How COVID Impacts Pre-Need


The subject of this week’s newsletter is how COVID-19 has impacted the pre-need side of your funeral home business. Suffice it to say that the impact has been significant.

Pre-need Mastery is the 8th step in my 9-step Funeral Business Builders’ Master Plan. I left it so late because if you do the earlier steps correctly, pre-need sales are bound to increase.

For example, step 7 is to create a Valuable Experience. There’s no doubt in my mind that the best form of pre-need marketing is to stage beautiful memorial events every day.

I’ve had a client create such an impressive funeral that he had families who had attended the service call the next day and ask about pre-arranging. His marketing cost to generate the pre-need lead was $0. It’s hard to beat that!!

But like everything in our world, COVID-19 has had an impact. Here’s what my clients are reporting to me.

Webcasting can be a pre-need lead generator
One of my clients told me that someone had called to make his funeral arrangements. My client asked if he had attended a service at their funeral home, and the caller said, “no, but I’ve watched a bunch of your services on Facebook.”

This makes complete sense to me. It’s just like the story I described earlier about a funeral experience that was so impressive people called the funeral home the next day to make arrangements.

If a cell phone on a tripod can generate a lead, just imagine what a high-quality audio/visual system can do for your business. It might be time to consider an equipment upgrade because it looks like mobile webcasting is here to stay.

Interest is up
Almost all of my clients have reported that interest in making end-of-life arrangements has increased. In some cases, it’s only a modest increase, but others are seeing a significant uptick.

The only exception is a client whose pre-need salesperson resigned due to COVID safety concerns. He shut off that portion of his marketing because he had no one to follow up on the leads. That’s ok in the short term, but I’d recommend getting a new salesperson in place asap.

It seems like COVID has been a massive wake-up call to everyone that maybe it’s time to get your affairs in order. That makes now the perfect time to invest in pre-need marketing.

The process is faster
Pre-need salespeople have to be very patient because it can take a long time to get someone to go from being a new lead to having a funded contract. People would often attend multiple pre-need workshops and receive numerous phone calls before finally taking action.

But COVID seems to have shortened the sales process. Clients have described having a couple walk in, look at their options, make their arrangements, and fund it right away. All in the same meeting! That used to be the exception, but now it’s the norm.

More Baby Boomers
The target for pre-need direct mail and Facebook campaigns that I run for my clients is people aged 65 and over. But the responses (aka new leads) are typically over the age of 75, which puts them in the Silent Generation.

But COVID has been a big wake up call to the Baby Boom generation. As a result, we have seen a considerable increase in Baby Boomers who want to make their arrangements.

Yes, they typically do not buy a traditional funeral, but that’s another issue. At least they’re finally willing to arrange something!!

The big point that I want you to consider this week is that COVID has created considerable interest in pre-planning funerals. Companies like SCI are very aware of this and have ramped up their pre-need marketing. If you are not aggressively going after the pre-need market, you are missing out on a huge opportunity.

Remember, pre-need is your future revenue. I’m told that the average funeral home has 1.4 times its at-need revenue in pre-need contracts. That means if they are doing $1 million a year in at-need business, they have $1.4 million in pre-need contracts.

One of my clients has five times his annual revenues in pre-need contracts. If he is doing $1 million in at-need revenue, he has $5 million in pre-need contracts.

If you were looking to buy a funeral home, would you rather purchase someone with $1.4 million in pre-need contracts or someone with $5 million? Most buyers would choose the latter and be willing to pay a higher price for future revenues.

The pre-need market is hot. The time to take action is now.

Until next time,

John

John Callaghan

Fractional Chief Marketing Officer for Funeral Business Builders

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