Image
Image
My Goat

Labor Challenges? Solutions for Today and Tomorrow

This webinar is a panel style discussion facilitated by OpusXenta and MyGoat, featuring a wide range of leadership within the death care industry discussing labor challenges. This discussion focuses on culture, technology, and leadership to improve and enhance your business. We were joined by three accomplished industry professionals, Lauren Blevins, David Brown, and Paul Lambert.

Guest Bios

  • Lauren Blevins is the Chief Operating Officer of Williams Funeral Home and Crematory and is a current member of the board of directors for the International Cemetery, Cremation, and Funeral Association (ICCFA), The President of the Southern Cemetery, Cremation, and Funeral Association (SCCFA), and President of The Cemetery Association of Tennessee (C.A.T).
  • David Brown is the Owner/Manager of Florence Memorial Gardens and is an associate member of the South Carolina Cemetery Association, was appointed in 2020 by Governor Henry McMaster to the South Carolina Labor License and Review Cemetery Board, and is also a member of the International Cemetery Cremation Funeral Association.
  • Paul Lambert currently leads the team at Floral Hills Funeral Home and Memory Gardens in Tucker, Georgia and is the president of the Georgia Cemetery Association.

Transcript

Stephen Carter

Let's get started. Good morning or good afternoon, depending on where you are and welcome to the OpusXenta/My Goat panel discussion on addressing labor challenges. My name is Stephen Carter. I'm with OpusXenta. We're a leader here in the software solutions for those of you serving our community in the death care industry. I also have with me from OpusXenta Marlena Weitzner. She's going to be helping out with the chats and things, and assisting on the call. And now I will let Shelly introduce herself and our panelists. Shelly?

Shelly Gary

All right. Thank you, Stephen. I'm Shelly Gary, I'm with My Goat. My Goat is the "Netflix meets Roomba" of commercial mowing. We're very excited to be talking about labor challenges today. And so glad that you were able to join us. We will also be recording this session for later to send out to everyone who attended. So, I'd also like to introduce Meg Musselwhite, who's our director of sales and marketing with us today. So thank you for all your help, Meg. And to the whole OpusXenta team, thanks for organizing this. And, of course, our panelists.

Shelly Gary

So I will just jump in and go ahead and introduce our panelists. We have three today, very impressive bios. And you can find the entire bio on our event page. And I'll read through just a shorter version now.

Shelly Gary

First of all, we have Lauren Blevins. Lauren is a native of Columbia, Tennessee. Lauren went to Belmont University in Nashville, where she graduated with a bachelor's in business administration. During Lauren's early years at Belmont, Lauren decided to follow in her father's footsteps of service, and currently serves as a licensed funeral director, a licensed crematory operator, and a certified celebrant. Lauren has always had a passion for the industry and a love for technology and strives to continue to look for new ways to serve families in a more personal way. Lauren is a current member of the board of directors for the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association, the president of the Southern Cemetery Cremation and Funeral Association, president of the Cemetery Association of Tennessee, as well as a sitting member of the United Way Board of Maury County. A lot of associations, Lauren, we're so glad to have you here today.

Shelly Gary

Next up, David Brown. David has spent a total of 29 years of serving families in the cemetery industry. His career began in 1992 at Florence Memorial Gardens, where he spent his first two years. After time spent in Hartsville, South Carolina, with Westview Cemetery, he made the move to Bloomington, Illinois, to work with East Lawn Cemetery and Funeral Home before returning home to Florence Memorial Gardens in 1995. In 2008, David formed Semdav Corporation and was able to purchase Florence Memorial Gardens. Along with being the owner manager of Florence Memorial Gardens,  David is an associate member of the South Carolina Cemetery Association and was appointed in 2020 by Gov. Henry McMaster to South Carolina Labor License and Review Cemetery Board.

Shelly Gary

So. Paul Lambert currently leads the team at Floral Hills Funeral Home and Memory Gardens in Tucker, Georgia, where he has served for over five years and he feels blessed to have had an opportunity to help families each day as they prepare for, get through, and recover from the loss of a loved one. Paul is also honored to be serving as the president of the Georgia Cemetery Association this year. He wakes up every day with purpose, direction and hope for the future, and he is driven to continually improve each day as a husband, as a father and as a leader. So thank you all so much for taking your time to be here.

