back on routine paperwork, allows for faster communication with staff, and will help improve overall efficiency with everyday tasks in the funeral home.


For more advice, Small Business Trends has compiled a nice list of 50 time-saving tips you can read here.


4. How can we add value?

This is another good question to ask, especially if your funeral home has faced declining revenue due to more families choosing cremation over traditional burials.


Simply raising prices won’t work anymore. Some families have shown they won’t — and others can’t — pay for the higher costs of a traditional burial.


What can your funeral home do about it? Take a page out of a wedding planner’s playbook. Wedding planners have done a great job cross-selling services (another business term that just means they have found new ways to make money without raising prices of their old services).


How can a funeral director do this? Think of adding a few of these to the service you offer families:

  • An e-commerce store right on your website to sell flowers, memorials, and other tribute items. It’s a simple way family and friends can honor a loved one from anywhere in the world.
  • Enhanced aftercare services to help families heal.
  • Personalized traditional stationery and tribute products.
  • Catering or reception services for families to use.

5. What can we be learning?

As JFK once put it, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” And it’s true — the best leaders are the ones that are endless leaners.


So don’t let learning stop in the classroom. Whether it’s for you or your staff, a commitment to continuing education can help your funeral home stay competitive. There are several resources out there: free online courses, seminars, workshops, even networking events like NFDA. It all depends on what you want to learn.


LinkedIn offers great educational courses through its partnership with Lynda, an online education company. These courses include anything from small business marketing to photography classes — and all at reasonable prices.


One final tip: Don’t ask these questions once and leave it at that. Come back to them in a year or two. See how your funeral home has grown, and how it can continue to do so in the future.