The Secret to a Great Funeral Home Growth Plan


My teenage daughter took the freshly baked muffins out of the oven, took one look, and tossed them into the garbage. She was in tears.

That had been her third attempt at making muffins for her school bake sale, and once again, they didn’t turn out. Finally, she did something she hated to do; she asked her mother for help.

It took my wife all of two minutes to find the problems, give her the solutions, and within 30 minutes, a perfect batch of muffins came out of the oven. The crisis had passed.

Sometimes, all it takes to solve a problem is to have someone else look at what you’re doing and find the issues that are messing up all of your hard work.

Growing a business is the same way.

This past month I have been helping two new clients create a customized growth plan to take their business to the next level. Both plans mainly focused on increasing at-need calls.

When I am only looking at the at-need side of a business, I use a simplified growth plan that includes five key areas; Attract, Nurture, Arrange, Serve, and Retain.

Attract – bring new families into our sphere of influence, so they are receptive to hearing from us
Nurture – cultivate a relationship so they will call us if a death occurs
Arrange – successfully turn a phone call into an at-need arrangement (i.e., win the call)
Serve – deliver an experience the family will value and tell their friends about
Retain – continue the relationship so they would never consider using another funeral home

After working with hundreds of funeral home owners over the years, I know that the problems can be found in one or more of those five areas in almost every case.

If your phone isn’t ringing, you probably have an Attract problem.

If your phone is constantly ringing with price shoppers, you probably have a Nurture problem.

If your revenue per call is getting smaller and smaller, you probably have an Arrange problem.

If you are not receiving a five star Google review from every family, you probably have a Serve problem.

If a family you served in the past is now using a competitor, you probably have a Retain problem.

First, I find out where my client is having problems. Then I reach into my strategy toolbox and pull out solutions for us to test. Eventually, we crack the code, the problems go away, and at-need revenues go up.

The growth plan I create is never a single recommendation because it’s never just one problem. Instead, it’s anywhere from 10 to 20 recommendations that, if implemented, will create incremental improvements throughout the business.

The secret to an effective growth plan is to look for incremental improvements in multiple areas.

I’m never just looking to make the phone ring with more price shoppers. I want the phone to ring with a qualified prospect referred by a family you’ve previously served.

Ideally, they’ve already attended a service at your funeral home and have personally experienced the type of service/experience you can provide. They’re not calling you to get your prices. They’re calling to schedule a time to meet. That’s the goal!

A few years ago, one of my clients struggled with what I determined to be mainly Attraction, Nurturing, and Service problems. At the time, they were doing around 200 calls/year but could do much more.

We implemented some strategies to improve each of these areas, and they went from barely making ends meet to becoming the market leader. They are now over 400 calls and continuing to grow.

We didn’t get there with just a social media campaign, although that was one piece of the puzzle. We got there through incremental improvements in each area of the business.

The secret to an effective growth plan is to look for incremental improvements in multiple areas.

As it turned out, my daughter had misread teaspoons for tablespoons, was using baking soda instead of baking powder, and was crowding the oven because she was trying to bake four dozen muffins all at once.

Thank goodness my wife was around because I wasn’t going to be much help on this one. I understand how to grow a business, but baking is not my strong suit.

Until next time,

John

John Callaghan

Fractional Chief Marketing Officer for Funeral Business Builders

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