Stephen Carter

Thank you, Shelly. And what a great panel we have. So excited. Thank you, everyone, for joining us again. Just a little housekeeping. Please send in any questions for our panelists as we move through the discussion. If we have time at the end, we will address these questions. And if we run out of time, we will follow up with answers from our panelists. OK? Awesome. Well, let's get started. We'll even let our participants join in and answer this question in the chat window.

Stephen Carter

But who is ready for Zoom to go away and excited about getting out in person? SCCFA's coming up. Raise a hand or just type in "yes" in the comments if you're excited.

Shelly Gary

Very excited. Both.

Stephen Carter

Absolutely, great.

Shelly Gary

So many of us in the industry have been still having, of course, helping families and having face to face. But it has been a lot on Zoom. So ready for that to go away. All right. Jumping into the meat of the discussion. What have been your biggest labor challenges over the years? David, I'll start with you on this one

David Brown

Okay. Actually, just finding dependable people and then, you know, finding some honest people. It's hard to get people to decide they want to come in to work every day, especially today when they can, you know, stay out for whatever reasons and get paid anyway. But again, it's just finding dependable people and scheduling. You know, that would be another issue that we have trouble with.

Shelly Gary

Good, thank you. Lauren, what about you?

Lauren Blevins

I'm going to echo what what David said. I'm just going to. For us, it's always about that experience and/or trained person. And that's very hard to find on the funeral home side. On the cemetery side, however, the same thing, dependable people who want to come to work. We really, over the last couple of years, it's not just finding and locating and keeping people, but it's specifically the issue with unemployment. And so unemployment, the amount of money rivaling how much they could make staying at home and not working. We've struggled with that, particularly during covid. So those are Covid specific problems. But overall, it's finding experienced and well-trained people, that's been our struggle.

Shelly Gary

Thank you. Paul, anything to add there?

Paul Lambert

Just to echo what they said, you know, I feel like in any organization, our greatest assets are our people, and finding the right people is definitely one of our biggest challenges, and finding the right people and being the right people. So we spend a lot of time, and then retaining and training those people. So definitely a challenge.

Shelly Gary

Thank you all. What factors do you think are affecting these challenges? Lauren, I'll go to you on this one. What do you think those biggest factors are?

Lauren Blevins

So again, this is a bit of a two part answer just because there's covid and non-Covid related things. So during Covid, I really feel like we had a shortage of well-trained funeral directors looking for jobs because we were all over overworked in most places, and we couldn't actually find anybody if you were hiring for a funeral director. And so that's a specific issue for covid in general.

Lauren Blevins

But also, I would say affecting these challenges, I would say, the education and training in mortuary schools is a bigger issue that's non-Covid related on the Funeral directors side. I think we've made some vast improvements about how we train. Some states still don't even require you to go to mortuary school, they just require apprenticeships. And I think sometimes that's a good program. But the level of training that we have young funeral directors walking into a funeral home and having no idea how anything works. And that seems to be an issue, which is why people want to look for trained people, because they come in here and have no idea. So the training background, I think, needs to continually be reformed. About how we train these young people to be actual licensed funeral director and of course, I mean, I'm speaking mostly to to my experience, which is going to be in Tennessee, in the South. So I think that's a big issue. Obviously, non Covid related. That's a long term problem that we're kind of facing.

Shelly Gary

Right. Thank you.

Stephen Carter

Great answers, thank you. And so I'll start with you, Paul, on which of these challenges do you see getting better or which of these challenges do you see getting worse in the future?

Paul Lambert

Well, you know, as we continue to see, you know, technological advancements in the world around us, I think we're finding ways to improve our productivity, we're finding ways to harness technology, come alongside and use technology to be able to help us leverage resources, to improve efficiencies and to accomplish more, and to help mitigate some of those challenges that diminishing labor force can bring about.

