I often find inspiration for funeral home business strategies in how other companies run their business. I’m always thinking critically about how businesses I interact with succeed in accommodating and serving their customers, as well as areas where they fall short. Recently, I found inspiration during my latest visit to Legacy’s office.
The first idea came to me from a new restaurant. If you’ve read my other articles, you know that I find restaurants to be a good source of inspiration: from understanding customers and catering to their needs, to how restaurants provide quality service to their customers. A new restaurant opened down the street from Legacy, and it was a concept that I had never heard of before – poké. It’s a Hawaiian-inspired dish that contains raw fish and rice. I went with a co-worker and wasn’t sure what to expect, and it was clear the restaurant had planned for that. They recognized that poké is unfamiliar to a lot of people, so they made the ordering process very clear through a step-by-step guide. First, I selected what type of rice I wanted, then picked my protein, and finally, added toppings and sauces. They made it easy.
The second source of inspiration came to me from a co-worker who is getting married soon. I asked how wedding planning was going and, to my surprise, she said that it has been relatively painless because she selected a package that simplified the decision-making process. There were three packages for her – good, better, and best – and within each of those packages, she picked from a list of preselected items. Again, they made it easy.
These two examples got me thinking about funeral service and how step-by-step formats with easy-to-understand packaging options can prove beneficial to families who are making funeral arrangements. Planning a funeral is something we help families with every day, and we’re experts at it. But, we have to acknowledge that a general price list can overwhelm a family who has never dealt with one before. What can we do to help make the process easier? What can we do to make them feel more like an expert immediately?
Building Packages To Meet Trends in Funeral Service
Cremations are becoming increasingly popular in the United States. In 2015, the cremation rate in the U.S. hit 50 percent and surpassed the burial rate for the first time. From 2010 to 2015, the average percentage of cremations across the U.S. increased by 19 percent. By 2020, that rate is projected to increase by another 14 percent.
Concurrently, the percentage of families requesting nontraditional funeral services in the United States is also rising. In a recent analysis, Legacy studied the percentage of obituaries in our database that referenced a “celebration of life” instead of a traditional funeral service. In 2011, the average percentage of obituaries that mentioned a “celebration of life” across the U.S. was 6.7 percent, but that number grew by 60 percent to 10.7 percent in 2016.
Packaged options don’t just make the decision process easier for your families, there’s also a benefit for you: Offering packages provides the opportunity to upsell additional options to families that are looking for nontraditional funeral services or cremations. Often, funeral directors and families look at cremation as a low-cost, inferior option but it doesn’t have to be. Having cremation packages available that range from simple to full service shows the family a choice for cremation doesn’t have to be settling. Creating unique and valuable package options can be an easy way for funeral directors to build in additional products and services while keeping choices simple for the family.
The Harvard Business Review cites good-better-best packaging as a way to empower your customers and appeal to a wider range of consumer needs. The article notes that in most industries, there isn’t just one type of consumer with one type of need and one price point. “Good-better-best is accommodating: ‘If the price is too high, consider our good version’ or ‘You may appreciate the features of our best option.’” Good-better-best packaging allows you to provide a personalized experience to your families, at a personalized price.
We are all familiar with another industry that uses good-better-best pricing: florists. Flower-arrangement options have increasing sizes and corresponding prices. This allows florists to better fit the needs of a wide range of consumers.
We can learn from other businesses that excel at building additional options into an easy-to-understand format that allow customers to select exactly what they want at a price point and feature set that fits their situation. By offering packages to guide them through the tough choices, you can put your families at ease and help them plan the perfect celebrations of life and goodbyes for their loved ones.
VP, Funeral Home Business Development
John Heald is a fourth generation funeral director and has been licensed in Massachusetts for 18 years. Currently, John is the Vice President of Channel Development for Legacy.com. He started his career at Eaton Funeral home, one of the oldest independent funeral homes in the country. Since then, he has worked as a casket sales consultant, pre-need insurance broker, and was one of the original members of the team that started Tributes.com. In 2010, John built a new funeral home located in Shrewsbury, MA with his twin brother, Jim, and business partner, David Chiampa.