Not Your Grandmother’s Funeral: Funeral Homes Face New Opportunities to Serve Families

Exciting opportunities that funeral homes can embrace in the new year to refresh their model of delivering service to families.
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If the pandemic has taught businesses anything, it’s the power of the pivot—the ability to shift to meet (and anticipate) consumers’ needs and demands.

But as we enter 2022, those changes and trends that present themselves can only help the death care industry grow and thrive amid ever-changing views on funerals, burials and memorialization.

While it may have been accelerated by pandemic shut-downs—like it or not—the world is now “always available.” That means that audiences, especially a younger demographic, expect things to be done expeditiously and efficiently, often online or via mobile device.

With that in mind, here’s a look at the exciting opportunities funeral homes should (at least) address and (at most) embrace in the new year. Don’t consider them trends; think of them more as opportunities to reset and refresh your model of delivering service to families.

Rethink the old. Embrace the New.

While “location, location, location” used to be a mantra, an increasingly mobile world has shattered geographic borders. Families are far-flung, and while that previously meant flying home for a relative’s funeral, today that’s often not possible due to jobs, finances and, let’s face it, a global pandemic. Live-streaming funeral services didn’t begin during COVID, and they likely will become more widely adopted.

Nothing can likely compare to being face-to-face to share precious memories and condolences with family and friends. But when that’s not possible, technology now allows funeral directors to bring families together in a meaningful way. Now is also the time to consider advancing your funeral home’s technological capabilities to offer other value-added digitized end-of-life options, such as memorial videos, slideshows and digital recordings of services.

Celebrate wherever, whenever.

While funeral homes provide one of the most important services a family can ever require, they have long had a reputation as being somber, sullen, dated or even daunting. Because of that misnomer, some younger generations may be hesitant to set foot into a funeral home.

But funeral homes aren’t the only place celebrations of life can or should occur. Meet the families where they want to celebrate—look to outside venues such as churches, parks, gardens and other venues to host their loved ones.

Especially after this past year, some families opted for final disposition and then planned a delayed memorial when families were more comfortable gathering. As traditional funerals give way to more personalized celebrations of life, funeral directors must work to accommodate these out-of-the-norm requests. Just as wedding planners seek to make couples’ special day most memorable, funeral directors can act in much the same way, taking their cues from the family, rather than the other way around.

byondcloud makes it easier than ever for funeral homes to make off-site arrangements and connect with providers like florists and musicians. Real-time calendar functions offer an immediate view of the availability of chapels or multi-function venues. More importantly, all the connections are available even when offices are closed.

Go green gracefully.

There’s no denying that caskets, vaults and urns are profit centers for funeral homes. But today’s sustainably-conscious generations are looking far ahead—at how final disposition affects the future of the planet. It’s a bona fide shift—both in philosophy and in practice—that funeral directors should consider by finding and offering greener burial containers and by collaborating with and recommending cemeteries that offer green burial sites.

Going green could also mean offering alternatives to traditional embalming, such as enigma eco-balming or direct cremation (accompanied by a personalized celebration of life).

Quote "While serving your families’ daily needs, don’t overlook your own."

Focus on mental health.

The stigma around mental health is being shattered everywhere—in professional sports, in Hollywood, in schools. In addition to being an inherently healthy shift in perspective, this “new normal” also offers funeral homes a greater opportunity to help families cope with the stress of grief and loss. Consider starting or enhancing aftercare services. Partner with a local nursing home or hospice. Invest in a funeral home library with current (not outdated) books for adults and children about dealing with grief.

But while serving your families’ daily needs, don’t overlook your own. Funeral service is a 24/7 career, one that can easily take a toll on funeral directors. Build small breaks into the day for self-care—taking a brisk walk, listening to a podcast or just listening “to the quiet.” Reconnect with yourself and remember your reasons for doing this important service.

Renewed emphasis on preneed.

The pandemic created huge shifts in perspective and a very real focus on personal mortality. What used to be an afterthought for many may now manifest in an increased demand on preneed sales. Now is an opportune time to reach out to remind families of the benefits of preneed. Reconnect with families served in the past. Entertain new venues for your message of service. Reach out to the community as a citizen first—donate, volunteer and solidify your name and reputation.

Today’s funerals likely don’t look anything like those from 50, 30 or even 10 years ago. That progress is essential for funeral homes to remain relevant while still meeting the needs of a changing demographic.

How do funeral directors do that? Technology is one effective first step. Familiarize yourself with the software and other resources that can not only make your job easier, but also lead to more contacts and more sales.

As the social landscape changes, so, too, must funeral directors and cemeteries. As a global company, OpusXenta realizes that and has tailored its technology for the death care industry. And while the funeral and memorial are as important as ever, funeral directors can now use advanced technology to make their behind-the-scenes work even more effective.

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