Paul Lambert

So I feel like things are getting better on those fronts. You know, as far as getting worse, I would say that with our society in general, it seems like we have a lack of loyalty that maybe previous generations had with their employers, and vice versa, employers with their people. And it seems like we make the employment process more transactional. And I think whether it's personal, professional, any arena in life, when we make things transactional, people tend to leave us when something better comes along. And so, I think it's dialing in to how we can add value to the people that are adding value to us and to our organizations.

Stephen Carter

That's great. David, we'll throw it to you next. What do you see improving or going the other way?

David Brown

Hard to follow up on Paul, because that was just exactly right on point. You know, I look around the culture and that's what I see, is what Paul was saying. Personally, just my little world right here, we have been fortunate to get some good employees currently and, you know, as long as I can keep schedules so that they don't get burned out, they can take some time off and, you know, just take care of them when I can. Things seem to be going fair right now.

Stephen Carter

Wonderful, wonderful answers, thank you, everyone.

Shelly Gary

So, you know, we've talked about Paul and David both, you know, keeping people, retention, so that leads directly into, you know, in your experience, what are the most common reasons for turnover in your industry? And I'll start with you, Lauren.

Lauren Blevins

OK, so really for us, this is something that we really work hard to limit because turnover is bad for culture. It's really expensive, depending on what's more important to you. But those are both bad things, right. So we have actually identified three things that we think are the causes for our personal turnovers. One is competitive pay. The second one is going to be burnout. And the last one is, most the one that we've been working on over the last two years is, integration into environment.

Lauren Blevins

And our whole goal is to really spend time working to integrate people into our company and having training programs, things that just really connect them into our culture, because we find that if they don't get connected, they won't be able to be successful. So those are really our big three that cause turnover here.

Shelly Gary

Awesome, thank you. David, what about you?

David Brown

Yeah, the same thing. Burnout, just being overworked and then competitive pay, you know. They can find another job that's easier for more money. That's where they're headed.

Shelly Gary

Yeah. Do you have, this is a question for both of you, how often do you see folks leave the organization for competitive pay and then come back? Because, no pun intended, but grass isn't always greener on the other side. Do you ever see that?

David Brown

It's happened once or twice.

Lauren Blevins

Yeah, it does happen. But we have tried to, after we've identified that these are our problems, we've we've tried to go back and make sure that we do have competitive pay. We try to avoid burnout. So I would say it happens less, but we actually had it happen this week. So it's funny you bring that up.

Shelly Gary

Timely discussion. Thank you, both. Stephen?

Stephen Carter

All right, well, if you guys don't mind sharing some of your best practices that you use in regards to whether it's obtaining talent or just retaining the talent in your organization, and we'll go ahead and start with you, Paul, if you don't mind sharing.

Paul Lambert

Sure. So, I mean, we, as I mentioned earlier, just trying to go a little bit beyond the transaction and look at the intangibles that add value to the employee and make them feel appreciated. I'm a big believer that, I never want to be naïve enough to think that my organization is the only job that someone will ever have. But I do hope that one day they'll be able to look back and say it was one of the best jobs that they had, and that they were treated fairly, that they were valued, appreciated. Big believer in continual improvement. Being better tomorrow than I am the day, better today than I was yesterday. And so I try to cast that vision frequently to the members of my team and let them know that I want that for them, too. And so I think when people are able to come alongside and realize that they're part of a team that is moving forward and wanting to be better, then they get more engaged and we're able to look for ways to utilize technology that can improve safety, improve efficiency and improve longevity, and wear and tear on our equipment, wear and tear on bodies and our people, and try to help reduce and mitigate the things that Lauren and David discussed earlier, as far as the burnout and and some of those other challenges.

Stephen Carter

 Wonderful. Yeah, sounds like culture is important. I know it is for so many people, especially young generations. David, we'll go to you next. Sharing the best practices you have with obtaining or retaining.

David Brown

Obtaining. Pretty much referrals from other employees that we already have, because they know who they want to work with, they know what it takes to get the job done and can see that in some other people. So they would try to find someone that's going to help them out, you know, as well. As far as retention. You know, merit pay, when they've done something above and beyond, you might want to give them a little bit extra, a bonus pay. And, you know, depending on how long they stay, the longer they stay, the more money they can make and other bonuses with time off and, you know, even birthday lunches or birthday biscuits or whatever you want to call it, just to make sure that they are recognized on their days. You know, appreciating them for everything that they do.

