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The Funeral Rule: Not So Bad; Requiring Online Prices: Not So Good

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Thanks to Joshua Slocum and the Funeral Consumers Alliance, the media have jumped all over the “funeral-prices-are-so-hard-to-find” bandwagon. From there it’s a short ride to believing that mandatory posting of prices on funeral home websites is an easy solution for simplifying funeral options and costs. Can it really be that easy? Do funeral professionals want to make access to information difficult? Read the rest of this entry »

2016 Trends that Shaped Funeral Service–Part I

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In many people’s minds, 2016 will be remembered as the year celebrities dropped like flies. According to Legacy.com, the number of celebrity deaths was comparable to previous years, but three factors made it appear that celebrities were dying in droves: 1) a higher-than-average number of those who died were either A-list or legendary stars; 2) many musicians died who had extremely loyal fan bases; and 3) the average age of celebrities who died this year was about 10 years younger than usual.

Aside from celebrity deaths, growing pains continued to reach every aspect of funeral service. During the last 12 months we saw some outrageous trends, some of which have already used up their 15 minutes of fame. Other news stories highlighted shifts in public preferences that merit our continued attention, even if these changes seem undignified to some traditionalists.

Part I of this blog will examine five topics which drew national, and sometimes international, attention to funeral service in ways that are relevant to serving families in the near future. Next week, Part II will examine five more topics.  Read the rest of this entry »

Funeral Etiquette: Taking Photographs at Funerals

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should-you-take-photographs-at-a-funeral-add-headingEarlier this year, we wrote about families hiring a professional photographer to take photos at their loved one’s funeral and the ways it might benefit families in mourning. Families have control over a professional’s work and distribution of the images; however, they often lack that control when non-professionals, even those with good intentions, take photos at funerals. Sharing funeral photos can cause distress for the deceased’s loved ones, particularly when they post images on sites such as Facebook and Instagram. The news is frequently filled with people coming under fire for taking casket selfies. Just last week, the daughter of rap music star Shawty Lo publicly criticized fans for posting images of her father in his casket on social media sites after they were asked not to take photos.

The issue of photography at funerals isn’t likely to fade away. How is your funeral home responding? Does your funeral home have a policy on photography?  Are you steering the families you serve in the right direction and communicating best practices?  Read the rest of this entry »

10 Things I’ve Learned from Working with Funeral Directors

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Here’s a typical conversation that I have when I’m out with friends, meeting new people.

“What do you do?” asks someone who doesn’t really care but feels obligated to engage me in conversation.

“I work for a trade association that works with independently owned funeral homes. I’m a meeting planner.” I respond to cut to the chase.

“Oh! So you plan funerals? Do you embalm bodies?” returns the individual who now has a stronger interest in hearing what I have to say and obviously wasn’t listening.

“No. But I know quite a few people who do. Why? Do you need a discount on an urn?”

The asker typically turns pale and isn’t sure where to go from there.

So goes many a conversation at cocktail parties and other events when I have the opportunity to interact with anyone who doesn’t work in funeral service. It’s made me stop and think about what funeral directors face when they share their story with others.

Since I joined OGR’s staff four years ago, I’ve learned quite a bit about funeral service professionals and have found that they have a pretty challenging job. They work long, irregular hours around strange smells, extreme emotions, and lots of paperwork. They respond to phone calls in the middle of the night, often miss holidays with their families, and care for dead bodies. They maintain composure and professionalism in the midst of family conflict, inclement weather, and national tragedies. A lot of what they do is behind the scenes, unseen and unheard.  Read the rest of this entry »

Dangers of Avoiding Feedback from Families

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Receiving criticism from a family after you’ve spent the whole weekend serving them to the best of your ability can be jarring. Maybe they write a letter telling you they didn’t like the style of the furniture or there wasn’t enough attention to detail. Whatever the feedback, sometimes it’s easier to ignore the comments and move forward with your business.

BUT, avoiding customer feedback won’t do you any favors.  Just because you avoid or ignore customer feedback doesn’t mean that your business is doing well, just like avoiding the doctor’s office, doesn’t make you healthy. In fact, many times it means that you’re sick and you don’t know it. Ignorance is not your friend when it comes to feedback and here are a few reasons why: Read the rest of this entry »

Networking: Make It Personal

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7-21 McClure Networking CoverIn today’s world of social networking and associated technologies, it’s easy to conduct business from behind the desk or mobile device. As a society, are we forgetting the importance of face-to-face interaction?   While funeral service professionals interact with families face-to-face on a daily basis, it is easy during slow periods to stay inside and behind screens. To expand your business and your network of relationships, it is imperative that you take the time to enrich yourself and your businesses by participating in varied networking opportunities outside the funeral home.

In-person relationships and events are where we learn more about the people we do business with, meet potential customers, and expand our business knowledge. We must commit to taking advantage of these opportunities and learn some things that we just couldn’t learn the same way online.

Try these easy tips for making networking personal and learn something new.  Read the rest of this entry »

Grieving Online – No Apologies Needed

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Everyone has those Facebook friends who overshare every aspect of their lives – from what they had for breakfast that morning to their thoughts on last night’s political debate. It’s easy to grow weary of those who overshare.

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There’s an etiquette that’s slowly developed around being a good online friend (read more 14 Do’s and Don’ts; Essential Facebook Etiquette) and approaching online interactions with care, but the lines are still blurred when someone has experienced loss.  Read the rest of this entry »