The Importance of Aftercare
Aftercare...it's important, but just how important is it really?
When I was a funeral director, I saw how varying the aftercare programs in the profession are! Some funeral homes follow up regularly; others follow up only to let the families know when the death certificates arrive. Some put their preneed team in charge of follow up; others task their funeral directors with it. Clearly, it's important, but it's also time-consuming. Is it really worth it to have an established aftercare program?
Yes! A resounding yes. Aftercare is important for many reasons, but let's start at the beginning: First, the profession as a whole has 3 key components – pre-need, at-need, and aftercare. As funeral directors, we primarily focus on at-need families, and perhaps pre-need on occasion as well. But as funeral directors, we have established the relationship with the family that we have served, and we need to focus on the aftercare as well! Why?
- Families rely on us long after the funeral. They look to us to help finalize certain aspects of the arrangements (monuments, death certificates, special jewelry), but they also look to us for support and recommendations. They trust us to provide them with references for support groups and host events to attend to connect with others who have experienced loss, for example. Maybe they rely on us simply as a listening ear – someone who has seen them at their worst and has continued to support them through their grief journey. Whatever their needs might be, they still need you!
- Having an established aftercare program in place continues to build the relationship. By continuing the relationship you have grown, the trust will continue to grow. Not only will families think of your funeral home when they have a need, but they will think of your funeral home when their friends, coworkers, and neighbors have a need as well. By nurturing the relationship, you ensure that your funeral home will be around to continue to serve their family for generations.
- It's the "fun" part of the job! There is no right or wrong when it comes to aftercare – you find what works for you and the families you serve, and you go with it! Maybe you host a bingo night once a month, or you have a coffee shop in your funeral home for people to gather in to share stories. This is your time to shine!
You might be wondering, "how can I make sure that every family is followed up with, and how can I make sure that families have information about our aftercare events?" While it is simple enough to give them a call or send them an email, sometimes you just don't have the time!
That is where marketing automation comes in. By utilizing marketing automation, you can ensure that you never miss an important follow up with a family. You can create different campaigns (such as a Holiday Service of Remembrance or a Mother's Day Campaign) and simply check a box in byondpro to ensure they are receiving those important notifications. This can have a two-fold effect:
- You continue to nurture the relationship by providing holiday events and recognizing the loss that took place and its milestones.
- It can provide an opportunity for the funeral home to increase their revenue. For example, as part of the Mother's Day Marketing Campaign, perhaps you offer special keepsake jewelry or candles of remembrance for purchase.
By utilizing marketing automation, we can build an aftercare program for your funeral home or continue to solidify the aftercare program you already have in place. What are some other suggestions for creating a meaningful, fun, and enticing aftercare program?
- Consider hosting monthly or bi-monthly activities to keep people coming into your funeral home. Game days, movie nights, and ice cream socials are always a popular choice!
- Get your entire team involved! By allowing those who come in to see your entire team, the relationship continues to grow.
- Consider hosting 1 or 2 major events that are open to the community each year: Having a Holiday Service of Remembrance, Easter Sunrise Service, or Dia De Los Muertos celebration that is open to the whole community is a great way to build new relationships!
About the Author
Michelle attended the Mortuary Program at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, and graduated in 2013. She then went on to work for 2 privately owned funeral homes and 1 corporate funeral home.
Having learnt a great deal from her time at each place and the amazing funeral directors she was able to work alongside, Michelle knew that she needed a change.
Knowing that she wanted to stay in the profession, Michelle joined OpusXenta in 2020. She enjoys having the opportunity to share her knowledge with other funeral directors and keeping current on trends in the industry.