David Brown

The other thing is labor saving devices. I think that has helped. We we have found a. Well, we used to take about an hour just to dig up the sod, you know, from a grave and laid off in little squares and stuff so we could put it back on and we found a sod cutter that that connects to the back of the backhoe and could just break it across one time. It takes about two minutes and it took an hour's worth of work away from them. The other thing with those wonderful goats that we put out there that, you know, keep people from having to cut grass constantly and weed eat. And so that's actually saved some money on having to hire more people to come in and just weed eat during the summer, so we can take some of that money that we would have paid the other part timers and give it to the full timers to pay them a little bit more. So those are some things that we've done for retention.

Stephen Carter

Great. I'm hearing a lot of culture and technology from both Paul and David, so that's awesome. Lauren, did you have anything else to add to the. How are you retaining and obtaining the best talent?

Lauren Blevins

I always have something to add, Stephen. So, you know, I can't help it. Obtaining, you know, I think obtaining for us is obviously just trying to seek out employment, just like David said, with referrals. But for me, I kind of look for industry referrals, really. And that's what we've been doing lately. And some of my best people came from other parts of the country, actually, that were trained by friends that I have met through different networking events, and people that were relocating or relocating with their family or whatnot.

Lauren Blevins

So, I mean, we look through, for us, we've been looking for some experienced people to add to our team so that specifically we weren't trying to train new people this last year. So that's what was happening. And we've had some really good success. And that's been our theory for a little bit, that.

Lauren Blevins

Retaining talent. I go back to what I said a little while ago. We have implemented some things that cause for integration in culture. And they come out of a book that we read as a management team here called Power of Moments. It's a fantastic book, by the way, if you haven't read it. But inside these things, it's all about, you know, people's first day experience, how we have people, how they meet your team, do they meet your team in a really crazy, psycho Monday where we really didn't give them the attention that they deserved? You know, we really need to focus on that.

Lauren Blevins

We also have things now that are called signing days, and on signing days after your trial period ends, and if you decide you want to work here and we decide that you're a good fit, well, then what we're going to do is have a huge breakfast with the entire staff from everywhere. And we're going to bring everybody in and we're going to make a commitment to you that we're going to be kind to you and we're going to train you. We're going to pull you into our team. But you're also going to respect your team. You're going to work with them. And we have these, we give them a big bag of swag. It's got all our gear and just different things. And then there are different things like that, that go on through the year. And we found that that has been a really great booster. Like people look forward to their signing day. It's like draft day, that's best way I could explain it. These are all culture value added things, though, that just trying to keep them engaged. So just like David said about breakfast and biscuits and birthdays, and all those things are really important.

Lauren Blevins

On Friday afternoons, we're really slow, they play reverse charades for like, 15 minutes. 15 minutes goes a long way. They act goofy and then we take horrible videos of them doing it. And I replay it at Christmas parties. Also, the Christmas party is a really big gathering where they have competitive events, just everything that we can do to keep them interacting with each other and spending time and developing that culture, because they don't want to leave.

Lauren Blevins

That's the idea, right? You're not going to find another job like this. That's the whole persona, that's about retention. And I don't think that's just funeral industry retention. I think that's workplace retention. Right? That's not just about what we do here. That's about being good managers in general. So we do a lot of that. We work continuously to try to foster that growth. And I think these gentlemen do that, too, which just means they're good operators.

Stephen Carter

Wow. Yeah, I love the use of resources and all this talk of culture, I mean, looking for inspiration from books and different things to become better leaders. That sounds great, guys. Thank you. Shelly?

Shelly Gary

Absolutely. Great answers, guys. Thank you. What are some ways that you're using technology today to keep staff motivated, efficient and to further your business? Paul, I defer to you for that.

