People taking notes at ICCFA convention

 

Written by Jacob Terranova

 

Couldn’t make it to Las Vegas for the 2018 ICCFA Convention? Or didn’t have time to attend all the workshops you wanted to? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered with these highlights from some of our favorite workshops we attended!

 

This is part four of a four-part series about some of the eye-opening 2018 ICCFA Convention workshops.

 

How to Stay Relevant With Customers in 2018

One of the biggest challenges for small businesses — including your funeral home — is how to stay up-to-date in a rapidly evolving world. Today’s families have more choices when it comes to funeral service, and they have new ways to communicate and connect with your funeral home. Online marketing expert Kim Butler argues that in order for your funeral home to stay relevant, you’ll need to invest in these three key areas.

 

  • Digital Presence: To stay relevant with customers online, you’ll need to spend time where your families spend their time online. That means in addition to having a modern website, you’ll need to be active on social media channels, especially Facebook. To capture your client families’ attention, your funeral home needs to:
    • Post interesting content. This can include content curation, which involves simply sharing links and stories from relevant sources in the funeral profession.
    • Stay aware of what your competitors are posting online.
    • Be aware of trends in the funeral profession. You can sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this page to get regular funeral-related updates!
  • Online Reputation: Families take online reviews of your funeral home very seriously. It’s important that you control the conversation of what’s being said about you and your business online. Here are four quick tips:
    • Track mentions of yourself, your company and products using Google Alerts.
    • Register your brand name on key social media sites — even if you don’t plan on using them. This will prevent anyone else from registering under your funeral home’s name.
    • Track and encourage online reviews.
    • Download our free eBook on testimonials and online reviews for more tips and strategies.
  • Mobile-Friendly Marketing: You can’t decide what device your families are going to use to access your funeral home’s website. That’s their decision. So your website needs to look good on any device — no matter what. Here’s how you can do just that:
    • Use a modern responsive design. Responsive websites are designed to adapt to any screen size, making your website look flawless on desktops, smartphones, and tablets.
    • Use clear navigation so families can find the information they need.
    • Use high-quality images and large, easy-to-read fonts.
    • For more tips on why mobile matters, download our free guide.

Lessons on Grief and Mourning in Cartoons

Gail Rubin, CT and Certified Celebrant, showed how animated movies can help address grief and other life challenges, not only in children but in adults as well. She says that these movies can teach us resilience and how to rediscover joy.

 

During her presentation, she gave examples of some animated movies, and how funeral homes can incorporate them into the arrangement conference and aftercare programs. Her examples included:

  • Inside Out: The movie shows how the main character overcomes the trauma of change and the emotions it brings. The movie deals with the theme of trying to mask sadness, and the unhealthy effects it has on our relationships with those we love. By the end of the movie, the protagonist learns to express her sadness, and it opens the path toward healing. Rubin said the movie can be used to teach the importance of emotional expression and development. She said funeral homes could tie the movie into a broader lesson on emotional studies and offer it as a CE course for hospice professionals to help build a connection of care with local hospice organizations.
  • Coco: Another example Rubin gave was Coco. The movie is about a young boy from Mexico that goes on a journey to learn more about his family history, which ultimately leads him to the legendary “Land of the Dead” on Día de los Muertos. The movie highlights the importance of family history, and the rituals we use to remember and memorialize the ones we love. Rubin mentioned that funeral homes could show clips from the movie at the arrangement conference — or have it playing in the lobby — to show families why we should celebrate our loved ones with a memorial service.

Before funeral homes show any movies as educational content, they should make sure they have the proper licensing required. Visit www.MPLC.org to learn more about applying for a license to show film or TV clips in public.

 

How to Use the Profit Loyalty Chain

Speaker Stan Engh, CCFE, presented a map for funeral home success — and it all starts with your employees. During his presentation, he discussed the Loyalty Profit Chain. It’s a list of key areas that your funeral home should focus on. Ideally, it should look something like this (1 being the top priority, 10 being the lowest):

 

  1. Internal service quality
  2. Employee satisfaction
  3. Employee retention
  4. Employee productivity & performance
  5. External service quality
  6. Customer satisfaction
  7. Superior customer value
  8. Customer loyalty
  9. Revenue, growth, profitability
  10. Shareholder value

You’ll notice the first four categories focus on developing a quality team experience. Then 5-8 focus on your families’ experiences. Finally, 9 and 10 are your profits. Remember, 1 is the top priority and 10 is the lowest. So why should you invest more in your staff experience than your families or even profits?

 

Engh points out that when you focus on providing the highest quality experience and culture for your funeral home’s staff, everything else will fall into place. Your families will receive the best possible experience if you have a happy and loyal staff working for you. Here are Engh’s four tips for investing in your employee experience:

 

  1. Start by taking the time to hire the right people. Don’t hire just to fill a position.
  2. Always listen to employees. Sometimes the most valuable insight comes from moments outside the office.
  3. Provide work/life balance. Funeral service is a demanding job. Make sure you give employees time for what matters most to them outside of the funeral home.
  4. Hire employees with talent, not just experience. Talents are the intangible qualities that allow a funeral director to create one-of-a-kind services for the families your funeral home serves.

Protecting Your Most Important Asset: Preventing Burnout

Law enforcement, the military, and first responders all have protocols for managing burnout, so why doesn’t the funeral profession? Funeral directors deal with trauma almost daily in addition to all the other tasks required of them, making burnout a very serious problem in the profession.

 

Speaker Jason Troyer, with a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, said that funeral directors need to recognize the symptoms of burnout in order to understand how to treat it.

 

Common symptoms of burnout include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability and anger
  • Depression
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless

There are other symptoms, however, specifically related to funeral service. They include:

  • Inability to empathize with the bereaved
  • Questioning one’s fit to do funeral service
  • Resentment of colleagues, or even bereaved families
  • Cynicism about the value of funeral service

So how can we help treat burnout and compassion fatigue? Troyer says it’s a two-step approach to resilience building. He defines his process as Refilling and Transforming ourselves.

  • To refill ourselves: We take short daily moments to “get away.” Activities can include getting outdoors, exercising, journaling, meditating, and connecting with others.
  • To transform ourselves: We focus on long-term activities that can help us manage stress. Some ideas include mentoring others, volunteering outside the funeral home, learning new hobbies or skills, and seeking professional help if needed.

To learn more about coping with compassion fatigue in funeral service, download our free guide.

 

What were your favorite ICCFA workshops this year? Share them with us in the comments!

 

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