Funeral service providers and suppliers gathered last week in Indianapolis for the 2015 National Funeral Director Association's annual convention #nfda2015. The city of Indianapolis played host for a week of education and learning, with a flare of football. Here are a couple things I heard loud and clear this week, also with a flare of fooball...
1 :: RECRUIT GREAT TALENT
The lack of mortuary science students who actually stick to the profession 5+ years after passing their boards was addressed in multiple seminars. We, as a profession, need to find a way to make talent "stick".
Do you know what successful football coaches and funeral directors have in common? The ability to recruit great talent. Great talent is not necessarily recruiting a "hot shot" superstar - it is recruiting the person who has the right combination of smarts, talent and perhaps most importantly attitude.
Always be recruiting. Look internally to your part time help, recent high school graduates, or anyone else that you have a personal connection with in your community. Once you have found a great person who melds well with you and your business philosophy (ie. has the right combination of smarts, talent and attitude), help them get licensed. Often times, its easier to find a "life-er" in someone who has been farmed up through your business rather than recruited from the outside. Another benefit : no bad habits.
Also, if you are in a state that still has a combined funeral director and embalmer license, work to change those laws. Separating the license will attract a greater pool of people, thus resulting in a greater pool of talent to choose from.
It is so easy to stick that newly licensed funeral director or apprentice with the night calls, many weekend shifts, etc. Millennials on the whole have more education and a "me" attitude which is a deadly combination that can result in high attrition. Create balanced and rotating schedules that will attract talent to your firm. Your competition might pay $3,000 more in annual salary, but a new hire must work every weekend. Many milennials will sacrifice a $3,000 decrease in salary to be part of a rotating nights/weekends schedule, working lets say 1 out of every 3 or 4 weekends; creating themselves and their family a work/life balance. Oh wait, paying less... I think that will also affect your bottom line too!
With more people exiting this industry every year than entering, it will only drive up the rate of pay for a licensed funeral director - only adding insult to injury to the profit problems of a funeral home. There are some simple and easy changes that can be made if we come together. And once you recruit that talent, don't forget that he/she is your biggest asset - keep your recruited talent happy, have fun at work!