Paul Lambert

Well, we have so much technology available for us, whether it's through email, through group.me, through text messages, through there's so much, a wealth of information available to us. So we try to keep everyone on our team looped in to our performance and how we're performing to our key metrics that really affect every layer of our organization, regardless of where they serve within our organization. So, you know, our maintenance superintendent is getting an email every day knowing, and he knows what the "win" is for our production and our preneed sales team. He knows what's going on with our funeral home. He knows what's going on. And we all try to celebrate the wins and we know what those are. And technology is making it easier for that for us.

Paul Lambert

We also, something I've been trying recently is, you know, as far as books are concerned, trying to find out how people like to better themselves. Do they like to read books? Do they like to listen to books? What speaks to them? And so I've always tried to buy books along the way that would help people and speak to them, and try to engage them and motivate. But recently I've been trying subscriptions to like, Audible or Scribed, or some sort of a subscription where someone can listen for a lower cost per month, but they can listen to an unlimited amount of material, and they can choose what they want to listen to and they can really kind of get into it. And I feel like that's given me a better return because they can listen to several books or whatever they want, for the same or for less than what I would spend buying a book. So that's been cool efficiency.

Paul Lambert

You know, we haven't gotten the sod cutter yet. That's really awesome. David, I might have to jump on that. My maintenance guys would appreciate it. But we did start using a hammer drill probe, which has been really helpful for the guys as far as assessing any obstructions beneath the surface and preparing to open a grave site. And that definitely made me more popular when we invested in that. So that was good. And then, of course, like the digitization of our records inside administratively has really helped.

Paul Lambert

So just utilizing technology, being aware, and moving forward every day is important. So.

Shelly Gary

Thank you so much, Paul.

Stephen Carter

That's awesome, investing in your employees sounds awesome. I love hearing that. So what tools either available, or not yet developed, could you see helping the industry face some of these ongoing labor challenges? And we'll throw that one over to Lauren.

Lauren Blevins

Well, it's a little complicated, right, because if I knew some of those, I would probably be rich because I would have developed what those undeveloped tools were and then capitalized on them. So there's that answer first, Stephen.

Lauren Blevins

But I would say, you know, I think more automation to some degree that it continues. I'm just voicing pretty much what you guys are saying in a different way, too, it's just things like your own products, you know, the things that you guys, both your companies make as well. I mean, it just contributing to automation to make the jobs easier for the people that we have, whether that be goats or I mean, hell, solar panels. I mean, you know, just there are things that make things cheaper and easier to do. Like, for us, I really wish Tennessee and other parts of the South would fix some of their death certificate systems and permitting on the funeral home side. Right? They can't seem to get their stuff together. So just trying to get death certificates and permitting and they can't control the doctors. And they've been an ongoing battle for years. Well, that would expedite what we do exponentially, so much less work from like three different people in my office.

Lauren Blevins

And then we're able to control things better from an admin point of view, if these things happened in automation, and it would be much less work for some of them, and that would also contribute to eliminating burnout and some of these other things. So the same thing with the goats, right? Like or anything like that, that's just going to create some type of automation that we can spend our time and resources and money, hopefully. But it has to be a reasonably priced automation too. Right? It can't go above and beyond, and sometimes brand new technology, that can be a problem. It costs too much to be helpful because it's actually going to cost more than the labor itself. So as those automations become affordable, we hope to integrate more and more and more and more of them because that's what makes it easier on my staff. And then also training and recruitment. All that stuff becomes cheaper because you've got things that are just easier on them.

Lauren Blevins

So that's that's really, I don't know what hasn't been developed yet in all honesty, but I know that the tools that they're continuing to improve and come out with some things, which are are changing some of the issues that we're having with the labor force.

Stephen Carter

But it sounds like you're saying it's kind of important to stay on the cutting edge of that, to look into those and be aware so that you can you can integrate those into your daily operations as they become available. The solutions, right?

Lauren Blevins

Well, that's just education. I think education and being aware of what's available to you is just the smartest thing you can do. And education could be anything. That could be product knowledge, that could be the service knowledge. That could be, I mean, any kind of function that you perform in your business and you choose to educate yourself beyond what you already know is imperative. In my opinion. So, yeah, I think understanding what's available to you is imperative.

