Celebrations of Life: 5 Tips for Delivering Flawless Events
There's big change brewing in the death care industry: families want to put the "fun" in funerals—many families are replacing traditional funerals with celebration-of-life memorial services. How can your funeral home deliver a flawless, memorable event, and why is that so important? This blog provides five tips to help make sure celebrations run smoothly.
A broad shift toward celebrations of life
Festive celebrations are replacing comparatively somber funerals in many parts of the world. One reason for this is the rising popularity of cremations. The funeral industry is responding and adapting to changing demands.
Mark Musgrove, past president of the National Funeral Directors Association, notes, "Services are more life-centered, around the person's personality, likes and dislikes. They're unique and not standardized. The only way we can survive is to provide the services that families find meaningful."
Communication and coordination are paramount
As funeral homes continue to adapt and provide custom celebration of life memorials, the need for attention to detail is becoming increasingly important. As professionals, we have to be able to recognize that even the tiniest of details can be very important to families, even if they don't express it during the arrangement conference.
Here are our 5 Tips for repeatable success in booking and delivering memorable celebrations of life.
Tip #1: Capture all the details at the arrangement conference
Celebration of life events present a shift away from traditional, structured, and often religious services. They are a way to reflect on a life well lived, and often focus on creating an atmosphere that represents the deceased based upon the things that brought them joy in life. As you meet with the decedent's family:
- Learn about the deceased—what kind of person were they?
- What is their legacy? How would they like to be remembered?
- Did they have favorite music, foods, flowers, or colors?
- Did they have any hobbies, interests, or favorite vacation spots that could be used to create a theme? (Fishing, sports, Hawaii…)
Understand what type of event the family envisions:
- Will this be an in-person event, virtual, or a hybrid of both?
- How long will the event be?
- Will there be formal speeches? A music soundtrack? A video played?
- Will there be a memorial website or traditional obituary?
- Will there be traditional stationery, personal printed programs, cards, or other keepsakes?
Tip #2: Think through all aspects of resource scheduling
The answers to the above questions have a distinct impact on a funeral home's resource scheduling, such as:
- The block of time a gathering room should be reserved for; life celebrations typically span three hours compared to a traditional 90-minute funeral service.
- Celebration rooms are typically arranged with chairs around tables—how many people can comfortably fit in the space?
- How will the room be decorated? What will the customer provide (such as papier mâché palm trees), and what will the funeral home provide (such as Hawaiian shirts for its staff and turquoise tablecloths).
- Do you have the A/V equipment you need for speeches, music, or videos? Will you need to rent anything special? Who will be providing playlists or videos?
- Will there be a program or timeline for the event?
- If there are traditional stationery and a guestbook, what should it look like? Or will there be a "photo booth" where guests can take photos and selfies and post them with messages to a Facebook page?
To collect, manage, and track all details for a celebration of life, software built specifically for funeral homes provides a single source to:
- Keep data at your fingertips: A customer relationship management (CRM) application (like byondpro) allows you to find the contact information, see relationships, and manage details relevant to your events. Your team member can access the data at any time from a smartphone or web browser. In addition, a full-featured CRM brings together all the data necessary to manage sales, execute workflows, and keep up on customer communications.
- Connect with customers: Celebrations of life require close, ongoing communications with customers. You won't miss a beat when you keep relationships at the forefront by sending important reminders and personalized communications.
- Streamlines sales and bookings: You can get an end-to-end view of the entire sales process with funeral home operational software that allows you to track leads, quotes, invoices, and payments from start-to-finish. You'll be able to generate reports that provide critical information about the profitability of your celebrations of life events and gain the insights needed for growing and adapting your business.
Tip #3: Coordinate with external service providers efficiently
Funeral home operational software makes it easier to keep track of communications with external vendors like florists, stationers, caterers, and rental companies—important service providers for delivering successful celebrations of life memorials.
In addition, funeral homes can streamline coordination with these partners by using a death care marketplace, an online resource that allows you to conveniently book facilities, services, and resources day or night. Web-based scheduling, facility selection, and intake forms reduce the time and effort it takes to make bookings with service partners and providers.
Tip #4: Remain flexible and nimble
Celebrations of life raise expectations around customer service and event orchestration. It makes sense to have a back-up system in place to deal with any issues that arise. Funeral home operational software offers capabilities to design the perfect workflows to match your business processes and build escalation rules. This makes it easier to ensure that all resources are tracked and on schedule. Alerts can be created to handle issues that need escalation, fast.
Tip #5: Follow up after the event
Word-of-mouth recommendations are invaluable for funeral homes, particularly those branching out into full-fledged celebration marketing. After the event, be sure to send the customer a thank you note or email and encourage them to provide any feedback. A review on Facebook or a quote to post the funeral home's website are feathers for your cap—don't be shy about asking for them.
The future of the death care industry
It's true that celebrations of life are transforming the way people think about funeral homes. To keep pace, learn more about OpusXenta's innovative operational and marketplace solutions, which are digitally transforming the death care industry. Visit opusxenta.com and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.