Preneed a plan that works

The real question most funeral directors should be asking themselves when they get a spare moment, is what will be the future of funeral service be in my town and what can I do now to make sure it will be favorable to me, my family and my funeral home.

The real question you do not want to be asking yourself in 7 years is why did this happen to me? Or how could things just change after we have always done it this way? By taking some time to consider what the future is in your town now, you can put into place some remedies, treatment, or potential cures to get you past the majority of the bad things that might occur in the future.

Many funeral directors feel everything is fine – maybe not as good as years past, but things are good. And yes maybe they are good now, but there may be a continual slide in your area which we have noted from numerous surveys from firms around the country. Think about these simple questions:

Is cremation increasing? Are there more direct cremations now than 7 years ago? If 20% of your traditional calls turned into direct cremation calls, what would my finances look like?

Are good employees getting harder to find? Why are the employee benefits getting so expensive? Am I going to have to work the rest of my life or find some good help so I can take some time off? Where will I find good help and how can I afford to hire them?

Are neighboring funeral homes facing low cost competitors? Are competitors thinking about coming into my town? Who would ever buy a casket from anywhere but a funeral home?

Are you experiencing preneed shortfalls?

What will my business look like in 10-15 years or when I want to pass it on? Will it be able to continue to support my family?

To ward off some of these bad emerging trends, one solution may be preneed. Not a preneed product or a place to put money, but a plan... and one that works. Preneed needs to be more than just handling the walk-ins and call-ins... receiving some commission income... it needs to get families who normally would not use your facility to commit to do so... it needs to be about preserving the traditional funeral as we know it now. To accomplish this, a preneed product cannot do this – it requires an effective, dedicated, organized, disciplined plan that works every day and night; a product that is customized to you and your area. To beat cancer or any other illness, it requires a regiment to be successful. So does an effective preneed program; and just like cancer treatment, I would want the best doctor or team in charge, not someone who does not specialize in it. Would you accept, "This is probably as good as what a specialist would do", when the stakes are high?

How do you know if you have the right plan in place at your firm? How do you know if it is effectively helping your business or is it just masking the need to feel like you have one? How important is it for you to know that the future of your business is built on a solid foundation? Perhaps you are one of the very lucky few Funeral directors who don't have to worry about the future... maybe you don't have to worry about cremation, low cost competitors, cheap caskets, preneed shortfalls... perhaps things are good enough now and for the future for you. It's always seemed to work out in the past so perhaps you are safe in continuing to do what you have been doing and won't be affected. It is always safer on the sidelines if you are not worried about what the end result might be.

If you want to assure yourself of a good safe future... you need to make sure that these diseases that are affecting the profitability of funeral service throughout the U.S. are held at bay, that a buffer and potential cure is administered now. You don't want to wait until the medicine can't help. For those who will be exposed and affected, it's best to take the preventative steps now. And that's what we have found to best action for funeral homes - to begin now and call in "another point of view". To work toward a positive solution, one must first meet with Funeral Home owners to ask questions to understand your market, your competitors (if any) and your goals. Then craft a plan... a solution to ensure future health of your organization. There needs to be so much research and testing, that whoever will help you execute the plan will risk THEIR money in both the advertising portion and preneed marketing plan. Has anyone developed a plan for you and is willing to prove to you that it works by taking the financial risk?

If you feel you have a need to protect and grow your business, don't put it off; start today. Get a demographic analysis for your specific funeral home to help focus on a better plan for your growth opportunities and also point out the weaknesses in your trade area. This analysis is based on consumer data that is updated monthly. If you need help, we can be reached at 800-529-7729 or email . Remember, it's not about getting a football (a product) that wins the game; it is about having a plan, executing the plan and getting the ball across the goal line more times than the other guy. A good preneed program can do that for you and keep you in the winner circle now and for the future.