Stephen Carter

Yeah, right. Thank you, Shelly?

Shelly Gary

Thank you. That leads directly into my next question. But first,  to talk about the barrier. What you're saying, Lauren, education and being receptive to what's out there is a big hurdle for a lot of folks. And I was talking to someone in your industry who had been in it for 30 years. And I said, what's the last cool technology that you saw that folks were like, nope, we're good. And it was the machinery to dig graves. And he said, you know, you would not believe how hard it was to have people put down shovels, to have the graves dug. And I was like, he said, that's just sometimes a barrier to entry and folks not realizing what technology can can help them with. And that really hit home for me in learning this industry. But leading into the next question, how do you keep current on new technology and changes in the industry to stay efficient with operations and staffing needs? And I'll go first to you, Paul.

Paul Lambert

My kids, they let me know what's going on in the world around and help me stay looped in. But aside from that, more industry specific, just being an active member in the local and regional, national associations, getting to go to different functions and being able to interact with the folks at the exhibits, and being able to see and just stay looped in on what's coming, what's out there, what innovations, you know, it just helps challenge us to be better.

Shelly Gary

Awesome. Lauren, what about you?

Lauren Blevins

Sorry, I had muted myself there. I really, I agree 100 percent. Organizations are really just imperative. Right. And not even just because of the vendors and the booths and the things that you do to educate yourself with. But I would argue for the networking. You go in and you find like minded people or not like minded people, and you get to have conversations about it, which is why I'm a huge fan of actually having conventions. It doesn't have the same vibe when we do things online, because what happens is we all go and listen to these speakers talk, but then we get to go back and have discussions about it.

Lauren Blevins

And technically, technically, I'm a millennial, OK? No one hate on me for that. But it's like, on the just borderline. And Zoom is, I don't love Zoom because we don't get to do that, right? After this is over we don't get to sit around a table and go, how did this go? What did we learn from it? It's just much harder or we don't get to go eat dinner and those conversations casually evolve into something great. So some of our best ideas and some of our business practice evolved at those dinners. And business deals like, you know, we bought and sold companies at dinner after things like that.

Lauren Blevins

So, you know, there are just things that that you can do with that in the networking. And I think that's probably the most imperative is to be able to talk to your peers and then be able to roll these ideas into fruition. So that's what I would say. Keep up with those, go to your local and support the legislation. That's a huge thing. Support your state and their legislation efforts.

Lauren Blevins

I know Paul would agree.

Shelly Gary

So glad that all three of you guys are really display that thought process of being involved in associations. As you know, as I read in your bios, all presidents and past presidents of these large associations that are supporting the industry. David, what about what about you? What do you have to add?

David Brown

I would like to say that when Lauren and Paul come up with that next great idea that I'd like to partner with them.

David Brown

But otherwise, the only thing I didn't hear mentioned was the email marketing. Some of these great companies that here. It's the way I found My Goat, because they emailed me to start with. And then I saw him at the trade show at the Southern last year and was just a wonderful thing to see. So we got that implemented and they worked with me, just a little small cemetery, but we got it in and up and running and then we expanded it to cover the whole cemetery this year.

David Brown

So email marketing from our suppliers is a great thing. So when you hear them out there, please don't give up. Please keep sending us an email, even though we might not buy today, it might come in the future.

Shelly Gary

Great. Thank you. One thing that I've seen kind of go through, as we've talked about, obviously, OpusXenta and My Goat are both technology companies, and we've talked a bit about technology. And I've heard you guys talk about different generations coming through.

Shelly Gary

This is off script, but just wanted to throw this out there. Do you guys have any best practices on, you know, different generations adopting technology, or even retention tools when we talk about baby boomers versus millennials? Is there a certain way that you incentivize different generations or train different generations that would maybe be helpful for attendees to hear? And anybody can take that one.

Lauren Blevins

I mean, I think it's really personality based, right? Because I have a millennial, she's twenty eight, she's the most fantastic funeral director and doesn't know how to use a computer. It's the most confusing thing ever. I know my head tilts too, but is a fantastic funeral director. And I actually told her, I'll tell you what, as part of the incentive for your pay raise next year, I'll pay for you to take a class at our community college and you really, kind of, get a grip on just some basic, you know, just a basic computer stuff. Well, I mean, that we do the same thing with some of our older, I mean, just people that are not as familiar or didn't grow up with them as well.

