A look at the NFDA sessions we attended this year.

 

Written by Jacob Terranova

 

Couldn’t make it to Boston for the 2017 NFDA Convention? Or didn’t have time to go to all the workshops? We’ve got you covered with highlights from some of our favorite workshops we attended.

 

This is part four of a five-part series about some of the informative 2017 NFDA Convention workshops.

 

Aftercare: Strengthen Your Families and Business

In this session presented by Nancy Weil and funeral director Charles Castiglia, we learned what it takes to run a successful aftercare program. We also learned how it benefits both your funeral home and your families.

 

To start, successful aftercare requires a broad set of skills. A few of them are:

  • Event planning
  • Good writing ability
  • Graphic design skills
  • Imagination, creativity, and compassion
  • PR and advertising skills

If your funeral home needs help with any of the above, consider hiring an intern or local marketing agency to help implement your aftercare program.

 

Weil and Castiglia also mentioned two kinds of aftercare programs. There are your basic programs, then there are your out-of-the-box ideas. Here are a few suggestions for both:

 

Basic Aftercare Ideas:

  • Grief support packets
  • Remembrance services
  • One-year anniversary cards

Out-of-the-Box Ideas:

Lastly, the speakers touched upon the benefits an aftercare program brings your funeral home. Some benefits include:

  • Direct and positive connection to your community
  • Unique selling point over competitors
  • Free positive publicity
  • More at-need referrals

Engage Consumers with Have the Talk of a Lifetime

During this presentation, we learned there are five key trends facing the funeral profession. And by engaging families with the Have the Talk of a Lifetime campaign, your funeral home can be better prepared to meet these trends.

 

The five key trends mentioned in the session were:

  • Personalization — A recent study found 62% of families want a personalized service. And Baby Boomers find that more personal services help with the grieving process. By encouraging families to use the Have the Talk of a Lifetime cards, you can help them start meaningful conversations about the memorialization process.
  • Cremation — Cremation is rising, but many families are still unaware of their options. For example, many don’t know they can still have a viewing even with choosing cremation. The Have the Talk of a Lifetime campaign helps families start thinking about their options. It also can lead them to your funeral home to learn more about their options.
  • Digital — The funeral profession is now in the digital age. And it’s changing how families get their information about funeral service. The Have the Talk of a Lifetime campaign offers free digital resources that your funeral home can customize. These materials will help drive traffic to your website and help families learn more about memorialization.
  • Advanced Funeral Planning — NFDA found that 62% of families feel planning their funeral is important, yet only about 20% ever get around to it. The campaign offers a free preplanning checklist for your funeral home to use. It’s been shown to help drive preneed arrangements for funeral homes.
  • Off-Location Funerals — More funerals are taking place at locations other than the funeral home. The Have the Talk of a Lifetime campaign materials help keep your funeral home in the planning process. It allows you to discuss with families how your staff and services can help in the planning process, even if the family is choosing a different location.

To learn more about the Have the Talk of a Lifetime campaign and the materials available to your funeral home, visit the official website.

 

Overcoming Objections During the Arrangement Conference

Funeral director Bill McReavy said that many objections that occur in the arrangement conference come from a lack of basic understanding of funeral service. He mentioned that families are often underinformed when it comes to funeral service and their options. He also noted that funeral directors sometimes have trouble communicating the value of those services to their families.

 

His advice? Take some notes from the famous Dale Carnegie. McReavy offered seven valuable tips he learned from Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People.

 

  1. Become genuinely interested in others.
  2. Remember that a person’s name is the sweetest and most important sound.
  3. Be a good listener. And always encourage others to talk about themselves.
  4. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
  5. Show respect for people’s opinion. Never tell them they are wrong.
  6. Always try honestly to see things from another person’s point of view.
  7. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

Next, the workshop taught us how to apply these concepts during the arrangement conferences. Here are a few examples:

  • Explain the value of your funeral home staff. For example, mention to them that your staff handles all the details of the service. The family then can focus on being there with friends and family.
  • Always ask what the deceased was passionate about. Display those passions at the service. Also ask what their occupation was. For example, for a fisherman’s funeral service, one family wanted to honor their loved one by including the fisherman’s boat in the funeral. After some planning with the funeral home, the whole funeral procession included several family and friends towing their own boats, following the boat of the deceased fisherman.
  • Offer unique services and equipment for all families. For example, if a family chooses cremation, show them displays of urn arks and how they can provide a dignified display for their loved one’s urn.

Did you attend any of these NFDA Convention workshops? What did you learn from them? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

 

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