The Future of Visitations


Before jumping into this week’s topic…

My last newsletter covered my recommendations for mobile live streaming solutions. I included a request that if anyone knows of another great vendor to let me know.

I’d like to send out a big “Thank You!” to Jack Jensen at Cypress Lawn Funeral Home & Memorial Park, who connected me with Rick Rampton at Viewlogies.com. Rick and his team have created an impressive solution that I think should be on everyone’s shortlist for live streaming.

And now for this week’s topic…the future of visitations.

Full disclosure, I do not have a crystal ball. If I could predict the future, I would make a few well-placed stock investments and become the next Warren Buffett.

What I do have to share though, are a few observations about the current state of visitations and a radical recommendation that is worth considering.

Way back in 2019 BC (Before Covid), visitations were already under a lot of pressure. The traditional two blocks of visitation time was becoming a rarity.

More and more families were opting for just one block of visitation time, and it was often scheduled immediately before the funeral service.

Then along comes Covid-19 and attendance restrictions that put an end to most visitations.

Some of my more creative clients quickly shifted to offering things like open-air visitations under a tent in the parking lot, drive-through visitations, and zoom visitations.

These innovations were well received and deeply appreciated by families. When most funeral homes told families that they couldn’t do anything except a burial or cremation, my clients generally thrived because they offered families an option.

Yes, it wasn’t a traditional visitation, but it was still something.

This brings us to today. Covid is still here, and the vaccine is being distributed. Most states have lifted limitations on funeral attendance or at least lightened the restrictions.

My clients tell me that even with the lifting of restrictions, attendance at visitations is way down. One client estimates that it’s 50% of pre-covid attendance at best, even though his state has no limits.

Also, they’re reporting that families who used to have two blocks of visitation time are now debating whether they should “bother” having a visitation at all.

We’ve gone from two blocks of visitation to one block, to one block immediately before the funeral, to nothing.

I hope we can all agree that having some time for visitation is an essential part of the grieving process. And that the model of having a visitation immediately before a funeral ceremony doesn’t meet the need.

Most Funeral Directors I’ve talked with about his issue agree that having a visitation the day before the funeral ceremony is the best scenario. But how do we get families to make this choice?

Now it’s time for my radical recommendation…

Change your pricing so there is one price for visitation regardless of how many time blocks the family wants.

For example,

Visitation……$1,295

One time block – same price

Two time blocks – same price

Indoor or open air – same price

In person or online – same price

Immediately before the funeral – same price

Body present – same price

Body not present – same price

My point is to make price a non-issue. Why? Because right now, it is an issue.

Families are using the price to justify skipping a visitation because they don’t know how it will work in our Covid world. People are always hesitant to move into the unknown, especially if it’s going to impact their family.

If you make price a non-issue, it will change the conversation. Rather than focusing on price, you will find out their real concerns about having a visitation.

Then you can start dealing with those issues one by one.

  • Concerned about safety – let’s talk about an open-air visitation
  • Concerned about out of town relatives – let’s talk about virtual visitations
  • Concerned no one will attend – let’s invite them
  • Concerned about privacy – let’s not use Facebook Live

Whatever they are concerned about, you’ll need to find a solution for them. But you will only find out the real concerns if you make price a non-issue.

It all comes down to being creative, flexible, and having a plan that addresses all of the scenarios.

As I said, it’s a radical idea, but it’s worth considering.

By the way, I’m looking for four funeral home owners to participate in the beta class for a 4-week planning workshop starting mid-March.

Every week I will teach my At-Need Growth Framework – Attract, Nurture, Arrange, Serve, Retain and help you develop a 12-month action plan in each of these areas specifically for your funeral home. There will be a live webinar plus a live Q&A zoom call every week for four weeks.

The goal is to help you create a personalized action plan to grow your business. It’s the same process I use with my clients; I’ve just turned it into a workshop format.

It’s also the same process I teach in my new online training class. I’m just diving deeper into the subjects and applying them to your situation.

If you’re interested, let’s set up a time to talk. I’ll give you all of the information, and you can decide if it’s a good fit for you. Sound good?

The beta workshop is being offered at a 50% discount and comes with a 100% money-back guarantee. (that’s an example of making money a non-issue)

Until next time

John

John Callaghan

Fractional Chief Marketing Officer for Funeral Business Builders

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