Lauren Blevins

So you just, you know, it just really personality based. And then I think it's just about trying to understand what their level is. And then some of them are excited about change and then some of them are not. But I really find it's more of a personality thing than a generational thing. At least that has been my experience. That's what, like me personally.  I didn't mind to tell you, I'm just on that cusp there. But I don't love Zoom, and some of these meetings where I have friends that live on that stuff.

Lauren Blevins

So it's just a personality thing, I think, rather.

Shelly Gary

Gotcha, playing into that personality and seeing what fits, kind of, it's not a one size fits all per generation as you said. Paul or David, anything to add to that?

David Brown

You know, I had to go the other way. The millennials really taught me, I was very resistant in doing business by text. And it has just driven me crazy because I want to talk to people, look at them in the face and see what their eyes are doing and those kind of things.

Lauren Blevins

And they don't want to.

David Brown

Yeah, I know. So we just have to. It really is timesaving. But, you know, I've learned as a middle of the baby boom, yeah.

Lauren Blevins

We had somebody use a way to explain just the, sort of, millennials, and it was talking about they might be able to do calculus and Photoshop, but they fight over who would order a pizza, if you have to call it in. And there has never been a more like, perfect example, in my opinion. Like, I have actually had that conversation in my own household. Like no one's calling. If you can't order it online, it's just not happening. So it's weird. It's just, I think after we're done talking to people all day, you're not talking to people anymore. So I sympathize with your text issue, but it works.

Shelly Gary

Paul, do you have anything to add on that?

Paul Lambert

No, ma'am, I think they said it all. I agree. I think it's, look more, the personality. I think different things speak to people differently and just trying to lock in with that pulse and connect.

Shelly Gary

Thank you. Well, Stephen, I'll kick it back to you to see if we have any additional questions.

Stephen Carter

OK, great. And Lauren, I do identify with you. I've been in some of those presentations on millennials, where I'm either right on the edge of yes, I'm in or I'm out. I'm always like when I'm out, I'm like, thank you. Because I'm from an old soul. I always joke around.

Lauren Blevins

Me too.

Stephen Carter

I'm like, David, I want to pick up that phone and call, but my wife's the opposite. She's like, if it can't be done online or text, don't bother. She will not answer the phone if she doesn't who it is. And half the time when she does, she won't answer it anyway. So that's awesome.

Lauren Blevins

I ride that fence. I'm like one hundred percent. Like, I jump over it back and forth, back and forth. It depends on the day. I don't know.

Shelly Gary

Stephen's ordering pizza in his household, is basically what it comes down to.

Stephen Carter

Oh, yeah. I just walk on up there like, hey, can I have a pizza? And I'll stand here for 15 minutes talking to them, so I don't need to pick up the phone.

Shelly Gary

You're their worst nightmare.

Stephen Carter

I know, especially Covid. Yeah, I can't do that. Well, Marlena, if you're still there. Let's see if we had any questions come into the chat?

Marlena Weitzner

I am still here. Yes, we actually have had a few, so I will read the first one and then we'll see how much time is left. So somebody had asked, are there any businesses outside of our industry that you try to emulate in your organization? Anybody wants to answer that one.

Lauren Blevins

Yes, so I mean, we constantly do, in my master's program, everything was about studying other companies, so I still study other companies and the one that I've been a little obsessed with over the last couple of years is Zappos. And if you're not familiar with them, they're based out of Las Vegas and it is culture and just all important, and it results in the way that they train on customer service, my goal here is to be the Ritz Carlton of funeral homes, and not necessarily all the ways about how we look everywhere, but the way that we behave. And so I also try to follow Ritz Carlton Gold Standards. And so those are people I just super looked up to. And we fail. We do. We do it all the time, but we get to get up and try again tomorrow. And that is pretty much always our goal. Like Paul said, it's about the journey, just trying to get better every single day. And but, yeah, we definitely try to model ourselves after those places.

