Building Trust During a Pandemic


“All things being equal, people do business with people they know, like, and trust.” – Bob Burg, Endless Referrals.

Which of those three elements is the hardest for a funeral home owner to achieve? Know? Like? Or Trust?

Trust!

They may know you, they may even like you, but if they don’t trust you, the chances of you winning the call as slim. Trust is the deciding factor when choosing a funeral home.

Trust Building is the fourth step in my Funeral Business Builder (FBB) Master Plan. In this newsletter, I’ll touch on how COVID-19 has impacted the trust-building process.

In my FBB book, I described how trust’s erosion is a major obstacle for us to overcome. The fact is that we have become a very untrusting society in which consumers are worried about being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous business.

Do you think COVID has helped the situation or made it worse? Worse.

Funeral service professionals are not responsible for creating a lack of trust in our society during the pandemic. If anything, they’ve been a calming, stabilizing element in an increasingly crazy world.

No, in this case, we’re the victims. Just like a lot of other businesses we are victims of a dysfunctional government, media manipulation, and a virus that has killed far too many.

People are worried about attending a funeral. They want to be there to support their family or friend, but they’re concerned about their safety. Many will watch the service online rather than attend in person because they do not trust that they will be safe.

Trust has always been a huge obstacle to the success of a funeral business. But in our COVID-dominated world, trust is arguably the make or break factor for keeping your business afloat, let alone growing it.

Here are three trust-building actions you should consider taking right away…

#1 – deal with the elephant in the room…safety

Some families making funeral arrangements are worried about safety. Many people who are attending services are concerned about safety. If you ignore their concerns, you could lose your business.

Many of my clients have implemented excellent safety precautions. One has created what he calls “White Glove Services,” so attendees never touch a doorknob. Another client has purchased hand sanitizer stations that he places throughout the funeral home, and another one has installed an expensive air filtration system.

Regardless of what you decide to do, you must do something to improve the safety level at your funeral home.

#2 – Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

At times like this, there is no such thing as communicating too much. The public needs to hear about how you are addressing their safety concerns.

In the past few months, I’ve written more scripts for television and radio commercials than at any time in my career. All of my clients have taken actions to address safety and a new commercial is a great way to let the public know about what you have done.

One of my clients has received dozens of phone calls from people who heard his new radio ad about safety procedures. Some of the callers ask questions but most of them just thank him for taking extra steps to keep everyone safe.

The point is that people want to hear from you and media prices are at an all-time low. Now is the time to get your message out there!

Also, don’t forget to update your website copy while you are at it. As I said in my newsletter last week, do not just use your website developer’s generic COVID message. That’s simply not enough in today’s situation.

#3 – Get new Google reviews

Your Google reviews were important before the pandemic. Here’s a quote from Inc.com.

“Research shows that 91 percent of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews, and 84 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. And they make that decision quickly: 68 percent form an opinion after reading between one and six online reviews”

That quote is from 2017 BC (Before COVID) but recent studies show the exact same trend. People trust Google and they trust Google reviews.

But here’s the key…you need to have new reviews that were written after the pandemic hit. Ideally it should be a review that mentions how they felt safe attending one of your services. Someone saying that they appreciate you webcasting a service would make a great review as well.

The reason you need new reviews is that we’ve crossed into a new world. Everything before COVID isn’t necessarily irrelevant but the fact that you did a great job two years ago does not mean you are going to keep people safe today.

Getting some new reviews will help people trust that you can keep them safe in our “new normal”.

Those are three actions you can take today to help build trust in our COVID world. Implement new safety procedures, communicate with your market, and get new Google reviews.

Trust has always been important but it needs some extra attention at a time when people are told that news is fake and science is unreliable. I believe that people are desperately searching for someone to trust and that you can be that person in your local community.

In the next few weeks I am going to release a new webinar. The title is…”How to Catch the Baby Boomer Wave”. I’ve helped dozens of clients make this transformation and I’ll share some great tips in the webinar.

The funeral industry has been riding the Silent Generation wave for a long time but that wave is ending and COVID isn’t helping. You can transform your funeral home and ride the Baby Boomer wave for the next two decades or you can accept the fact that someday soon you will have to sell your business.

Sorry to be so blunt but that is the choice you are facing today. COVID didn’t cause this generational shift but it has accelerated it.

Until next time

John

John Callaghan

Fractional Chief Marketing Officer for Funeral Business Builders

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