Final Arrangements And The Do-It-Yourselfers

LakeviewThe age of self-help and how-to is in full swing. If you browse nearly any bookstore, you will likely find a section filled with books on guides for every level of “dummy.” Making our own final arrangements is no exception as The Wirthling Study has found that 84 percent of Americans attend to deciding the details of their funerals as opposed to leaving the matter to family members and friends.

As a funeral director, how do you deal with this significant trend? How does self pre-arrangement affect your business in a positive or negative way? Is it wise to think that you now have a vast supply of ready-made clientele and therefore, focus your efforts to suite their needs while, to a certain degree, disregarding others? Before you make a determination on which course to steer your business in, let’s take a few issues into account.

Personal needs. Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind about maintaining a healthy business that also satisfies your client’s wishes and concerns, is that each funeral is different. Each client is different as well, as is their needs. By keeping the focus on meeting your client’s specific needs, instead of tailoring your business to any trends, you will likely not be at the mercy of the fall of those trends which you have no control over.

Consider your customer’s point of view. Suppose you decided to preplan your own funeral. You selected a funeral home to carry out the arrangements, but as you talk over the details with the director, he seems uninspired to ideas that would personalize your funeral. You begin to equate the experience as that of a flat soda. Your aged Uncle Dave would surely fall asleep and begin to snore loudly which would offend your sister who, in turn, would say something equally offensive.

Although you can’t help but to grin, perhaps, what you have envisioned is not what you had in mind for a final goodbye. What you hoped for was the high points of your life story presented in a meaningful way to those you will leave behind. But how to make that happen does not seem to be forthcoming from the funeral director who is only interested in going over the basics of the arrangement and finalizing the sale. Abruptly, you excuse yourself and leave the premises. This, you decide, is not how you want to be remembered. As a funeral director, you can help to avert a disaster like this by paying attention to your clients as individuals with specific needs by taking the time to ask them a few questions such as:

  • interests
  • accomplishments
  • favorite music
  • color
  • flower

This information can be used to create a funeral planning workbook. By focusing on personal information as a basis for their funeral instead of only the basic elements, you can not only gain the confidence of your clients, but maintain a strong business as well.

Bad Salesman. Nearly everyone has had a negative experience with a pushy or manipulative salesperson whose only incentive was making a buck. It is helpful to remember that, as a funeral director, you are dealing with human beings, not inanimate objects. Your job is to help mediate the transition between life and death, comfort the bereaved and perform services that the general public has no training for. Yes, you have your own family to feed, but you also have a responsibility to maintain.

It may be easy for some people to take the easy way to make ends meet, such as using guilt tactics. Most people do not want their families to become burdened with making funeral arrangements, but pointing this out to a client can be coercive and even predatory. Instead, offering guides, planning and your time to discuss options is usually enough. Your efforts to answer questions and present ideas for making your clients final arrangements a meaningful experience will appreciated and likely become a mutually beneficial one.

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