Shelly Gary

Thank you, Lauren. Paul or David, do you have any companies that you kind of find yourself following, or trying to maybe act like in certain areas of your business?

David Brown

You know, we're just trying to treat other people the way we would want to be treated ourselves. So tell all the guys out here that nobody wants to shop in a garbage can, so we just have to keep things looking good and just treat people well when they come out here, realize sometimes they're in tremendous grief. So we just have to recognize, they can be angry and have to help them through it. I don't know any other company that does that.

Shelly Gary

Got it. Thank you. Any others, Marlena?

Marlena Weitzner

Yeah, do we have time for another question, probably one more?

Stephen Carter

Yeah, let's go for one more.

Marlena Weitzner

All right, great. OK, the next question is, do you foresee any permanent labor shifts as Covid relief packages slow down? And what about when all Covid relief ends?

Stephen Carter

Let's start with Paul on this one. Paul you there?

Paul Lambert

I definitely think that we'll be able to see, as the Covid relief ends, I do believe that we'll see more people in the job market, looking for employment. So I think that it will increase, probably, the quantity of the labor force as well as the quality of the available labor that's available.

Shelly Gary

Thank you. David or Lauren, anything to add?

Lauren Blevins

I don't think I have anything to add particularly, but I think that there will be shifts in other industries that are more permanent, obviously, based on the technology. I think there are some things that we have figured out, but we have to see with docu-signs and things like that here. We just have to see if the law will follow and continue to allow those things. I think that's the the big trick, is to see what insurance regulators and what people will accept based on those types of things. So I think the outcome is unknown for our industry in the shift. But I don't think some of these types of things that will help and create a boundary that eradicate some of those that were there before. But I don't think we're going to see any kind of major shift in the way that we do our arrangements and things like that. I think it allowed for a difference for some people that needed it, but I don't think it's like a permanent "this is the way we'll do business all the time" things will happen except for some paperwork.

Shelly Gary

Got it. Thank you, that's great. You look across industries and you kind of, as you go through as a consumer, you go through like, I wonder how long I can get away with changing my flight without having a change fee, and things like that that pop up, it's like, no, they've gone back so they can't go back to that. So great insight. Well, Stephen, I think that's wrapping up right on time. And I'll let you close this out.

Stephen Carter

OK, well, thanks again. Thank you, everyone that joined us, and a big thank you to our panelists for taking the time. We understand that part of labor challenges is finding time in your day for things like this, your own personal labor challenges, if you will. But we really appreciate it. I know that everyone that was on the call hopefully learned something maybe they didn't know or maybe they learned something that they can focus on to grow their own institutions.

Stephen Carter

Certainly, technology is a passion for us being that that's where we're driven. But I love all the conversations on culture. I think that, you know, if that's one thing I will agree with millennials on is culture is important. And I think, you know, Paul talked on it too, you know, we lost sight of that. And maybe that's going to come back around, right? Where there's that loyalty between the employee /employment kind of relationship. Companies valuing their employees that kind of thing, going back to that where maybe we had that generations ago. And I think those are all important things. You guys touched on so many important things. I couldn't couldn't possibly summarize them all. But I feel like those were some of the key areas that we, kind of, were integrated into each and every point that we had. It was really wonderful.

Stephen Carter

So thank you, everyone, for sharing. I know we'll be sending this out to people with a link so they can go back and watch it and sharing it.

Stephen Carter

So hopefully we'll get this circulated around, and those who couldn't attend will have that opportunity.

Shelly Gary

Absolutely. All right.

Lauren Blevins

Thank you, guys, for hosting.

Shelly Gary

Thank you. You'll have a great afternoon.

Stephen Carter

Thank you.

Shelly Gary

Take care. Bye bye.

 

North America

San Francisco - Dallas - Orlando

United States Toll Free: +1 (833) 236-2736

Europe

United Kingdom

United Kingdom National: 0333 772 1682

APAC

Sydney - Melbourne - Brisbane - Auckland

Australia Toll Free: 1300 994 853
New Zealand National: 0800 493 611