Are You In Control of Your Funeral Home?

Posted October 20, 2021

7 min read

When you think about your day, are you able to devote your time and energy to areas that are impactful to the business?

One of the most important things Funeral Directors can do right now is to pause and make sure you’re focused on what’s most important to your firm.

In a time where many firms are short-staffed, taking inventory of your daily patterns can be critical, and it’s worth the effort.

With that in mind, we sat down with Alan Creedy, the go-to Funeral Home consultant for exit planning, valuations, and business advisory services. As a premier small business consultant, we spoke to Alan about how Funeral Directors can be selective with their focus and on how they can reflect on their businesses to correct things that may be hurting them.

With more than 36 years in funeral service, Alan has a depth and breadth of experience in helping clients build and sustain healthy, focused organizations. Keep reading to uncover his tips to put you on a path towards greater focus and better results.

What’s the State of Your Funeral Home Today?

For the most part, Funeral Homes don’t set out to be inefficient, explains Alan. And, it’s often rare that a business just “suddenly” spins out of control. Except in the rare case of disruptive innovation like an unconventional competitor, calamity or a chaotic work environment does not occur overnight in most firms.

The reality is that patterns and habits in a business develop over time, and some of those ways of operating may not be ones that best serve you, or the business.

“Things start happening well before the challenges are apparent,” says Alan. “Almost all of these ‘things’ are correctible,” he explains. Here are 4 areas Alan shares that can help you evaluate areas of opportunity for your firm:

1. Check the distractions

Alan shares that many years ago, a casket company executive asked him what he thought most Funeral Home owners wanted. “Without thinking, and to my utter surprise I said, ‘Based on their behavior, I think most Funeral Home owners want to not be there.’ After I got over my shock at this response, I realized that answer had come from my subconscious and it had underlying truth to it,” explains Alan.

“Whether from boredom or frustration, or for some other reason, too many owners spend a lot of time away from their business, and that can result in problems.” One sign of this: lots of ideas, and never any execution.

That’s an issue that can be resolved by increasing how hands-on you are in the business. After all, to lead, you do need to be present.

It doesn’t mean that you can’t find staff that excel in critical areas to support you, but make sure you aren’t too far removed from the business and its daily operations. “Yes, you have to work on the business. But make sure you are not escaping the business under the guise of working on the business,” explains Alan.

2. Check how clear you are with staff

Do you often feel that staff aren’t performing up to your expectations? It could be a sign that what is expected is not evident to them, despite how obvious these behaviors are to you.

Even if you think behaviors have been well-defined to staff, get more specific with everything—from how they should greet customers, to what they wear, to what their specific job responsibilities are and what happens if those expectations are not met.

“I have never been able to reconcile the claim by owners that their market differentiator is ‘service’ with the knowledge that almost none of them train or monitor the practices of staff. Don’t be reluctant to place specific demands on your people, since ambiguity will result in behaviors that are not aligned with what you want,” says Alan.

“What I’ve seen over the years in Funeral Homes that have a lack of clarity is that the organization tends to have employees who don’t belong, and, worst of all, inconsistencies around what customers experience. Staff end up applying their own definition of what is right in a given circumstance in a self-defined effort to provide good service,” explains Alan.

3. Check to see if you’re trying to appeal to everyone

Alan often sees that Funeral Homes do too much or too little, which speaks to a lack of focus. “For example, if it’s a new initiative, they may have repeated patterns of not finishing what they start. They never get to the ‘Goldilocks level’ where it is ‘just right.’ Then, employees don’t understand what is expected and struggle to sell what the business has to offer.”

Keep this in mind, says Alan: the drive to be all things to all people means you end up being nothing to everyone. No one takes risks because the fear of losing one customer overrides the opportunity to gain five.

Instead of trying to make your Funeral Home’s promise as broad as possible, get specific and clear on your true strengths and true value to families. Where are you truly best suited to serve families? Where are you truly better than competitors? What does this mean in terms of who to focus on with your marketing? What are the activities that support that focus? All of these are valuable questions to go through together as a team.

4. Check your attention to the right details

Take time to reflect on the details of your Funeral Home and the details of your last interaction with a family in particular. For example, you can ask: What does your firm look like and how well is it maintained? How were families greeted at the last visitation? How are the phones being answered? What’s the state of your prep room?

All of these are signs that indicate your attention to detail in your Funeral Home, explains Alan.

We all can get a bit comfortable or complacent in our work environments, so don’t be afraid to take steps to see your firm with new eyes. “I recently told a couple of clients that they should get a video camera and video their building inside and out and then watch it. You will see things on video that you don’t see when you walk in every day. Sometimes it’s just good to have a brutally honest friend or consultant who isn’t afraid to tell you the truth about what they see,” explains Alan.

Taking Back Control of Your Funeral Home

“All in all, we all need to be reminded that keeping things simple and focusing on the basics is the best place to start a turnaround and sustain a healthy organization,” explains Alan.

It takes work and may not come natural to any of us, but it’s a key step, especially when you might be under-staffed or facing more competition than ever. “If you own the business, it’s time for you to pay attention.”

The Focused Funeral Home: Move from Chaos to Focus

“CRäKN empowers staff by keeping everyone on target in real-time. It makes it very hard for things to ‘fall through the cracks.’” —Alan Creedy

CRäKN curbs chaos—so you can focus your energy on serving your client families. Much more than a case management tool, CRäKN also allows you to save time, prevent duplicate work, reduce errors, and improve your daily operations.

When you save 3+ hours per case with CRäKN’s efficiency tools, that means you spend far less time on paperwork and processing, and you can spend more time doing what you enjoy each day.

Interested in learning more? Request a personalized demo from a Funeral Director today.

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