How to Foster Heart & Soul In Your Family-Owned Funeral Home

Posted June 26, 2019

5 min read

Not many would argue against the idea that a funeral home’s history and its values are central to the firm.

That history and those core values are also central to the experience you offer families, too, says Tom Hubler, a sought-after family business consultant with about 40 years of experience in helping family-owned businesses overcome obstacles and thrive.

Tom covers this very concept in his latest book, The Soul of Family Business: A Practical Guide to Family Business Success and a Loving Family. As a nationally recognized expert on family business issues, Tom has been a trusted advisor to more than 500 family-owned businesses. Strategies, practices, and principles he’s learned over the years are part of what helped shape his latest book, and a few of those lessons are what we spoke to him about in a recent interview.

Keep reading to see why Tom says values and soul matter for family-owned funeral homes, including how you can apply that knowledge. The end goal of cultivating more heart and soul in your funeral home? To have your relationships be as healthy and productive as possible for your family and for your business.

Why Heart & Soul Matter For Your Funeral Home

If you had to say, what’s the “secret sauce” that really separates you from others?

The heart and soul of a family business are its values, which underlie the culture of your funeral home. “From my perspective, this soul is what drives all of what happens in family businesses, and it is the indefinable essence of a family’s spirit, being, and values,” says Tom.

Think your firm is too big to have a heart and soul? That’s not true, says Tom—no matter how big your funeral home is, and no matter the number of locations you have. “The soul of a family business can and should be of profound importance to the largest and the smallest of family-controlled funeral homes,” adds Tom. “Soul is not something that can be measured or quantified, but it is easily recognizable by both its presence and absence.”

How You Can Foster Soul

One of the best ways to foster soul in your firm is to carve out time to create a common family vision. That will be the embodiment of the family heart and soul. “It incorporates your essence, values, history, all the things that make you who you are. That includes all the good things as well as the difficult things.”

Another aspect of the common vision is the inspiration that it gives the family members to live consistently with your ideal vision for the business. When applied, it should help you focus on the positive and not the negative.

That can include answering and then acting on these questions:

  • What do we believe is needed for the funeral home to continue to succeed?
  • What do we need to do in order to show commitment to everyone’s success here?
  • How do we create a win-win-win for our client families, the community, and our firm (and team members)?

Tom says there are also many other ways you can foster soul and deepen family relationships at the same time. Focus on kindness, care, respect, leading a purposeful life, and having a reciprocal commitment to each other’s success. “It also includes living your life with the lenses of compassion, acceptance, forgiveness, and gratitude.”

Another area that deserves attention to foster heart and soul: being intentional about showing gratitude and appreciation.

Showing Appreciation in a Family-Owned Funeral Home

Many funeral homes deal with transitioning the business from one generation to the next. Tom says that at seminars, he’s often asked the top obstacle to family business succession planning. “It’s not unusual for seminar participants to [guess things] like money, taxes, some of the more technical things. And sometimes they’re surprised to hear that from my perspective, the number one issue is the lack of expression of appreciation, recognition, and love.”

The owner entrepreneurs, who are usually in their 60s and 70s, are looking for validation for the work they put into their business. “The fact that the adult children don’t tell them or express to them their appreciation is what causes much of the tension in most family businesses,” explains Tom.

By the same token, it’s not unusual for the owner entrepreneur’s, the parents, to take their children for granted and not tell them how much they appreciate them. As a result of these dynamics, tension can build. This tension can be problematic on a day to day basis but especially when you look at succession planning.

Proactively Expressing Gratitude & Appreciation

The solution is to become more self-aware and to start expressing sincere gratitude to family members. Family members should talk about not only their expectations for one another, but they need to consistently and regularly express love and authentic recognition and appreciation.

Many families have a hard time applying this practice, despite how simple it may sound. From Tom’s experience, most families need to learn that the emotional bottom line in family-owned businesses is just as important, if not more important, than the financial bottom line.

See Why Funeral Homes Choose CRäKN

Whether family-owned/operated or not, CRäKN is the simplest way to manage your funeral home. Much more than a case management tool, CRäKN is powerful software that allows you to manage all your operations and cases from anywhere, and from any device.

Optimize and sync all your activities and events; use your digital Whiteboard to manage every detail; automatically generate all your key forms; and save time with integrations including accounting, payment processing, stationery, website, answering service, flowers, and many more.

Request a demo today to see how you can save up to 3 hours per case with CRäKN.

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